Barbarians at Their Gates
The doldrums of summer have covered Michigan like thick hot syrup on a stack of dry flour pancakes. It is hard to move let alone think; even the grass is tired of growing. Yesterday I tried to fight the malaise, threw my camera and water bottles into the car and sped off for the wetlands determined to find something to photograph.
My journey took me first to Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. All the many rivers in the Saginaw watershed mingle here before washing out into Lake Huron by way of the Saginaw river. This is sanctuary for roughly 280 bird species throughout the year. In the autumn, tens of thousands of geese and ducks flock to Shiawassee during migration. "Globally Significant," is how the official pamphlet touts it. The views are vast here and my 400mm lens isn't quite up to the challenge of pulling in the marquee Sandhill cranes and Trumpeter swans lounging in the lazy distance. This is a refuge, and while I normally would have stalked closer, that kind of nonsense is strictly verboten!
On the authorised trail, where I tramped into the secluded photographic blind, the canny fowl skittered away long before I was properly stowed away in that tiny wooden shack; huddled there to wait silently with the spiders and the flies for those prime bird photo opportunities that would never come. Showing their exquisite good taste, the insects, themselves far from miserable, threw a grand party delighting in their yummy human cuisine.
The heat and the claustrophobia grew. A hallucination swept over me; I was a chain gang prisoner steaming in a solitary sweat box fretting out my "failure to communicate." Through the tiny slats cut into the wooden cell I could see the Boss man rocking in the shade of his porch, sipping a cool lemonade with ol' Blue the trusty blood hound lounging contentedly at his feet, lately worn out from running me down.
I got the hell out of there.
As I think about it now, this strange illusion probably had its sprouting in the latest real life run in I had with the good folks at Dow Chemical security. To capsulise a little history: There is a hill in a public park which overlooks the chemical plants retention ponds, ponds that are crowded with bird life, ponds that are owned by Dow Chem. When Dow security is feeling frisky they will send their uniformed patrolmen out into Overlook park to question my motives in having a Dslr with a 400mm lens in my hot little hands. They only do this if I'm alone on the hill taking bird pictures. In a now famous slow chase, Dow's security cars once followed me home from the ponds. I drove at a deliberately slow 20mph crawl the whole way just to spite them, they never budged from my bumper. Yes, there is history here.
I was on my way up there again two evenings ago testing out a camera pack that velcros onto my 10 speed's rear bike rack. Tooling down our scenic woodland bike trail in route, I pulled up hither and yon to whip out the camera and take a few pictures. The new system was working fine, I could dismount, yank out the camera, push over the bike, and be shooting inside 15 seconds. It was a pretty evening to be at play, the golden hour's sunlight would be shinning upon the birds that call Dow Chemical home and I was on my way to my Overlook Park battlegrounds where I hoped to take some butt kickin' pelican photos. Perfect.
And so it goes again, two county sheriffs, two burly security dudes and I debating abstract legal theory, case in point: Who owns the air above Dow chemical and the photographic rights to the birds there in? These debates used to be amusing, they've become tedious. Why does Dow insists on having this inane confrontation over and over again when they admit I am doing nothing illegal and must put up with my tongue lashings before watching me peddle off Scott free to click away another day? The police assure me their heavy handed tactics will persist in spite of my impertinent objections.
Lest you think me immune to this treatment, the real pressure comes not from Dow but from those dear to me; poor Suzanne who worries I'm calling down corporate hellfire and even the boys at the firehouse, where we discuss the topic ad nauseum, are ticked off. They have great fun badgering me on in my singular pursuit of happiness. I am impressed how brave they are for me.
Improbable conspiracy theories abound, but wait, is that a Dow car slowing down in front of the house?
You know, I thank heaven all summer long for Blue herons. They are Michigan's most dependable bird. In the dog days, when nothing else is flying they'll give you at least a fighting chance for a cool jpeg. The lead picture in this posting is one taken by my son Joshua I'm proud to say, the 'kid' who fights fires with his old man in Detroit. Try being the guy inside a burning building who also has to worry about his aging, one year from retirement Dad falling out while hauling hose in the middle of the night. My daughter Shannon, who earns her way in the field of graphic design, has gently guided me toward the life of a writer and photographer, she sees something there for me, something safer and less dependant on adrenalin. The kids don't question why their goofy Dad takes bird pictures in remote swamps on his days off, they try to understand it and share in it. Their boundless young spirits and creativity energy is impossible for me not to emulate, even if it makes a giant, godlike corporate entity like Dow uncomfortable in the process. In my own small world an issue of respect is at stake.
In reality, I don't want anyone mad at me, especially Blue herons. They're all I have left!
Now it's time for World Bird Wednesday!
This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.
#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry. It contains a link for your readers to share in WBW. Or you can copy this link on to your blog page to share W.B.W. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/
#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with Linky.
#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!
The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to incourage your compadres!
Come on it's your turn!