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Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder

It was early here, roughly 6 am. I had just finished my coffee.  While planning out the work I had to do on the boat for the day I saw a shape fly overhead.  It had a large wingspan - "it must be an eagle", I thought to myself.  I ducked back into my Hobbit hole and grabbed my camera after watching it land on a distant dock.  I did not have my glasses on so I could not see it clearly.  Eagles were big on my list of things I wanted to photograph and paint when I came out here.

After rushing off the boat, nearly dropping my camera in the water in the process, I fast walked (trying not to geek out) over to where I thought the eagle had landed.  The docks here kind of zig zag around the shore, with the tide down I had to go up to the mainland area to see.  After completing  my mini dash to be within proper eyesight of this valiant member of the avian community I was devastated to see it was just a seagull.  A really big sea gull.  Everything here is big; the trees, the water, the mountains and yes - the seagulls.

"Well, I did not go through all of this trouble for nothing", I told myself, so I took a peek through my giant lens.  Immediately I felt like a fool.  Not because I was the perfect embodiment of the camera geek decked out in safari gear at the local zoo and not because I was crouched down hiding behind a pillar to photograph a bloody seagull.  I felt like a fool because the gull was beautiful.  I felt like a fool because had I known it was "just" a seagull I would not have gone to all of that trouble to photograph it and therefore would not have experienced that moment.  

Since the advent of the internet, my previous photography company's website had the following quote on the front page: "It is not what you look at that matters, rather what you see."   Henry David Thoreau's words smacked me in my mind’s eye.  It is one thing to paste inspiring chalkboard lettered quotes on your social media feed etc., it is another to live them.  To really pay attention to them.  The Gull was beautiful.  Stopping to look and photograph the bird I noticed so many interesting characteristics.  Apart from its graceful posture, subtle shades of colour it had a wisdom to it.  It was watching me, for a brief moment we connected.  

"I see you watching me, thank you for seeing me." 
"You are welcome, my friend. I hope you find something yummy to eat."

Watercolour Seagull

How many other things do I ignore every day because they are "just" this or "just" that.  What have I missed while looking and not seeing?  

Ironically I have since watched the resident eagle fly overhead several times, twice while trying to figure out where to mount my camera in the cockpit so I have it ready for when... well for when a damn eagle flies overhead.  Sadly I have not seen the gull again but when I do I will be sure to "see" him.

Sea gull Canoe Cove Sidney British Columbia

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  • He is a very majestic seagull

  • Glaucous winged gull in its first winter. 😁

    Ruth Bowes

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