Saturday, April 27, 2013


It has been a lovely, fling-the-doors-and-windows-open kind of day and Duncan and I have spent much of it out in the world, walking the park, chasing squirrels down The Run, even strolling to the mail room and back, a chore I tend to put off as long as possible. And while I walked I did exactly the sort of thing I'm not supposed to do, which is to forget the walk itself and focus, instead, on what I think I'm supposed to do.

As you may recall, I've joined my friend Sue in an April Photo-of-the-Day challenge. Each day we're given a theme and we're supposed to find something to photograph that describes that word or phrase in some manner. I've primarily used it as a tool to help me blog, which I've struggled to do on a regular basis for quite some time. The only problem is that my blog is about not having an agenda; it's about moving out into the world without a goal, without a destination, and allowing myself to be led wherever my feet and Duncan take me. Quite often that theme has nothing to do whatsoever with where we wind up or what Dunc wants to do so I find myself not enjoying our walks, not paying attention to the world but instead looking for what I want the world to be.

And that can have disastrous consequences.

Today's theme was "earth," a rather vague and annoying theme if I say so myself. But, I made a promise to myself to complete the challenge and so Duncan and I marched out, he with his nose to the ground, his ears high to catch every note of the birdsong drifting down from the cottonwoods and maples, me with my eyes focused solely on every patch of dirt, every rock that might be the slightest bit photogenic, anything that I could focus my camera on. The more we walked, the less I actually saw, and the more desperate I became. Duncan, who waits patiently––most of the time––seemed a bit annoyed at my sluggish pace and my inability to just walk, to enjoy the day for what it was and not what I thought it should be. But I, as usual, forgot my lessons, and focused on all the wrong things.

Finally, down in The Glen, I spotted a nice patch of earth, dark and gold in the sun, at the base of a pine, the mottled trunk rising up in a suitably interesting manner. While I stepped in close, knelt down beneath it and examined it from all angles, Duncan would have nothing to do with it. He kept a safe distance, hunkered down on the hillside and watched me, sighing loudly as he is wont to do. Finally I located the patch I wanted to photograph and hardly noticed the tickles running up and down my legs and arms while I snapped picture after picture. It wasn't until the tickles began to itch, and then to burn, that I bothered to notice I'd stepped right into a nest of ants, which were busy acclimating themselves to the contours of my body.

I leapt up and began shaking them off, swinging my legs back and forth, rubbing them vigorously, sweeping off my arms and neck, shaking out my shirt and shorts. I danced a mad dance, sliding down the hill, losing my balance and falling on my belly where I had the good sense to roll in the grass. Duncan normally would have taken this as a signal to play but he merely sat and watched while I made an ass of myself in front of a woman and her Pomeranian who stood in her window, jaws agape, eyebrows cocked in confusion.

Enjoy the photo and know that I suffered for my art.

To the amusement of my dog.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I tried really hard not to laugh. Honest, I did. It's your fault you know, what with all your descriptiveness.

I feel (or have felt) your pain. I hate that moment of realization that the tickle your brain has so helpfully been filtering to the background of your consciousness was actually fair warning.

And ants? Insidious little bastards that I can only begrudgingly acknowledge for their critical role in the ecosystem.