I Thought I’d Never See

A Flock of Flamingoes

Flocks of flamingo. Africa. Kenya. Lake Nakuru

Driving across the Caribbean island of Bonaire in a hard-used rental truck equipped with a shimmy and loose steering, Joel and I crested a hill and saw approximately two hundred flamboyant pink flamingoes wading in a large body of shallow water. Their long, stretched-out necks and heads, barely submerged and held parallel to the pond’s floor, snaked back and forth searching for food in a mesmerizing underwater undulation of flamingo heads. Long minutes passed. We couldn’t stop watching

A Bevy of Belugas

But there they were, surging through the ocean waters of Cook’s Inlet in Alaska, leaping waves in equidistant rows, barreling toward the horizon: syncopated, buoyant, a playful army on the march. We joined other drivers who’d abandoned their cars on the shoulders of the highway and rushed to the edge of the water as the whales paraded before us in formation. Strangers no longer, we all watched with smiles on our faces, passing the word, belugas, to newcomers, until the last rank disappeared.

A Band of Rams

Group of Rocky Mountain SheepWe came across five desert bighorn sheep as we explored Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. Suddenly, the superior-seeming animals stood in our path: uninterested in and unalarmed by our presence. They noted our arrival and stood as though posing for our benefit, muscles flexed in case our intrusion became inconvenient. Stocky, confident, and indomitable, they stared at us from between rounded horns. We broke eye contact first.

A Pair of Peacocks Fly in Formation

Airborne, the peacocks winged their way above the narrow dirt road we followed along the Mississippi River. Both of the birds trailed tail feathers of length, partially fanned. They flew in tandem, outlined against a billowed cloud, their iridescent plumage highlighted by the afternoon sun. We watched their graceful passage across the sky and felt privileged.

A Lone Lizard Perform a Feat

Common basilisk lizardIt stalked the earth below a Mayan ruin in Belize. The few tourists present gave way before its royal pace and majestic body, nearly three-feet long and crowned with intimidating crests. Cameras clicked. Then the incredible happened. Startled by a noise we didn’t hear, or perhaps tired of our attention, the lizard reared on its hind legs and sprinted away. We gasped at the sight of an upright lizard running to cover. Later, I learned it was a common basilisk, more widely known as the Jesus lizard because it runs, erect, over both land and water.

I didn’t expect to see any of these marvels, but I was blessed to do so.

And in my mind, I see them still.

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44 thoughts on “I Thought I’d Never See

  1. This reminds me of a quote from from the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, my all time favorite flick. To set the scene, a professional photographer (Sean O’Connell) and Walter Mitty are on a mountain side watching a Snow Leopard. Walter asks the photographer when he is going to take the picture and the photographer responds with, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just stay in it (the moment).”

    As an amateur photographer, this quote struck home. The best lens we could ever have is the eye. The best “chip” is our memory. Sometimes it is best to have the memory instead of the distraction. You have just painted with your words, some BEAUTIFUL photography, taken through an astronomical lens and stored on your amazing “chip”. I stand in awe.

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  2. You are fortunate to have such beautiful memories. I remember the day a deer decided to park in our back yard. (We’re in the city.) He spent the very hot day under our trees. I went out and left water, which did not frighten him. It was a delightful day.

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  3. Wonderful imagery. I just wrote a description of a hummingbird using “iridescently.” I too keep those unexpected, wonderful encounters tucked away. They are good company on a winter’s evening. “Their long, stretched-out necks and heads, barely submerged and held parallel to the pond’s floor, snaked back and forth searching for food in a mesmerizing underwater undulation of flamingo heads.” Good stuff this.

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      • The town where I live depends on the fall hunting season for deer and elk for a boost to its flagging economy. Orange banners posted on businesses around town proclaim Craig the Elk Hunting Capital of the World and sometimes it seems its not an empty boast as hunters pour into town and traffic increases to the point we sometimes have to wait as long as a minute to cross our main streets where there’s no light. such excitement over shooting magnificent animals.

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      • I don’t hunt, but I’d eat elk three times a day if I could. I had a friend who did his hunting at the bar on “Lady”‘s night among the hunting widows. He said, “Well, it’s open range.” I found that offensive and cut ties with him; you can’t be my friend and act like that.

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      • I was raised with hunters and venison or elk for dinner; so, though I choose not to hunt I don’t denigrate those who hunt and make use of the meat.I’m glad the verb in your second sentence was “had” not “have.”

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  4. My second night in Tasmania- camping in a remote park- very cold night. I got up at “O-Dark Nasty” to wee- in the moonlight, across a scrubby field, odd low lumps moved, a herd of sheep? No, a herd of Wombats…next to Flamingos my favorite creatures. I am writing about blessings right now- how wonderful that you got to see free Flamingos! And what a lovely post- another Tuesday in Home Odd Home- well lived. thanks Janet. (In a perfect world, every midnight wee would be an adventure)

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  5. Well, I had to look up wombat before I could reply to you, Sheila. I had pictured the rather cute little things correctly, but knew nothing about them. While reading about them, I learned they have a rear pouch that keeps their babies mud-free while they’re digging and that they deposit cubic feces. I’d say you midnight wee was well rewarded.

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    • “Blessed are the bold, for they will see true, wild Flamingos.venture fearless up the back roads, marvel at the wonder of a Rocky Mountains Sheep…across the cable swing bridge stride..cast your wishes to the mystery of the canyon below, dark and deep…blessed are the kind…(Work in Poggress)

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    • Thank you, Read on. True confession: I don’t take the pictures, though I wish I did. I get them from a website called Dollar Photo Club. I’m afraid I’m strictly a word person unlike my many blog friends who excel at both.

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  6. I always learn something when I read your posts, Janet. Beluga, meaning white whale, what a treat. The flamingoes are so dramatic against the blues. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful journey with us. 🙂

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  7. I find that the folks I tend to like share a love of creatures with me whether the tiniest bird or magnificent beasts. So I’m not surprised you love experiencing nature and its creatures — though I first realized that when I read your post about the menagerie of pets you’d and your wife enjoy and care for.

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