Monday, May 26, 2008
Why I never, ever leave home without my camera
Years ago, when Robb and I had finished our contracts at the Dallas Theatre Center (never to return again!) we took a little camping vacation through Texas. We stopped in Austin to visit our friend Spencer, and managed to leave our tent in his house. We had stayed up very very late that night, and Spencer's house was knee deep in books and who-knows-what. We somehow misplaced our tent in all the clutter. We were at the campsite, unloading our car, when I asked Robb where he had packed the tent. He gave me a horrified look and said, "I thought you packed the tent!" Robb sort of freaked out, and when I tried to calm things down by reminding him that we were car camping and that we could always sleep in our station wagon, he said something that still makes me laugh. "Stop being so reasonable," he said "I'm trying to have a hissy fit."
Once we bought a replacement tent, we had a pretty crazy animal-filled vacation. While we were setting up the campsite, a Chihuahuan Raven dropped a live and large black snake, practically on Robb's head. Robb and I were walking down a path, when we noticed something falling from the trees above me. That something turned out to be snake poop, from the largest snake either of us had ever seen in the wild. Then there were the gators, and the peacocks that screamed (freaky and blood curdling!) all night long. The turtle laying eggs in the middle of our path. The first and only live armadillo we saw in Texas, which was snoofling around the base of the campsite's pay station, and which was visited by a large owl as we were watching it.
Despite all of this, the most memorable encounter with wildlife on this trip happened while Robb was in the showers, and I was sitting at our picnic table, writing postcards.
I was sitting quietly, when a bobcat strolled into our campsite. I held my breath, as it locked eyes with me. I didn't move a muscle, and all the while I was wishing two things.
One: that Robb would come back in time to see this beautiful, graceful, magical animal. (He didn't. And when I told the rangers about all this, they didn't believe a word of it.)
And Two: that my camera wasn't all the way across the campsite, on the other side of the bobcat. Although -- or maybe because -- I never got a photo of this animal, I will always remember the sense of awe I experienced, being in the presence of this beautiful cat. I always figured that no photo could ever live up to this memory.
Robb and I had spent the morning at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, exploring the tidepools, and laying on the beach. We were at our car, in the neighborhood near this park, and I was changing my shoes, when something ran across the street, about a block away. I thought I had seen a fox, but the tail seemed all wrong. I bolted out of the parked car, grabbed my camera, swapped out the lenses, and trotted down the street. I really didn't expect to see anything, and I'm certain that Robb thought I was insane to even bother trying to catch up to a wild hunter.
When I got to the place where I saw the animal disappear, I spotted not a fox, but a young bobcat, standing on a fallen tree. To have the opportunity -- again -- to look into the eyes of a magnificent wild cat was so thrilling!
I shot off a few photos, and then tore back down the stree. As soon as I was back at the car, I told Robb to drive down to where I had just been, and amazingly, the cat was still there. So this time, I got both my wishes. I got a killer photograph, and was able to share the experience with Robb.