Camera in hand, I set out for a bike path/swan hunting adventure. The sun was blindingly bright but the air was awfully chilly. As I meditated before heading out, I tried to imagine that my life could be like a tuning fork pitched to the note of God Himself and wondered what adventures that might bring. Would I see swans in this wintry weather? Once on the path I just enjoyed being in the moment and said let's try not to drown the chances of this happening in a sea of expectation.
I took a few photos of some birds standing on the ice which I called birds walking on water. Then over a craggy outcropping of rocks I saw a bunch of different birds and climbed off the path to reach this point for a better look. As a complete amateur, by the time I got out there I made such noise that they all scattered off. No harm. I'll sit on this rock and meditate on the water around me and wait! To my delight, geese arrived pretty noisily and I enjoyed my fill of just sitting and watching them. As I was starting to leave, I noticed that near me there were two people with what looked like fancy cameras on tripods. I certainly had been finding my own instamatic camera inadequate. I struck up a conversation with them and found that they were a father and son come from the neighboring state to bird watch here because apparently this cove is very good for birding.
Next thing I knew, I was looking through some kind of a telescope, learning about Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeon (they squeak instead of quack), Eurasians, red-necked can't remembers, and above all getting the final lowdown on the geese that I had been wondering about. They're wintering here in these coves that are only a stone's throw from my house. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming as I looked at these magnificent birds through equipment that made it look like they were right in front of me. The Hooded Mergansers have these spiked feathers on the top of their heads that had me shaking my head in amazement. The father was especially excited when telling me about seeing a rare bird from Puerto Rico that spent some time in a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania a couple of months ago (blown off course by hurricanes they think).
After they left, I sat back down on the rock listening to the geese talk up a storm, not able to drag myself away. Are geese like swans with a smudge, I asked myself? Then after all that I had already witnessed, two swans swam around the corner of the cove and eventually ended up quite near me. Yes, we talked. No, I didn't bring bread -- for which they definitely scolded me. My camera had long since run out film, which felt oddly appropriate. And the only thing biting was the wind. The advice of a photographer that they do like talking proved more than true. They liked Sri Chinmoy's songs too as far as I can tell. I left there certain I found the right note on the tuning fork. If I'm lucky, I'm a little wiser for having kept the company of so many feathered friends today.