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Whereby a Great Blue Heron Changed My Life

When digital cameras were new, I bought one right away--I had always loved photography, but I simply couldn't bear waiting days or weeks for a roll of film to be developed only to find that most of the photos were blurry or useless. Money down the drain. But the worst part was the waiting. Now, NO WAITING. Just pop that little card into a card reader and up they came, your photos in all their glory. Deleting was fun, but seeing the few keepers was so satisfying that I couldn't get enough. I took the camera with me everywhere and took photos of pets, people, beaches, houses, trees, anything. On this particular day, Kathy and I were taking a walk around Phoenix Lake in Marin. I saw a Mallard down by the water's edge, climbed down to grab a shot, stopped when I heard Kathy hiss at me. TURN AROUND! I turned and there it stood, not 15 feet away, a Great Blue Heron that seemed almost my height! I slowly raised the camera. Click click. It took wing in an awkward lumbering feathery way. I walked up the bank, changed forever.

I fell in love in that moment and never looked back. And the thing is, I knew it then. As if hit by lightning, I felt ignited! Dazzled! Ablaze! I knew that I had stumbled onto the love of my life--to capture wildlife, to search for, watch for, wait for, and find glorious wild things. To record their lives, their habits, their movements, their wild beauty.

I was almost 60 then, so many years to make up! Now at 85, I glance at my Lightroom catalog and see there are 82,501 photos.

Some are truly wonderful (about 50) and the rest record my valiant efforts to learn more and more about photography and wildness.

I'm still in love.

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