Life Off Camera

Happy Eclipse Day—the first total solar eclipse in 38 years that we’ll be able to see here in the States! Some friends traveled to Carbondale, Illinois for this occasion since that’s the place where it can be viewed the longest.

Try as I may, I’m not always able to capture, via my phone’s camera, all of life’s amazing moments. Like the time aliens took over New York, but were stopped by the Avengers (thus freeing us to all have shawarma at the end). Or the time when the evil peace-keeping robot (what an irony) threatened to destroy the world, and the Avengers had to help out again.

Okay, those events happened on the big screen, instead of in real life.

But I can’t help thinking of last week when I witnessed a territorial fight between two male hummingbirds. I immediately thought of Jill Weatherholt, a blogger/author you undoubtedly know. Lest you get the wrong idea, I didn’t think of her because of the fight. Jill has shown me photos of the hummingbirds around her house.

I was seated near the balcony at the home of some friends after their hummingbird feeder had been refilled and placed on the balcony. The usual ruby-throated hummingbird soon landed on the feeder. Let’s call him HB-1. I mentioned “usual,” because one of my friends told me this hummingbird usually came to the feeder. But this day, a rival came too—HB-2.

Oh no, he didn’t!

Oh, yes he did!

Pretty soon, tiny wings beat the air even faster, while long beaks jabbed. After a bob and weave, HB-1 got the better of HB-2 and forced his rival to fly away. Sadly, my phone was nowhere near me at the time, so I did not get pictures.

Nor was I able to capture something that happened at a birthday party I went to recently. The birthday child was a little girl who turned one. Over forty kids were present. One of the games they played was one involving a box wrapped with about fifty layers of wrapping paper. The kids sat in a circle and passed the box around, each unwrapping one layer, hoping to be the one who reached the last layer. That kid would have the privilege of claiming what was inside the box.

The kids gave that box the care and attention a neurosurgeon would give a patient. Every time the kids thought they’d reached the end of the wrapping paper, still more layers would appear. Without knowing what was in the box, they were fully invested in solving the mystery of what was inside. I was the one tasked with picking up the discarded wrapping paper, so I didn’t have a free hand to snap a photo. But I loved the fact that the kids were riveted by a wrapped box, rather than some expensive video game. (Lest you think I dislike video games, let me admit to you now that I play them. Just sayin’.)

Neither of these moments has the awe-factor of a solar eclipse, I know. But life has these little moments of mystery and wonder—moments too quick or too powerful to capture on film. Like the time a two-year-old hugged me around my knees. Like the laughs I shared with friends last week. I’m glad I was fully present, enjoying those moments, instead of fumbling for my camera.

But I was able to capture this butterfly not too long ago. He sat still, allowing me time to photograph him (though I wish I’d managed a closeup).

What moments have you enjoyed recently that took your breath away, but that you weren’t able to record on your camera?

Solar eclipse image from Wikipedia. Avengers poster from Hummingbird from Wrapping paper from Monarch butterfly photo by L. Marie.

44 thoughts on “Life Off Camera

  1. I can’t tell you how much I love to be thought of when someone sees a hummingbird or two, L. Marie. It makes me happy. 🙂 I’m thrilled that you were able to watch two hummies battle over a feeder. This month, we’ve have amazing action at our three feeders. The territorial wars are non-stop. We’ll miss them when they migrate in late September and early October. But for now, I’ve always got my camera ready. Enjoy the eclipse!

  2. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t always stress over taking a picture. Being in the moment is more important and I feel distant if I spend all my time looking through a camera or a phone. I mean, I’d have liked to get pictures of the ospreys we saw yesterday, but they were too far. Good enough that we saw them and my son was thrilled. Although, does it seem to take longer to get a phone ready for a picture than a camera? One is point and click while the other is unlock, open app, aim, adjust with fingers, and then shoot.

  3. I went to Ashville, NC, the weekend before last Christmas to see my friend’s wedding, and afterward I did some sightseeing because our family used to visit that area when I was a kid. I rented a car and drove through the mountains to a few different places, and a lot of the drive was wondrous and fascinating to me. It was very different from the landscapes I’m used to. But I only took pictures when I wasn’t driving. They’re good reminders of that trip, and I treasure them.

  4. I try to keep my phone away from the community pool since it doesn’t do well in water and I need two free hands, but it’s been a joy to watch Angus become braver and braver as he learns how to swim. A forced hiatus like that always reminds me how important it is to be in the present.

    • Awww!!! I’ll bet! It’s probably also bittersweet too.

      Some friends of mine are missing the days when their kids were small. Their kids are now heading off to college!

  5. Watching the eclipse online because I’m too far away. And speaking of hummingbirds fighting, my neighborhood’s official online news source has featured a pair of red-tailed hawks, Christo and Dora, for quite a while. Their most recent saga involves a rat that Christo captured for his and Dora’s fledgling, Ten, but by the time he delivered it, Ten had captured her own rat.

    • How cool!

      The eclipse was quite amazing. I had to watch some of it online, because of the heavy cloud cover here. But the sun finally made an appearance. The sky turned dark. We heard crickets.

  6. I’ve never been much of a picture-taker and don’t even carry a phone or a camera. I know it’s a sign of age, but I hate seeing everyone raise their camera every time something happens rather than just looking – like at the climax of a sporting event, or worse, when something horrible is happening. I do sometimes regret not having a camera with me if I see something pretty in nature though.

  7. Loved this!
    I attended a hummingbird festival at a nearby forest preserve on Saturday. It was such fun and packed! I bumped into a gardening friend from a club other than my own and we chatted, oohed and aaahed, and we even sat down in the children’s craft area to make hummingbird feeders out of felt. Unfortunately, the hummers did not cooperate while we were there, so, we were not able to see one banded. These little creatures actually fly across the Gulf of Mexico as part of their migration – some 20+ hours in the air. To do that, I understand how fierce they can be in competition at the feeders. What a moment in time for you to observe this skirmish of hummingbirds, L. Marie.

    • Aww. I love that craft idea, Penny. So sorry you were not able to see the banding.
      I’m so amazed that creatures that small fly for so long!

      Yes, I was so glad to see them, despite their altercation. 😀

  8. Hummingbirds are so awesome. In Maryland, when I read outside on the deck, they would come hover over my shoulder to see what I was reading. 😀

    We have annual passes to Kennedy Space Center . . . so we went yesterday for the Solar Eclipse Day festivities. The most amazing thing to me was how much cooler it was when the eclipse was at its peak (about 83% coverage by the moon) ~> the temperature dropped from the 90’s into the 80’s. Aah . . . that’s better!

    • Wow, how wonderful, Nancy! What a view you must have had!

      I also noticed the drop in temperature. It was soooo nice. Afterward the humidity rushed back in full force. Sigh.

  9. Still glowing in solar bliss…we went to Sumter, SC a stone’s throw from the venue where I gave my SwS presentation June 3rd (about 50 minutes from where we currently live)…and got to see it at 100% totality! I had been prepping myself to buck up and just take those darn glasses off during the ‘safe’ time, so with a little ooohing and ahhhing encouragement from hubby, I had ’em off and wow.
    Not a pitch black sky, more a midnight blue and felt like moonlight on a clear evening…crickets started chirping – then just as suddenly stopped!
    The whole camera thing is way over-rated, nothing’s like the real thing!!!!
    I really should blog a bit about the experience, but maybe I’ll simmer on a song for later?
    later, pal.

  10. I recognize the lament of the amateur photographer who always arrives a second too late after the event! 🙂
    I am often like you, Linda. Yesterday I laughed watching my son feed his geese and chickens. What a concert. But when I finally thought to make a short video, it was over! Grrrr! 🙂
    BTW can be one day you will make an entry with Jill.
    Love ❤

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