Very slow

There is a small stream. I leave the road and enter the path beside it, while looking for the squirrel I saw sitting on a branch that bent over the path, last year. I saw the squirrel several times, as I broke through the foliage. Not this time though. Instead there is a cock pheasant, it is so startled that it flies into the nearest three, which is far too willowy to carry its weight. There it sways and flops very undignified for a couple of terrified seconds, until the movement gives it a set off and it flies away. I do have the camera in hand, but I am fumbling and does not raise the objective, before the tree stands by itself in the morning light. I walk on, but with the furrow of a smile by the mouth. Funny and annoying.

There is a blackbird. It is occupying a low branch with a background of new bright green goutweed. The light is steaming in golden stripes on the leaves, the goutweed is pulsating green and the beak of the black bird is lit yellow from within. It is very close, it looks at me, I fumble, it stays on the branch, I point the objective towards it and in the moment I press the release, it flies off with a melodic laughter.

wing of a black bird

I am leaning against the trunk of a tree with the roots in the stream. I have just eaten a roll with cheese and thought mournfully about both the pheasant and the black bird and my fumbling’s with the camera. I feel a movement and I look towards it, and there on the other side of the stream by a knobbley trunk and a slope full of flowering anemones and soft light and shadows crossing each other, is a robin with the chest bulgingly red, so red that it almost overpowers all the fine colors of the morning light.  I take a picture. I take yet another picture. The robin looks at me one last time and vanishes. HA. I look at the viewer. And somehow I managed to ”%¤””&¤Y#Y point the objective just beneath the bird. Anemones, yes, but no robin. At this point I emit an internal bellow of misfortune, which if it was heard aloud would probably make the wood shiver. MOMMY – the birds are teasing!

I walk on. I am downcast and incredible slow. I mumble like a mantra “My heart is not a flower nor a leaf, and spring does not make it happy. My heart is not a flower nor a leaf…” I cannot possibly move any slower. I rest and sigh for a while, then I walk again. I am standing on a stone in the water. It is interesting how the stream completely changes character depending on the light and the season of year, its bed has also changed since last year. SULK. There are no tadpoles yet, but there are some strange small creatures in the shallow water that looks like gammarus pulex (we call them fresh water fleas), there are dragonflies and crane flies and snails. There are also several birds which I ignore. EXCEPT the robin that sat down on a branch nearby while I was looking at insects and decided to stay there so I could take a mournful in memorandum picture. Some would say that bumblebees are slow and clumsy beings. There are many bumblebees about. It is the last of the big queens finally awoken from the winter sleep and now looking for a place to nest. They have an erratic flight pattern, and then they are also too fast for me. When the crane flies sit still they are interesting too, so seemingly fragile, and then with this weird elongated trunk-like jaw. I resign to it.

the robin who let me take its picture - skeptical though
the robin who let me take its picture – skeptical though

Two hours have passed. I have walked the kilometer from the place where the stream runs beneath the road to the place, where it springs from the ground. I am not done being outside, so I decide to make my way back along the other side of the stream. It has come to my attention that this is possible at least in the months of spring. Actually the water runs so low, that in several places I can walk on the rocks in the shallow water instead of going up and through the shrubbery and trees. I walk, once in a while I take a picture, but my head by now is empty of anything besides the sound of water and the sight of light and shadow in it. I am standing on such a rock, when I see something moving beneath a branch that is wedged between two stones. It looks like a small butterfly in a spider web. There is a sandbank nearby, so I move there and I see that it is a mayfly, but apparently not caught in a web, but hanging in a tread of its own making. It catches and flies against the light and the reflection in the rapidly moving water, catching after its shadow, after itself. I put my bag down and kneel, carefully reaching for my camera. While it flies the shadow is often more distinct than it is, often the shadow is blown away by ripples. The light blinds me and the fly dances on a string, tied in time, but with the whole universe within reach. At least this is how it looks. It is the most beautiful fly I have ever seen.

you are


Should I have let it dance like that till it died? I get up, and maybe I already thought about it, while I took the pictures. What was it doing? Was it a tread by its own making or was it attached to the web of a spider after all? Would it not die, while it danced, fooled by the clarity of the water and the glimpse of the universe we saw? I feel connected. I reach out for the branch it is attached to and carry it carefully to the bank of the stream, where I put it down. The mayfly does not fly, I look at it and it feels like it looks at me too. Interrupted in its dance. I take a picture. I get up and leave. On my way I encounter two ducks, they descend through the dense foliage and land with great precision and elegance on the narrow stream. I am still very slow, maybe not as slow as a tree or a snail or a stream, but slow. The mayfly lives for a whole day. I walk slowly towards home, lunch soon.

mayfly on old leaves