At the moment I’m writing this post, I have no internet connection. Besides that little bit of roadblock (that really isn’t a roadblock) I’m living every writers dream. I’m sitting on the deck of a beach house, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, having just woken from a nap and feeling really relaxed.
It’s Sister Weekend. This is our Second Annual Sister Weekend, to be exact, but we were just here five months ago so does that make this our bi-annual weekend? I’m not sure. I’m just basking in the time I get to disconnect from the world. It’s just me, my sister, our camera’s and a good amount of hooch.
Yesterday we went from one nature preserve to another from before sun up to after sun down. I took over 3,000 photographs yesterday if that gives you any perspective. In South Texas, we are seeing a wind down of the Winter Birds and are anxiously awaiting the much anticipated Spring Migration to finally begin.
Today has been low key, a brief jaunt to a nature sanctuary and then back to the beach house to walk along the beach, and about 1,200 more photographs to edit today.
Sister weekend has been an experiment in minimalism for me and it has helped me feel so free! I didn’t bring a single item of makeup with me, not even a hair brush. I just brought a comb and a couple of caps to throw on my head and nothing but sweats, shorts and comfy t-shirts. I didn’t even bring a purse!
The days have been devoted to exploring and the evenings have been devoted to food, wine and reading books on our devices. We haven’t stayed up later than 9:30 at night and it has been grand.
One of the birds we saw yesterday was a Ruby Crown Kinglet. We engaged with that little guy until his ruby crown appeared and he began squawking at us. My sister has an app that plays the bird song of the bird we want to engage with to photograph. No birds are harmed, ever. We just play their song and see if they want to come out to play. Boy did he want to play! I must have shot about 70 images of just him.
It wasn’t long before he was making it clear he was done playing with us and was ready to have his quiet space back. He didn’t bother holding back his annoyance. He was definitely over it.
We saw a lot of Coots, Egrets, Grebes, and of course the tried and true this time of year – the Yellow Rumped Warbler. I’ve recently learned their nickname is “ButterButt”, you can clearly see why. Their tiny chirps are pretty recognizable and they don’t mind if we get close enough for some really good shots. They are quick though – so it can be a dance of patience to find them sitting still.
I am learning about how many species of Sparrow there are. We saw Savannah’s, Songs and Swamp Sparrows yesterday. They are all very skittish and don’t really have the trust to allow us to get too close. My sister has a lens that allows her to get great shots from far away – I’m shooting with a 55-200 lens most of the time and my technique is not what my sisters has become since she began birding a few years ago. She has really become quite the wildlife photographer, her work is pretty amazing. I just try to keep up and find something interesting to shoot.
Of course, as is often the case, I’m drawn to photograph the things with lines, or shapes that draw my attention, and the occasional dead thing. This morning as I was walking down the beach back home, I found a seagul protecting his breakfast, a fair sized catfish that he was standing over, looking very possessive of. I couldn’t resist snapping some photos of it. I don’t know what draws me to dead things, I just imagine they have a story to tell and it intreagues me. Yesterday we were shooting some cattle grazing in a pasture and I spotted a full skeleton of a downed cow. Of course, I had to stop and take some photos of it. I haven’t edited them yet, so I’ll spare my fine readers the cow bone photos. It’s okay if no one understands my love of morbid photography, neither does my sister.
Then there are the alegators. We saw so many on the water yesterday, of all ages and sizes. Some of the little one’s are so cute. The big ones are like modern day dinosaurs and the texture of their skin is stunning to capture.
This time on Sister Weekend we decided to cook more at home than eat out. Cheryl made her family-famous Chicken Pot Pie last night and we finished it for lunch today. It was amazing comfort food and I am definitely adding it to my cooking lineup at home. Today I am introducing her to my Ramen that I usually prepare on Sundays for my daughter and I, but I’ve never made it for Cheryl. It’s been simmering in the slow cooker all day and it’s smelling really amazing inside the Beach House.
As I look around at the ocean right off the balcony, I am humbled by the amount of opportunity I’ve been presented with since the divorce. I have never allowed myself this much freedome before. I have traveled more in the last twelve months than I have in the last twenty years. I have made memories, deepend friendships and nurtured relationships that have blessed me beyond measure.
Life is just really, really good.