Pretend Meals: Seek the Gift of Science with an Ornithologist!
When I was 18, I had met my future husband. He was 21 and a professional photographer. I was in my last year of high school, studying for my photography degree. I was never interested in photography before that point, but when our relationship developed I began to love it. So why is photography so special to me?
There was this one photo of a rainbow — and at first I thought it was just my own rainbow. Then I noticed that it was different from others. It did not have some kind of contrast. It was bright and it had a bright blue and yellow cloud behind it.
I knew immediately that this photo was different and that it was my first sign of life. I just felt a sense of peace, a calmness, and a sense of belonging.
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I was fascinated with wildlife and always have been. I know I was an introvert when I was younger and was very attracted to painting and drawing. Now that I am an adult, I am starting to realize that maybe those artistic tendencies started early.
One day when I was in high school, I overheard my friend talking about birds. She had found an owl and was sharing that information with me. She said this owl’s lower leg was missing, though her branch showed that it was intact. So I knew that I had to try to find the owl.
So on that particular Saturday, I decided to go birdwatching at Bird Wonderland and take some time with my friends. When I heard the noise of someone shooting, I got scared, but then I felt a sort of peace wash over me. I saw the owl standing in front of a bright white window. I walked closer and took out my camera.
I sat on a nearby bench, covered with palm fronds to make sure I wasn’t being tracked by the human ear. I looked down and that was the owl. It was staring directly at me. Then, in a flash, I felt a sort of weight on my shoulders.
The sound of that owl doing its thing carried across the park and toward the family of five. They jumped out of their car and ran in my direction. When I turned around, I was holding an owl’s lower leg. I took out the photo.
As soon as I saw the owl, I knew this was it. It had a number, and that number was 8. For the record, my shooter had a 4. The 10th letter in the alphabet, for those who don’t remember those days, was D. So as I placed my gear next to the owl, I knew something big was about to happen.
When he went into the photo, I knew it was going to be a good one. It looked right at me, and even though I was horrified, the owl waved at me, put his head in my lap, then walked off. It was enough to capture me on camera.
I got my shot.
That being said, I was not very happy about what I was doing. I was preparing for the end. I had to get a shot of the owls for the story. I shot my way into the woods — about two miles of woods — first through the dead of night. The owls were not so interested in me. I spent most of the night out of the woods. It took two more days to get my story.
But when I was done with the story, I was relieved and jubilant. The owl was proud of me. I went to the photo lab, took the owl out of the box, and handed it to the photographer. The owl was a secret behind the glass. I was also filming the owl, so the photographer called to the owl. He watched it open its mouth, then he showed it to the person standing at the counter. The owl was so tiny that they both thought it was small plastic animal. The person holding the little owl (who was an excited man) said, “Hello.” He went up to the owl, and the owl opened its mouth to look at him.
I reached over and shook the little owl’s hand. I said, “You’re very cute. You look so tiny,” and the owl responded, “Yes.”
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I went home, thinking about this moment in time. I told my friends about my night with the owl, and they were