June 10, 2013

Points East: Keeping a camera close

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Most of the time at sunset and in the early morning fog when the light is just perfect, Loretta and I have cameras handier that most cops have side arms at the ready. You just never know when you ‘re going to need or have the opportunity to shoot something.  

In our case it’s opportunity and we know that most law enforcement officers  don’t ever want to pull their guns and only do so when the need arises. But we love to be ready to pull our cameras out and shoot, without warning, the random ray of light on a honeysuckle flower or flock of geese on the wing.  Dew on the roses or robins just hatched. Grandsons a grinning or causing mischief. Gardens a growing in weather like this. You get the picture (no pun intended).  

The problem is, we don’t have holsters and even when we are driving slowly with cameras in our laps out and about actually looking for stuff to shoot, we miss most of the good stuff. And oh so rarely do we get a photo worth keeping when we are out searching. The best ones are the ones we carry in our memories—the ones that got away when we had no camera handy.  

I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the front porch late in the day or early in the morning when I have literally yelled back inside the house, something to the effect of “Granny get your gun and hurry up about it.”      

A chipmunk munching on a peanut hull in the morning mist on the rock wall out front of the yard.  Wood peckers of several types and sizes on rotted old fence posts and a mama bobwhite quail, just last week, hastily herding her brood of a dozen or so chicks out of the garden for unfounded fear that I would do them harm.  

And baby and half-grown rabbits. Apparently the wettest spring we’ve had in a while has caused the briars and undergrowth to grow such that rabbits have an abundance of shelter from their predators along with all the sprouts of their favorite foods. Any hour of the day on Old Railroad Grade,  which runs five or so miles up Lowell Branch Valley parallel to US 52, a young rabbit will dart across the road every three or so hundred yards right now. Late in the day or in the early morning they literally rule the road and it is amazing to me that so few are being killed by cars. Fast and agile are the rabbits and too fast and common to bother photographing. Even the local beagle hounds are bored.      

On the other hand, no camera close at hand, late last Friday I was watering the petunias and geraniums and such on our front porch when I saw what appeared to be a big dog loping down the middle of our road and realized almost at once that it was a coyote. “GRANNY GET YOUR GUN,” or something like that, I yelled  at Loretta but she only made it outside in time to watch the one on the road meet up with two others coming out of the woods  and then they ran the half mile, uphill length of the pasture next door  toward the fellow who lives on the other sided of the ridge. In broad daylight.

We hear these critters celebrating several times a night when they have caught some prey and I figure they are getting fat on rabbits. And I figure, that given the undergrowth, they have figured out how to spook them out onto the road which is why they will run up and down it without fear of humankind.

No photographs to prove it yet but I intend to get some. When the rabbits run out, our section of the county is going to be overrun with coyotes. We’ve had a recent rash of complaints of neighbors accusing neighbors of having dogs kill cattle, especially young calves. I suspect that they have not seen anything yet.   And unless they bring out something stouter than a camera when aiming at the coyotes, the problem is only going to worsen.  

My goal, in the short term, is to get some pictures so, instead of packing around a big camera, I’ve got one that will fit in my shirt pocket. And that’s as fast, on the draw, as a hip held holster. We’ll see.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
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