Snapshots

As my brain is otherwise occupied at the moment… a reblog from six years ago…

Red kite

Red kite

“It’s a humming bird moth!” said my younger son as he got out of the car. I’d picked him up to fix his suit for a wedding and the little creature was hovering over the last of the valerian outside the door. “You get so many things here,“ he added as I showed him a few of the latest photographs. An early start at my elder son’s had seen me out before the traffic where, for the second day running, I had managed to snap a couple of distant shots of the heron that seems to have taken up residence beside the main road. It is odd to see it so untroubled … this wild, almost prehistoric creature… as great, lumbering lorries speed past, while it potters about investigating the plastic bags of rubbish that someone had dumped. This is a bird built for fishing, not scavenging and the bird seems out of place… or maybe we are, diving through blindly the countryside at speed. People are driving past peering at me with the camera… not, apparently, even seeing what it is I am pointing it at.

An ostrich in Buckinghamshire?

An ostrich in Buckinghamshire?

It gets weird sometimes. This kind of thing happens a lot; we see something, a thing of grace and beauty, a thing of powerful presence… and while Stuart and I stare in awe, the world simply wanders past taking little notice; not, apparently, even seeing what we see. It started the very first weekend we were out with the hawks, long before we had any idea of writing together. We had stopped to gawp in awestruck delight at a red kite that was diving low into a garden, feet from the road, circling above then diving again… so big, so close and so very beautiful… so much strength and power in it… And a woman meandered past, holding her snack-sized child by the hand, within inches of the great talons… and didn’t even see it! She must have felt the wind from its wings but the beautiful thing didn’t seem to cast a shadow on her attention.

...or a scavenging heron...

…or a scavenging heron…

It’s not just birds either. Whole hills, apparently, slide past conscious attention to be filed as invisible. It reminds me of Douglas Adams and his ‘SEP Field’;

“An SEP is something we can’t see, or don’t see, or our brain doesn’t let us see, because we think that it’s somebody else’s problem…. The brain just edits it out, it’s like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won’t see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye.” He continues, “The technology involved in making something properly invisible is so mind-bogglingly complex that 999,999,999 times out of a billion it’s simpler just to take the thing away and do without it……. The ‘Somebody Else’s Problem field’ is much simpler, more effective, and ‘can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery.’ This is because it relies on people’s natural predisposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain.” Life, the Universe and Everything.

The really sad thing is that while Adams wrote humorous fiction, SEP theory is a recognised psychological effect that affects both individuals and populations…

The buzzard in the corner

Well, I know it’s there…

So, this morning I had the camera on the car seat and my eyes open as I drove through the early mists of an autumnal Sunday to my elder son’s to cook. This time I did not see the heron in a place I could stop… however, and coincidentally, there was a kite sitting on the fence by the road side. ‘Coincidental’ as there had just been a text exchange about their infrequently observed landings. I couldn’t really stop, so it was another quick shot. I’d had two kites and a buzzard in the past few days and sort of caught most of them on camera. Yesterday I had pulled over on the way back from dropping my younger son at a wedding. A buzzard flew over and landed… and, once I had finished staring and grinning, I just managed to capture it in the corner of the field before it flew off over the hedge.

On the fence

On the fence

Now as photographs go, I know that none of these are much good. But they mark a moment in time rather than capturing visual beauty. They are snapshots of a fleeting encounter, an instant that will never come again and, as such, they have their own beauty to me. I wonder how much we miss… how much I miss… because it simply doesn’t register… doesn’t make it past the attention-filters? Driving home I thought about that, listening to the cry of the kite above the car and being thankful that I can hear it. I remembered suddenly watching the night with an old friend, almost forty years ago. He was some decades my senior and stated, quite simply but with infinite regret that he missed hearing the bats that flitted overhead. Being so young I couldn’t imagine not being able to hear them, but I too have since lost that range and the bats fly in silence for me now. “The Flower that once has blown for ever dies” said Omar Khayyám; maybe we need to open our awareness to the world a little more and notice before the petals fall and are lost in a river of regrets and might have beens. We never get a second chance at now.

The wings of the moment

The wings of the moment

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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53 Responses to Snapshots

  1. willowdot21 says:

    A beautiful and interesting to read as it was the first time 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Widdershins says:

    Not surprised your brain is otherwise occupied. May this ‘now’ pass you by on the above mentioned wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely, Sue. Six years ago was before my time blogging. I appreciate you message here. I often think this same thing when I am having rhapsodies over an insect or flower no-one else in my family even notices. Life is about how you see things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Keep thinking about the heron in its otherworldly state of mind. It’s true, I think of them as prehistoric creatures too. There’s something ancient about the way they’re put together, too big to hang around long when people are about. But they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jenanita01 says:

    I am always amazed but what there is to see, even when most people don’t. They must have different eyes to us…

    Like

  6. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Don’t let SEP make you miss out on the little pleasures of life 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  7. V.M.Sang says:

    I have also been amazed by people walking by and not seeing things. Nature offers such splendours, both big and small. Some people will see an insect, fly or beetle, with irridescent bodies and say, ‘ugh, a fly/beetle,’ and maybe try to kill it.
    The same applies to people who visit places like museums and stately homes. You would think they would notice things there, as they’ve gone to see the place. But no! They walk past amazing sculptures, furniture, works of art etc with never a glance. At best they stop to take a selfie. Not ‘look at this wonderful piece of art/furniture/pottery’, but ‘look at me standing by (whatever).

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      And that’s the nail on the head, Viv… we live increasingly in a society that values that ‘look at me’ approach and culture.. and we miss so much when we become our main focus!

      Like

  8. This is such an important reminder to savor those small moments of beauty and grace.

    Like

  9. memadtwo says:

    Whenever I hear a bird, I try to locate it. People stare at me quizzically if they pay attention to me at all. I must admit its not a normal activity for city streets.

    But a few years ago as I went uptown to feed my nephew’s cat while he was away, I was startled by a hawk flying right above me up the street and landing on a tree. A police car was parked on the street and both policemen also got out of their car to look in wonder. Some things cannot be ignored. (K)

    Like

  10. trentpmcd says:

    Having a camera forces us to see what others miss, and even when we are without said camera, just having used it keeps us more alert… Like the post.

    Like

  11. Mary Smith says:

    This reminds me of when Jon and I were walking along a cliff top path on Aran and saw a school of porpoises below us. We stood, entranced. When some people came towards us we pointed down, excitedly and told them there were porpoises playing. “Oh, yes,” they said as they walked on. Maybe they’d seen them often, but I think if I saw them every day, I’d still be entranced.

    Like

  12. Oh wow, those wings Sue! What a shot!!!

    Like

  13. noelleg44 says:

    Lovely, Sue. I think I missed a lot when I was preoccupied with kids and work and the house etc. Now that I am retired, I SEE more and find such wonders around me to enjoy! It’s hard to pull off the rad around here to take a picture – the motorists behind you take umbrage.

    Like

  14. Eliza Waters says:

    Insightful post, Sue. Being attuned to nature, I am constantly noticing things others pass right by… it often leaves me baffled, “how can they miss that?” I wonder. Lost in their human world, I guess. I kind of feel sorry for them. 😉

    Like

  15. Jennie says:

    Wow! When you really look, there are wonders to see.

    Like

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