Saturday, October 31, 2009

Perceptions in the Dark

Years ago, my momma had eye surgery that left her eyes patched for a time. Her other senses were greatly heightened with her vision shut off from the light. She tells how noisy the hospital ward was at night & of the nearly silent padding of the nurses' rubber-soled feet as they made their rounds.*
Once, the beaver slapped a warning as he overheard the night-time whispers I shared with my brother, high atop the ridge. I have been venturing forth to the lake by moonlight, or no light, this past week. Traversing the path, my feet & pants are already soaked by the time I reach the water's edge. I have noticed how the eye is drawn to any light it can find while in the dark. In drawing, I have been teaching of the use of value. "The brain perceives light as close & that darker shades recede." As I stare motionlessly at the lake, I must be intentional to keep my eye focused on the mirror-like surface. It takes all of my resolve to keep my eye from passing car & train lights, or from traveling to the dam's pale, reflection.
The late change to daylight savings' time has led me to the lake too early to witness much beaver activity. Though out of my view, I have had some wonderful sightings as they work to cover the entrances to their tunnels for hibernation. Sitting on the landing, with but a small clump of brush between us, I can now discern many of their sounds. There are different & distinct blurps as air bubbles break the surface upon their entry or exit from their burrow. The gentle dragging of branches into place is nearly inaudible. There are both grinding & scraping sounds. All are very slow & deliberate. It is amazing, & a little unsettling, knowing they are so close & sharing the bank with me. The sound of small trees being felled across the water is done in such a way as to be nearly silent. Beavers truly do live up to their reputation of being "shy & reclusive". I love the challenge of watching them & feel honored when I am blessed to do so.

I can only make this image out when it is sized to full screen & I am sitting in a darkened room. I sized it larger than usual in hopes of sharing with you some of night's beauty on the lake. (It would be amazing if printed to it's original size of 38"x 50.33"!) To my surprise, this post-dusk image appears to have captured a beaver! Holding the camera steady, propped between my knees, took much of my attention... but, what looks like a beaver appears in only once in a series of 18. Perhaps he broke the surface, & upon seeing me, slipped silently back under, undetected as my eye was drawn to a shimmering silver wake farther out. This is the 2nd to last photo & the only one with the darkened silhouette. The shot that follows has a shadowed wake. Though unseen by my eye, my camera seems to have captured him !

* (Please keep her in prayer as she faces life-changing eye surgery on Monday.)

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