Seeing and not seeing.

Here I was, walking in the botanical garden. It was late morning and I had been exploring the area trying to take pictures of something worthy of. In winter this is not easy. Sure, there were birds at the bird feeding stations but they were the usual birds that I have photographed often such as cardinals and juncos.

I was walking the ski trail and trying hard not to walk on the ski tracks but beside them. No need to arouse the ire of skiers I thought. I try hard not to antagonize people unnecessarily. I was walking towards an area of the garden where one can find tall conifers as well as several sculptures that are made of metal. Ugly objects in my view as rust was attacking them. It was cold, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining. I was a hunter on the prowl, but no animals would be harmed today by me.

I turned a corner and I could see on my left some conifers bathed by the morning sun. As I approached a tall conifer my heart raced when I saw a bird on a branch, a hawk called a Cooper’s hawk. It was only a few feet away from me and I was lucky that it had not been startled by my sudden arrival. Coming upon a hawk on a branch was a stroke of luck for me as these birds are notoriously difficult to see and especially to photograph. At least for me.

The bird was somewhat hidden on one side so I purposely walked sideways more to the left of it as I wanted to get a good shot. Finally, after a few careful steps I was exactly at the spot that I wanted. The bird cooperated with me and I took several pictures, and then not content with what I had I approached the bird even more. Again I took several more shots. At one point the bird lunged in front of it, or so it seemed to me. I was focused on the bird but I did notice that it had released itself. I had seen nothing else. For me there was nothing else to see.

Soon after a skier arrived and as it passed by the conifer the hawk flew away. I could not find it afterwards even if I did try. I left the area shortly after and reviewed my pictures. They were nice and I was happy with them. A day later, as I reviewed again my pictures I noticed something red lying on the branch where the hawk was. I increased the magnification and to my surprise saw that it was some sort of prey that the bird had caught. It had chosen this branch on that conifer to eat its prey. Despite the fact that the scene was in front of me I had seen nothing!

Truly we are blind. We see what we want to see and nothing more and it is probable that all our senses are affected in this way. Our eyes do not see and our ears do not ear. It is the brain that interprets reality. I was wondering, what else escapes me during my walks in the garden, and of course, in my everyday life? Are we all sleepwalking through life?


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