Another long week at work with 50-plus hours on the clock… again, the extrication of self out of an extremely warm, soft and cosy bed on this cold autumnal morning is a toughie.
I have to wake up anyway, even if only to silence the alarm that is yet to go off at 0530hrs, as per the daily routine, and this being Saturday morning, it actually isn’t so shabby. Yay … it’s the weekend.
No dragging my tired bag of arthritic bones out of a soft, warm bed this morning; it’s all coming together and I must be on the river. There’s not a breath of wind although it’s raining, but the Swanni will fix that. I must pack a teatowel to keep some of the rain off the camera while in action.
A good look to see how and where the clouds are placed… Great, they’re high with some at mid-level and there’s some nice structure there too, a nice bonus.
I know the tide’s high, even right on the turn at sunrise so the stillness will be complete. I make a decision as to location and with plan B rattling around in my mind, I’m off.
Just the sounds of nature… The clear, sharp plop, plop, plop, of fish jumping here and there and the louder slap of larger fish on re-entry, all on a mirror-like surface. The splashes of birds diving for fish nearby and further away… I love that silence.
The screech of the heron and call of the kingfisher, then another splash as it dives for fish just at my feet. I see the bow waves of fish beneath the surface and of others being chased. They scatter across the surface in hundreds of the tiniest leaps and splashes, spreading out in a spray-like pattern in their attempts to escape being a part of the menu, all against the earliest pre-dawn light behind. There’s a brief frenzy then silence again, even more silent than before, if that’s possible.
The reflective surface gradually returns to the water; the tide is full so there isn’t any current. I see the shapes of kingfish stalking and stingrays cruising in the clear waters.
Hey, the colour’s starting to appear; we’re on. Having already wiped the camera lens, I re-meter the light, refocus, recompose, and … action!
I shoot a couple of single frames slowly at first, then, maintaining a level of calm and order, I make the first frames of the first row of the first panorama.
Pale reds reflect off the bases of the clouds then progress quickly through to deeper reds as the colour spreads further, bouncing off cloud bases and glowing through cloud walls as the sun begins to close in on the horizon.
With greater intensity, the reds turn through the spectrum to orange, yellow and now with fading intensity the morning with its day colours and clouds comes alive. That’s it. Batteries flat, digital film full, the tide has turned and it’s time to return home. Several minutes of action have become a couple or three hours. Time stood still, yet the water has now risen so much higher under the jetty.
On the long driveway up to our hut in the orchard, I have to go slow as the chickens saunter to one side then the other. Rabbits hop about, undecided, and quail run beside the driver’s door along the hydrangea boundary fence line. Last year’s hen and three of the four cock pheasants suddenly fly from behind the orange tree to another field to the north, calling as go.
Home again. Morning my love, you’re up, how ‘bout I put that brew on? There’s nothing quite like that first weekend cuppa of English breakfast leaf tea made in a teapot after a full-on week. It’s the best thing ever – mellow yet strong, with a dash of full cream milk, a drop of cream, and a teaspoon of mānuka honey.
That cuppa doesn’t touch the sides so we have another, lingering in the joy of the second brew together, savouring the time, the taste, and our space surrounded by the walnut trees in autumn’s final colours. Soon, we comment, we’ll be seeing the sun on the washing lines again.