Last week, Son #1 and I watched a movie called March of the Penguins
. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a fascinating story about Emperor penguins which live in just about the most inhospitable place on the planet, the Antarctic.
I’ve always been fond of penguins. Their charm is irresistible. At rest, they look like bankers quietly discussing business at a funeral. Then they do that goofy side-to-side waddle and suddenly they’re clowns. (Not the scary kind with red noses and big feet.) They’re so ungainly it’s hard to believe they’re birds - until you watch them fly gracefully through the water.
The movie showed how, every year, these amazing creatures walk and/or belly-slide 70 miles (110 km) across the ice from their hunting grounds in the ocean to their breeding area inland. And they go back and forth several times, often after not having eaten for months.
As engrossing as the movie was, I found myself stepping outside it from time to time in order to marvel at the physical challenges the film crew had to overcome. Imagine filming in temperatures below -50C (-58F) with winds of over 200 kmh! Holy cow! Even a Canadian would zip up his parka in that weather.
I had an occasion to recall the movie a couple of days ago.
The previous two mornings, as BennyTheBuzzsaw and I were walking, I saw a heron patiently fishing in a tiny pond along our route. I vowed to bring my camera the next morning.
Now, I’m only half as dumb as I look. Okay, two thirds. I knew it might be problematic trying to control a berserk Jack Russell terrier with ADD while trying to get close enough to snap a pic of a heron without spooking it. But nothing ventured - nothing gained. Fortune favours the brave. In for a penny - in for a pound. Would someone please slap me?
So, I brought my camera the next morning. Sure enough, Mr. Heron was there but he was in a more distant section of the pond. My camera only has a modest 3X zoom, so I had to get quite a bit closer if I was to get a decent pic.
While I paused, considering how best to approach the bird, Benny patiently wrapped his leash around my ankles several times and reared up on his hind legs, straining to get somewhere. Anywhere.
I disentangled him and looked around. There was absolutely nothing nearby to which I could tie the leash, or anchor it down. I decided my best course of action was to pinch it between my knees and ever...so...slowly...make my way towards the heron.
I waddled stealthily. Click
. Waddle. Click
. How the heck did those penguins do this for 70 miles with those short little legs? Of course, none of them was walking a dog and snapping pictures. I would have noticed.
Within 50 yards now. This might work.
Then Benny, who up to this point was busy sniffing something, decided he had to get to the edge of the pond slightly sooner than immediately.
He surged. My knees pinched the leash as tightly as possible as I kept the camera to my eye, trying to keep the heron in view as I clicked.
My stealthy waddle became a zombie-like lurch as I flung my lower legs out to the side and then forward.
The trick was to maintain forward progress, my balance, control of the dog and the camera, while appearing unthreatening to the heron which, the occasional jiggly peek through the viewfinder told me, was no longer fishing but staring right at me for some reason.
Maybe my curses tipped him over the edge. I dunno. Anyway, the big bird took off before I could get close enough for a good shot.
I did manage a couple of mediocre pictures which appear below.
Anybody know where I might find lead boots than would fit a Jack Russell?
Shhh! Be vewy, vewy quiet. Weah hunting wascawee fwoggies.
My zoom lets me sneak in for a little closer peek.
Okay, enough of this!
I'm mildly surprised I managed to track him at all.
150 issues is something of a milestone. Many of you have stuck with me since the first one. Most of you have hopped aboard along the way. Thanks to all. Hope you've enjoyed the ride thus far and that we still have a long way to go.