Monday, 15 May 2017

The picture I didn't take.

A couple of days ago, I did my usual walk with Nessie up on the hill - up through the wood, then along a tunnel-like little path and out into the open, with a panoramic view stretching round from Glastonbury in the east to the reservoir and the distant coast in the west.

But for some reason this time, I glanced up to the right as I came out onto the hill - and there were two roe deer, a stag and a hind, not that far away. Nessie didn't notice - she was too busy watching the ball in my hand, willing me to throw it. They saw me too; the stag raised its head and watched me calmly. Neither of them seemed disturbed, and I stood still and gazed.

If I'd had my camera or phone with me, as I usually do, I would have tried to take a picture. I would have been concentrating on raising it very slowly, adjusting the zoom, keeping as steady as I could. I would have been watching the deer, but on the viewing panel, not for real. Probably, despite all my efforts, I would have disturbed the deer and they would have taken off.

As it was, we stood and stared at each other for several minutes. The hind moved about, feeding; the stag seemed relaxed, but watchful. In the end, I was the one who decided it was time to go.

If I'd got a good picture, I would have been pleased. But actually I'm glad I didn't have my camera, because I saw far more without one - and more than that, there was a sense of just being three creatures in a landscape - a fine thread of shared awareness.

As I went on, I thought about why it is I have this compulsion to capture a fleeting image. I thought of Louis MacNeice's poem, Sunlight on the Garden:

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold.

But I still keep doing just that - seeking to cage that minute. As you see.

My favourite tree on the hill. The deer were just up to the right, outside the frame of this picture.

You can just see Nessie, manic ball chaser, with the reservoir in the distance.

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