Day Off

It's Monday and the harbour, a few hundred metres from my home is rippling in a light breeze. The low sun is back lighting clouds of small insects swirling over the water. It's time to drive around the bays and see if anything is crying out to be photographed.

Nothing is really. Or nothing I haven't shot a thousand times before. There are boats sitting picturesquely above their own reflections and quaint old boathouses ditto. There are Southern Rata trees with the sun behind them and a clear blue sky and a flat horizon. But nothing to point a camera at, especially.

I do notice, outside of the range of the gear I own, that  seabirds are gathering in a great moving cloud above the water: Black Backed and Red Billed gulls, Terns and Shags. No doubt there are schools of small fish beneath them. I stop to watch and am fascinated by the shags. They swim with their necks protruding from the water but with the rest of their bodies submerged, bobbing along as though a ship full of champagne has gone down leaving thousands of  corked bottles floating in the tide. Their legs are at the backs of their bodies in the way evolution has crafted all birds which swim under water as opposed to on top of it. Through the clear sea I watch them duck and weave amongst the seaweed in pursuit of some small prey. They don't photograph easily - my shortcoming, not theirs - so I take a picture of the seaweed instead
Then the Red Bills around me are fighting and squabbling over fish they have managed to drag ashore. Small slim fish, translucently silver as though they have been chrome plated.
It is all so beautiful: the calm sea, the clear sun, the small silver fish, the weaving and diving birds. And yet it is all so full of death. The birds are diving and swooping in order to kill. The exquisite fish are dying that the birds may live.

Lent. When we remind ourselves of the interconnectedness of life and death. When we acknowledge that the gift of living comes simultaneously with the guarantee of dying. When we undertake some small death to help ourselves know at depth the utter joy and beauty of life



Comments

Katherine said…
Yes, we are a bit spoilt these days... our animal food packaged up, antibiotics, we get out of touch and forget that life and death define each other.

Our friend Craig's funeral was a powerful affair, full of the message that his industry, integrity and honesty should inspire us to be the same. He was only 23.

Your seaweed is lovely. The light in the water is wonderful. That's plankton that is making it look smoky.
Kelvin Wright said…
Plankton. That would figure. The birds are moving in great interspecies flocks, drifting from one part of the harbour to the other, obviously in pursuit of the silvery fish, who must themselves be in pursuit of something: the plankton obviously.