Have you ever seen something unexpected that just makes you smile, or “cry for happy?” Something that elevates your spirits when perhaps they were in the dumps?
I call those things “gifts from the Universe.”
When I was lunching in Boron a while back there was a birthday party going on at the Barrel — a funky little hamburger/Mexican food joint, which started out life as an A&W Root Beer stand.
A large group of elementary-school-aged kids were swigging soft drinks and scarfing down fun foods — all to a musical background of mariachi music. Balloons bobbed in the breeze, crepe paper streamers were taped here and there and waiting in the wings was a huge pinata.
Off to the side was a little blond girl much younger than the rest. She seemed to gather sunlight in her hair as she danced to the music, her blue skirt swirling around her legs. The sight of that joyous child in her own world was memorable.
The Universe had given me a gift.
Sometimes the gift is the simple sight of a long, colorful train chugging across the desert in golden-hour light. Or a great white heron standing by the side of a busy highway oblivious to the chaos surrounding him.
Other times the gift is harder to understand.
I was driving around the New York Mountains once in the far eastern Mojave — and I mean literally driving “around.” I was on a dirt road skirting the edges of the range looking for the entrance to a canyon. I was not having much luck. It was hot and I was cranky.
As I drove along the dusty trail about 3 mph, a red-tailed hawk flew along side then swooped up to perch on a telephone pole. I eased Walter-the-Car to a stop, reaching for my camera and long lens to get a nice shot of the bird. Well, rats. Camera was close but long lens was in the back. I slowly got out of the car, trying not to scare the hawk away as I retrieved the lens.
He seemed not to be bothered as his eyes and head turned to watch me sliding slowly along the car.
I decided to skip the photographic moment and just watched the bird preen, pulling at his tail feathers with his beak.
He stopped, looked at me and a tail feather spun down from his perch. I watched in amazement as it came closer and closer to me.
I stretched out my arms to the sun, all thoughts of being hot and cranky gone. The feather was aimed right at me. Beady eyes caught mine as if to say, “This gift is for you.”
Just as I reached up to capture my prize, the Universe blew a gentle kiss lifting the feather up and away from my fingertips. Over the car. Over the fence. Over the desert. Too far away to find.
I sighed a big sigh, said “thanks” to the bird and went home.
That feather still makes me wonder.
For more of Ron Wolf’s nature photography, click here.