Sunday, July 5, 2015

Simple Gifts

I'll be the first to admit this is not a very good photo — at least from a technical aspect. Shot into the light, it is very contrasty and blown out in parts. But, sometimes it is not about the photograph; it is about the behavior.

Taken in the Fall of the year, it is a photo of a Double-crested Cormorant right after it caught and ate a fish. Almost every time they finish eating a fish, they will do something I call, "motorboating." Their entire body begins to shake and vibrate rapidly much like a boat motor which is put into neutral. I am not sure if they use their feet to create this effect, but I don't think they do. I think it might be similar to a dog (or an Osprey) shaking — except they do it while still in the water.

Anyway, this cormorant unexpectedly picked up an oak leaf and held it high in a moment of joy and thanksgiving. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing too much, but I believe animals can experience both joy and thankfulness. For whatever reason, it always brings to my mind the phrase, "Simple gifts."

"Simple Gifts is also the name of a tune that an Elder in a Quaker community in Maine wrote a century and a half ago and his lyrics seem to fit.

'Tis the gift to be simple,'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

(Written by Joseph Brackett [1797–1882] in 1848)

So, even though it is not a very good picture, I still smile every time I come across it with it's reminder of simple gifts.

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