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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sauvie Island Found

I awoke around 5am on two fine mornings last week to spend the sunrise exploring a new location with, hopefully, new photographic opportunities. Wow! What a place I have pushed off far too long, Sauvie Island. Quite remarkable in many ways. 12,000 acres of wildlife areas nestled only moments from Portland. Completely unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of this new world and utterly focused on the beauty surrounding me that morning, I strapped my camera bag to my waist and launched aggressively with large eyes past the gated road towards the unknown. I now know that humans are forbidden in this particular area from mid January through mid April due to federal wildlife regulations installed to protect the wintering migratory birds. But it is good to be naive occasionally, for I walked upon a land void of humans and filled with several species including Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Tundra Swans, Blue Herons, Egrets, and 2 Bald Eagles.

The first lake (Steelman Lake) I stumbled upon was filled with 1,000's of various species co-mingling in the morning light. A bit shaky, I crawled on my belly through the tall grass hoping to get close enough for a decent photograph. I moved as silently and slowly as I could alongside the lake searching for a nice location to start looking through my camera. Just as I started to lift the camera to my eye, in one rush of energy the sea of birds lifted skyward. Maybe they spotted me, probably, but it didn't matter because the sight and wave of energy was inspiring. I watched for several minutes as each bird searched for their respectful place amongst the crowd in the sky and fell into formation.

I couldn't bring myself to sit still and wait as a well disciplined bird photographer would. There was just too much to see and explore in this morning light. As I drifted deeper into this land of water and birds I realized the privilege I have allowing me to experience these amazing places. We live in an intensely fast paced world of survival and indulgence and many times forget to breathe in wild places that may be a short car ride or even a brief saunter away. It's difficult to express in words what a place like this does to your mind and spirit. The sensation is simple to have but difficult to notice.

The annual parking permit rests on my dash awaiting many more explorations and adventures needed to fill my lungs with relief from the heavy air only minutes away.

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