Watching

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Grey River Egret

Photo of a Little Egret I took about a year ago during a spring walk along the Noh River near my house. Some of you might remember it.
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About three weeks ago I was returning from a long run in the rain when I happened upon two male Little Egrets stalking one another. I stopped along the bank of the river and for half an hour didn’t move a muscle. Just when my bones seemed to begin to turn to ice, the Egrets started dancing. Slow figure eights each, but never quite breaching the edge of the other’s floorspace, and all the while when one dancer approached the inner edge, the other would swing to the outer. They held their wings half open, their necks straight and their beaks high. In silence. When I could no longer stand the cold, I moved and the dance broke up, each dancer taking off with an sharp croak, and once again I was left with the hurry of the falling rain and my own shivering mind.

Funny how the cacophony of birds resides in the realm of stillness, whereas a single blink of a human eye sends the denizens scattering.
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This reflection was inspired by New Zealander Pete’s latest post, “Being Still”. Pete’s serene photography and lyrical words is fast making his site, Pohingapete, one of my favorite places to visit these days.

12 Responses

  1. Agreed about pohanginapete. His words and photography remind me most strongly of your own, actually: you guys are both real artists with a lens. I hope you feel inspired to post a bit more often!

  2. Dave, sorry about the very long delay in replying. Since last week my computer was down and I had no internet access. The problem is still not completely fixed, but at least I can get to my emails and homepage now. It’s amazing just how reliant I’ve become upon the internet.

    I do plan to write a lot more just as soon as I get all this homepage design and setup out of the way. It’s taking a lot of free time (learning coding and such) and not moving as fast as I would like. Seeing practically no comments here recently, after leaving many commennts on others’ sites for the past three months is quite discouraging, too. Making me doubt my own thoughts. And, when I’m not feeling generous, making me more and more unwilling to leave comments on others’ blogs. I’m finding more and more that blogging is not online journaling, but rather a running dialogue with others. When the dialogue does, then the blog dies. Becomes navel picking.

    By the way, I love the new look of your site. Elegant and understated. A good backdrop for your wonderful words.

  3. Hi Butuki,
    I still have mixed feelings about extensive commenting. On the one hand, it’s great to get feedback and know people appreciate what I’ve written; on the other hand it does feel right to reciprocate, and that takes time — and great deal of it if the comments are to mean anything more than “hi”. But perhaps that’s all that’s needed much of the time? Maybe Zhoen’s approach (at One Word) has a lot going for it — she asks you to leave a “stone”, i.e. “(o)”, if you don’t have anything more substantial to say. I do know that as I find more and more good blogs it’s becoming a bit too tempting to spend inordinate time reading rather than writing — and to comment, it’s necessary to read and think.

    I know what you mean about doubting your own thoughts when you get little or no feedback. I’ll say two things: trust your writing — believe me, it’s excellent; and there’s nothing wrong with doubt — it’s better than being dogmatic.

    FWIW, I blogged for over a year on Xanga and got about half a dozen comments. I still considered it worthwhile because I knew there were a handful of friends who read it and valued it. I suppose I do think of my blog more as a kind of journal, the sort of outlet that suits what I want to write, and less as a dialogue (although I’d certainly miss the kind of dialogue I now have through blogging). If it’s navel gazing, well, maybe that’s just another word for reflection…?

    Anyway, these are just some thoughts, and the intention is to encourage you (not that you really should need it — just read Dave’s comment and trackback again. When someone like Dave writes a post inspired by your work, it doesn’t get much more encouraging than that).

    I will point out that for some reason unknown to me, your site can be hard to load; don’t know if others have the same problem, but maybe that has something to do with why you’re getting fewer comments than you’d like? I’ve had several attempts to leave this comment, and hope it doesn’t fall over at the last minute!

    Finally, thanks for the compliment, and I’ll reciprocate by saying, genuinely, that your photo of the egret is classically beautiful and serene and complements a very elegant piece of writing. Cheers Butuki,

    Pete

  4. breathtaking story.

    I’m wondering if it might not be a bit of a metaphor for your comment. The egrets become part of a dance rising out of a natural expression. So engaged in the process to notice there was an audience. The moment they became aware of another, the stream was broken.
    Or perhaps you are one egret just seeking another to join in a dance?

    be well!

  5. inlandchi

    Seconding what ppete says, every post a treasure. :)

  6. Hi Butuki,

    More echoing of what Pete said! Your writing and photography are so evocative and distinctive, and the number of comments that blogs receive really don’t seem to have any particular relationship to how true or beautiful a person’s post is. Of the blogs I read and love most, hardly any of them generate long lists of comments, or any comments at all.

    I know that one of the reasons I don’t comment on most of what I read, even when it touches me, is that I can be a pretty slow thinker. By the time I have considered and formed a reply, the blogger I’ve been thinking about has usually moved on. Sometimes I will still leave a comment, but often I won’t.

    My impression is that blogging can be lots of different things. I do like that aspect of blogging that is more journal-keeping than dialogue–I think of my blog as a place to keep all in one place the bits of inspiration I stumble across as I go, but I don’t currently have the time or will to write with a readership in mind, so I’ll go for weeks without posting (which is maybe not so dialogue-enhancing). I have found that most of the comments I receive are not left on my blog at all but are offered in real-live conversation by friends and acquaintances I didn’t even realize were coming by (and who often are not really very comfortable with on-line dialogue), or via email.

    Anyway, I am glad for the chance to appreciate the beauty you’re creating here!

  7. Hello!
    Nice to meet you!

    I’m Japanese man studying English.
    I browsed your blog.
    You have original idea, I guess.

    Althogh I am strange to write blog in English, I write blog in English and Japanese.
    So native speakers who are visiting constantly point out the mistakes on my blog!
    They flatters me!

    I think I could learn from you.

    Have a good day!

    Japanglish Times from Tokyo Japan
    http://japanglishtimes.blogspot.com/

  8. I also appreciate your writing and photography although I have to confess that i have not been visiting any blogs recently mainly because of time restraints and work commitments. I agree with the other people who have left comments here – numbers of comments left on a post are not necessarily a measure of quality of work or popularity…I’ve visited blogs who receive up to 20 to 30 comments on each post – often the subjects are very personal ie. fights with ex partners, infertility issues – subjects that appeal to a wider “audience” and which are perhaps a lttle bit voyeuristic. The October Bali bombings last year affected our local community deeply and most of us knew at least one or two people that had been either killed or injured – I blogged about it and only received two half hearted almost disinterested comments from people who lived overseas and who did not seem to connect with the depth of my own feelings on that subject. This upset me and after that experience I decided to blog when I felt like it and as Christy said above, I now do not write for a specific readership. Having said that, I do see blogging as a means of keeping connected with the people i once knew when I lived overseas and who may happen to stray onto the site. Believe it or not I have had over 30 comments left on one post I wrote from people I went to school with 35 years ago in Spain! I now keep the blog up to date (often with very trivial posts) so that they know they can contact me and I am still around. I see your blog as more of a work of art and I certainly have appreciated the work you have put in over the years.

  9. I’m rather guiltily conscious that I’ve been much more on the receiving end of comments than the giving end lately, but I am truly grateful for the dialogue we’ve had, albeit that it’s been in my comments, not yours!

    I guess that I too can echo what Pete and Christy have said – knowing that I’ve read something that has touched me is one thing; finding adequate (or even inadequate!) words to respond is quite another, especially when blogging takes place in 5 minute snatches here and there. I’ve been very conscious lately of spending much less time reading blogs simply because I know I wont be fully present to the writer.

    Maybe you’re like me in this: I know that I need the affirmation that comes through comments, even though I wish it were otherwise, and that I could “do without”. But in my case I know that it’s because that affirmation is missing elsewhere – I wonder if there may be an element of that for you too?

  10. Just a note to let you know that your site is generating a popup — ilead. I had this problem, too — it’s from one of the free stat counters, I believe.

  11. SB, thanks for the heads up. May I ask what is a free stat counter? Is it the little link I have for looking at what is happening with people who stop by and such? May I ask how it might be generating the popup? And how do I get rid of the pop up? People have been telling me recently that my site is loading really slowly, but I have no idea why (nor time to take a look at it in detail…). Spam is getting to the point of absurdity. Like myriads of blackflies getting into your eyes and ears. Who has time to deal with it?

    Thanks again.

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