That Civilized Veneer

Life as it is, photography

I am a nature photographer. And I have observed myself with insects when I go out. Somewhere near the beginning of my arrival “in the wild” I am hyper aware of anything crawling or landing on me or mosquitoes or bees nearby. But 20to 30 minutes later, i could care less. I am bigger than them and they pose no real risk to me – I may itch later, but for now I can’t be bothered.

I believe this is a veneer of the modern, sterile-seeming world I like to believe I am a part of when I am working my day job in a controlled environment like my home or my office. It takes a bit of effort to throw that veneer off and be an animal in the woods – but I do it – and I love it.

But it rolls back so quickly. The morning after spending a day in the swamps shooting, while driving to the office, I see antennae pop out from behind my driver’s-side visor. Interesting…. Then there are more antennas – lots more. And do I handle it like the nature photographer that I am? No, I handle it like a city boy who is driving to work and is strapped into his chair with unknown creepy-crawlies emerging inches from his face.

Which is to say that I nearly wrecked, stopping in the middle of the street and bailing from my car.

It turns out to be a mess of young caterpillars – I don’t know what sort they were. I recovered and moved them out of my car – and after finding more near my car, I took it for a carwash. I didn’t get any photos, even though my camera was in the car with me – that should tell you how rattled I am.

So tomorrow I am off to shoot wildflowers. And I know it will take a while to let that veneer of expected sterility fall away. But may I be open to the wonders of the natural world as it does – and also maybe come home with only an itch or two.


2 Responses

  1. Margaret says:

    Yes, James. I was on the phone with you when those seeming alien antennas we rising up from behind your visor. You scared the snot out of me. I thought you were in a life threatening situation or at the very least were in the process of avoiding a head-on collision with a Mack truck. I’m glad you can relax and enjoy your shooting expeditions once you start. Funny, I know how much you hate creepie crawlies…I’ve seen your reaction in person when “a spider is staring you down and thinking of his dinner”. I never really stopped to wonder how you deal with it “in the wild”. Now I know…interesting.

  2. Melissa says:

    Those are would-be monarch butterflies – they kind that migrate from Mexico to Canada. I know this because I recently helped to raise some that ate two whole milkweed plants down to their stems and then formed chrysalises from surrounding plants that were intact. I hope they found their way.

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