So, my summer vacation and, therefore, my summer travels have come to an end. That actually happened about a month ago, but the blogger in me seems to be the last bit to have come to terms with it (probably because it’s taken the rest of me this long to accept that I’m no longer wearing v-necks, Bermuda shorts and flip-flops on a regular basis). It was a great summer. I traveled inwards, which led me to many joyful insights and I also traveled outwards, which allowed me to enjoy many beautiful sights; and boy, did I photograph them!!
One of the highlights of my summer holiday was no doubt my trip to Cantabria, in Northern Spain. The first day of this trip was particularly exciting because of an offhand deer-spotting outing that we were invited to. Sure, I had seen a few deer before, but I had never roved the mountains in a 4-wheel drive scanning the clearings in search of members of the Cervidae family.
It wasn’t long before our first sighting, which was brief, yet fulfilling. After a few minutes on the road, a young buck popped its antlered head over the ridge above us; very much like a sentinel watching for intruders. A mere two clicks through the car window and our “watchbuck” was long gone. I’m sure that if this had been the only deer we’d seen, I’d happily still have returned home with a huge grin on my face, but luckily, it was just a preview, an opening act, so to speak, to what was later to come.
We still had lots of ground to cover and little daylight left. However, our guide, Alberto, knows deer and can definitely think like one. In a matter of minutes, out of the “green”, he’d located another one. Stealthily, our senses heightened by the adrenaline rush, we got out of the car and set up our gear. On the hillside across the valley, about 500 m away from where we stood, majestically unconcerned, was the fine specimen you can see in the photos below.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the camera-subject continuum, I was of two minds about what to make of the ongoing experience. On the one hand, I was enthralled by the beauty of such a handsome specimen. On the other hand, I was holding a DSLR furnished with a “measly” 200mm lens, feeling a little like a wildlife photography technology have-not. “Why on earth don’t I have a 600mm lens on me?”, part of me asked capriciously. “Or a Swarovski Spotting Scope with proper camera attachment for that matter?”, that same part of me added whimsically.
In spite of my ambiguous state of mind, I managed to focus on savoring the moment and shooting as many frames as I could to the best of my knowledge and experience. Given the technical constraints, I never expected the pictures to be National Geographic material, but, quite frankly, I never expected them to turn out as good as I think they did either; which is why I ultimately decided to share them in this post.
The feeling of contentment I went home with that night and the pleasant surprise of discovering that some of the photos I had taken were actually pretty decent reminded me of simple lessons such as: the importance of knowing that each moment is perfect as it is, or that it’s not a good idea to let concerns about the past or future override present experience. Oh!, and that sometimes by flowing with the present moment, we allow the results to be surprisingly better than we’d ever have planned them to be.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, life is all about being more like the deer we spot. Maybe, they’re only graceful reminders of the way life is meant to be lived. They don’t seem to pretend or intend. They simply are … incredibly beautiful to look at.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell