Relaxants

26 Jun 2018

It’s a hectic world today. We all know the stress of work, of home ownership, politics and so on. At first we don’t seem to notice it, but after some time we find out that things feel a little “off”. We start being snappy, even with people who don’t deserve it. Depression in some form sets in and still we have no idea what is the cause of all this, adding to the discomfort. Then starts the spiral downwards to outright anger and despair. Getting rid of the feeling may need something more, say, powerful.

The need for powers

No longer can the feeling be ignored, something has to be done before it is really too late.

The lead picture of this post kind of sums up that feeling. It seems we are in need of “super powers” to become a mediocre form of the super heroes we seem to venerate in today’s cinema and television. I get the feeling sometimes. As a result I turn into that mediocre form of superhero, even if I have no idea which one. Generally it results in failure to do what I wanted in the first place, leaving the stress levels where they were in the first place.

Downtown Winnipeg

Downtown Winnipeg

So I wanted to relieve that stress. The first thing to do for me was to leave the stress behind, find a warm place and slow down. Going out with a bunch of friends doing shooting in downtown Winnipeg is always fun, even if the temperature was a bit high for a long walk. When I came home, I wanted to sleep, even before processing the images I had shot during the walk.

Mustard Seed Chapel

Mustard Seed Chapel

Others might go to quiet places like this Mustard Seed Chapel, the smallest church on the Prairies in Canada. I just shot it from the outside, I’m not much of a church-goer, other than to admire the beauty of the place. But admiring other people’s achievements may also have the adverse effect of putting the emphasis on what you did NOT achieve, putting that stress back where you don’t want it.

Personally I like to observe nature.

You might have guessed that from the numerous posts about nature here on this blog. It doesn’t matter much where I find that nature, big landscapes or tiny detail in macro photography. That beauty is everywhere and can be shot at will. Even the beauty of a dandelion can be shot, even if I’d like to shoot all those dandy lions in my yard with a shotgun loaded with weed-b-gone…

Sprucewoods Provincial Forest

Sprucewoods Provincial Forest

Landscapes, if you can get a little bit of elevation, they are most often exactly what you need to relax. Walking up the sandy slopes to get there in the first place may put your heart rate in the red zone, but once at the top, the effort will have been worth it. For the above picture, the weather was not really cooperating: temperature around +30C, no sunshine and a humidity through the roof. Happily I had water with me, unlike some previous occasions in this place.

Vibrant colours

Vibrant colours

When the sky is overcast, the colours of the land may look quite different and sometimes even more brilliant and saturated than in the bright sun. This view reminded me of a time I spent in the Caribbean. Hot, humid and lush colour all around.

Pincushion Cactus

Pincushion Cactus

A little reminder that this place called the Spirit Sands or Sprucewoods Provincial Forest is indeed a very dry place. The Pincushion Cactus has made its home here. It also shows that this is no good place to walk barefooted. I have not tried the experience, believe me.

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Quiet nature is all what relaxing is about for me. But sometimes nature just doesn’t want to be quiet. The Marbled Godwit didn’t want to let us alone. It kept attacking the car we were in. The most natural thing for me to do then is to get out of the car and shoot it. Then get back in the car and lower the stress levels of the bird. As it turned out, the young of this bird were hidden in the ditch beside the road. Every car was a potential threat and was to be attacked on the spot. I only hope that she prevailed for her young and that no car had the upper hand.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Other birds will never let you get close. Sometimes they even fly off when your car is still hundreds of metres away. This time, we got lucky. Perhaps because the bird was beside a fairly busy road and he or she would have been accustomed to some human activity. In any case it was quite relaxing to shoot this Great Blue Heron without it taking off on the spot.

Northern Crescent

Northern Crescent

But when it comes to shooting flying animals, the butterflies present a different set of difficulties. They don’t avoid you at all cost like the herons, but they sit just long enough for you to get close. Not long enough to get a good shot though. The key is here to be relaxed, not stressed to get the shot. Often enough butterflies like this Northern Crescent come back to the same spot, as long as you don’t put your shadow over it.

And this, dear Readers, is my way of relaxing from the stress of weekly life. Obviously this cannot be done 52 weekends in the year, the house also needs to be maintained, cleaned, the car washed, the cat fed, and more and more. With a bit of relaxation this can all be managed. The key is to put this part in place along with the stress factors.

Until next time…