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My Lens

Filtering by Tag: Seneca River

A Weekend To Remember

Roni Delmonico

I had the nicest weekend.  We really took some time completely off to enjoy being out on the water, searching for wildlife, meeting new people down at the marina and up and down the Seneca River out to Cross Lake and beyond.  We saw our best friends and sat around a campfire talking and we had a lovely family get together on the fourth of July. Central New York is an especially beautiful place this time of year. I'm storing up the memories of sunshine and warmth for those difficult winter months when we all seem to go into hibernation with these creatures I am photographing daily. Feeling such peace lately though... it's been so nice. I woke up to rain this morning and all those things we left undone so we could play for awhile ended up getting done as the rain fell outside.  It's good to ditch the guilt and just enjoy the passage of time.  I think our balance between working and playing was so off and it is beginning to even out again.  

I sat for a long time with this Great Blue Heron.  He found his way into a perfect photographic spot and it was breathtaking.  There are times I look through the viewfinder and it's so amazing because everything else drops away and it is just me, my camera and my subject.  It's such a cool feeling and it doesn't happen all the time. When it does, I truly relish it. I watched him fish, and fly, and he even posed for me for quite awhile.;-)  I'll cherish the day.  It was one of those perfect ones you hang onto in your mind and revisit often... in a weekend to remember.

Let It Be

Roni Delmonico

If anyone had told me even five years ago that I would walk out into my backyard and be able to observe eagles in their natural habitat right here in Central New York, I would have looked at them like they had 7 heads. This past winter, I watched them almost daily for months, but I was never able to get down there without scaring them away and it was too cold to stay vigilant about it for very long.  I may have to invest in some clothing that makes that more possible this coming year.  Now... if I happen to be down at the riverfront at just the right time, I can see them from an even closer vantage point, and it never grows old.  They're incredibly beautiful and I dream of a day when one comes flying to me, just as the Blue Heron did a few days ago.  I've yet to get what qualifies to me as a "money shot".  I think I get so excited every time I see one, that I lose whatever knowledge is in my head about photographing wildlife! But the light was so beautiful on this morning, and catching it filtering through his wings that were fully open was such a gift... I think I'll share it, just the same. More and more I believe that perfection in a photograph is overrated.  We strip the heart out of images sometimes, by touching up here, fixing something there, adding light, taking it away, removing flaws.  

There is freedom in letting something simply be what it is.

From Courage to Peace to Sweet Release

Roni Delmonico

A doe quietly crosses the Seneca River on a misty morning in Baldwinsville, NY on June 21, 2014.

This morning I wandered down to the water's edge all by myself before everyone woke up.  It was about 5:30 am and it was so quiet, I could hear the whir of the hummingbird's wings as she came to drink from her favorite red flowers.  I brought a blanket with me and I snuggled into the bench, watching the mist curl over the water in tiny tornadoes, swirling and dipping, dancing with the sun as she rose up over the trees with a cheerful wave.  Another beautiful Saturday morning... in a long stretch of them.  Mother Nature sure seems to be asking forgiveness for her winter tantrums.:)  I am happy to grant it.

How do I begin to express gratitude for this place?  To live my life in a way that says thank you thoroughly enough?  Are these images doing that feeling justice?  Do my words?  All things I ponder in these early hours of the morning.  I have come to treasure this time for so many reasons.  When people are still sleeping, animals come out of hiding, they run and sing freely with abandon and they act in ways that are so much more natural than I see when they are motivated by getting out of our way.  I can hear God's voice and I can hear my own.  And occasionally, something truly magical happens.

Way off in the distance I saw something making its way across the river from bank to bank, hidden in the mist.  It was far enough away that I couldn't make out what it was, but it was moving faster than any species of duck I usually see crossing the water there so I lifted the binoculars to my eyes, mildly curious. I nearly squealed when I saw that it was a doe, silently gliding through the water, legs pumping like one of Santa's reindeer, swimming through the mist effortlessly as if she did this every day.  I held my breath until she made it to the other side, astonished at her bravery.

Amelia Earhart once said,

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.”

 

Sometimes peace is found in the most unlikely of places too.

Her Name Was Lola

Roni Delmonico

The Lola Annie, a Beneteau 49 Sailboat from Hudson, Ohio, traveling west on the Seneca River just past Lock 24 on the Erie Canal System in Baldwinsville, NY on June 8, 2014.

The Lola Annie, a Beneteau 49 Sailboat from Hudson, Ohio, traveling west on the Seneca River just past Lock 24 on the Erie Canal System in Baldwinsville, NY on June 8, 2014.

They come and go so quickly, and I'm grateful to have the photographs to look back on and ponder.  Because we're on a section of the Erie Canal System, we see boats not just from The United States of America, but from all over the world, which is so fascinating.  Norway, Canada, France... I often wonder about their story: what it's like where they came from and where they are going, what they've seen and how long they've been sailing... how far they have yet to go...  what it's like below deck and how it feels to be in command of one.  I'm learning a lot this summer about these boats but the most beautiful thing about it all to me.. is the simple romance of imagining their adventures.  Every one has a story. A story I can so clearly visualize.  And somehow, it seems so fitting to me that I live in a place that connects eventually... to the sea.

So long... Lola Annie...

I'm Not Afraid

Roni Delmonico

It's the first day of May today and it is one of my favorite months of the year.  The days are longer, the trees fill in, the barges travel up and down the river and blow their funny horns and wave when they see me in the yard, leaving colorful buoys in their wake.  Those of us who enjoy slicing through the water with barely a noise, pull out the kayaks and begin dreaming about putting them in the water again.  There is nothing like that feeling to me... working arms hard, squinting into the sun that is laying down sparkles all around me.  Fish jump out of the water gleefully and I share that space with all sorts of other wildlife too.  Blue herons, ducks, geese, beavers... I even woke up one morning to see something across the river, jump from the bank, into the water.  Thinking it was a big dog, I picked up the binoculars and found instead, a doe who had reached the edge of the land she'd been walking on and decided to swim across a section of the river to continue on her way.  I had never seen that before.  It was such a beautiful sight.  I often feel, at this time of year, as if I am living in a vacation home in some magical place. It's really very cool. 

As much as I love color... there are times when distilling it down to black and white does a better job of telling the story without distraction.  Man, nature, quiet, stillness, sparkles, warmth.. and me. How blessed we are as photographers to be able to capture these moments in time in a way that lets us return to them, to remember, to anticipate. I pray that is never taken from me. It's been a challenge for me and a mighty one this year. I've developed some health issues in the last few years that threaten my ability to continue doing it effectively.  That in turn has done a bit of a number on my mind, but it has also forced me to research, to detach emotionally and look at my body from a clinical and scientific perspective. Pain has a way of shaping you. Changing you.  Teaching you about the depths of you.  And making you appreciate what a very precious gift, health is, and how it should be protected and cared for.  It has been 8 weeks since I have allowed a single processed food to enter my body.  I am choosing to take better care because I am learning that if I choose otherwise, the consequences will be steep.  I have often wished that my 40 something year old self could have just one day with my 20 year old self.;-)  There are many things I would like to say to her and in fact... I am working on a new idea for a book based on that premise.  

I have sought healing this year, perhaps more than ever before.  Healing, not just of my body (though that has been a powerful catalyst) but of my mind and my spirit as well.  They are all so interconnected... there is no way to nurture one while ignoring another - there has to be balance - and balance is something I have yet to achieve. This journey will likely continue for some time yet, and will include many days out on the water in a kayak this summer.  I think really well out there.  And If there is one thing of which I am very certain... for me, it will take time alone in the woods, on the river, by the ocean, and above all else, looking in the mirror before ever pointing my finger at anyone else.  All things I have planned into the remainder of this year.   Healing rain is falling down.  I'm not afraid.:)

Behold, All Things Have Become New

Roni Delmonico

Isn't it beautiful, the way spring whispers in so gently after the bitter harsh attitude of winter? It's been a quiet season for me... one in which I have kept my own company most of the time, and watched hopefully every day, as my piece of earth took her sweet time waking up.  How she smiled at me when she did, though.  A slow, lazy, rested smile. Yesterday, I stood on this spot and took a deep breath, stretching and letting it out with a trembly sigh as I looked out over my own backyard.  The tears came... and I just let them.  Tears of renewal....they came for so many reasons, and washed over this heart like the rain falling softly outside my window right now.  I closed my eyes then, briefly, and remembered another spring, five years ago, when Jim and I used to sneak over here and stand on that shoreline and wish it was ours.  It was a tangled mess of overgrown weeds and untended gardens back then.  All anyone saw, was how much work it would be. But we didn't see it that way.  We saw it like this. Big, and bright, and peaceful... filled with the laughter of our boys and the antics of our little dog.  We always saw what it could be.  I love this place. It demands much of us, and we are coming to understand how deeply that should be appreciated.  I spent hours out there tending to it in the last two days and I realized how good it is for my body, mind and spirit.  My willow tree is nearly ready to burst out in leaves, leading the maple and the oaks by at least a week, I think.  We cut down the dead fall of this harsh winter and burned it beside the river.  As I tended the fire, I sat alone on my bench watching the geese fly low over the water and determined that I might do the same - burn the deadfall and watch as the ashes turn to embers and then cool and gently drift away on the wind.  Behold... old things are passed away.  Behold, all things have become new...

Meditating With Smiles, Embracing the Laughter

Roni Delmonico

The sun goes down over Lake Ontario on February 15, 2014

Sunset on Lake Ontario on a beautiful February evening is impossible to describe.  This year, the lake is frozen as far as the eye can see.  On this night, we stood with our neighbors in awe as the sun melted into the snowy, cold horizon.  It was just so gorgeous.  So many moods in such soft shades. Like me.:)

At home on the Seneca River, my bench underneath the willow tree waits for me.  We planted that tree five years ago when it was barely more than a stick coming out of the ground.  It grew so fast and I love it, because when I sit there, the long branches blow in the breeze, caressing my face and neck like an old favorite pet.  I'm always reaching up to touch them and it's a wonderful feeling I look forward to in the spring.  It's coming.. I feel it. Everyone in my family knows if they can't find me, I'm likely down there, shooting wildlife, water skiers, boats, kids playing.  The wonderful thing about seasons that change, is the memory of those things, and the very certain knowledge that they are returning.  I love living on the water.  The changes seem so much more dramatic.    

Seneca River, Baldwinsville, New York

Can I tell you that the scenes above are a lot more cheerful to contemplate on the outside, when you are warming your heart to a different one on the inside? Such are the preoccupations of a Disney Dreamer... learning to meditate with smiles and embrace the laughter in all seasons.  So tell me... what is it you are meditating on?  Does it make you smile?  How will you embrace the laughter today?

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
— Proverbs 17:22

Disney Magic, docked at Castaway Cay

Serenity Bay, adults only beach on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay

Sometimes when the sun goes down
Shadows fall across this little town
And I close my eyes and I drift away
to another place in another time
When the world was ours and she was mine

I dream of holding her again someday
On the coast of somewhere beautiful

Shes on a coast somewhere beautiful
Runnin with my heart...

The Wings That Fly Us Home

Roni Delmonico

There are some beautiful perks to living on a stretch of river that ensures many intimate encounters with wildlife.  In the five years we've been here, I've watched the geese fly back and forth in front of my windows and I make it a point to never take that for granted.  In about a month, they will bring their babies to our shoreline and for months after that, I will watch them grow until they are ready to fly away again. Ahhh, the rhythm.

This year, we've had another real treat and it is one I have not seen on this stretch of the river in all our years here.  We've got a pair of nesting bald eagles and a juvenile who have made our narrow stretch of river their hunting and playing grounds.  Every morning for about two weeks now, they've come like clockwork between the hours of 8 and 10am and sometimes again, around four in the afternoon.  It is a sight I never grow tired of.  It's been tough to get a clear shot, as they prefer the other side of the river from me, since the homes there are summer camps and are mostly unoccupied at this time of year.  They are so majestic, and I am really grateful for their visits and for the chance to document it from such a close perspective.  I'll keep trying, as long as they keep coming.  

I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one.

In the brotherhood of creatures, through the Father, through the Son.
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold.
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone: you are never alone.

And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens. It fills the endless yearning of the soul.
It lives within a star too far to dream of. It lives within each part and is the whole:

it's the fire and the wings that fly us home, fly us home, fly us home.