Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where I Need To Be

A Friday afternoon pep rally ahead of the biggest basketball rivalry game of the year is a rich cacophony of sounds. Our new gym is great, but someone apparently spilled coffee on the part of the blueprints where accoustic enhancements were mentioned, so every sound is amplified with a tinnyness that pierces the brain.

Toss in 350 middle schoolers on the left side bleachers, 200 high schoolers on the right, with a dozen cheerleaders egging them on to be LOUDER, LOUDER, LOUDER and you have a din.

For a quiet guy like me, it's an unnatural environment, although not an unpleasant one. It's good to see the kids fired up and excited. The teachers standing against the gym walls are pretty excited too, but they are thinking, " Whew, TGIF".

It's screechy loud in the gym, but it's where I need to be.

When it's over and that last bell rings, the middle school kids ignore the student MC who screams into the microphone for them to be seated until the high schoolers exit. What was she thinking?
I slip out a side door avoiding the masses so I can get to the bus loading area for my "bus duty". It's a rotating duty that will end soon, but for a few more weeks I am responsible for keeping the peace at the bus loading zone after school.

It's not that bad really, and it's where I need to be.

Back in the class, after bus duty, I straighten up my messy room. There's a student teacher coming in on Monday to observe me, and for now, I want him to see how a classroom should look, not how it usually looks.
I'd rather be out of here, but Monday, I will be glad I took the time to clean up the counters, fix the seating arrangement, and clear off my paper shrouded desk.

Not much fun, but it's where I need to be.

A half hour later, I'm done, and the weekend begins. Sorta ... in two hours, I'll need to be back in the gym at my son's basketball game (the big rivalry).
So, I can't go home. It's 20 miles home so that is out of the question. I'll need to stay nearby until 6:00 pm ... game time.

Lucky for me, Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area is nearby and the sun is still high and bright on this Friday afternoon.
I cruise in to the empty park, bouncing quickly down the dirt roads. I have limited time and I need a spot with sunlight if I am to get any decent photos. The JEEP zips through forested sections, turtles plop from logs, a six foot gator slides into the roadside ditch with a swoosh, and a blue heron swoops ahead of me, but they are not my target today.
The roadside bushes seem full of little LGB's and I'm looking for a well lit spot to stalk them.

Finally, I round a corner to find a brushy ditch bathed in golden late day light. LGB's are flitting about everywhere. The JEEP slides as I hit the brakes hard on the gravel road. When it stops, I slip her into reverse, tuck the JEEP into the roadshoulder brush, and unzip the driver window.

I'm quiet for a while, letting things calm down after my clumsy stop. Have I scared them away?
Nope, I can hear them in the brush and the little flycatchery looking bird is staring at me intently from a saplings top. Every once in a while he jumps up, flutters toward me, and then realights in what must be a territorial display.

Pssssshhhhhhhhht! Pssssshhhhhhhhhhhttt! I start calling in the LGB's and for the next hour, the action is fast and furious. The bushes are quivering with small birds who seem to be inspecting every inch of the bare naked twigs adornng the ditchbank trees.
Of course, I only capture a sample of these with the camera, but overall the JEEP is doing an excellent imitation of a photographic blind.

The time slips by, almost as fast as the sun setting behind the trees behind me. I check my watch ... 5:35 pm. In a few minutes, I'll have to leave to make it to Junior's basketball game in time.

But for now ...

...I am right where I need to be.


robin andrea said...

I always thought that the piercing tinnyness of gymnasiums was the desired acoustic. How nice that you had a wild place to visit in between the rally and the game. I hope Junior's team won!

pablo said...

Wonderful post. Lots of detail and nicely constructed. Are you going to write us a novel some day?

Best of all, though, is learning that a JEEP actually has a good use.

S N B said...

I, too, know the stresses and pleasures of teaching. Time spent in the natural world can be such a blessing as far as recharging goes. Speaking of stress, are you continuing to work on National Board or did you finish the first time?
B and I usually begin or end our day reading your blog and find it another de-stressor, as well as informative.

S of SNB

tsiya said...

I caught countless good pics through the window of my old Cherokee. Now, my motorscooter doubles as a tripod. My hiking days are over but I've still got places to go.

Deb said...

I was hearing the tinny loudness of a high school gym in my ears as I read this, and it was not pleasant. Good you got to where you need to be.

threecollie said...

Sweet post...wonderful bird photos

Hurricane Teen said...

Great photos, as usual...
And I know how you felt during that pep rally. My school's football team made it to the state championship this year, and we had one of those every week. Many ears left ringing.

Rurality said...

Nice boids!

That's a Butter-butt (yellow-rumped warbler) and a Palm warbler, in case you didn't know and wanted some smarty-pants to tell you.

I love the Palm warblers, they are always wagging their tails.

SophieMae said...


If the sun held out, I'm pretty sure I'd be late for the game. 8-]

Sharon said...

Gotta love a man with the right attitude about where he "needs to be" :) Awesome shots, in awesome light.

tsiya said...

Floridacracker, what camera are you using? You've got some awesome shots!

Floridacracker said...

Geez, maybe that tinny sound is the goal! Unfortunately, we lost, but the boys played hard.

Thank you Pablo,
Maybe ... I'm building my characters now, but I have a history of not following through.
As for JEEP uses, wasn't saving the world in WWII enough?

Yes, we definitely need to balance the chalkboard demands with time of our own.
I missed NB cert by 7 points!
So I'm redoing one entry hoping to recapture those points. I need to get hopping on that project too.

Whatever works to get you out there pal, just keep getting out. I'm shooting with a Sony Cybershot, DSC-H5.
There's newer models now with even better tele and features.

Cheerleader flashback?
Or band?

Thanks. A little southern color for you!

I know you can relate to that sound level. Congrats to your football team.

I depend on you bird smarty pants to ID, Verify, or Challenge any little birds I name on this PF.
Thank you!

My camera and Pure Florida make me late for more events than you can imagine.

Thank you! Much appreciated coming from someone who knows how to capture beautiful light.

SwampAngel65 said...

Beautiful pics! I now have total camera envy. My little Kodak is just not satisfying my needs anymore...

Floridacracker said...

I am very satisfied with this Sony.