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Yesterday’s post was a brief ditty about a lesson learned.  I told you I would explain, so here goes:

Two days before the photos here were taken, I had a momentous day of photography!  I had seldom been more excited about my wonderful luck!  Lake Junaluska is home to some beautiful swans.  I believe there are two pair.  Swans are among the few birds who will frequently mate for life.  The female of one of the LJ pair either died or was killed within the last few years, and the remaining male remains single.  This always brings up very anthropomorphic thoughts to my mind and heart.  While driving around the lake, I saw that single male – sitting in the grass on the shore, and I thought, “Wow!  I’ve got my new camera with me too!  What great good fortune!”  So I parked, got out of the car and crept up to a safe and hopefully non-threatening distance from the handsome swan.

He did not appear annoyed by my presence, and was patient as I snapped photo after photo.  The lake was like glass that day – almost no wind or even a breeze disturbed the glassy surface.  After a few minutes of preening, the swan slipped back into the lake, and lazily paddled around, seemingly without rippling the glassy surface.  I was sure it was for my benefit.  He positioned himself beautifully erect, very regal, and smoothly began to sail across the water.  He dipped his head briefly and on seeing his reflection in the lake, he fixed his eyes upon the image beneath him.  Remember now, I’m getting photo after photo of this – just snapping away wildly!

As he gazed at his reflection, the poem to accompany these photos started coming to mind. Both would be perfect for the weekly photo challenge of “One.”  After he sailed off out of the camera’s sight, I packed up and went, full of excitement, over to the auditorium where Ashley was preparing the worship setting for Easter Sunday.  I had a few moments to tell him my exciting news.  He didn’t have time to review the photos with me, so I sat in the auditorium, going through them myself, hitting “playback” over and over.  Each shot on the tiny view screen of my camera got better and better.  I was giddy!  I couldn’t believe how professional the photos looked!   

Then, my fatal error.  I erased all the contents on the disk.

Good old Pride reared its ugly head.  I had started fiddling with my new toy, pretending that I knew what I was doing.  Never was any “knowledge” more false.  In my efforts to attempt to change to a RAW format from JPEG, I instituted a reformatting of the disk, forgetting that reformatting a disk and changing a format are two entirely different things.  I had not brought my little instruction book for the camera with me, because basically I like to learn by doing.  In the back of my mind has always been the understanding that mistakes are the best teacher; however learning by making mistakes is not my favorite way to learn.   But. it is certainly effective!  

My swan was gone. . .gone forever. (And no one had viewed my photo playback except me!  It would have been nice to have someone commiserate with me who had seen it, and knew what I had lost.)

The swan has not come into view for me since.  I know he is around somewhere, waiting for me to display less self-pity and more humility in his presence.  In the meantime, he has been sending a lot of snow-white geese around to fool me into stopping the car and unloading all my camera equipment.  I have been whispering “lesson learned” into the ether around the lake, hoping that he will once again grace me with the opportunity to take his portrait.

I had pretty much composed the poem, “One,” before I lost the photos, so I’ll post it here in hopes to appease the royal bird.  Hope he can read.

© 2011 Paula Tohline Calhoun

We will always be two
I thought, not knowing
how life can change –
like Sun and Wind and Lake.
I sensed your leaving. Before you left
I felt the ache of emptiness.
The space you held in my heart
could not be filled by another.
You fixed your sight on me,
and helpless, I watched you go.
Slowly, the golden gleam
of your eyes faded away, and
the last of your heart
was wrenched from my own.
You moved beyond reach,
beyond grief, cries, and pain.
I wept, and waited alone. But oh!
Wing of my wing, heart of my own
you have found your way back to me.
When Lake lies mirror-still; 
When Wind calms, and Sun shines
As brightly as your eyes,
You appear beneath me,
As lovely, as perfect, as ever.
We glide in the unison
Of all our yesterdays,
And we are, once again, two.
For just those precious moments,
As long as they last –
I am no longer
One. . .

So, today, there is no photo.  I’m making an effort to let go of my disappointment.

I know my knowledge is imperfect, but still I have a feeling that there will be other opportunities.  There will be enough. . .

(Poem submitted for Thursday Poets Rally, Week 43)