Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Dark Horse Region

The Dark Horse Region
A View into the center of the Milky Way

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Gift of Small Pleasures

With the Christmas Season upon us, I like to share a story I wrote back in 2004.  It explains a lot of why I enjoy getting outdoors and why I love to photograph those moments.  It's about how small pleasures of fishing from a canoe often become wonderful gifts.


It's when the cool air of morning hovers over the quiet hours is when I feel most at home, most in tune with where I am. Before the rays of daylight evaporate the darkness, while the last remnants of pre-dawn cling to life and the fatigue continues to invade my eyes is when I realize just how important are moments like this spent casting a line.  It is the last calm before the day, the last silence of morning that awakens me.  More often than they should, moments like these slip away unnoticed, and it is not until I look back and reflect on the experience is my heart warmed by the experience.  My thoughts often drift affectionately to what was there, to the emotion of the moment, as I was suspended on the glide of my canoe toward a rendezvous of time and place.  It is good for the soul to do such things, reflect on days afield, for it is during those time the small pleasures of life become a gift.

Maybe it is the sweet tone of the paddle keeping time with the swirls and eddies created as the wooden blade presses against the water I enjoy the most...and muscles not recently used are again called into service.  That silent motion of the paddle as it is carefully raised at the end of each stroke and caressed into place for the next...the obedient turn of the bow as a gentle brace is applied to position that first cast are such things from which I seldom tire.  That first cast of the morning, during the stillness, when your heartbeat is heard as well as felt...when the only sound is the muffled twirl of the line rolling from your reel create the most enduring images.  That is when the anticipation is highest.  Each cast becomes a special memory harboring its own significance...its own connection to the gift.

Solitude and calmness of spirit is what I seek while fishing and few things offer a better blend of events to fulfill those ideals.  Long ago I learned an old axiom: There is more to fishing than catching a fish.  Over the years I've grown to appreciate that idea more.  The slow and simple method of wading a creek or fishing some secluded cove or drifting down a back country stream embraces the essence of those words.

Often, the trials of making a living create a delinquency from the pursuit of those desires, but in retrospect, those gaps generate even more small pleasures on the few occasions I do get out.

It matters little what season reflection on fishing occurs...for each season brings its own character into the realm of simple pleasures.  But, late in spring when the contrasts of weather are blending into the early days of summer, time for creating a reflection is prime.  When the hot days of summer are extinguished by the arrival of fall, and when the chill of winter invades the hemisphere, thoughts of fishing succumb to the inevitable.  Even so, during the depths of the coldest months...I often reflect on those moments spent casting a line under the spell of the mornings of summer.  There is comfort in revisiting those days, even if only in thought...for when the frost on the canoe glisten's in the half light of a winter's morning, I know life granted me another season, and once again soon, I shall suspend myself above the trials of living, and seek the gift of small pleasures.


Maryellen said...

Keith, your words transport me into another place and time and I feel as if I am there, if only for a moment in time. The special times when I've kayaked alone have brought me some wonderful memories and I take so much pleasure in those gifts! Thanks for sharing!

Theresa Smith said...

Keith, Your photographs have heart and soul in them, that's what makes them so special. I really enjoy all the photography tips, videos and photos that you share.