In front of my house is a step. The step goes down once, hesitates for a moment, and then joins the sidewalk proper. People walk up and down the sidewalk all day with their dogs and never look to the right or the left, but if they did happen to glance past the sidewalk’s edge they’d see a little strip of green, a little white picket fence and then, beyond that, the lake. The lake is amazing, having both reeds and a little peninsula to give it distinction from a mere water reservoir. The green banks slopping down to its edge, and the half circle of trees which form a backdrop for it, all add to its pastoral dignity. It is also populated by ducks and Baltimore Geese. Where these go when the lake freezes over I do not know, but the moment it thaws you can be sure they will be back again, paddling around in it. Now that the days are getting warmer I notice the ducks are not as active in the afternoon, but they’re still there in the mornings. The geese seem to have finally left for good, but then who can tell with geese.
The sight of geese and ducks no longer seems special enough to take pictures of, although they lend my house that quiet air of untouched country-side which, in the suburbs, is more precious than a thousand feather beds. But Wednesday the ducks were replaced by a more esteemed visitor. I almost missed it, walking down the sidewalk and not looking either left or right, but something always pulls my eye to the lake and there it was. Glorious, but unfortunately, not showing me its best side – and besides, my grouchy little camera was sulking that day and refusing its batteries. So I sighed and moved on, wanting to share my excitement with someone but unable to.
But Friday morning, when I came out of my door, there it was again. A magnificent sight in such a humble little neighborhood as mine. I grabbed my camera, with it’s newly charged batteries, and snapped a quick picture. It came out like this:
Undaunted, I adjusted a setting and snapped again. It came out fuzzier than the last time. I switched to manual and focused in~out.
Certain settings would let me see the unbelievable thing on the LCD screen in lurid detail, but try as I might whenever I pressed down to take the shot, the focus would shift and the whole photo would be gone – lost in a beautiful indistinctness. After ten minutes the camera grudgingly gave the photo below, and though at first I thought it was just as bad as all the others, now I don’t know but I rather like it. After all, it captures the surreality of the moment, the hazy aura of imperial pomp. The more I think of it the more it makes sense on an artistic level. Of course something this majestic would be undefinable, and an exact representation of the moment could only be conveyed by admitting that that very representation was unattainable. And so I present to you a sight so rare even cameras tremble, The Emperor of Fowl: