It is not 1962.
But it was one of the most ingenious prison breaks of all time—if it worked. In 1962, inmates and bank robbers Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin vanished from Alcatraz, the federal island penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco. They had used sharpened spoons to bore through the prison walls, left papier-maché dummies in their beds and floated away on a raft made from 50 raincoats.
I DO NOT HAVE 50 RAINCOATS and wouldn’t dream of damaging my cutlery with a heavy-duty nail file. All I want to do was escape from my tiny modern apartment next to the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.
Yesterday, I made the 3rd attempt (in the last week) to finish my long list of errands in my immediate vicinity.
I was getting desperate 🙂
I had a very long list – including a replacement bright blue ceramic bird bath for the highly confused and bewildered House Sparrows – a replacement for the one I had broken in my over-zealous balcony fence clean about 2 weeks ago. Will I EVER get to buy this B$@%# new Bird Bath?
It was late in the afternoon at 4.00pm, (when you can’t make a quick getaway via car), to be setting off. I was almost ready to go yesterday when I realised I hadn’t turned the computer off, so walked over to my desk, located in front of the lounge windows, and sat down once again for the zillionth time that day.
I closed each application I’d been working on and turned the computer off when I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my left eye.
It was another baby Superb Fairy-wren – male or female – I couldn’t quite tell. The sex is not so easy to identify when they are juveniles. It was a lousy shot. Not just because I was shaking with excitement.
The glass sliding door was closed (well, of course it was, I was going out shopping).
The glass was filthy from the overnight rain. (or was it because I hadn’t cleaned it all week – take your pick – whichever reason you like).
But what was worse, I’d moved the armchair in order to put the clothes horse with the wet washing right in front of the open door earlier in the afternoon. The reflection was hitting the (now closed) sliding door.
I dare not get up out of my chair as I couldn’t be sure whether I was visible from the wren’s perch. When the windows have just been cleaned all the birds can see is a reflection of the sky, plants and the balcony fence.
But when the glass is dirty, sometimes I’m visible, sometimes I’m not.
Then with a flick of his/her tail, the bird was gone.
I stared at the ruby-red lettuce for a while.
I needed to get that clothes horse and wet washing out of the way.
But was it worth taking the risk of moving (to get up out of my chair to do it)?
Suddenly I spotted the Fairy-wren jumping on to the next seedling tray into the Pak Choy which had bolted and gone to seed from being in the overly warm lounge room. I’ve already recounted my failure in having an indoor garden leading up to Spring and the subsequent transfer of seedling trays out to the open balcony fresh air.
“Turn around” ……I sent a telepathic message.
“All right, don’t”. I said with down-turned pouting lips.
“But you could at least fly away for a few seconds, so I can move the clothes horse to erase the reflection clouding my shots”
“No way” said the tiny Wren on receiving my request.
“I’m having too much fun, eating these fresh young leaves”
I cursed again as the next shot was ruined by the reflection from both the glass door and a clothes horse white line straight through the bird’s eye.
I suspected I had the DSLR and long telephoto lens on far too slow a shutter speed, but I dare not put the camera down to look in case I missed a photo opportunity.
Normally I can change camera settings with the DSLR up against my eye when I’m calm and have no Brain Fog…….but not when I’m excited.
Still too blurred…….and the tiny wren continued to snack on my Mizuna ‘Red’ (Brassica rapa var nipposinica). It must have liked the peppery flavour?
This is the first time I had bought one of these Diggers Club Heirloom cut-and-come-again leafy vegetables featuring the lacy, purple-red foliage (to add a splash of colour and a pinch of pepper to salads and soups, so the plant label said).
Most plant nursery’s stock Diggers Club varieties, although my younger brother buys his Heirloom veggie seeds from an online source. He mentioned yesterday that he was going to plant more Amish tomatoes this year as he’d had a bumper crop last year.
A quick turn around of wings and tail spoilt the next shot too.
…….and all I got was a little rear end poking fun at me.
It then flew away and I finally had the opportunity to move the folding clothes horse. I thought the bird show had ended so I didn’t open the sliding glass door, but sat down ready to turn the computer back on, as I couldn’t wait until after my planned shopping expedition to see if any of the shots had turned out.
Then the sun came out and luckily I hadn’t put the lens cap back on, because the tiny wren came back.
I’d had quite a bit of trouble focusing in the first place because the 150-500mm lens was actually too long and I’d had to slowly lean back in my swivel chair to try and get the camera to autofocus. It kept ‘auto’ zooming in and out trying to find the subject.
….and of course, each time the DSLR long lens played around, so did the bird.
But the Sony ‘mirrorless’ with its shorter 55-210mm lens was tucked away in its camera bag and I couldn’t reach it without scaring the wren away.
It was throughly enjoying the warmth of the winter sun on its back.
Despite the dirty glass, I got a fairly decent shot (below). I’d noticed those white little puddles of bird poop and wondered which bird had made them.
House Sparrows make white pellets.
The shadows from the late afternoon sun were stretching longer and longer.
I was desperate to escape “Alcatraz” but I still hesitated in case I missed further shots.
I do believe I’m becoming a bird-aholic.
Can’t get enough of the wee small creatures.
I really should be going to BA (Bird-aholics Anonymous), but like all people with an addiction, it was up to me to make the first move and after this long Winter at home with only the birds for company, I just couldn’t take the first step to attend a BA meeting.
I was glorifying in my indulgence and soaking up the possibilities. (I have an addictive personality type and once I’d broken my bird-aholics remission, I just couldn’t stop).
The Super Fairy-wren ‘babe’ flew up to the Nemesia flowers. I was getting ‘drunk’ on the sight and wobbled continually, as well as (what I later found out) was a ridiculously slow shutter speed at 1/60 and small aperture at f29.0.
Yes, I was deliriously ‘drunk’ on photographic vision.
I’d never even checked the camera settings in my haste and excitement, although I had switched the ISO to AUTO at one stage.
That’s getting better……”Can you move your head a bit to your right?”
…….and then…..he/she stood fairly still.
Is that the end of the photo session I wondered?
“Can I now get out the door to do the long list of errands (including your new bird bath)?”
“Do what you please.” answered the Fairy-Wren.
“In the meantime, take a shot of my rump” said the baby bird. “It’ll be the best shot of the day if you can stop that camera shaking so much.”
I actually took a total of 41 images, but by the time I turned the computer back on and downloaded the shots to review them, the sun had gone behind the cloud cover and rain threatened.
Just like today, it is starting to rain and my 4th attempt at escaping these four walls looks like its in jeopardy.
No……..wait…….the sun’s coming out again.
But I need 3 new colour ink cartridges, a new pack of printer paper, a browse through the cordless vacuum cleaners in the furniture shop next door, a new door mat, bird bath and other items at the nearby hardware/plant nursery warehouse and then there’s……………………………………………………………………
Have good trust in yourself,
not in the one that you think you should be
but in the one that you are
Taizan Maezumi, 1931— 1995, Japanese zen Buddhist teacher
I AM……..A BIRD-AHOLIC.
PS The baby wren just reappeared and after numerous ‘shots’, my 4th attempt to escape this apartment is in jeopardy. This time I WILL NOT stop to download them. I will not.
Looks like Mizuma ‘Red’ is off the Spring menu once and for all 😀