Some solitude and reflection on the American Tobacco Trail

It was the summer solstice and I was waiting for a group of cyclists to come down the American Tobacco Trail. I was hoping for a few photos of cyclists on the trail and had tentative plans to meet a group somewhere along the Wake County section, but with no firm confirmation and the sky darkening with clouds I worried they might not come, so I found a scenic bridge and settled down to wait.

Waiting. That's one thing about photography that's been hard for me - especially photographing sports or action - and that's been waiting. I always need to move. I itch for it like a snake shedding its skin, scratching and scratching against something hard. Watching these mountain bikers, cyclists, paddle-boarders, kayakers, volleyball players, and runners, I am seized with the urge to throw down my camera and join them. I want to revel with them, to play, to explore! I get impatient and tap my foot or fidget with my fingers or pump my muscles. Flex, relax, flex, relax, flex, relax, the anthem of the restless, fast or slow I have to move. But at the same time it's rewarding to be patient. And even though I may be charged up with energy from sitting still all day in the office, there's enjoyment in sitting outside, waiting, watching.

The bridge on the American Tobacco Trail overlooked a large marsh, and I waited for cyclists who may or may not come as the sky darkened on the longest day of the year, and even though I wanted to run fast and far and hard after a long day at work, I was somehow enjoying just waiting here. There were turtles floating in the water below me, bobbing their heads on the muddy surface. An osprey flew overhead, and a mallard wept and whined - a call I've never heard before, more of a lament than anything else.

After I'd waited for a while with no other people coming by I started noticing how the water flowed through the marsh and I could hear the cattails rustling in the breeze. It looked like it would storm soon. My cyclists probably turned around early to avoid the rain, but I waited just a little while longer because I could see a beaver circling in the water, dipping in and out of sight. I wondered if that fresh pile of sticks would become his dam, and suddenly, over the noise of the cattails and the songbirds, frogs erupted in chorus. I decided to wait just a little while longer and hear them sing.


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