by David GOWER
gin and tonic with some ice
It was a good choice of spot. Close to the footpath but with enough long grass and tall weeds to provide a suitable space to watch and wait. It was always best to take time doing these things. Never to let excitement and anticipation overcome the need for stealth and success.
The camouflage jacket and hat would keep him warm and hidden from view whilst he waited. How many times he had looked for the right spot, never able to find somewhere quite right. Now after days of wandering the country pathways he had found the place. A good view of the pathway in both directions and the field ahead as far as the tree line. Even the wary eyes of those looking for a predator would be unlikely to see him. In the country but close to the car park. Failing to prepare was preparing to fail, the words of his teacher came back to him but today he was prepared. There would be not failure but success.
In his imagination the whole thing had been easy. The pictures in magazines and on the internet were so clear. His felt the cold metal with his hand. Everything was still ready and close for when the moment came. A gentle breeze wafted towards him across the open field and he watched in hope as the sun dipped towards the horizon. The time would be soon now. This anticipation went some way to dispel the growing discomfort of staying near motionless. Vigilance would be the watchword.
A lone female had appeared from the woods. Two more followed close behind. No sign of a male anywhere. Perhaps the first female would come close enough without the others noticing in time. The first female appeared relaxed moving through the grass in the meadow towards his chosen spot. The voice in his head congratulated him on his planning. Fingers tensed on the cold metal, there would be only a few seconds before the time came for action.
From his left came a shrill woman’s voice and at the same time there was the noise of a body blundering through the long grass towards him. Everything would be ruined. His presence discovered, his planning to waste and accusations made needing to be explained away. What to do?
There seemed to be three options and none was good. The focus of his plans had been warned, the woman and her free roaming dog could discover him in a moment.
Option 1 Stay hidden and hope the dog would pass by and ignore him. Hope that the owner would not wade through the long grass and scream as she stepped on him.
Option 2 Stand up and try to reassure her that he meant no harm.
A man camouflaged at dusk by a footpath means no harm to a woman walking her dog? Not a headline he had ever seen.
Option 3 Run as best he could carrying his equipment to the car without explaining himself. How could he run with all the stuff he had brought?
The second option was the least unpleasant. He stood up saying “Don’t be afraid. I was hoping to picture the deer.”
She stopped in her tracks, the dog bounded up – it was a big dog – and knocked him over so that he fell onto the hard aluminium camera case.
Was he was doomed never to get that picture and submit it to the club wildlife photo competition? Random events had conspired against him.
Woman, dog, man and camera gear eventually sorted themselves. They both walked back to the car park. They chatted and the fear that had overwhelmed woman and man minutes earlier turned into laughter.
The pub just opposite the car park looked inviting. Thatched roof, smoke curling from the chimney as dusk approached and a feeling that an apology was not enough resulted in him inviting her for a drink. Offer accepted and the trio woman, dog and bruised wildlife photographer order a drink and sat down.
It was a soppy, slobbery, friendly dog which heard commands but had a mind of its own when out for a walk.
Perhaps another photograph in a different category might be less traumatic? Pets and their owners came to mind as another round was ordered.