Gettin' Somewhere

 I was eating the complimentary breakfast at the Super 8 in Greenfield, Indiana the other day and this guy about my age got up from his table and said to the woman cleaning the counter, “Thank you, ma’am, for the good breakfast.”

She looked up, maybe a little surprised that someone’d acknowledged her.

“We try…we don’t always succeed, but we always try.” 

“If somebody didn’t like it,” he shrugged, “it’s cause they’re too damn picky.”

I laughed and nodded at the guy, who shrugged again. 

“Well, it’s true.”  

It IS true…but what really made me smile was the simple message of his kindness: looking at the bright side is a CHOICE. 

Some of the pictures we’ve posted in earlier entries of this blog were a combination of luck and skill: we were just lucky to pass by the hawk and heron, and lucky that they stayed around long enough for Tommy to skillfully capture them. Some were ALL skill: we didn’t need much luck to find ducks — we see them quite a bit — but Tommy’s patience and eye helped him get the angle and lighting that he wanted. 

But here’s a little secret: some of my favorite shots that’s he’s posted — like these two today of the bee on the flower and the butterfly — only happened because he’d failed! 

It’s that darn yellow bird. Nothing against robins, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays, but we see them all day every day. We could post DOZENS of pictures of robins, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays. But ever since New Jersey we’ve been seeing this beautiful yellow bird, but we couldn’t even get a bad picture of it to ask someone what it was. It was SO FAST and it never stayed still. Tommy’s Uncle Peter, who knows quite a bit

about the subject, told us “It’s probably a goldfinch. They fly like a rollercoaster.”

He wasn’t lying. All through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, every time we’d see this yellow blur zip past us, we’d stop to try to get a shot of it, but it usually careened away before Tommy’d even unzipped his bag. I even got in on the action, trying to use my phone, but all I got was about 10 pictures of bushes, trees and cornstalks that the bird had left seconds before. 

So whenever we’d miss the goldfinch…and we always did…Tommy would just take pictures of something else. And that’s how our “failure” transforms into some really cool successes. Looking on the bright side is a choice, right?

And this picture here at the end? 

That very same day I heard the guy be so kind at breakfast, right outside of Greenfield, right after we showed up without an appointment and Mitch (another really kind guy…Greenfield seems to be full of them!) at Family Bike Chain spent a half hour on a busy Tuesday morning checking our bikes and giving us great advice, in a cornfield near a section of the Pennsy Trail…Tommy got it!!! 

Over a month of trying, and he finally got this incredible picture of a goldfinch hanging onto a common mullein (yes, we had to look that up). He’s such a perfectionist that he didn’t want to post it because it’s not as sharply focused as he’d like, but I said we HAD to post it!!! Plus, we’ve got plenty of time to get another, better shot, right? Maybe not the victory he envisioned but a victory nonetheless! 

The next day we crossed the 1,000 mile mark for our trip. We take our victories as they come…Illinois, here we come!


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