Tag Archives: observations

Fleeting glimpses, lasting impressions

20 Apr

I used to think that my journeys to and from work were pretty dull and to be frank a bit of a waste of my time, but over the last few weeks my perception has changed, as I start to notice more and more interesting things going on in the world around me.

I should clarify that they are interesting to me, the rest of you reading this may not find them particularly interesting, but to me they are helping make my journeys more bearable.

I probably all started when the clocks went forward with the start of British Summer Time last month, and it became light enough in the mornings to see beyond the windows of the bus.

This morning the “interesting thing” happened before I even got to the bus stop. Walking up the High Street I spotted a heron landing on the ridge of the old Post Office roof, this in itself was quite unusual as although the bird is not particularly rare I have seldom seen it anywhere other than the side of a pond or stream.

What was really incredible was the group of seagulls that began to mob the heron as it perched on the roof top. There was one particularly aggressive one that kept diving in close, accompanied by a screeching cry. It didn’t take many “attacks” for the heron to decide it had had enough and to take to the air and head off to the south-east out of sight, but still being pursued by the seagulls.

All this at just after six o’clock in the morning, the whole thing probably lasted less than a minute, but I felt incredibly privileged to have been witness to this spectacle.

Sometimes it is something on a much bigger scale, like the sun rising through the mists, an experience which lasts for most of the bus journey on a good day. With glimpses of the sun visible in the mist at various intervals as we race through the Sussex countryside.

Last night as I made my way home on the train one half of the sky was full of very dark grey (almost black) cloud stretching down to the trees on the horizon. Meanwhile the sun was still shining over the other side of the train, this caused me to notice¬† a satellite dish slowly rotating on the horizon, the sun’s rays picking it out against the dark cloud.

A few seconds later I noticed what appeared to be the burst of a firework, specks of silver glittering against the dark cloud. Unlike a firework it just hung in the air not moving, when I had time to process the image I realised it was a radio/mobile phone mast, something else I had failed to notice despite making the same journey five days a week for the past couple of years. A truly unique combination of weather conditions had made them visible to me for the first time.

Sometimes it is something natural, like the buzzard I saw last week (at least I think it was a buzzard), standing on the ground pulling at something it had probably just killed. Two rooks looked on from a few feet away, presumably hoping that it would leave something behind for them to nibble on.

Sometimes it is something unexpected, like a couple of days ago when I stepped out the office door and into the street to witness two Apache helicopters passing overhead. I have long admired these machines and the men who fly them, but had never seen one for real.

I couldn’t believe my luck, a minute earlier or later and I would have missed them completely. Like the heron this morning, this flight only lasted a minute or so before they were out of sight, but it was still incredibly satisfying to have been there to witness them in that instant.

They nearly all have one thing in common, they are usually just brief encounters. Usually from a bus or train window, blink and you miss it, look the other way and you miss it. Too fleeting to consider taking a photo, but just long enough to leave a lasting impression.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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