I spent an hour or so yesterday morning making butterfly pictures at a prairie site just up the road from the cottage. Later, because I had a midday appointment to keep at the optometrist's, I adjourned to a small pond closer to his office, where I stalked dragonflies, damselflies, and several small butterflies along the cattail-fringed edge until time to head for the eye doc's.
The morning was pleasantly cool. Puffy white clouds sailed across an azure sky. The only minor drawback, from a photographic standpoint, was the rather stiff breeze, which blew almost constantly—bending and swaying the prairie's big bluestem and purple coneflowers, and the little pond's cattail and willows, turning the colorful insects I was trying to photograph into erratically moving targets.
That is definitely not a complaint. After enduring several sweltering weeks of 90˚F-plus weather, a bit of a photographic challenge is a small price to pay for such welcome comfort. I'll take 75˚F and a refreshing breeze over 97˚F and smothering calm every time!
My optometrist visit went well. I began wearing glasses as a child, and switched to contact lenses in my early teens. (Back then, hard contacts were made from plexiglass—the same material used for windowpanes in doors.) Of all the optometrists I've had over the years, the fellow I see now is far and away the most thorough in his examinations…and I also believe, the most competent. Yesterday's examination took nearly three hours—partly because of the doc's meticulous and exhaustive care, but also because of a family history of glaucoma, the fact that my eye health indicates that I may be heading in that direction, plus an incident which occurred a few days ago (again, I was out taking photos) that might be an early warning sign of a torn retina. What I appreciate the most about this guy is that he's not only conscientious and comprehensive, but straight-talking and firm in his opinions. As a hard-headed Irishman, who, believe me, is no easy patient, I find such behavior refreshing.
By the time I got out of there—relieved if somewhat frayed from the assiduous nature of the exam, my eyes dilated to those resembling a great horned owl, vision a temporary mess—I needed at least a brief ramble outdoors to even my kilter. A small natural area on the way home offered the perfect panacea.
A few minutes later I parked in the graveled lot and ambled along a narrow path across an old meadow white with Queen Anne's Lace. Patches of purple Ironweed hosted Tiger Swallowtail butterflies. A handful of goldfinches flitted atop the thistle heads. The breeze was still blowing and the whole field seemed to be alive, dancing a slow waltz beneath a sparking afternoon sky. And I thought—not for the first time—how I was so very grateful to be able to see this—thankful for the eyes and vision to take in the wonder of such a place, such a day. What would I do without sight? How would I read or write, make photos, prepare meals, look deep into the eyes of Myladylove and know she loves me back? Surely the gift of sight is among God's greatest blessings to mankind.
Call this a public service announcement, Riverdaze style. If you're due for an eye exam, make the appointment and keep it. Find yourself a good optometrist. Take care of your eyes, your vision, your sight. What a wonderful, lovely world we have—a world where beauty surrounds us, if only we take the time to look…and have the ability to see.