Crossing Paths

As the day after Thanksgiving drew to a close, I watched the southwestern sky as wispy cirrus clouds began to gather. The day was unseasonably warm and the sun had shone brightly in a virtually cloudless sky for most of the day. A constant strong breeze limited my photographic options, so I decided I’d walk out the point at my in-laws house to capture the setting sun.

The sun rapidly descended behind the opposite shoreline, bringing the trees into silhouette and warming the clouds with a subtle fire that faded skyward to pink. The occasional fishing boat rippled the surface of the lake, creating a constant melting of gold and black in the water.

The color began to deepen as I noticed motion to the west. Just a few at first, but eventually a kettle of turkey vultures took to the air, soaring on the thermals. The lake has become a nesting and migratory spot for these vultures, and this group of hundreds was likely beginning to gain altitude for a long flight. Many consider turkey vultures to be an unsightly bird, but the choreographed chaos of the kettle was astoundingly beautiful.

One of the two Great Blue Herons that live on the lake flew through my frame, a dart through the air when compared to the soaring vultures. The herons are my favorite of the lake wildlife. I love to watch the stealth and patience of their hunt along the shorelines.

Crossing contrails illuminated as the sun sank lower. The imagination only wonders how close in time and space these two aircraft flew, as these frozen symbols of travel can linger for hours in the sky. Contrails, much like footprints on a beach, are ephemeral marks of intersecting human journeys.

So much of human intersection is lost in inattention. We pass through the lives of others, unannounced and without the simplest of hesitation. I often wonder how different our lives would be if we stopped — even for a few seconds — to do more than just cross paths in ignorance of each other.

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