|Wetlands at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge|
As I turn off of busy Highway 160 in South Central Colorado this morning, I slow my vehicle's speed way down. The two-mile approach to Alamosa NWR's Visitor Center is where I begin to align my pace with that of the natural world. Opening all of my windows, I breathe deeply and feel the gentle breeze and soft rays of the early morning sunlight on my face. Reaching into my camera backpack, a palpable sense of anticipation rises up to meet me.
I start counting telephone poles. There he is, as always, on pole number seven. My greeter. Here's where I admit that I don't know what kind of hawk he is. At some point, I will pull out a book and ID him, but I'm not obsessed with that right now—which is unusual for me. In the past, I would have immediately wanted to know his name. The new me has a different agenda for coming to know him.
|Sign Marking Entrance to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge|
|Star Actress in Today's Theater Production of "Fake Broken Wing" - Mama Killdear|
|Baby Killdear - Cuteness Overload|
Now, as I'm attempting to photograph the family from my vehicle, they launch themselves, in true killdear form, into what the former athlete in me recognizes as Fartlek (I do not make this stuff up) training. Imagine seven photographic subjects, all going in different directions, speed walking for several steps, and then briefly pausing before sprinting away in the opposite direction. I try to anticipate when and where those slower intervals will take place and press the shutter button in an act of faith. This is living in the moment. Talk about exhilaration!
It's time to roll on down the road. I never want to stress the wildlife by overstaying my welcome. You learn to take the gift they give you, and with good grace, give them the breathing room they need. If I drove out of the refuge right now, my day would be complete.
|Young Mule Deer Buck With Antlers in the Velvet|
The other thing is this: Don't just look for the big magnificence. Often, the most delightful splendor comes in the tiniest of packages. While there will be crowds at area refuges during the seasonal Sandhill crane migrations, or when elk herds are moving through, it is in the smaller, and yet equally mesmerizing annual voyages of say, butterflies, that one may become immersed in transcendent moments.
|Walking is the More Intimate Way to Experience the Refuge|
|A Glow-in-the-Dark Male Yellow Warbler With a Mouth Full of Insects|
|Dr. Seuss Chicks - American Coot Babies - Wow, Just Wow!|
To miss a day at the refuge, is to miss out on the unfolding of thousands of tiny miracles. I've found there is no slow season when it comes to the miracle of life. Any time I find myself drinking in sustenance at the oasis we call the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, is the time of my life.
|Water is the Lifeblood of the San Luis Valley's National Wildlife Refuges|
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