Could it be that a safari isn’t just an adventure but a state of being?
I like to think of a safari as driving around in a sweetly decked out four-wheel drive with ridiculously expensive camera gear peering out of port holes like automatic rifles. Every few minutes the vehicle stops to the sound of shutters firing as an exotic African predator takes down an exotic African prey. What wildlife photographer wouldn’t want to live in that paradise? Unless of course it got too hot during the day.
Then it occurred to me that I’m on my own permanent prairie psafari (on the prairies the p is semi-silent). That sounds a lot better than driving around aimlessly on grid roads accidentally scaring all the wildlife in the area code. The time between photo ops may be a bit longer but psafari it is! Suddenly it all sounds so much more exciting. And I’ve been here all along.
One of the special features of my prairie psafari is how each season brings unique creatures. My goodness this is beginning to sound legit.
Sandhill season is one of my favourites. It marks the end of summer heat, bringing fabulous colour, harvest scenes and seemingly unending sunsets. This year I saw sandhill cranes every single time I went looking. Now that’s an unmatched success rate on any continent. After bagging hundreds of shots, I was really hoping to catch a few in the snow but they must have sensed it coming. Not to worry – they will be back next year like our favourite sports team.
The next season is one of my favourites – snowy owl season. This season officially starts when I see a snowy owl. And in case there was any doubt, this really is all about me.
Last year it got off to quite the late start in March. But this year, Christmas and the snowy season came early when I got my gift-wrapped snowy owl before we even got a decent snowfall. How cool is that!
The next season is truly one of my favourites – bear season. I have to drive some distance to find the bears but that’s part of the prairie way. A century ago they roamed a lot closer but I was born too late. Watching those well-muscled creatures lumbering along in search of food might be a fatal attraction. But what a way to go!
And then there’s another favourite – hawk season. My heart still skips a beat watching them soar above the prairie, screaming at the sunset and lower forms of life like me that are stuck on the ground. My heart skipped a couple of more beats when I saw one flying right at me this year but unfortunately It didn’t happen again so I couldn’t photograph it.
In case you’re keeping score (and I always do), that makes 2.5 seasons of predators – more than respectable by my standards.
Oh yes, and we get a bunch of different weather during all these wildlife seasons and not all of it is hot. Time to shovel the snow off the driveway, start my Jeep and head out on another prairie psafari. It truly is a wonderful state of being.