The unknowable path ahead

Just seeing that merganser thrusting herself up to get a better view makes me smile. With water droplets falling off her feathers, it looks like she’s straining to see the future.

She’s not alone. Many creatures have a habit of peering ahead. I can never tell if they are checking for dragons or opportunities or, put another way, looking for food or fearing they may become food. With that kind of high stakes, it’s easy to see why they can quickly become interested in what lurks around the next corner.

_B5A9853, Big Horn Sheep

Uhh … anybody see where the path goes from here??

There may be slightly different odds in play but I share the same obsession. In my imagination, I’m like a captain of my ship, standing on the deck (or wherever they are supposed to stand) under sunny, calm seas, thotfully charting my life course. It’s all about controlling my destiny while heading for a paradise on distant shores. And then my metaphor gets confused when I look out at the ice and fog. I have no idea which way to go let alone what trouble lies ahead.

_MG_2241, ice, fog

So where exactly am I heading other than to more of the same?

It turns out there’s a couple of other pesky little issues with my metaphor. I can get a bit queasy driving over hills in a car let alone a boat on larger bodies of water. Coming to think of it, I know just about nothing about being captain of a boat larger than my kayak. There aren’t a lot of boat captains who live on the prairies. The closest I have come was enjoying a spoof done about a Saskatchewan pirate and encountering a couple of men who worked in the Canadian Navy on the prairies – a posting they had some difficulty explaining. They also seemed to have a lot of free time.

But perhaps the biggest problem with my captain metaphor is that my navigation, both on my actual travels and on life’s journey, seems inevitably to turn out different than I planned or expected.

Nevertheless something tells me that the wildlife and I will still keep trying to catch a glimpse of what’s around the next corner. It’s in our nature to be curious. So we continue to peer, plan and imagine while I strive for better alliteration in the future.

Pull up the anchor mate …

2B5A0257,  loon

Sometimes you are surprised to find neither food nor predator – just a photographer staring you down. I’m sure that raises its own issues.


Latest Comments

  1. pronghornwildlife2L says:

    The here and now, it’s all we’ve got, and all we are guaranteed….not much adventure in knowing what’s next. Isn’t that what our quest for the next critter is really all about? Not knowing what’s ahead or around that next corner….


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I couldn’t have said it any better! It makes the surprise of finding the next critter so much better … and addicting. Of course that doesn’t stop me from trying to peek around the next corner now and then …


  2. krikitarts says:

    Alertness is a most admirable quality. We have mergansers on our lake in northern Minnesota too, and when they do that, they remind me of nothing so much as meerkats. A great post, Lyle, and one more thing–your loon photo reminds me that I have recently acquired (and very successfully modified) a recipe for red-eye gravy and biscuits–would you like a copy?


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I don’t generally think of meerkats but as soon as I read that it immediately clicked. Glad you liked the post and always appreciate your comments. I’m not much of a recipe guy but thankfully married someone who is! I’d be happy to pass it along (


  3. anotherday2paradise says:

    Superb photos and narrative, Lyle. 🙂


  4. Mary says:

    Wonderful photograph series Lyle. Have a lovely weekend.


  5. Birder's Journey says:

    Interesting ideas……and I love that standing merganser – wow, great details. And the sheep at the end of the path is remarkable – what expressive looks.


  6. Phil Lanoue says:

    Good thots and excellent observations too. Funny you talk about boats then mention the prairie pirate.
    I’ve taken to using the pirate metaphor lately when something or someone becomes tremendously annoying (imagine that?!) but I plan to just calm down and let it slide. “I’m not ready to raise the black”

    So what was I talking about? Oh yeah, terrific photos!


  7. Steve Gingold says:

    The only parts of the future I pay much attention to is health and wealth. I’ve plenty of the former, I hope, and not nearly enough of the latter. Most of the rest will happen whether I try to do anything about it or not. I think knowing what lies ahead has only small opportunity to be a good thing. Most we are better off not knowing.
    Great shots of the Mergansers and goats….especially in the context of your post.
    Unfortunately, the “unknowable” has now bad connotations thanks to a former U.S. Sec. of Defense.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I completely agree that we are better off not knowing the future. It is much better to live in the day and be thankful for it – somehow it’s a lesson that I have to keep learning again. Hard wiring is difficult to change.

      I had forgotten about the connotations about unknowable but it rings a bell now that you mention it. While I follow US news generally, it’s a different context here.


  8. Lavinia Ross says:

    The merganser looks like she is about to walk on water! About the future? Just remember, Lyle, wherever you go, there you are.. 🙂 Beautiful photos, as always!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Walking on water is a great way to describe it. This post comes from a life-long struggle to be “all here” wherever that is. I get the hang of carpe diem (seize the day) and then try to sneak a peak! Something tells me you are better at that.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    The bighorn sheep photo intrigues me. Did you stay around long enough to see where they went?

    Also, the top photos is excellent. Great capture.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I was really fortunate to find the sheep wandering around that ledge – great fun. Except the cold wind was ripping off every bit of warmth from me. I hung in there as long as I could and left them hanging out.


  10. donna213 says:

    Beautiful images, Lyle. It is a nice thought to be captain of your own ship, but I find too many ship mates all vying for the captain spot. At least in your icy landscape there is no competition for the helm. Those sheep always amaze me. What a life to live.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I forgot all about the potential for coups on the ship! Excellent point. The sheep have wonderful capacity to hang out in unusual places. I was fortunate to find them on this rock ledge though I nearly froze in the wind.


  11. Michelle at The Green Study says:

    Is that last shot of a loon? They’re Minnesota’s state bird and I’ve always thought they looked creepy. And spooky to hear. Plus, if you’re taking pictures of them up there, it’s obvious that they’re a rather disloyal lot. Or maybe they navigated wrong as well.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Yes the last shot is a loon. I will grant you they have unusual looks and a haunting call but I am quite enamoured with both – maybe that says something about me. They are absolutely disloyal and show a flagrant disregard for all human boundaries but I like the idea they navigated wrong and ended up here. Perhaps a devious Canadian plot:)

      Liked by 1 person

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