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Monday, January 22, 2007

That very impressive instant

By MIKE McILVAIN

Words can’t always describe the sight that stops a traveler or meets the eye head on, halting all movement for an instant.
That instant is usually repeated several times and frequently lengthened with the traveler’s eyesight finding a vista, valley, gorge, mountain, meadow, friendly walking trail, sunset, sunrise, river, creek, woods, grassy riverbank or silhouetted skyline, which won’t let go. These enlightened moments of appreciation are normally near the end of a vacation, or sometimes a light business trip when realization sets in that this sight can’t be seen at home – and certainly not at work.
Frequently, the sight is a quick flash -- a silvery, glistening-in-the-sun fish popping up out of nowhere, leaping for a fly, despite being surrounded by hungry seagulls, or the sun’s select rays breaking through low clouds at dusk over a seaside rock formation you’ll probably never see again. Anyone’s eye and mind-catching instant could be in the mountains, by a river, in a forest, in a desert, or in the concrete canyons of an unfamiliar city. These individual instances vary between the viewer and the scenery with as many possibilities and philosophical interpretations as the mind allows.
Such sights can spark a slumbering inner optimism and keep it up – after all, that hungry fish had the guts to jump for a buzzing insect and survived, or maybe those sunrays did break through the clouds so nicely over that big rock just for me? After all, it was a busy, hard year, so it’s deserved.
These sights seem to help sustain through the work stress from one break to another, much like a series of contracts.
Take it in. That mind-friendly, relaxing views of rocks, sea, birds, sun, beach and otherwise near silent serenity isn’t anything like that hallway down to the boss’ office, or that fake wood paneling up over the computer that sees you at your most stressed moments.
Each following glance toward that friendly, but fleeting traveler’s sight is followed by a series of smiles until the thought that only a photograph might remain from that instant.
A few lucky people have a ranch, or possibly a friend’s or relative’s farm they can visit where friendly rock formations, river bends, woods or nearby chirping birds or the sight of other wildlife help relax. Several neighborhoods in South and Central Texas are home to deer herds. Some nicely kept and carefully gardened backyards offer some of those instances of visual-to-mental escape, too.
For those who don’t have those visual relaxation aides at home or nearby, it’s a good idea to seize the moment whenever and wherever it presents itself.
Some find a dash of that renewing visual-to-mental relief through other’s photos on the new photo-share Web sites. Others find a touch of it on their computer screen’s photos – taken by someone they don’t know and often of places they don’t know, but the effect is much the same, despite being on a lower and less personal scale.
Seeing and experiencing one’s own vistas and photographing it gets the recommendation, but as stress doesn’t do anyone any lasting good, any of the visual aides which axe the stress monster deserve good play.
Walk, look, enjoy the sights and sites, click the camera shutter and kill the old stress monster as many times as time allows. Longer life could be available through the eye and a wide-angle lens.
The Laredo-area offers some worthwhile sights along the river and some find comfort in the big sky, which is easily taken for granted until visiting other places where the sky is smaller as it’s blocked out or partially obscured. Some of the local big sky is more visible when traveling south toward Zapata, or in those ultra clear day southside vistas in which the Sierra Madre near Monterrey is just slightly visible.

Note: A printed version of this is available in the January issue of LareDOS in Laredo, Texas and it can be seen online in pdf at www.laredosnews.com.

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