Among the countless thoughts running through my head at 5 a.m. today (mostly not stuff I would share) was a bit of self-castigation for using the word "trophy" in the previous post about blurry photos at the waterhole. (I see that I used it on my first ringtail photo last April too. So I'm being repetitive too.)
What did I really do? For years, off and on, I have been hanging cameras on that by the tiny, seasonal spring.
Ringtails, meanwhile, have been on my list of critters that I know are supposed to be here, but I never see. Or that might be here—there was the whole issue about fishers in the Wet Mountains, yes or no, in 2005.
This year I set the camera on May 5th, checked it every four to six weeks, switching out the memory card and the batteries as needed.
As usual, being out there—or being out there in the form of a surrogate plastic box with a lens—gets results. I set up a gadget, and it did the work while I slept.
But I laugh at myself for using the word "trophy," like I stalked the magnificent beast or something. It is such loaded word. Some people loath it. Even I felt a little bit strange when I once visited a rich doctor's two-story-tall trophy room full of heads of African big game animals, a full-body mount of a polar bear, etc.
There is that underlying sense of conflict in the word, whose Greek root means "monument of an enemy's defeat."
Yet we all hang onto things that remind us of peak experiences, unless we are true renunciates. My "trophy" is tasteful, but yours is disgusting—is that it?
Maybe I should have just used the word "accomplishment." With two ringtail "hits" at two different sites, I have proven to myself that they are here, and now I need to figure out how to get better pictures, not that I am trying for the quality of photos that a print magazine needs.
But if I worked for a better photo and got it, that would be a trophy. The enemy would be my own laziness.