The Story Behind The Picture: Solitary Pony on Assateague Island

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Solitary Pony on Assateague Island. Photo: rus vanwestervelt, 2010.

My buddy Brad and I were in Ocean City, MD with our families, and we decided over dinner one night that we would head in to Assateague Island, MD the next morning to get photos of the horses on the beach at sunrise.

The weather, itself, did not disappoint. An agitated swirl of cirrus clouds preceded the rising sun, and we were treated to a beautiful pre-sunrise that left us somewhat breathless.

The only problem we faced was the lack of wild ponies. In fact, we couldn’t find a single one.

After our initial shoot of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean, we headed back toward the Jeep to pack up and see if we could find any herding ponies in the dunes (we eventually did). As we started to get into the Jeep, we turned to give the rising sun one more look.

To our shock, a small herd of ponies had appeared on the dune’s horizon, and we immediately began taking photos.

This was the last one I took, pulling back as far as I could to get the rising sun and solitary pony at opposite ends of the frame. I knew when I depressed the shutter that it would end up being one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken. Today, that still stands true.

I guess it pays to keep looking up, keep living an attentive life, and keep capturing the beauty that exists in each moment. I am grateful that we looked up to see such beauty.

 

Reflections On This New Day

As the sun began to rise this morning, and I sat along the banks of the Loch Raven Reservoir taking random photos of the water and the wildlife, I was struck with a thought that I had forgotten long ago.

With the exception of a few runners passing by who were training for an upcoming race, I felt as if every image, every sound was my own. My immersion in the natural world seemed seamless. I let the bright, early rays of the sun find their way in and through me, as well as the sounds of the splish-splash waters, where drops remained suspended in mid-air, caught by the strong winds as several Canadian geese took flight. Then– to feel those very drops of water as that same steady breeze, cool and brisk, blew my way and mixed with the warmth of the sun’s intensity on my skin.

Alive, was all I could think. Alive.

It was in that moment that I remembered that I am not separate from all of this. It is easy for us to think there are two worlds out there: the natural and the man-made. Although it may be true that a clear distinction exists between the two, there is one element of each that is constant: the human being.

Unlike our man-made creations, we as individuals are not separate from the natural world. We are as much a part of it as the rising sun, the startled deer, the daffodils that have all awakened a bit early in these deceptively warm February days. We made the mistake long ago to separate ourselves from the beauty and the spirit of the natural world. On mornings like this, I feel reconnected to the energy we are all provided.

It’s always here, everywhere, for us to access. All we need to do is realize that we have the power and the opportunity to open the door, step outside, and realize that, in this morning, this moment, anything is possible.