Challenge

Ready for some humour? Here are six photographs. The game, or challenge, is to take sixty seconds and think up a story based on these six image. After a mere sixty seconds of pondering you will find a short story that will make you laugh, and even think, if you are so predisposed.

 

All of this begins in a small harbour town called Tobermory.  This is not the one in Scotland but it does have rock, water, sunken ship wrecks and lots of tourism. It is in the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada. This small harbour town is transforms every summer from a lazy fishing village into a hub of people diving some of the clearest waters one can find after which many will find a restaurant where they can sip locally brewed beer, and savour the delicate flavours of fresh caught fish. Tobermory also happens to be smack dab in the middle of a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

You are in the middle of all of this and find yourself  walking near docked fishing boats when you notice a dive shop. There is a hum of activity in the air but you are lost in your own thoughts and don’t quite register the people on a busy rooftop balcony restaurant.  Your mind saunters through whispers and snippets of thoughts when you hear a strong voice grinding out annoyance as it commands “Get out of here!” That grinding command breaks your reverie and you snap your eyes up in order to identify the source of your disturbance.

Above the street side shops you catch the movement of a seagull and you hear it squawk a response to that grinding command. The seagull is also disturbed and moves a safe distance away from the large hairy arm swatting the seagull away. Your whispers and snippets of thoughts now understand the background sounds because you have registered there is a rooftop restaurant serving fish and chips and possibly beer.

Your head is cranked up because your eyes linger only to watch the seagull navigate the dangers at that diner. It is going in again. It is at this point you have a different background noise that seems to follow the same dives and turns of the gull’s wings. That noise is your unregistered thoughts and even though you linger a few short seconds your mind starts to yaw and pitch with thoughts that have been waiting for their opportunity to jump the queue of all your other thoughts, including the never ending To Do List.

In that whirlwind of pitching and yawing thoughts you wonder how you may have affected the seagull’s natural environment. It is such a normal question yet it speaks of you being a bit more of a fair trade, organically grown, granola eating environmentalist than you really planned. You have a bit of a chuckle as you envision yummy homemade granola because your next thought is this of caution where it says ” if you eat granola you will become an activist out to save the world!” As you smile from the silliness of these thoughts you notice the whirlwind in your mind has settled.

It is now that the mind strikes up a conversation that will change your life forever. Yikes! Be wary of any settled mind for that is when an awkward truth will show up. You knew busy minds and busy bodies keep truth at bay and you rested for a moment. “Drat, here comes the truth!” This truth is out of left wing and even that metaphor is funny in this context. You laugh again and hear yourself asking “What is my natural environment?” That question has you laugh out loud and fortunately there are so many people around that it is just another noise in the hustle and bustle.

You decide to leave town and go back to the cottage you rented located on a harbour near Tobermory. That night as the sun sets you sit by the water and a number of seagulls come in for their evening meal. They don’t notice you, they fish in the water and fill their bellies as the sun settles into a burning red painting the sky a rainbow of pastel colours punctuated by reds and blues. The seagull was different here, it was in its natural environment.

After a profound sleep, lulled by waves rustling the rocky shore, you get up and decide to go for a walk (insert canine companion if you are so predisposed). While walking along the back road you see jack rabbits hopping across your path and sight deer munching their morning meal. You want to head back to the water again, if only to cool your feet, and find the small boat launch you heard was nearby. When you arrive at the launch you notice crows are calling out your presence to other birds and wildlife, but you happen to have been quiet enough that you catch the spread wings of a blue heron. You gasp at that silent magnificence. Your eyes seek to savour a longer view but the blue heron is once again camouflaged and safe from prying eyes so you return to watching where you step. As your feet enter the cool water the carp and frogs leave. Now just to clarify the carp and frogs they don’t leave the water, just the area where you are standing.

Standing in that water and watching the wildlife adjust to your presence you find your thoughts to be just like the seagull on that rooftop patio. Yesterday’s thought comes back for more thinking.  You are wondering “What is my natural environment?” It is now when your eyes rest on something so simple and serene. It is reeds in the water, subtle ripples from the activity below surface, and a blue hue associated with photo shopped images. Your mind makes a click of a shutter snapping because you wish to remember this image. As you imprint the image your impish sense of humour reminds you that there is a smart phone in your pocket, if you really want to take the picture. The stars align, metaphorically speaking because it is the middle of the day. The photo is taken when irony floats into your picture.

As the irony floats in the crows start calling again and the fish and frogs start to move faster. Your thought “What is my natural environment?” moves away, just like the fish and frogs. Something bigger is coming into the picture. Your camera is there to document the arrival of this great beast! The beast calls out “Challenge! Challenge!” It is occupied by a nuclear family replete with two adults (one male, one female), two children (one male, one unidentified), and two ivory coloured tea cup sized dogs with no chance of determining whether or not they were male or female as those parts were too small from where you stand not to mention it would have been socially awkward.

The boat is launched and you are left in the rippled water knowing you were just challenged. That seagull thought comes back to ask  “What is my natural environment?” One thing is for sure, there is a sense of humour in that UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve as the blue heron spreads those silent and magnificent wings to leave for other waters. Back home at the cottage the sun sets and the seagulls fish and as you look out from the kitchen window you spot the blue heron at the water’s edge.

Once you find the word “Challenge” in the photos I shall sign off for shift.  Set me free and maybe I will go have some fish and chips for supper.

 

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