If the macro world remains among the last great unexplored lands, awe and wonder were my cloak and walking stick when I encountered that world for the first time last weekend in the form of the penguin-pillar.
I was surprised that I even noticed it. A tiny off-grey speck lost within the overall grey of the crushed-limestone driveway at Rosewood Farm, the creature may have been unearthed while I worked between rain showers to pull weeds. Or it may have fallen from one of the towering old-growth trees on the other side of the fence. However it arrived, it was only by the faintest glint of blue that it announced its presence. From what I could see by the naked eye, little else about the creature appeared remarkable. Yet my camera was sitting nearby, and as I was in the habit of taking nature close-ups to use as texture backgrounds, I felt a shot might yield something usable. So I set the camera to macro. Crouching down to position the lens about an inch from the ground, I steadied myself as best I could, as the slightest movement would blur results. Clicking a few shots, I set the camera aside and returned to weeding, thinking nothing of the shot—until later that evening.
Snug inside the trailer while thunder rumbled and rain spattered on the overhead canopy, I was thumbing through the day’s images when I stopped open-mouthed at the macro shot. More than a mere smudge of a caterpillar, the creature seemed to be draped in an intricate quilt of designs: yellow stripes tinged with drop-shadow edges against a robin’s-egg blue background, white tufted edgework, and a repeating black-white pattern that proved something of a Rorschach test. I initially saw panda bears but as Mary Beth noted the similarity to penguins, I saw this too, and together we smiled in the thought that we’d discovered some new creature—the Penguin-pillar—within the boundaries of Rosewood.
It was a fanciful thought, to be sure. I’m fairly certain that, if I did enough research, I’d discover the creature had already been documented and given some scientific name. Yet I’m not likely to do such research because I believe the world has a feeling—an essential ingredient to the human spirit—and its preservation and discovery stands apart from pragmatism in the fragile forms of awe and wonder.