Hawk through the hazeBy Janet Cherrix...

MY BEST SHOTA

September 05, 1999

MY BEST SHOT

A hawk through the haze

By Janet Cherrix, Berlin

In March, I was in the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador. As I disembarked at dawn from a skiff on the back of Isla Floreano, I took this photo of a Galapagos hawk and its prey, a marine iguana.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Mount Rainier vistas

By Jack Propf : SPECIAL TO THE SUN

At the tender age of 65, and to the amazement of family and friends, I indulged myself in a dream I had held for many years. With the leaves in my back yard just beginning to turn, I flew from Maryland to Seattle. There, I set out in a rented camper-van on a 1,400-mile odyssey through the parks and mountains of Washington state and nearby British Columbia.

On one of the few remaining mornings of my monthlong adventure, I found myself standing on the shore of a beautiful small lake not too far from Seattle. It was a quiet time, as it often is just as the sun begins to rise, and I stood inhaling the silence of the still water and distant crests of Mount Rainier National Park. Warm vapors rose from the lake in response to the sun's first touch.

It was as lovely a view as I had seen anywhere during my trip. Ever so slowly, night clouds gave way to the ascending brightness that soon would cause the puffs to disappear altogether. Evergreens began to take on shape and color at the beginnings of a crisp sunrise. Their branches rustled, roused from slumber by the gentle breathing of the woods. The approaching light caught a ribbon of sand on the far shore, marking the separation between the actual forest and its undisturbed reflection.

As I had done elsewhere on many such mornings that October, I scanned the horizon through binoculars, in search of birds and other wildlife approaching this quiet new day, each in its own way. I soon caught sight of a dozen or more Canada geese at rest on the smooth surface of the lake. They barely moved as I brought them into clearer focus. Then one of the birds stretched out its neck and swam slowly around the small flock. With a clarion honk, it awakened the other geese. A soft chatter began among them and echoed across the water to me. I sensed they were preparing for flight and the continuation of their migration.

The prospect of seeing them take off on this fresh morning excited me. My view of the flock was perfect through the glasses. I felt that, by witnessing their rising, I would somehow gain a kinship with them and with all I had enjoyed in the Northwest from the first day of my arrival there to that very moment when I reluctantly neared the end of my trip. I knew, too, that although the birds were ready to leave, they would someday return. And I was envious of them.

My excitement soared as the geese rose perfectly from the water calling to each other and, just maybe, to me. In unison, they skirted the high firs along the shore, innately charted a flight path and then swooped toward the mountains.

I strained to hear their fading cries as they gained momentum in their flight. And I continued to hold them in my sights long after they disappeared from view.

Jack Propf lives in Baltimore.

READERS RECOMMEND...

FLORIDA

Jan Walker, Sykesville

"While in Florida this past January, we took a trip to the Kennedy Space Center, where we found this alligator sunning itself lakeside at the Astronaut's Memorial site. Visiting the Kennedy Space Center is a powerful experience in many ways, and I would recommend it for anyone."

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Sue Muijo, Towson

"Each visit to this exciting city is never the same. We never run out of things to do and to see: exquisite palaces, art galleries, parks and cathedrals, along with an aquarium, zoo, amusement park and beach. Parents and children will enjoy strolling on Las Ramblas and into the old districts. The people are charming and amiable, the ambience is delightful and the June weather is very comfortable."

LET US HEAR FROM YOU

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your memories, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* Give us your recommendations of places to visit. Where are you just back from? Tell us where you've recently visited and what tips you can pass along about your trip to other readers. Or tell us about your favorite destinations. Our current question: What is your favorite place in Las Vegas? And why? Please answer in 50 words or less.

* In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150)

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