As I’ve mentioned before, the kind of recording that really excites me is the pure unadulterated sounds of Mother Nature. In days gone past – like a hundred years or so ago – soundscapes free from human activity would have been considerably easier to capture with a lot less effort than that of today. Of course the incredible means of capturing those sounds in the richest fidelity wouldn’t have been available, but I often spend the time standing still, drenched in mosquitoes, in the middle of a humid Japanese summer, wondering about such things. Some might use a time machine to witness incredible historic events. Others might jump into the future only to return with a smartphone packed with all the winning lottery numbers that they could get their hands on… Yeah, I’d probably also be interested in that proposition if I’m being honest. However, the very next item on my “Time Machine: Time’s to Visit” list would be almost any time two-hundred or more years ago.
Can you imagine the sounds you could record?! With NO aircraft, NO boats, NO cars and NO people noisily encroaching on your recording position.
But alas, as I sometimes dwell outside of fantasy land, the truth is the best times with the best odds of recording something as free from vehicle borne noise, is super-early-drag-my weary-backside-out-of-bed-o’clock. Often that means leaving home at around 0:00.
The atmospherics were wild. A little LED light and my trusty camera and the fog did the rest.
A windy summer night turned into a mountain top white-out with snow. Depending on who you ask, it was awesome!
As an aside, If you’re not keen on sugar-packed brain booster drinks, might I suggest green tea; with macha. Loads of caffeine and it’s healthy to boot.
So, as per usual, suffering from sleep deprivation, the alarm drags me out at the most inopportune portion of the sleep cycle. I weakly grab a big, concentrated bottle of tea, collect my pre-staged gear and head for the car. Let me tell you, sometimes it’s easy. And sometimes it’s very, VERY not easy.
But here’s the thing, and I don’t know if this is selective memory or not, quite often when I force myself to get out there and record – or train – or whatever – I’m presented with something that I never would have experienced had my weaker side prevailed and let the sun rise over my sleeping, comfortable self. Each time it’s different. But each time it’s still wonderful.
God rays erupted through the fog-packed forest as the sun rose past the mountains. Yet another time something wonderful greeted me on an early morning adventure.
Several weeks ago, I woke to the most annoying sound in the world. It doesn’t matter what fantastic piece of musical art you program as your alarm, at the moment it intrudes into your slumber it takes a nosedive from being the best song you’ve ever heard, to the worst piece of trash someone ever had the gaul to lay down in a studio.
“The weather is ‘iffy’”, the weak part of my mind screamed. Yeah, because I never like recording thunderstorms and rain… The lousy SOB’ing internal haunt better come up with better excuses in the future.
Having completed the usual 4 stages of my routine – stumble, complain, resist and then resign myself to the care of my better angels – I made it to the car and hit the road; staring down the barrel of a two and a half hour, mostly monotonous, highway journey.
As expected, the initial portion of the trip was packed with precisely nothing of interest, but the seed of excitement, once on the road, sprouted and the glorious tree of anticipation rose from within. Once off the highway and into the dark coastal countryside all sense of weariness evaporated.
Thick fog. Narrow single lanes designated as two way traffic roads. Uncleared debris from the latest storm peppering the surprisingly well-maintained blacktop.
And then, after breaching the other side of a dimly lit tunnel, four glowing orbs suspended in the air undulated toward me. Brakes were applied with a curse or two. The orbs continued getting closer as if dialled in to my exact position and on a mission to kill.
For a good three seconds, I thought I was either having a mental “experience” or some sort of alien nightmare was racing to meet me head on. It was surreal.
And then, as the fog relinquished its hold on the objects, they emerged from the mouth of yet another cavernous tunnel, bringing me face to face with a pair of galloping deer. Just out for an early morning run down the middle of the road, apparently.
My alien invasion deer. Best of luck little ones!
They came to a halt, their reflective eyes seeming to say, “Hey, fellah! You know what time it is?!” A small conference took place until one of them took charge and steered their whole freak-out-the-random-driver circus back on the road. I’ll include the footage below. If only I had captured the “alien moment”. What a trip!
And that’s only one such example of what I would describe as a “Happy Accident”. It might not be precisely what the term has evolved to mean, but it fits the bill in my opinion. And the thing is, cool stuff like that happens all the time.
In fact, barely a week ago, I was taking a photographer friend out to the same place so he could snap away at the sunrise. It was just after a typhoon had blasted its way through the area. The deer were out, as they always are in that area, but the cavorting alien deer must have found another stretch of road to perform on.
The weather was pretty spotty, with rain showers and thunderstorms forecast for the night and all of the following day. However, much to both of our disappointment, only a scattering of the predicted rain fell our way, and Zeus spared not a single thunderbolt for our enjoyment.
However, as we made our way around the coast on foot – nearing the location where I would be recording – we saw vibrant blue/green light emanating from the small bay’s shallow waters. Initially, I thought it was just a trick of my eyes/brain. Powering off our headlamps, the shimmering lights remained. Not only that, but they were moving all over the place.
It was incredibly beautiful. See the shot below.
Accidental treasure found! It is easy to imagine how, lacking a scientific understanding of such phenomena, the people of old could imagine magic at play.
It didn’t take us long to recognize bioluminesence was at play. Although, the organisms which had unlocked this wonderful power-up still remain a mystery. Under the glare of our lamps, we could see nothing in the water. But with the lights off, the power-packed little creatures lit up the water with impressive zeal.
From that point on, whatever success or failures our sound, video or photography intentions experienced for the remaining time we had, that very special moment would be ours to treasure.
So, the reminder here is: whenever that voice perks up in your mind, “Hey, buddy. There’s always tomorrow or the next week”, fight hard for a moment of lucidity and get out there and after it. Whatever “it” is. We never know when our time might be up. Best to fill this amazing life up with as much as we can.
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