This week’s photo challenge is all about curves. There’s rarely a bad angle when trying to grab a picture of the “M” bridge that carries Interstate 40 over the Mississippi to connect Arkansas and Tennessee. The image below is in downtown Memphis looking west.
The fall-denuded trees along I-40 and U.S. 70 between Little Rock and Memphis were full of big, beefy red-tailed hawks, keen for any prey making a living below in the chaff left after the harvest of rice, soybeans and sorghum. The hawks paid little heed to traffic whizzing past at highway speeds. However, rolling slowly or coming to a halt too close made the big birds spring off in a hurry. It took us several tries to get our “lazy naturalist” photography choreographed, figuring how close we could roll the car; how long it takes to frame the shot; how to push the distance to catch the bird up close and in flight. The trial and error we practiced from St. Francis County all the way to the edge of Pulaski County produced some amusing and wonderfully imperfect shots. When we finally got the driving/shooting duet coordinated, we ran out of highway, hawks and open fields.
We were privileged, during one of our roadside stops, to have a red-tailed hawk make a successful strike just feet in front of the roadster. No photos, but an unforgettable closeup we’ll always have in our heads.
The two-hour drive to Memphis yielded some interesting sights. The most interesting Thanksgiving day sighting was a flock of wild turkeys on the roadside east of Biscoe. Must’ve been about 10 of them just doodling around on the verge between the bottomland and the roadbed of U.S. 70. Rather risky business on the biggest turkey-eating day of the year. (and did we have the camera ready? nooooo.)
Another great image was that of a large hawk sitting in the shoulder of I-240, the loop road around Memphis. It was just sitting there watching the holiday weekend traffic whiz by. (did we have the camera ready? noooooo.)
Still, we did manage to pull the camera out for some of what Memphis had to offer (with a little help from Photoshop and apologies to film purists.)
Our brother-in-law Bill, a former TV station photographer, is still newsman through and through. While driving home from work last week, he spotted something unusual on the interstate in Memphis and maneuvered for a closer view. His instincts were right on. This was no ordinary wide load. This was the 2010 National Christmas Tree en route from Wyoming to its placement in the nation’s capitol. Oh — and kids, don’t try this at home.