Two Tramps in Mud Time « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Tramps in Mud Time

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This Red-shouldered Hawk image was created on a trip aboard James Shadle’s pontoon boat Hooptie Deux last Saturday out to Alafia Banks in Tampa Bay. I was hand holding the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 2X II TC (at 400mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. I often wonder what my life would be like if I did not live during the wondrous explosion of digital photography and technology, if I would have found an outlet for my artistic side….

Two Tramps in Mud Time

At the very end of the January 13 blog post, My Thoughts on “Bright Ideas: You be the Photo Editor”, I wrote: “A parting thought: after viewing the lightbox consider how blessed a life I have led….”

This morning while checking the comments I found this:

Glen Fox (January 14, 2011 at 9:24 am) re: ”A parting thought; after viewing the light box consider how blessed a life I have led…”

It takes a wise man to realize that. Where you have travelled, what you have seen and witnessed, captured and created is certainly a gift. Your days as a school teacher clearly were a blessing to some of your students who went out of their way to tell you and thank you. You are one of the lucky few who have never had a job, but rather a vocation. It hasn’t always been an easy road. Thank you for sharing it with us. We are all the richer for it.

I responded: “Thanks Glen for your kind, appreciative, and supportive comment.”

As I read Glen’s comment, the word vocation immediately spurred thoughts of a Robert Frost poem that had grabbed my attention a few years ago. But I could not remember the title. I remembered vocation, Frost, and two eyes. So I typed “vocation Frost two eyes” into the Google address bar and hit Enter. Bingo. In less than a fraction of a second “Two Tramps in Mud Time” appeared at the top of the list. It was the first of 200,000 hits that were brought up in 9/100 of one second. Talk about an amazing time to be on the planet….

Probably my very greatest blessing is that I love what I do. I love making images. And I love teaching others to make better images. My job is my passion. And that is good 🙂


Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily “Hit them hard!”
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn’t blue,
But he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut’s now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don’t forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You’d think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man’s work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right–agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

I am not sure how I did it, but I have united my avocation and my vocation “as my two eyes make one in sight.” And for that I am glad.

I am holed up in the Marriott Courtyard Orlando Airport. I fly to San Diego at 6:55am tomorrow for a few appointments with health care professional friends and the sold out IPT that begins on Tuesday and ends on Sunday. I will be back soon with some pelican images 🙂 This trip begins a four month stretch of extensive travel for me; I will be visiting San Diego, Everglades National Park, conducting the sold out SW President’s Week IPT, speaking in the cold at Klamath, Oregon, flying to Greece for the sold out Dalmatian Pelican IPT, flying to Homer with Robert O’Toole for two sold out Bald Eagle IPTs, and then flying to Hawaii for five days and continuing on to Midway. Yikes! Folks often ask me, “Don’t you hate waking up in a motel more than half the year?” My answer, “If I did not love the travel I would stay home.”

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X teleconverter.
Canon EF Teleconverter 2X II. This 2X is currently being replaced by the EF 2X III TC.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

9 comments to Two Tramps in Mud Time

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Denise, I am glad that you enjoyed the poem. You have always done something that you liked. And I am pretty sure that you are gonna succeed as a professional photographer as you are doing what you love.

  • Mike Vanecek


    OT question, but my wife and I are planning a trip through Florida in late April or early May to the typical places. We wanted to include the Everglades in our trip. Any recommendations for where we should go. (I did look at Artie’s list of location, but was sure which was what)?


  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Stokes. Was it clear and sunny? In any case, I would recommend using the central sensor only unless the birds are flying so erractically that you cannot keep them in the frame. My experience is–with the central sensor only–the opposite of your in one aspect; initial focus acquisition with the 70-200 2.8 II and the 2X TC is on the slow side but once it acquires it almost always tracks beautifully when the operator does not err. Love to Pat.

    How is Anhinga trail?

  • Stokes Fishburne

    I received my new Mk IV ten days ago. Today I am in the Everglades testing the camera with the 70-200 mm f/2.8. I, too, did flight photography with the 2x, ISO 400, 1600-1 sec, f/8. My very first image in a sequence was relatively sharp. But focus gradually decayed as the sequence continued. It could be user error (generally is) or it could be that the 70-200 with the 2x cannot continue to track accurately. Oh, btw I used all the points.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Mike for catching my brain typo. Bad news for most of you: it’s about 80 degrees here in San Diego. Sweet.

  • Mike Vanecek

    Minor typo, but were you not using a f/2.8 lens?

  • Artie, A wonderful poem, so inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Travel safe. See ya soon!

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Bill. Will do 🙂

  • Bill Clausen

    Travel safley, return safley,enjoy!!