Sunday, January 24, 2010

The "On Golden Pond" effect

Many years ago there was a film staring Jane Fonda with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn as her aging parents.  It was a pretty, quiet film that centred around the family cottage and the dynamics of her relationship with her parents as they aged. 

This blog isn't about that.  It's about expectations and how they can affect your reaction to something.  "On Golden Pond" was a real phenomenon.  People RAVED about the film.  I just HAD to see it I was told.  "You'll love it !"  everyone said.  So I went.  It was a nice, sweet film but because my expectations had been built so HIGH, I was disappointed.  If I'd never heard anything about the film I would have liked it more.  Instead because I expected so much, I was disappointed.

So what am I leading up to ?

I went eagle watching yesterday. 

On several weekends in Janury and February, tourists are encouraged to visit the hamlet of Sheffield Mills to see scores of Bald Eagles that gather to feed on chicken bits thrown out by local poultrey farmers.  The whole thing was begun by one farmer in the early 90's who fed some migrating eagles.  And those eagles told their friends.  And that farmer told his friends.  And so on.  And so on.

Sheffields Mills is near the Fundy side of Nova Scotia.  I took Hwy 101 west from Halifax.  Unfortunately once I neared my destination I floundered around finding the exact location.  It was a one hour drive that probably took me 90 minutes. 

Roads were clear.  The day was sunny and cold.

As I neared my destination I spied a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree just over country road.  Then I saw a tree beside the road with three Bald Eagles and two hawks !  I thought of stopping to take pictures but I talked myself out of it thinking what lay ahead would be far more spectacular and besides, I could always take a picture on my way back.

You can guess what I'm leading up to can't you ?

When I arrived at my destination I found a field beside a car-lined road.  Hoards of people were lined up along the edge of the field with binoculars and telephoto-lensed cameras.  An eagle soared high above.  In the far corner of the field was a tree that seemed to contain 8-14 Bald Eagles.  (Although the people in the photo above seem to be looking left, the tree with the eagles is at the back right of the field.  They're looking at a flying eagle.  If you click on the picture you can just barely see their tree).

It was a true test of my zoom lens to try to take a picture but I tried anyway.

Occassionally one would take to the air and every lens would follow it as it wheeled above us.   There were seagulls too and amusingly a woman with a digital camera excitedly took quick shots of the seagull thinking it was an eagle. 

But it was a cold day.  I could hear the grumbles of disappointment as others stood with cold feet waiting for more eagles to make an appearance.

The concession road had cars parked on both sides.  Throngs of people walked up the road, weaving between the slow moving cars that tried to get through.  It was not possible for two cars to pass. 

I had expected too much.  I expected to see 40, 60, 100 Bald eagles !  Instead I saw maybe a total of 15.  If I had expected nothing, I would have been thrilled to see 15 Bald eagles in one location.  Instead my expections and the comments of a stranger "no where near as good as last year" left me feeling disappointed.

So that's it.  The "On Golden Pond" effect sorta ruined the experience for me.

On my trip back home I got lost several times.  I never think of as really being lost.  I think it's just bad signeage.  I ended up on a dock looking out into a huge bay at low tide.  It was lovely.  A lovely surprise.

I never found the tree with the Bald Eagles I'd seen on my way but did find a single immature eagle in a tree over the road and stopped this time to take a couple of pics.

So there you have it.

Here is a link to "Eagle Watch" as it's called:

You'll see why I had such high expectations.

Still it was a nice day.  And I don't regret the drive.


  1. I went eagle peeping in Pictou ns. Saw 2!!!!LOL

  2. So I should consider myself lucky Bottie. Were you expecting hoards too ? Sybil

  3. I saw the ad for this in the newspaper and I wanted to go, but my Dad put the kibosh on it pretty fast. He's not interested in eagles at all. It's the breakfast that interests me the most I think - but I'd also like to get some photos of the birds too - you've got to get up so early though to make it up there in time. But I'd bet you could get some good photos though. You certainly are getting around!

  4. Sybil, I had the same reaction to 'On Golden Pond.' I would not have known what to expect with the eagle hang-out you visited. The crowds would have put me off. Maybe they put off the eagles too.

    Managing expectations is closely linked to happiness in life isn't it? Perhaps it's better to keep expectations low so as to allow more room for delightful surprise. In the process of shedding or lowering expectations we might even become more child-like and experience joy more frequently than we seem to experience it as 'mature' adults ;)


Thanks for stopping by. I really do love to read your comments.