Upside down?

I think I could have lived in this moment forever. A gorgeous spring day emerged after a sprinkling of snow—cloaking the browns and yellows of winter in a soft covering of white.

There was a stillness to the air, a rarity for this mountain town known for its wind.

Not a ripple marred the glass-like reflections.

Clouds dotted the sky’s canvas.

Here in this place of beauty, there were no flags flying upside down and the only sound for miles around was birds twittering.

There’s a disconnect in humanity today. Perhaps it’s brought about because so many of our interactions take place with layers between us. We interact with people on social media that may not even exist. People who, in reality, could be far removed from the personas they exude on screen.

Many of us have been working from home—sometimes never interacting in person with another human being for days.

Algorithms reinforce our ideas and interests, further separating us from people who may have opinions different from our own. We see more of what we’ve searched for instead of something new. In years past we might have sat around a campfire and engaged one another in debates about current affairs. Not now. Now, those discussions take place behind keyboards.

What a world we live in. The nautical side of me, and the ingrained respect for a country’s flag and how it’s flown, can’t even begin to fathom why people sitting in their homes, or driving their expensive vehicles, choose to fly their flag upside down, signaling distress. It’s an embarrassment when compared to countries like the Ukraine.

I think John Burroughs had it right. I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

Me? I’m going to spend as much time as I can in nature— its beauty is a balm for the soul.

A covenant…

Wild Bird World says that spotting an owl, particularly one holding watch or in a strong and dignified stance, might mean that a well-deserved justice is going to come forth.

I like to think that I’m a practical girl. I prefer when science offers me explanations for the things I encounter, and yet a part of me, that same part that likes to think there is good in everyone, wonders if it could be a sign. I’ve seen more owls in the last few months than I’ve seen in my whole life, prompting us to place a beautifully crafted Great Horned owl this past Christmas, atop our tree.

(Cue the practical girl to return from the forest of mystical signs.)

Some say that when people do bad things, you have to love them and let them go because that type of person isn’t capable of remorse or even an understanding of how broken they are. The carnage they leave in their wake will, in their minds, always be someone else’s fault.

We talk about nature or nurture but does it matter? Is why someone does something somehow a valid excuse for the behavior? Not in my mind. Sometimes people are just evil. They cloak themselves in character traits adopted to disguise the rot inside. A bit dark perhaps for a Monday morning but once you’ve encountered this type of monstrosity it’s difficult to not use it as a measuring stick for mankind.

My covenant? I’ll take the strong and dignified stance, allow a fanciful thought that an owl could be a sign, but never stop fighting for justice for myself or those whom I hold dear.

On the surface…

Stories—the beginnings are fluid, with starting points somewhere in the timeline and often at a point of action. We don’t know what’s happened before and can only guess at the perils that lie ahead.

Images taken in nature are stories presented within four walls. There are no pages to turn and the cast of characters often remain unknown. They’re not always pretty.

I would liked to have lingered. Waited and perhaps discovered the rest of the tale. I have my suspicions—the heap of remaining flesh and fur spoke volumes—but maybe that’s someone else’s story.

I don’t think I could have photographed this several years ago, but I was a different person back then. Now, when presented with the opportunity, I study nature more closely. I celebrate its beauty and share in its moments of cruelty.

We’re all animals. The difference is some of us keep that hidden inside cloaked with a carefully constructed mirage, while others lay it right out there on the surface for everyone to see. Interesting how a walk in nature can open your eyes and feed your soul at the same time.

Humankind vs nature…

What a year, or do I say that about every one? The serenity of this image is so not representative of 2021, but it’s typical of how we spent our free time—out in nature, often no more than a picture frame apart from one another.

Nature is much more trustworthy than humankind. Though nature comes with unpredictability and devastation, the difference is, it isn’t premeditated. When the worst transpires, it isn’t the result of a cold-blooded, malicious attack for personal gain—it’s luck of the draw for the most part.

Nature doesn’t masquerade as your friend or family member, she just exists in a form that you’re free to consider, evaluate, and then choose the best course of action. Now humankind…that’s the scary one! I suppose there are some who go through life never seeing what lurks behind the mask, but I’m not one of those.

I write these words from a place of strength. These are merely observations compiled from contemplating humanity and many times, finding it lacking.

Be wary of the ones who posture as oh so nice, for niceness is but a strategy utilized by predatory people to get what they want. Be cautious when placing someone in a position of trust. Pay attention to the red flags—don’t shrug them off with excuses for bad behavior—for intuition is a valuable tool. And if you worry about being alone if you remove toxicity from your life, don’t. You’ll be creating space for the kind of relationships that matter the most.

My two cents for the New Year? Place your trust in nature and stay ever vigilant when it comes to humanity.