Courts and kokanee…

I recently spent several hours in a courthouse observing Family Law cases being ruled upon. You might call it research for my current novel.

Relationships fall apart and divorces, especially the contested ones, are emotionally, physically, and financially draining. What I found interesting to observe was the dynamics between the couples who were all visibly male and female couples or at least appeared so in the cases of ones joining by webex. What struck me about the cases being heard was the volume of men present to fight for more time with their children, and in one case, to have his name listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father.

Men have virtually no rights to their unborn children, and there remains a heavy bias when it comes to custody—80% in favor of the mother vs 7% to the father. Shocking statistics when one considers what’s at stake is the best interests of the child. All men are not violent and abusive and all women aren’t nurturing care-givers. I was pleased to see that in one case, custody remained with the father and support payments made to the mother were ruled to be returned to him, and he was to receive child support going forward.

The judge was compassionate but not swayed by drama and unsubstantiated allegations. Like a captain steering a vessel, she gently guided each conversation back to the law being applied and then made decisive rulings.

I was encouraged by her decisions and left with the feeling that perhaps men will be heard and maybe given time, be considered more than just wallets when it comes to family.

The image above is one of kokanee spawning. In their life cycle, after 3-4 years have passed, the fish turn bright red and travel upstream, the females to lay eggs and the males to fertilize those eggs. It isn’t peaceful. The males fight for dominance and the females fight to keep their nests, called redds, safe. They linger and die there. The males too.

Not that different, humans and animals.

Sky pools…

Cumulous clouds reflected onto a wavy lake, both simple and complex at the same time. I like to think of optics as moveable art. There’s something meditative about observing how light interacts with the environment. It dances on the surface interacting with the objects found above and below it—never duplicating, always changing.

Versions…

I read something interesting the other day. It was a conversation about how many different versions exist of the same person.

We form opinions about people we encounter based on our interactions with them—sometimes good, sometimes bad—but likely different from someone else’s opinion of that same person. Today as a result of social media there’s an additional dynamic of having a friend that you may have never met in person, yet you’re comfortable engaging with the screen version of them.

How do you decide which version of them is the true one?

It’s pretty simple. If you’re searching for the real person their actions and patterns need to match their words. What’s the history look like?

Pay close attention to red flags. Victim patterns like the plucky little thing tryin’ to get by but somehow always ending up as the victim. Does the world owe them everything just for existing? Are you their servant? Do they isolate you from your friends and family? Do their stories stay consistent or do they change when they’re caught in a lie? Are they capable of empathy?

So what do you do if you see this kind of history? Run. Run as if your life depends on it. Because it might.

Predators are chameleons skilled at finding and exploiting weaknesses. At first they will be whatever they think you want or need them to be. Don’t be fooled into thinking someone is the version they’ve presented you with unless their actions and patterns match.

I’m presenting the version of the above photograph to you as a coneflower.

Is it a coneflower?

I guess you’ll have to decide.

An excerpt…

“How pretty,” Annie said, gazing at the patterns drawn upon the leaf. A slight breeze wove its way through the forest—the clattering of the leaves signaling its arrival.

He loved that about her. That she was always able to find beauty in unusual places and circumstances. He considered telling her the lines were created by insect maggots crawling through the leaves while eating the tissue but, she looked frail, and he hadn’t seen her face light up that way in a very long time. Slipping his phone from his pocket he stole a quick shot of her as she leaned in to have a closer look.

Humans and insects. They aren’t all that different. Some leave the results of their handiwork in full view while others, the worse ones, make sure the damage can’t be seen from the outside. Garrett’s eyes darkened as his thoughts turned to Leah.

Worth fighting for…

Today marks World Environment Day and I can’t agree more with this year’s slogan Only One Earth.

This past year I studied and photographed milkweed through each season, then planted some in my garden—for when monarchs are caterpillars, it’s their main food source. And like bees, monarchs are important pollinators.

My garden is filled with bee and butterfly-friendly plants as well as assorted shallow water sources for the honeybees to rehydrate from and gather water to haul back to the hive.

This year we participated in No Mow May. We let the dandelions run amok and didn’t cut the lawn until June—dandelions provide critical early season nutrients for the pollinators.

We play chess at a tiny table in the center of the garden surrounded by a variety of bees and butterflies, hard at work.

There is only one earth and I’ll continue to capture it frame by frame until it’s gone.

I can relate…

May 2-8th has been designated Mental Health Week by the Canadian Mental Health Association and it’s been on my mind a lot this week. Coincidentally, there’s been a very high profile court case running that deals with abuse and mental illness, and while the testimony has not been completed, and I’m not passing premature judgement, I’m encouraged by the dialogue this case has brought about.

I think we have a tendency to talk more about depression and suicide when we think about mental health, but this week, I’ve thought more about mental illness.

I suspect many people prior to this highly publicized case would have envisioned only the man as the abuser. That preconception is why the statistics are so skewed when it comes to abuse. Women are just as capable of being abusers. Their methods tend to be different, but they are no less damaging and the stigma attached to a man who comes forth with these allegations, is one of the reasons why they don’t.

I feel like this is a step forward— for men and for a more open discussion about mental illness.

The photograph above might be interpreted differently by everyone who sees it. It’s a sunrise through trees—a reminder that things are not always as they appear.

It lives in transient moments…

sandhill crane snowy woods

In our travels yesterday we passed a man toting a camera and lens longer in length than my arm. When my husband asked me if I’d like a lens of that size I could truthfully answer no.

While I do love macro photography and images that could be described as intimate landscapes—tiny sections of a larger scene—I’m more passionate about the story. I’m just as excited about seeing signs that an animal has passed as I am seeing the animal itself.

The light covering of snow softened the harsh landscape winter left behind and as we got out of my Jeep, the rattling bugle-like call of a Sandhill Crane echoed through the mountains.

A hike towards the marshland uncovered fox tracks, wolf tracks, and winged impressions left behind by perhaps a large hawk. Striding along the snowy landscape was the source of those melodic calls.

Nature is all around us. It lives in transient moments not always captured by a camera.

But on this morning I’m glad it was.

Reading your environment…

Visual clues can be found all around us if we take time to observe what’s different, not only in our environment, but in the people who can impact us.

It would be a grave mistake to assume that everything stays as it was—that time and events don’t alter our perceptions and guide our future responses.

I was reminded this morning of a boxer we had when I was a child. Neighborhood dogs seemed to target her, even though her breed was more than capable of dominating. One day she was beat-up, one too many times, by another dog. After that, she became the aggressor—a surprising change in a dog who’d been a gentle soul. She changed because events forced her to.

Glitter paths are a visual clue that, if read properly, provide information on how rough a patch of water is. For a sailor out on the water, it’s a valuable tool to use when plotting a course.

Adaptation is more important today than it ever was. Be observant to changes in your environment and never assume the person you knew then, is the same one you’ll meet today.

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.