It’s that end-of-the-year-introspection time again! I’m coming down off the high of finishing (what they term winning) my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My latest novel is well on its way, and yes, I wrote the ending—I like to know where I’m going.
The image above is representative of how I live my life. I like to remember where I’ve been, but I don’t need to see the past in vivid detail. Human nature isn’t kind—it’s cruel and selfish—the sooner one loses the idea that it’s anything other than that, the safer you become.
I stood looking back on our tracks in a landscape softened and muffled by falling snow and thought, silence truly can be deafening. It’s the perfect landscape for me. It’s calm, uncluttered, and contains what’s essential for me to be happy.
What isn’t seen in the image is the support that stands behind me. This year has brought immense clarity and I’m grateful for the people that are in my life.
I’m happy. We’re happy. Find beauty in nature. It will never disappoint you.
In life, I’m not one to look back. I don’t dwell in high school memories. The wishes I make aren’t for do-overs. Sometimes you just do what you do in the moment because it feels like the right path forward. My philosophy applies to people too—don’t allow the intrusion into your life of people that don’t make you feel good about yourself—the cancers that masquerade as friends/family but secretly gnaw at your exterior bit by bit, hoping to access your soul and infect it with their disease.
There is a time and a place for looking back, though. During sunrise and sunset. Sometimes in the garish beauty of one of those events you can find, simply by turning around, a quieter, less common light path. Like alpenglow. A brief and fleeting optical phenomenon found, on occasion, when conditions are right and the sun is below the horizon.
Next week I’ll pass the halfway point in the NaNoWriMo writing challenge of fifty thousand words in thirty days. It’s been a balancing act to get the words down and not neglect other parts of my life. I take photos every day. Have done so for years.
This week while writing I jumped ahead to craft a finishing point for my novel. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to searching out affirmations from nature.
It was beautiful.
The cycle of life.
A murder of crows.
Sometimes you write the ending to know where you’re going.
I’m one week into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and, so far, am on track to hit the required 50,000 word count by November 3oth.
With that in mind, I chose an image today that didn’t need a lot of words. Thursday brought an incredible display of Aurora Borealis—amazing colors so intense that they were visible to the naked eye. I was so grateful that we were able to catch it in such a gorgeous setting.
These are the moments! Take time to get outside and look up.
I can tell you of a place but don’t expect to find this image there. Every time you look at her, she looks different. She’s the sum of every molecule of water that has ever flowed into her.
We’re not that different—everything we see, hear, taste, feel, every moment and every event—affects us emotionally on some level and is woven into our very being.
It’s not possible to go through life unaffected by what we do and what is done to us. Some things pass through leaving a barely discernible trace, while others leave craters, a landscape forever changed.
Wisdom comes in recognizing the latter for what it is, or was, and perhaps Newton said it best, accepting that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In a river or creek, the residence time for a molecule of water is about two weeks.
And if relationships are imbalanced, for example, you’re putting far more into one than you’re receiving from one, perhaps it’s time to let that one go—accept its residence time for what it was.
And once again, for me, the images that resonate the most, and allow for introspection, are (almost always) about the water.
Fiercely protective. This wasn’t an aggressive stance—the sow was only trying to get a better look at what her nose told her was there. I was grateful for the moment. Direct eye contact for a matter of seconds with a large predator, on her turf, as she decided if I was a threat to her cubs.
We’re not that different, she and I. The endgame’s the same though the reasons may differ.
Her look seemed to say, “If you come for me, you better be ready for what I’m going to do to you.”
I can applaud that. I can respect that. I can relate to that.
Monday will mark a day of Thanksgiving in Canada. It’s been on my mind this week as I contemplate what it means to me, and the word that keeps coming to mind is home.
This word symbolizes different things to different people. For some it’s geographical, sometimes an object itself. For others it’s fluid and changes through the years. For a handful of people it will forever bring to mind one specific place.
The last idea makes the least sense to me—the house does not make a home—if it did, I would never have had the courage to move on. And we all have to move on, whether we want to or not. Life throws curveballs.
For me, what makes a home is that feeling of comfort I get when I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than right there, surrounded by people that love me unconditionally. And their presence need not always be physical. I’m blessed to have family and friends scattered near and far and every time I speak to one of those people I collectively call family, I feel grateful.
This Thanksgiving comes with some loss but I’m going to reframe it not as a loss, but as an opening for something new. I’ll be spending the day with my husband, and an extended family that I’ve grown even closer to. An unexpected gift, and one that I’ll treasure.
For those celebrating Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy one spent in the company of friends and family. And for those that aren’t, have an extra special day filled with whatever brings you joy.
The image above is of a beaver lodge, photographed during the golden hour of the morning, in a place that oddly enough feels a lot like home.
We’re living in uncomfortable times. For many of us, social circles have shrunk and our outings, should we take one, take place in anonymity or the virtual world. Masked, and muffled by being masked, there are no chance engagements with strangers. The news doesn’t stop, though. Life does go on, and each painful, horrendous event that’s disclosed becomes a magnet to hoards begging to be seen as part of that inner circle—leeching off the pain of victims, revictimizing those directly affected. In a world inundated by social media and choking with videos screaming look at me, look at meI want to be the bear.
I publish more photographs than I used to on my own social media pages because I’m aware that people haven’t been traveling and it’s a way of connecting and passing along to others the beauty of our natural world. I’m especially proud of the ones that are shared by my favorite science-based sites like EarthSky, Les Cowley’s AtOptics, and The Cloud Appreciation Society. Collectively, those sites have inspired and educated me—where were these people when I was young and wondering what to do with myself?! Fortunately it’s never too late to learn and I’m grateful to the scientists, physicists, and field experts who share their knowledge with me.
The morning light is golden and burnishes the leaves of the undergrowth—a stark contrast against the skeletal trees, reminders of a past fire. The sounds and the sights of the mountains and forests sustain me. They calm and enchant me while reminding me that change still exists.
In the image above, a bear sits high up on the mountainside, oblivious to the cars driving below. At peace with the moment he’s in. Is it an amazing photo? No, it was taken at the outer reaches of my telephoto lens, but it made me stop and think look at him, look at him!
Live your truth, reconcile your path, and if you can…be the bear.
It’s here—even if you were blindfolded you couldn’t miss the scent of fall in the air. When molecules and memories collide and the sweet sugary smell of decaying leaves fills the air. It’s impossible not to be reminded of childhood moments spent raking leaves into piles and leaping into them afterward.
This walk in the mountains was particularly memorable. Watchful of bears stuffing themselves in the final weeks before hibernation, we entered a clearing just as three elk strolled past navigating the shallow waters of the creek bed.
And just then I heard it. Ripping through the air the bugle call of a bull elk as dawn’s first light began to lift the shadows.
He laughed at the expression on my face after hearing the sound for the first time and my hand reached for his as we soaked up the moment.
without acknowledging my father’s birthday. When I came across this pastoral landscape accented by light falling on a distant mountain, it struck me that it was the kind of scenery he would have loved to have painted. I can almost see him slathering color upon the mountains with his palette knife and scratching detail into the hay bales in the foreground with a stiff, tapered brush.
My father’s been gone for almost twenty years but the memories linger. He wasn’t the perfect father but I always knew that he loved me and he knew that I loved him. I’d give almost anything to share with him what my life’s like now.
Love is imperfect, but that’s as it should be. It lives in darkness and light—touching some for a day and others for a lifetime—a gift, not a right. If you love someone, tell them today, in case tomorrow never comes.