The American Black Bear…

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.

Be the bear—stand your ground.

Home…

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.

Be the bear…

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 me I 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.

A walk for the senses…

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.

Life goes on—enjoy the ride.

Couldn’t let the day pass by…

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.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Exciting news!

This is my seventh year of blogging and I thought it might be fun to throw in something a little different. The House (working title) when completed, will be my second full length novel.

I’ve sent the first five chapters off to my editor for her usual hard-hitting critique of plot, character, and structure. Did you know that the hard work begins after you’ve written the manuscript?

It’s (almost always) about the water, but sometimes it’s about the words too.

Twisted Words…

While exploring, we came across a church that had been in existence for well over a century. I couldn’t help but think how the words spoken here might have nourished the souls of these early pioneers settling in an unforgiving landscape.

I photograph and I write—two different yet connected mediums. Images take me on a visual journey of my world, while written words resonate deeply on the inside.

Both can be lies.

From the scale, perspective, and editing of a photograph, to the idea that words can be a crafted illusion of what we want to be true—that writing them doesn’t make them so.

We need to be better stewards of the truth and guard against swallowing the bitterness of others.

It’s a crazy world out there, one where isolation and fear has created a few monsters, and neither photographs nor words tell the whole story. A little extra kindness never hurts while the truth unfolds.

Water Caustics…

The beauty of light as it interacts with a creek. The rays refract and converge through the water’s surface—their flickering forms created by an almost infinite combination of depth, wind, solar angle, and surface.

It’s (almost always) about the water.

Ripple effect…

We make choices every day not knowing the consequences that one decision may make in our lives.

Sometimes fear renders us incapable of taking a step forward—the known is somehow much safer.

What if we open ourselves up and the very opposite of what we hope for happens? What if the people we trust aren’t trustworthy?

You learn from it, and instead of building walls you build a cocoon, soft and silken, and you heal.

And you grow with the knowledge that sometimes people are broken and the decay that grows within them cannot be seen from the outside.

Some would say, you just gotta love them more.

I would say, you just gotta walk away. Listen to your intuition and don’t make excuses justifying someone’s bad behavior. Forge ahead because even the bad things are good things—we grow from the experience.