Lens-Artists Challenge: Delicate

Love is like wildflowers;
It’s often found in the most unlikely places.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once upon a time, I did a WordPress Photo Challenge on “Delicate” – but that particular interpretation is history by now. 

Yesterday, I was teaching kids at the Riveredge Nature Center about ephemeral wildflowers. They are delicate, fragile, and…ephemeral as well.

While the blooms of ephemeral wildflowers are a fleeting splash of joy and color on the landscape, the roots are native, hardy, and deep. They belong, they return, and they endure in the grand scheme. I believe Love is like that. That kind of Love returns to me each Mother’s Day. 

When a good foundation supports that which is delicate, its beauty transcends time and circumstance and endures. Let us all love each other with tenderness and care, for we are all delicate creatures yearning to grow strong. 

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to ponder the Delicate nature of Life. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Less is More

Amy’s challenge this week is a very meaningful one. Imagine how the Earth would benefit if the human species truly embraced the idea that “Less is the new More!”

We’ve all seen news articles showing evidence of huge flotillas of garbage in our oceans, of urban sprawl eating up wilderness, and of first world over-consumption. I remember being visually struck by a National Geographic article by photographer Peter Menzel showing the possessions of an average family from a variety of countries across the world. (Material World: A Global Family Portrait) The American family had enough possessions to fill the end of their cul de sac. 

One of the benefits of my preferred way of travel, camping, is that it gives me the opportunity to live very simply. The clothes I’m wearing, a tent, a box of matches, some bedding, and a few cooking utensils are completely sufficient. The food I eat is recycled: gathered in and returned to the land. The vast landscapes of the outdoors are anything but simple. The world is a complex array of ecosystems. But focusing on one feature reveals the astounding beauty of simple design.

Removing extraneous clutter from my photos and my way of life allows me to focus on the wonder of the essence of Life. That I am alive and that I am surrounded by life that exists on levels more intricate and vast than I can see or imagine is…simply…amazing.  

Earth Day Eve

Tomorrow is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, when

“twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment. It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000, participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries.  The seemingly simple idea — a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment — was the brainchild of U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agenda.”  (from The Man From Clear Lake by Bill Christofferson)

That simple idea – that Earth deserves the attention and respect of all its human inhabitants, and protection from harm – seems to me more fundamental than any other ideology formed around life on this planet.

It boggles my mind that damage done to one magnificent cultural edifice can command more attention than the complete destruction of countless forest cathedrals, that concern over relics of antiquity can eclipse the horror of the extinction of living species…including our own.


“In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years. We are losing over 6,000 orangutans a year.” (from The Orangutan Project website)

“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a current event, and is one of the most significant extinction events in the history of the Earth.” (Wikipedia)

I want to present to you, on the eve of Earth Day, an invitation to reflect on our hubris, our ignorance, and consider ways to protect, conserve, respect, and champion our planet, perhaps with the affection you might tender towards a venerable ancestor.

She’s been around a long, long time. None of us would be here without her. And we have treated her badly. We have made grave mistakes. Perhaps now we can admit we were wrong and make reparation.

For example, PLASTICS. They’ve only been in existence for 60 years or so. We lived without them before; we can live without them again. No big deal…except if you’re protecting the plastic-producing industry instead of the inhabitants of Earth.

Steve and I found a quiz on Climate Change Solutions that yielded some surprising information. I challenge you to test your assumptions about effective ways to curb climate change by clicking HERE.

How will you honor Earth Day this year?

How are you changing habits that have proven destructive?

How are you encouraging love and respect for the environment in people you know?

Like my hero, Jane Goodall, I have hope in the ability of humans to make moral choices about how to behave towards the planet. In an interview with Mongabay, “Dr. Jane” gives five reasons to have hope for the planet: 

  • The energy, commitment, and hard work of young people once they understand the problems and are empowered to discuss and ACT upon solutions.
  • The human brain.
  • The resilience of Nature. 
  • The indomitable human spirit – the people who tackle seemingly impossible tasks and won’t give up.
  • My most recent reason for hope is the power of social media.

I feel acutely the urgency of making better decisions and practicing to do no harm in whatever way we can. Please leave a comment if you would like to share examples of your practice that may edify me and others.

Thank you for reading this post. May you enjoy the beauty of the planet where we live, Earth, in a deeply personal way tomorrow.

  (all photos in the gallery under copyright by Priscilla Galasso) 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Hello, April!

For this week’s challenge, Amy sends a colorful April “Hello” from Texas and quotes Rachel Carson:

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–

the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”

Here in Wisconsin, the temperatures are just starting to creep up into true Springtime levels. This morning, there was no frost on the ground, so the maple syrup season will start to taper off, and soon April will show off her new spring colors. Last year, we had a late snow storm that caused a major interruption in spring growth. The first brood of sandhill crane chicks on this property died, the deer ate all the tulip shoots, and my garden planting energy never really recovered. Here’s a contrasting shot of the last two years in the turkey mating season. 

I’m looking forward to seeing the forsythia bloom.

I am looking forward to seeing the first woodland wildflowers take their brief turn on the forest stage.

 

How this Spring will actually unfold, however, is uncertain. Instability in our global climate has resulted in unprecedented changes that manifest locally in more alarming ways each year. I am not sure who April will be when I meet her this year. However, I will surely observe and photograph her, and find her beautiful.

There is something infinitely healing, I believe, in accepting Nature in all her autonomy and taking responsibility for the ways we abuse her.  

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Around the Neighborhood

Tina’s photo challenge post showcases the birds that live on the barrier islands of South Carolina. The birds in my neighborhood include sandhill cranes…

These majestic migratory birds mate for life, returning to the wetland area behind my house to nest and raise their young each year. Last weekend, I sighted a pair in the sky just south of the Wisconsin border. I wait with anticipation the sound of their raspy bugle cry over my neighborhood. There is snow still on the ground, but today, the temperature is finally above freezing and a light rain is falling. I hope for the joyful return of the mating couple. I hope that they will not lose any chicks to a late snowfall like last year. I hope that I don’t see another colt hit by a car before he learns to fly. And I hope to see at least three begin the long flight to Florida when the leaves lose green and turn to gold, red, and brown.

Wild turkeys are also neighborhood residents.

They stick around all year. In early spring, Tom comes into the yard with his fully fanned out tail, herding hens like some slow moving Zamboni back and forth on the melting ice. When the grass is a nice spring green, broods of up to a dozen little brown chicks scurry through the tall shoots, barely visible around their mamma’s legs. By the time the greens turn brown, there are flocks bustling about all day, roosting in low branches in the evening.

I love these feathered neighbors. Their antics are always fascinating, and I’m so lucky to share this place with them. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Landscapes

Amy at “The World Is A Book” has invited the Lens-Artists to share Landscapes this week, and has given us absolutely stunning examples from her own albums.
This is my favorite photographic subject.

When I was just 10 years old, I got my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Starmite – so that I could take pictures on our family vacation to Hawaii.  I had seen mountains for the first time just two years prior on a family vacation to visit cousins in Colorado, and felt engulfed by a deep awe. I wanted to take the scenery home with me to Illinois, but had no camera then. I soaked in every vista, eyes and arms wide open. I was so excited to be able to take my own photos when I got to Hawaii.

I remember feeling a crushing disappointment when I discovered that the little printed picture didn’t quite take in all that I wanted to fill it. I still feel that way, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.

What do I love about landscapes? Long views give me a sense of freedom, a sense of the vast beauty of the world. 

When I was a kid, my parents took me to the Field Museum in Chicago to watch travelogue presentations. I would emerge from the hall bounding like a gazelle. I loved the open spaces filled with natural wonders, like an alpine meadow of wildflowers begging me to run through them.There is nothing as exhilarating to me as a panoramic view of Earth.

It’s so difficult to get all that BIGNESS into a two dimensional frame. 

I wish I had a lens that could do it justice. 

There’s that “pinch me, I can’t believe I’m here” excitement of actually feeling the space around you in a beautifully large setting that’s impossible to get into a photo. 

But I keep trying because I don’t want to let go of that feeling…ever. 

I think I want my soul to be a huge landscape.