Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

“To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
― Marilyn vos Savant

It is a great honor to be your host for this Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and to be part of a community of observers. Thank you for visiting my blog and getting to know me. I look forward to getting to know you, too!

The artist’s gaze, the photographer’s eye, when cast on a subject begins a relationship. That relationship can grow into a deep affection and a profound wisdom. It is that aspect of relating to your subject that I invite you to explore in this challenge.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” ― Brené Brown

I am a very visual person, as you might be also, and consider observation to be the first tool in my learning kit. To look carefully, curiously, enthusiastically, enduringly, and lovingly at something changes me. I begin to feel connected to that subject. I develop an affection that fuels further and deeper observation and understanding.

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins as in art with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. ” Aldo Leopold

My journey from Nature-observer to Nature-lover to Conservationist to Earth advocate is the story of how my eyes opened my spirit to a deeper wisdom about the world in which we all live. I celebrated International Earth Day on  April 22 with others around the globe who are deeply in love with our planet and concerned for her health and welfare. As I’ve gotten to know Earth better, I have grown in relationship to her and in my understanding of the factors impacting her. The photos I’ve chosen to illustrate the development of this relationship start with a monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed plant in a restored prairie and progress to a field of coneflowers hosting a swallowtail butterfly and other pollinators. I took all of these pictures while I was working at a conservation foundation and learning about the interconnection between plants, animals, soils, landscapes, and the humans who cultivate, steward, and extract those resources.

My invitation to you is to present a “Getting To Know You” post showing your relationship with a subject you’ve photographed. The subject could be a Person, a Place, a Culture, an Object…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.

In your post, include a link to my original post and use the Lens-Artists tag so that everyone can find your post in the WP Reader.  We hope you join us and share what you know and love!

Next week, Patti will be hosting Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #146 on Saturday, May 1, so please be sure to visit her site and joint us then, too. Her theme will be “Focusing on the Details”. 

Thank you for spending a little time to get to know me and these butterflies in their natural habitat. I again want to thank the Lens-Artists hosts – Patti, Amy, Tina, and Ann-Christine – for inviting me to host this week’s challenge. It is an honor and a joy to be a Lens Artist!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Precious Few

“After a ten-fold drop in the population of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last decade, a 2016 study predicted an 11%–57% probability that this population will go quasi-extinct over the next 20 years.” Wikipedia

monarch

Monarch butterflies used to be so plentiful. I would see them as a child living in the Midwest and study the way they emerge from their chrysalis in school. The Fall breeze was always full of milkweed seeds floating by. Their habitat was ubiquitous – all that open field land hosted several species of milkweed, the Butterfly Plant. When we moved to California where I went to High School, I would see Monarchs by the thousands at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz hanging in great clusters on the eucalyptus trees.  Then I moved back to the Midwest and noticed how quickly all that open field land, the prairies, was being developed into shopping malls, parking lots and subdivisions.  Here in Milwaukee, we had a Monarch Trail on the County Grounds where there was about 350 acres of open land. Then the city decided to put in a “research park” – meaning technical buildings and apartments – and reduced the Monarch habitat to 11 acres adjacent to the interstate that’s been under construction for 2 years…so far.  Once a common insect, the Monarch Butterfly is becoming increasingly rare on the landscape. The life of this wonder includes the amazing feat of migration, which is also being threatened by climate change.

The age of Kings is just about over, as the modern world encroaches more and more on his kingdom.  I found this one at George W. Mead State Wildlife Area during the weekend of Independence Day. 

monarch prince

I wish you a long life and numerous progeny, Little Prince. 

Rare

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

street sceneThis is a story of urban development.  This picture was taken from the Milwaukee County Grounds about 2 years ago.  This land surrounds the abandoned Poor Farm and Insane Asylum that I wrote about in this post.  The area to the south and west of those abandoned buildings was identified as a migratory monarch butterfly trail and maintained by a local group who call themselves The Park People.  In the last 9 months, this area has been raked over by bulldozers, trees cut down, and the habitat reduced from 239 acres (in 2005) to just 11 acres…which may never recover from the disturbance and resemble this photo again.  The construction project was undertaken in order to create “Innovation Park”, UW Milwaukee’s research accelerator and business campus.  In addition to this construction, the freeway you see in the background has been re-routed and upgraded to accommodate more traffic.  Massive construction vehicles – earth movers, tree destroyers, and jack-hammers – can be heard around the clock from my bedroom window.  This had been the largest green space in the county for many years, and I counted myself lucky to be within walking distance from it.  But the life of the street, of urban expansion, has depleted the life of the wild and taken over its habitat.  In the words of a famous song, “We’ve paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.”  The metamorphosis on display now is not the caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  It’s Caterpillar Construction Company changing green space into concrete and steel.  Try telling that one to the school children when they start their first grade science class.