Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract Earth Day

Today’s challenge is “Abstract”, and it’s Earth Day.  So many beautiful textures and forms in nature that may be completely unrecognizable close up although familiar at a distance. now 2One definition of “abstract” is to remove, as in remove it from its context. 

mono redwood

When you abstract something, you may consider it theoretically and separately from its surroundings. This is something that scientists do particularly.turkey feathers

And then the challenge is to put it back into context and look at it holistically, as a whole, interconnected thing.turkey

This is exactly the way we need to look at our Earth. Parts are interesting to study, but the whole, living thing is what we need to protect. 

the gorge wilderness

The complexities of our planet, the delicate balance and harmony of its interdependent eco-systems, are perhaps far beyond our capacity to understand. Therefore, it’s important to respect them and strive to preserve their integrity. And it’s equally important simply to revere them and enjoy the awe they inspire.

intricate 2

May you enjoy the Earth today, in abstract detail and in whole.   

 
Abstract

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future

future

Another morning of Spring snow, slowing changing to rain. The future comes to us haltingly, moment by moment. The human consciousness is capable of projecting thought far beyond this present moment. Other species don’t bother. The future is in the bud, the seed, the egg. They are content to let it belong there. 

may apple

I sometimes don’t know what to do with my human consciousness of the future. It can cause anxiety and expectation, which is often very unsettling. 

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The boy who wore that shoe turned 29 years old this week. I’ve thought of his future for that much time, and more. Perhaps that awareness has been helpful. Josh gradBut sometimes, I wonder if it’s not as helpful as my awareness of the moment. 

My son & his girlfriend

The flicker of the present, the warmth, the light. This is where we are most alive. 

Future

I Love This Place!

This month, I was honored to be the Associate Editor of The Be Zine, and the theme of the issue is “The Joys of Nature: Wilderness, Gardens and Green Spaces”.  Browse the entire blogazine here

What exactly is our relationship with Earth, its wilderness, its gardens and its green spaces?  

steve sturgeon river feet

Of course we all value this place in some way. I won’t call it our home, although we all live here; we can live nowhere else. To me, the idea of ownership seems inappropriate at least and inaccurate at best. This place may be closer to owning me, in fact.  And ‘home’ makes it seem so domesticated. Is that what it is? Or is it unapologetically wild and autonomous? I have decided to approach this place as I would an equal: with humility and respect for both of us. That seems to be the best moral decision I can make.

Others don’t agree. They consider this place a servant in need of stewardship. They talk of ‘eco-system services’ and measure the value of this place by the benefits it provides to one species, a single leaf on the great Tree of Life – Humans. They extract the elements that serve them, but they are not producers, like plants; they are consumers. They talk in economic terms, like ‘board feet’, but the only thing they truly produce is waste, of which only a minimal amount can be absorbed and re-used. They concern themselves with ‘management’, imagining a parental responsibility for the growth and training of this place. It’s ironic to me that the child they attend is billions of years their senior. the gorge wilderness

This place is often valued for its beauty, prized for delicate and powerful sensual elements that fill the soul and spark the imagination.  Many who praise it lift it far up on a pedestal of mysticism but decline to offer it their understanding or their presence. To them, it can become remote, surreal and alien, a romantic fantasy on an epic canvas.

Some view this place with disinterest, perturbation, or downright disgust. Standing on it just means that it’s beneath them; they will not allow themselves to be grounded. It takes a great expenditure of energy to maintain this separation, but they achieve this distance by employing every distraction and applying every veneer currently available.P1040782

This has been called the “Athropocene Era”, the geological epoch of Humans. We are the dominant species at the moment and the major force impacting the Earth. We’re no longer a hunter-gatherer society, and our advancing technology is always at the expense of natural resources, even if our intention is to use it for conservation efforts.  For example, the ‘progress’ we have made in recycling plastic still uses tremendous energy to break down the material and still results in the production of waste and toxins. The unchecked growth of our species has effected the climate of the entire planet and threatens a mass extinction.  

It stands to reason that the only way to lessen our impact is to become less numerous, consume less, and produce less waste. We must slow down and live simpler, more sustainable lifestyles in order to stop this growth mentality that has become a global menace. Then we can begin to nurture an equal relationship to this place and its inhabitants.

schottler

 

Let us spend time with this place, pay a lover’s attention to its moods, its responses. Let’s be careful what we take and what we leave behind. Let’s respect this place in every detail and not dismiss the nuances in its character. Let us champion its autonomy and dignity, seeking to understand but not using that understanding for our own advancement and growth. Let’s explore to gain wisdom, not to invade. And let us celebrate our love for this place! Teach it! Demonstrate it in song, story, art and work!

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I hope we will not grow weary or discouraged in this love. There will certainly come a new age of geography yet, whether our species is included or not. In our own lifetimes, though, living a loving relationship to this place is its own reward. It is a love to fill the heart, soul, mind and body and bless the world.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

“The Universe has been telling me to focus on Love. ” That’s exactly what I’ve been hearing, too!!  

I’ve been working on editing this month’s issue of the Be Zine coming out on the 15th on the theme “Nature: Wilderness, Gardens, and Green Spaces”.  I discovered (or re-discovered) that it’s all about our relationship to this Place.  Our existence is about a relationship.  ALL of existence is about a relationship (don’t take my word for it – ask Albert Einstein!).  In other words, it’s ALL about Love.  

Love makes the world go ’round. Not just our love for others of our species, but the Love that holds all of Life in its embrace. Respect it all!


One Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eye Spy the Green Fire

Headlines today are full of accounts of killing.  Too many people are spying through cross-hairs; that’s very scary to me.  Looking into the eye of life – seeing living, sentient beings for what they are – is a sacred experience, I believe.  Here is an amazing written account of that, by Aldo Leopold as told in “Killing the Wolf” from A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There:

We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

May all beings be respected. May the green fire be rekindled in our time.

 


Eye Spy

Weekly Photo Challenge: Life is a Treat

“We can’t wait to see what brings you happiness!” says Word Press.

I’ve enjoyed more than 50 years of sensual pleasures: tastes, smells, sounds, sights, and tactile delights of all kinds.  I live in the wealthiest country in the world, so I’ve had my full share of opportunities to be treated to finely-produced, man-made “treats”.  Consequently, they’ve become a bit dull.  I find that what really makes me smile are all the unexpectedly lavish surprises of Nature I can discover right in front of me, for free, every day.  

The best treats in life are free….born in freedom.  Like Maple Drops.

maple drops

And Puffball Mushroomallows.

puffball

And Teasel Pops.

teasles

It’s a world of Pure Imagination!  If you want to view Paradise, simply look around and view it.  (go ahead, click the link to see Gene Wilder in that scene from Willy Wonka that set me dreaming of chocolate for months as a kid!) Enjoy your treats this weekend.

Treat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Off-Season

One of the advantages of being self-employed is that you can take advantage of the freedom of your schedule and do things when you feel like it.   Steve and I like to travel in the spring and fall when places are less crowded.  Consequently, we got the opportunity to be the ONLY visitors at a National Park one day.  It was Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California, and it was April.  Here is what the walk up to the Visitor’s Center looked like:

off season 3We hadn’t really come equipped to hike in so much snow, so we settled for watching the video describing the volcanic terrain from inside the cozy Visitor’s Center.  One park ranger is all we saw there that day.  (I should note that this was in 2011, before the severe droughts of more recent years.)

Here’s a local off-season shot:

off season  Milwaukee on the first warm day in March.

I hesitate to label anything off-season, though.  All seasons of the year are open for exploration.  Nature is doing its thing whether crowds show up or not, and I love to see natural areas at any time and at different times.  It’s always beautiful, always worth it.  Here is my final shot of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas in October: 

off season 2

Off-Season

Here’s Waldo

From Essay IX: The Over-Soul — “The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart, of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to pass for what he is, and to speak from his character, and not from his tongue, and which evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand, and become wisdom, and virtue, and power, and beauty.”

Steve and Waldo

Steve and Emerson (the golden book in his hand) on the Ice Age Trail

From Nature — “Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word; but it is not a language taken to pieces and dead in the dictionary, but the language put together into a most significant and universal sense. I wish to learn this language, not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book that is written in that tongue.” 

© 2015 photographs by Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Intricate Nature of Wilderness

Usually, I reserve Friday mornings for Word Press and open the Daily Post promptly at 11:00 to see what the photo challenge is for the week.  Yesterday, however, I was camping in the Whisker Lake Wilderness area in northern Wisconsin.  I was up just before dawn, roused by a chorus of woodpeckers and swans, red-winged blackbirds and Canada geese.  The early ecophony (a great term Steve recently ran across in an environmental essay: a portmanteau of ecology and cacophony) was only slightly less raucous than the previous moonlit night’s melee of frog song.

intricate 2Have you ever wondered at the intricacy of co-habitation in an eco-system?  Around Perch Lake there were mammals, birds, amphibians, insects and reptiles all doing their interconnected dance with time and space in the most amazingly complex overlapping of rhythms.  The full moon, the night frost, the dawn mist, the swelling heat of day: the ebb of one activity and the flow of another as time marches forward spins a never-ending tapestry of living. 

On a single rock on the side of the hiking trail, I found another intricate web of life, a microcosm of mosses.

IntricateAnd in a single catkin about to burst into bloom, the green fire of life glows in a delicate pattern of possibility.

intricate 3The Earth is a multi-layered, intricate web of pattern, design, and interconnection.  How marvelous to look at even one tiny corner!

© 2015, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Intricate

March Gladness – Go Badgers!

I took this photo at the Milwaukee Zoo last March.  Usually, it’s hard to spot a badger even at the zoo, as they like to dig and burrow by nature and are not as active in the daytime.  However, the warming temperatures brought this one out to enjoy some sunshine.  badgerIn captivity, the average badger lifespan is Sweet 16, but not in the wild.  The oldest wild badger was but 14 years old.  These animals prefer a solitary lifestyle.  Typically, you won’t find more than 5 badgers in a square kilometer.  They are not party animals.  They are skilled diggers with powerful jaws.  They prey on rodents and other earth-dwellers and supplement their diet with corn and sunflower seeds.  They wisely store and cache food as well. 

Badger meat has been included in some cultures’ cuisine, such as French and North American; their fur was used in the past to make shaving and paint brushes because of its fine ability to retain water.  Its greatest predator is, in fact, humans.  They destroy their habitat and sometimes poison them to stop them from digging tunnels in pasture land.  However, in British Columbia, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, hunting badgers is illegal.  I’m glad.