The past few days have given us a reminder of August – hot days, blazing skies, parched earth. Yet for the wild animals that I share space with, it is spring business as usual. The phoebes have completed their nest beneath our deck, and I believe the osprey are done their nest refurbishment too, since I have not seen them fly over with sticks for at least a week now. This is our first year with bluebirds, and they seem to live in the field across from our dirt road. Our fence is a hit with the phoebes and the bluebirds, and the Baltimore Orioles are thrilled with our offering of oranges and grape jelly. Who wants to live in the city? Not me.
There is a lovely store on Main Street in Winthrop where you can find work by local artists. I’m so thankful to Nick Shelton for giving me the opportunity to display some of my work in his store. He and his parents (and grandparents!) are lovely folks, not to mention talented (clay, pottery, woodworking).
We have a pair of phoebes working on a nest under the deck again. (Trying to work and watch for them to fly under the deck – which they won’t do when my three hooligans are out running around and chasing osprey and eagles out of our air space. For real.)
The second photo shows two osprey that will be nesting on a small island near our house once again. In late April/early May we see them flying over the house “empty-handed” and then returning to their nest with a stick to spruce up the nest.
The same windy night that I saw the osprey I also saw a pair of loons. It was windy and wavy (and I’d already stepped into the water up to my knees to avoid completely falling out of my kayak) but I got some photos – just not very good ones. The loons were bathing, which often involves a fair amount of hilarity (in my view).
One of my favorite parts of taking photos and sharing them is the feedback I get from folks who connect with one picture or another. Here are a few fan favorites.
Cold and windy today. Again. The calendar promises that spring is here and summer is coming. Any minute now we’ll be swatting black flies, and then running air conditioners (or box fans!) and starting up the lawn mowers and garden sprinklers. Not looking forward to mowing? Me neither. Skip the month of May, if you can get away with it. (Mind the risk of ticks!) Need an excuse not to mow? Easy. Check out the “No Mow May” movement. The idea is simple: let the bees have their dandelions. (Okay, it’s a tiny bit more complicated, but that’s the gist). https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/no-mow-may
This cardinal outdid himself tonight. Only our good friend the robin, who is evidently not having much luck on the dating scene, is out there singing louder and longer.
I’ve begun to hear the spring peepers, and I’ve seen the osprey begin to collect sticks to refurbish their nest. I’ve tried for shots of the osprey flying over with sticks in years past but never captured anything amazing. Maybe this year.
Some believe that the bluebird is a symbol of joy and hope, or that good news will be arriving soon. Others think bluebirds represent a connection between the living and the dead.
Some Native American tribes consider the bluebird a spirit in animal form that symbolizes the dawn of a new day; others associate the friendly bird with the sun. The Iroquois believe that the bluebird is a harbinger of spring that fights off the evil demigod of winter, Tawiscaron.
According to folklore, many Native Americans hung dry gourds to entice bluebirds to nest near their settlements so they can enjoy their enchanting songs of happiness and hope. Just gazing upon one of the little flying cobalt creatures of contentment is said to bring joy. (Credit to https://www.livehappy.com/practice/the-bluebird-of-happiness for this information).
Joy Harjo: “Eagle Poem”
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
Many of the photos that are displayed on this blog are not photos I frame or mat for sale. Often the photos here are ones that I determined were not quite up to snuff to sell, but still good enough to share.
Sometimes my choices about what to print in hard copy are a matter of size constraints. For example, my photos of snapping turtles often need to be at least 16X20 or the image is cut off. Sometimes my choices are a matter of economics, as I am of course spending money on printing and framing items that may eventually live in my basement. I also have to judge what I think might interest people. My mother selected classic images – loons, cardinals, owls, fawns. I have a friend who loved a particular butterfly/flower image that did not interest me much. Another friend wanted one of my frog photos – on a 3×2 canvas. My youngest brother was particularly taken with a photo of painted turtles, almost certainly because we had two red-eared sliders growing up and the two species appear similar. Another friend was drawn to my starfish photo, and I’ve put it on a 16×20 canvas for him. Another friend wanted a 3×2 canvas of trees blanketed in fresh snow, with blue sky and sunlight behind. It has been in his office for at least three years. .
I find pictures of animals (owl, robin, phoebe, crow, osprey, seagull, heron) with food in their claws or beaks to be interesting, as we don’t often glimpse such things as we go about our days. I have about 8 different 3×2 canvases that rotate on the walls of my office depending on the season. Rock wall in autumn. Ice crystals on a winterberry bush. Popham, Reid, Katahdin, Moosehead. Great horned owl. Snapping turtle. Pileated woodpecker. Moonscapes. Landscapes. Four legs. Two wings. Hot-blooded and cold-blooded. Mountains and the coast. Forests and my backyard.
We are surrounded by the wonder of everyday creatures and the world they inhabit. I want to share that world with others. Yet I take pictures only for me. For the joy of it. For the peace. Photography is my mediation. When I am capturing an image, I am as focused as I once was hurtling down a hill on my bicycle. When I raise my camera to find my subject, I must force my breathing to be slow, steady, sometimes to stop so the camera doesn’t move. I do not have a tripod or a camouflage tent. My knees or a railing are my tripod. Sometimes I am shooting in a kayak, and I must time the wind and waves. I often shoot while I’m being spun in a slow circle. When I am taking photographs, my job, dogs, aches and fears recede for blissful moments.
I decided to place photos for sale not so that I can quit my “real” job. My goal, rather, is to share my images with anyone who might take a fancy to a particular shot, for whatever reason. My prices cover the cost of materials, but not much beyond that. Certainly not the time spent to take an image from the moment of capture to the point where it is ready for printing. Prices reflect the size of the photo as well as the format (matted only, framed, on canvas etc.) A matted 4×6 costs the same as a Big Mac with fries and a coke (about $8). Framed photos and canvases go for roughly $50 – $150. And if someone wants a particular photo but truly cannot afford it, we’ll figure it out.
The past two days we’ve had a male robin in our backyard who has been singing his heart out from one tree top and then another. He is calling for a mate (the mating call is quite different from the sound of a robin defending territory.
The first two pictures below are from a previous summer (hence the grass). The bottom two pictures show lover boy at work.
For more on robins see https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/.