The walk along the south edge of Lake Parker took us into contact with many of the creatures that I see on other trails and as expected, birds dominated much of the proceedings.

There was a gorgeous Glossy Ibis, lots of different types of Heron and Egrets, some amazing Osprey and a huge assortment of Gallinules and Water Fowls. Overhead, small clusters of Pelicans were on a southward journey for the evening. The lakeside was literally teeming with activity.

There were also a number of good-sized alligators present and one was guarding her nest waiting for hatchlings, just underneath where an Anhinga nest was, nestled comfortably in a tree overhead.

One of the alligators treated us to a life-and-death struggle as he tried in vain to catch a rather large fish that was nearby in the shallows. It was a rare instance where the fish got away. I felt for the alligator going hungry but glad to think that the fish lives for another day.

I hope you enjoy the selection of images at the bottom of this blog.

It was the notion of nest that stayed in my mind and became today’s blog thought. It is something that almost all creatures do to some degree or other; rearing our young in a protected environment until they can move forward on their own and survive whatever life has to throw at them.

In some cases this period is quite brief and in other cases goes on for years.

I guess it depends on a number of factors, not least of which is survival rate. For us humans this period drags on for many years, where typically our young step out into the wild world around eighteen.

But it is the mental aspect of nesting that I wanted to touch on here; where the young are tended to by their parents to where they feel some degree of safety net against making any fatal errors in their new lives.

While some are thrown in at the deep-end at an early stage, others enjoy the protection of parental figures for much of their lives. Some parents strive deliberately to create independence early on in their child, while others molly-coddle and enable their offspring long after they should have cut the umbilical cord.

At the other end of the equation many young people look to fashion their own independence early on and push hard against any continued act of parenting.

It is difficult to know when in fact cutting the cord and leaving the nest is the right step to take.

I felt very fortunate that my own parents seemed to strike the balance quite perfectly and independence came for me at 18 when I headed off to college. But throughout my life, I always found that they welcomed me back to the nest whenever I got in trouble or needed advice or help.

When they died, the nest died too and became just a fond memory of a time when life’s journey didn’t feel so alone. When you had good parents, there is never a good time to find yourself orphaned.

But the bottom line in all of this is that at some stage we as parents need to take our hands of the handle-bars and let the kids find their own way. Similarly as kids, we need to pedal on our own and find a balance that keeps us moving forward in the right direction and not falling off to the side.

Unlike most creatures in the animal kingdom, our lives aren’t precariously poised in a do-or-die struggle where our very existence depends on whether we left the nest at the right moment. But psychologically such an event and its related timing can be hugely damaging to us and can leave us with emotional scars that never heal.

How many of us know people who have stayed nest-bound too long to where they are unable to make a decision of their own and habitually look for guidance well beyond the time they should be standing on their own feet?

The physical nest is a comforting and welcoming place in our lives so I am not talking about that. There is nothing wrong with physically being present in our parents’ lives. In fact, in many ways this can be hugely comforting when you finally reach a point when they are gone.

But it is the psychological nest that we have to be wary of. It can truly stunt our growth as individuals and robs our parents of that phase of life when they are “empty nesters” and deserving of time to reminisce of the good jobs they did in raising us in the first place.

… just a thought.

Hiding Place

The second set of images from my recent trail at Circle B involved (unsurprisingly) mostly birds.

The trails there are saturated with birds of all shapes and sizes and particularly at that time of the morning, my feathered friends are by and large busily searching for their breakfast.

The place is awash with the sounds of all their voices and we were repeatedly guided by sounds and activities, each demanding attention from our eyes (and of course, my lens).

While Anhingas and Cormorants searched beneath the surface, Herons and Egrets of all shapes and sizes stealthily gazed into the waters at their feet. Meanwhile Osprey and Hawks soared above us with eagle-eye looking for any movement or shapes below that they would then drop like a stone, to catch.

The poor fish didn’t have a chance. There is no safe harbor for those at the bottom of the food chain in a place like Circle B. Nowhere to hide. Someone will find you.

And if the birds didn’t get you, there was an abundance of alligators patrolling the waters ready to catch any unaware prey. We counted over thirty of them on our one pass of the trail by Lake Hancock.

There was also that one moment that seemed to break the seriousness of the surrounds as a young Raccoon walked straight up to us and passed by mere inches from our feet as he travelled north while we did south.

Anyway, I have put some pics of all this cast of characters at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy!

The thought that occurred to me that resulted in today’s thought was the very notion of a hiding place and why we often seek one out.

In the animal kingdom that I describe above, hiding is one of the few defenses that is used to evade death at the hands of a predator. When there is no chance to outrun or fight off a predator, hiding is about the only option left.

But in the human world, hiding rarely involved such dramatic circumstances.

Yet many people spend alarmingly large portions of their lives hiding. There are those that hide from truth, others that hide from challenges, and yet others that hide from opportunity.

Truth has by and large become an abstract notion. It was once a simple and factual statement of reality but now thanks to people like Trump, Putin, and the unbalanced media and enablers that panders to them, there are millions that happily consume a narrative that appeals to them rather than one that is based on fact.

Willful blindness has become a trait that their supporters adopt as they counter facts about their heroes with nonsensical defenses. They accept “politically motivated” as a reasonable excuse to dismiss anything negative they hear, regardless of the fact that every despot in history almost has deferred to that phrase to deny their wrongdoings when confronted.

I had some moron tell me how Trump jumped out of his limo and saved a white woman who was being raped by a black man (note the roles of white and black in that story) and he completely believed that this was simply a fact that liberal media wouldn’t report on because they are politically motivated against Trump.

How do you speak to people like that? Where do you even begin?

The inability to grasp truth isn’t the issue as much as the ability to hide from it.

There are also those among us that hide from the challenges that life throws our way. I have seen many of my peers follow the Ostrich approach to difficulties and try to ride out a wave of struggle by simply sticking their head in the sand and hoping to out-wait it.

When life gives us challenges (and in most of our lives, it does) we cannot hide and hope that someone deals with it for us. When we were children we might have got away with that because our parents were there to recognize our inability to deal with the challenges and so they did on our behalf.

But in this adult world, challenges will only get tackled when we meet them in the field of battle and beat them. No, we are not going to beat all of them. We might even lose more than we win. But not-fighting and not dealing with is only a recipe for complete failure.

And then there are those that hide from opportunity. As crazy as that may sound, there are people for whom opportunities only represent the possibility of failure and disappointment. So they don’t take the risk and the opportunity passes them by.

When we hide from an opportunity we do ourselves such a disservice and miss out on the chance to advance our lives in a positive direction. Yes, there is a definite possibility that we will fail. That we will be unable to convert the opportunity into something concrete.

It might be too big for us. It might have arrived at the wrong time. We may not have the skills or the resources to capture it. But the simple truth is that unless we try to, we will never know whether we could have or not.

The most endearing aspect of America is not linked to it being the land of the free or the home of the brave. There are several countries that are more free and more brave. But it is the opportunity that it brings and the mindset that sees opportunity and reacts to it.

Unlike any other country in the world, America’s “can do” attitude became its calling card throughout the twentieth century and it became a beacon of hope for billions across the planet.

Even Fievel’s “There are no cats in America” story shone a beacon to immigrants the world over. It had nothing to do with democracy or freedom. But everything to do with the mind-set.

If we could harness the approach of our forefathers and be willing to take a risk when opportunity comes knocking, then our failure becomes nothing to be afraid of. But rather a step closer to success.

… just a thought!


It has been a couple of weeks since I was last on a trail. It has been a hectic process of making Inna’s move to the US possible and a stunningly dreadful process it was.

There are lots of wonderful aspects of the USA that I love but their treatment of immigrants and would-be immigrants is not one of them. That a country that once proclaimed “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” has drifted so far from that founding principle is shocking.

I won’t rail on it here in this blog but America should do the decent thing and remove that inscription. It is shockingly misleading.

So, anyway, Inna and I went to Circle B the other morning and it spawned two sets of images, the first of which is here. This set involved the death of a fish (or the successful catch by an Anhinga, depending on which way you want to look at it.)

In reverence to the fish, I decided to give him his own platform rather than have his death get lost in the middle of a complete set of trail images. The thought that his death would become a mere footnote in an otherwise fun shoot, seemed unfair.

And so, this is to you, Freddy.

The shots turned out quite awesome and when the Anhinga broke the water surface with his catch, it happened only about 60 or 70 feet away from where we were standing. So, it was well within reach of my 600 mm zoom lens.

I shot the scene from that first moment where the fish suddenly appeared above the surface wondering what had hit him to where the light had left his eyes and he disappeared down the gullet of his captor.

I have placed some images of the scene at the end of this blog and hope you “enjoy” them.

It was honestly the following day before the thought for this blog took shape in my head. And it revolved around my desire not to lose his final images in the middle of a larger set from the trail.

You see, I don’t believe the death of any creature should merely be a footnote in a bigger story. If that is what it becomes then we have devalued the life of the recently departed and minimized its existence.

All lives are significant. If not to those around the living creature, then surely to the creature himself.

Of course, being human, we prioritize human life higher that other animals and then further prioritize lives based on our own belief system and surrounds.

Faced with a huge number of living creatures, we are right to do so, however we need to be careful not to minimize those whose lives we have not prioritized.

Remember how in 2001 when those of us in the US experienced the 9/11 tragedy where over 3,000 lives were lost? Well, just a couple of months later in Asia, almost 300,000 lives were lost in a catastrophic tsunami.

Yet this second event barely made the news here, so involved with our own tragedy were we.

In fairness, there is only so much news airplay in a given day, so I don’t fault anyone for prioritizing what happened here. But the scope of the human tragedy in Asia was very much minimized within the general view that these were foreigners. Distant peoples living irrelevant lives.

And that is where the shame lies. To each of those poor souls, and very likely those around them, their lives were equally important to anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the twin towers that day.

Each of these had dreams, hopes, loves, that were completely extinguished within moments and none voluntarily decided to end their lives drowning in a sea of misery.

Lady Liberty turned a blind eye to their suffering and instead turned her gaze to focus on the ruins of the buildings behind her in Manhattan.

On a larger scale, we humans have managed to isolate ourselves away from the death of other creatures by our own lofty aggrandisement above all other creatures. We elevate our significance to a level where we too can turn our gaze away and look elsewhere as creatures are slaughtered for fun or profit.

Did you know that the latest numbers (2013) show that over 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans? Compare that to the 57 humans that were killed by sharks in 2022 and you will see the disparity.

This is like when a few ragged Palestinians fire stupid rockets into Israeli territory in protest at their lands being occupied and then the Israeli Defense Forces launch an all-out aerial attack on residential areas killing and maiming hundreds in response.

Our ability to differentiate between one group of humans and another or between humans and other animals, is based purely on our “us” versus “them” notion.

It is a cancer that belies the truth of this world and mocks the reality that actually, we are all “us”.

Poor Freddy’s adventure came to an end suddenly and without provocation. There was no malevolence in Andy Anhinga’s actions and I think Freddy’s final thought on the circle of life was that he was just playing his part.

Andy needed to eat and this was the basis upon which he killed. If he ever opens up his own business killing fish for fun or profit, then I will have a different view.

… just a thought!


The knee is still fucked so heading to a trail somewhere wasn’t an option for me this morning. Other than some commercial assignments, my camera work has been very muted this past couple of weeks and I was in a desperate need of escape.

In the hope of a colorful twilight, I headed off to Lake Parker at six. Wouldn’t have to walk much and the weather seemed color-friendly. Or so I thought.

Any plans I had of a glorious and peaceful sunrise, unraveled as I made it to the boat pier. The parking lot was almost completely full, with more than 30 pick-up trucks, trailers, and boats. Unaware, I had found myself in the middle of a fishing competition and as I stepped from my car, the heightened levels of conversations among the 60 or 70 competitors drowned out any of the normal waking bird sounds I am normally greeted by.

In recognizing that this was never going to be a photo opportunity for me, Mother Nature decided to throw enough clouds onto the horizon to kill any prospect of a nice twilight.

For a moment, I felt stumped and other than taking some shots to capture some of the busy-ness going on, my options there were quite limited. I waited until all the boats had left but with civil twilight over and no colors happening, there wasn’t really anything more for me to do there.

So, I drove down to the side of the lake opposite the fire-station and captured some of the actual sunrise after it broke the horizon and irradiated the edges of the clouds as it began its journey upwards for the day.

I even captured a couple of shots of a beautiful Great Egret who was originally just standing there watching the antics of the smaller birds in the reeds. But then, he didn’t like my proximity and flew away.

I have put some shots at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

It was on my way home (as it most often is), that my head began to muse over the chaos of the morning and how it had altered my expectations.

Oftentimes, we plan things in life based on our understanding of the situation as it exists. Not what might exist.

And yet, it would be ridiculous to imagine all the complications that life could throw at any of our plans, as doing so would probably mean that we would end up doing nothing.

So beyond planning for things in life, we have to be able to react when the unexpected happens and adjust ourselves in response. It is always easier to just walk away, take our ball, and go home. But that is never the correct response.

We may indeed arrive at that moment at a later point. But, initially we have to meet the unexpected challenge and see what we can do about overcoming it.

Clearly some of the unexpected become showstoppers. For example, when the sky doesn’t fill up with the colors we want for a sunrise, we can’t influence it to do so.

But when faced with other happenings, we owe it to ourselves to try to manage our path beyond them. Though they may appear chaotic and confusing, they can often be dealt with by stepping back, analyzing, and amending our plans to deal with whatever has arisen.

While many of the unexpected issues could not possibly have been planned for, others could perhaps have been better anticipated and therefore worked into our plans to deal with them in the first place.

And if we didn’t anticipate something that perhaps we should have, then we need to ask ourselves why we didn’t plan for that. This becomes part of our self-analysis and ultimately our learning and growth as people living in a chaotic world.

I refer to it as a chaotic world because for most of us, life is indeed mayhem from the moment we get up in the morning to the time we rest back down on the pillow. Very few of us will experience relentlessly predictable days.

Unless we are living in a friary or convent, most of us experience plans unraveling on a persistent level.

As Robert Burns famously wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” So, whenever we make our plans, we must also anticipate as many possible happenings as we can and determine what impact they might have.

In modern times, we have adapted that approach to ” Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.

Our plans, our approach, our expectations, all need to evolve when we find mayhem in our path.

In fact, even the word “mayhem” evolved as its use widened from its original intent. Did you know that the word originated as a legal term to a crime of maiming or disfiguring another person, back in the 15th century? Yet nowadays, the word is used to describe any kind of chaos or disorder.

Whoever coined the word initially could never have planned for its widespread acceptance into the spoken vernacular. Such a chaotic application of the word ultimately led to its wider meaning, while at the same time retaining its specifically negative connotation.

How could its creator ever have planned for such a thing?

… just a thought.

Pontius Pilate

I had an urgent need for some paper products yesterday morning and took myself up to Walmart before the normal crowds started their Saturday shopping.

When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a stray cat and paused before going into the store to give her a bowl of food. I always carry a small number of cans of food, styrofoam bowls, and plastic spoons in my car for such a situation. I stayed for a brief moment talking with her to put her at ease and then went into the store.

On my way in, the security person and I chatted and he commented about how he had seen what I did and how they (employees of the store) also kept some dishes with dried food for the stray cats at a different part of the parking lot.

It was on my way back out of the store that we engaged more fully in conversation and for fifteen minutes he regaled me with stories of the cats and how he and others had rescued some, neutered some, and how others had been gathered by people and given to the SPCA.

It was at that moment that the conversation took a darker turn as he explained that almost all the cats were dumped there by people. People who tire of their presence or perhaps just experienced a litter of kittens and took the easy way out and dumped them in the parking lot of a large store.

He pointed out that this happens as a matter of routine on a quite regular basis and that explained the steady influx of cats that I see there, each time I go. When the SPCA gets them, he explained that while their shelter is a “no kill” shelter, when their numbers become unmanageable, they “surrender” the overflow to the county’s animal control department who then euthanize/murder/exterminate (pick your own word) them en masse.

By the time I left Walmart, my mind had considerably darkened.

I wondered what kind of people can dump a harmless cat or kitten into a busy parking lot where they may get run over, starve, or end up in the grasp of animal control.

I initially had said to the guy at Walmart that these people should be fined and he echoed that they would if they were caught doing it. But by now my mind had escalated the punishment into 50 lashes like they do in Iran for certain crimes.

While it is a crime, we lessen the implication of committing it to being a small fine and frankly it is rarely even prosecuted. Try dumping dogs or puppies in the same manner and see how such animal cruelty is tackled. But in the case of cats, humanity by and large sees them as a lesser creature and affords very little protection.

Some ask why should we even protect them in the first place and ignore the fact that it was mankind that domesticated their ancestors and created what we now experience as a cat. Any creature that has been thus created is the responsibility of their creator.

What startled me is the abject cruelty that allows some people to dump such harmless creatures and then walk away, leaving their future in the hands of others.

I recalled the lessons from school, of Pontius Pilate who is vilified as having done the same to some rebel who ended up being crucified by the pharisees. That action is forever remembered as “washing his hands” of the affair and claiming no responsibility for what happened next.

Which is exactly what these people do when they put their car in drive and pull out of the parking lot.

What happens to the cat or kitten after that is none of their concern.

We enable that behavior when we fail to teach our children that they have responsibilities in this world and when we fail to hold them accountable as adults for their failures to meet these responsibilities.

There is a unique flaw in humanity that affects most of us that when we get away with something, that makes it somehow ok. That is why huge numbers of people fudge their taxes, drive faster than speed limits, and cheat when they think no one is looking.

If the punishment isn’t severe enough to make us rein in such behavior, then the only counterbalance we have against the flaw is our conscience.

And unfortunately with a growing trend towards self-importance and self-indulgence, our collective conscience is suffering. More people act now with malice than ever before. And they give it no thought because their action serves themselves and they feel little obligation to consider others affected by the action.

Rich to poor, employer to employee, politicians to constituents; the former almost always serves their own need first and foremost.

So is it any wonder that the mistreatment is magnified when it involves what we consider to be a “lesser” animal.

The thought that any creature is exterminated is abhorrent in the extreme but many of those doing it claim benevolence and use words like population control and culling in order to assuage their conscience (or lack thereof).

Try exterminating a group of people and they will hang you at Nuremberg. But feel free to exterminate “dumb animals” and that’s ok. It’s as if intelligence is a measure of the right to life afforded any creature. Yet, we all know that if it came down to low IQ, many of these same people would have long since outlived their own right to life.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love all animals. There is no one right to life that supersedes any other.

As I finished the drive home I thought about the cats that live with me. I have rescued almost all but I don’t own any. They are living creatures and no living creature should own another. I have included a number of phone pics of them here at the end of the blog.

I am so lucky that they choose to live here with me and my life is enriched by the love they show me in return for the food and lodging I provide.

So, it makes it incredibly difficult for me to understand how others can be so selfish and hurtful to wash their hands of the lives of innocents in such a manner.

… just a thought.

Comfort Zone

On Monday, I took a trip to Arkansas on a private plane doing a commercial shoot for a client. I was only back in Tampa for a few days since the Ireland trip so I hadn’t really even had time to settle back at home yet.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a reluctant flyer and going on such a trip is every unusual for me. But needs must, and the client’s needs superseded my own, so it wasn’t really much of a decision.

It was an early morning start from Tampa and with two pilots at the helm and me the only passenger on board, we took off at six as the skies were just beginning to gain definition behind us.

The plane was quite gorgeously equipped inside and I felt very much like someone of importance as we took off. There was an underlying unease that stole my ability to relax and others would have enjoyed the experience much more than I.

As the skies brightened, there was a lot to see along the way and this muted my anxieties some as the clear skies at 20,000 ft gave me an ever-changing landscape below. Here is one of the shots I took on the way out showing how early morning fog gripped the river beneath us. Never seen that before!

Flying back on Tuesday evening changed the parameters of the journey for me inasmuch as this time it was a night flight and it would just be me and one pilot.

Of course, the thought running through my mind when hearing this is “what if we are in the air, he dies of a sudden heart attack?” then I am all alone at 29,000 ft in the dark and I have never even played a flight simulator game.

I could find no reassurance for that thought but realization set in that there was no option and I would just have to reconcile myself that if such an event happened, then I was about to prove out my belief that there is no god.

We set off into a dark sky and there was immediate clouds to contend with that enhanced my general feeling of helplessness.

The pilot was happy to have me in his co-pilot’s seat, so this time the view was looking forward and not out over a wing.

Between cloud and darkness, the first portion of the flight showed me how pilots must have an innate belief in their cockpit avionics as we could see absolutely nothing ahead of us.

Eventually the skies opened up a bit and the moon came up and lit the skies for us to see. Taking pics became a good distraction and the conversation truly shortened the journey to where I didn’t really feel the 2 1/2 hour flight as much as I would have, if I had been alone in the back.

The pilot was a really good guy and he went out his way to explain what the monitors in the cockpit were showing and what everything meant.

But the bottom line was that he didn’t have a heart -attack and despite my fears we landed safely in Tampa and I made it home by eleven.

I have attached a number of shots from the cockpit to the end of this blog. Hope you enjoy!

In rationalizing my fears and the ease at which I could take myself into a mild panic state, I found the thought for today’s blog.

You see, most of us live our life within our comfort zone and quite rightly so. Within our comfort zone, our heart rate and blood pressure stays normal, our sense of well-being is at its best, and for whatever level it ever is, we feel life is somewhat under control.

Oftentimes, things happen that force us out of our comfort zone and we can experience increased stress and anxiety until once more we return to however we view our normal lives.

Some people deliberately challenge their boundaries, pushing themselves to the limits and expanding their view of what is normal for them. It might be as extreme as jumping out of a plane or as mild as taking one hand off the handle-bars on their bicycle.

To a certain degree it is a good idea to do so as it can help us grow as a person and many of us do so without even thinking about it once the umbilical cord is detached.

While thrill seekers live their lives on the end of a bungee cord, those of us with “normal” brain function create a better balance between new and old such that our lives are balanced and yet have an essence of growth.

It is important to step outside of our comfort zones at least occasionally so that our lifestyle is more than just a sedentary passage of time.

New experiences give us an option to explore if something suits or doesn’t, is good or bad for us, will help us grow or not.

Regardless of our fears and anxieties, we should challenge ourselves to stretch without necessarily placing our lives in jeopardy.

For me, personally, though I experienced the “joy” of flying home like I did the other night, the thought of meeting my fate from over five miles up in a dark sky can continue to stay beyond my boundaries. I will take my chances with a five foot distance from a giant gator on one of my trails.

At least then, if someone is about to die because of a heart attack, it will likely be me.

… just a thought.

Breathing it in.

It wasn’t really a photo-journey trip but when all the business end was taken care of, Inna and I took a drive to the coast road south from Kilkee and walked along the cliff edge.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a blue-sky day, the fact that it was end of January and not raining was in itself a bonus. We stood there in the cold, feeling the power of the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t just the incessant crashing of waves against the sheer cliff edges, it was the huge base sound as it did so and the massive ocean swells that served to convey the immense power of such a body of water.

I had a lot of trouble with the lens I was using (user error) and most of what I shot was garbage but a few of them came out OK and I have attached them at the end of this blog. We also went to Dun Beg a little north of Kilkee and I have included one coastal shot from there too at the end.

Hope you enjoy!

It was later in the day when I got over the fact that I had butchered so many good moments by not paying correct attention to the surface of the lens, that today’s blog thought came to mind.

You see, the moment wasn’t so much about me capturing it on image, it was about the moment itself. There were several times when I just let the camera hang by my side and I enjoyed what the ocean was doing around me and how insignificant I felt compared to its majesty and power.

Breathing it in, is an insanely important part of life’s experience. Savoring the moment for its worth and not being distracted or consumed by recording it.

You have noticed those people standing in crowds in a live event. Might be a concert, a game, or a speech and they have their phones lifted up recording it. If that is you, then forgive my next sentence. They are all fucking idiots.

They are reducing their experience of the moment, maybe even missing it, in order to get something on their phone. Do they really believe that the dozen professional cameras in place are going to miss something that they manage to get with their phone?

Moments happen and if we are lucky, we bear witness. If it comes to a choice between capturing that moment and experiencing it, the latter should always win.

Breathing in the moment is particularly important, when that moment is of such awe that it can impact us on a pretty base level. Anything that reminds us of how wonderful this world is, or how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, should be absorbed as fully as we can.

This is life showing us its power and providing evidence of the very reason why we should be happy to be alive.

For millions of years before we existed, this world existed and moments happened. For millions of years after we cease to exist, this world will exist and moments will happen. So, the interim period that we call life is one that should be treasured by us and experienced as best we can.

I know this isn’t exactly the start of a new year, but make a resolution to breathe in as many moments as you can this year and your life will be all the richer for it.

… just a thought.

Irish Mist

I just got back from Ireland late last night. It was an odd time of year to visit any place, let alone an island in the North Atlantic, and frankly when I stepped off the plane in Orlando, it was the first time I felt warm since I had left ten days prior.

I had a visa-related mission to undertake while there, so it wasn’t a pure social visit to the country of my birth. And yet it was impossible for me to travel to such a place without bringing my camera.

Much of nature was dormant as of yet and when the Vikings named my home town, they aptly captured the mood of the grey overcast and cold place they found awaiting them, as they sailed in the mouth of the Shannon River and alighted in Limerick (Luimneach = Bleak Place).

But in the middle of a misty day, I wandered around my Mom and Dad’s back garden looking for something to photograph anyway. I wasn’t going to let some Viking definition cast a shadow over my efforts to find beauty in Nature, dormant or not!

As it turned out, Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.

Her mist had covered everything with a gorgeous mantle of fine water droplets and if it didn’t look magic beforehand, it certainly did now.

From the newly arriving Snow Drops that littered the base of the tree where my Mom and Dad’s ashes were spread, to a nearby frost-bitten remnant of a rose bush, to tiny little wild flowers that showed their faces to the world just outside the kitchen window, to the wonderful moss that seems to have taken over a side path that my Dad had kept clear for decades, and even some blades of grass that did their best to gather as many droplets as they could.

There was magic with every step I took and wet shoes or soaked knees didn’t deter me from capturing it.

I have placed a number of the images at the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy them.

Meanwhile, it was the whole concept of mist that formed the basis in my mind for today’s thought.

You see, mist has always held a very special place in Irish hearts and those of us growing up there gave it a unique aspect rarely attributed to rain.

Yet if you type the phrase “Irish Mist” into google the first couple of hundred responses will be related to the country’s most famous liquor of the same name.

But dig deeper in the results and you will find references to the role that mist has played in the country’s ancient history. Thousands of years ago, much magic was attributed to the phenomenon to where general belief was that this was how the ancient peoples of Ireland (the Tuatha De) concealed themselves from the recently arrived Celts.

However they defined magic, their belief was that the Irish mist provided a medium for its happening

In the millennia that followed, mist began to be used as a symbol of untruths or confusion. When confused with fog, it became a mechanism to encompass even danger.

So, across the space of time the original entity that was hailed as a positive magical medium, had morphed into a negative and fearful medium.

This isn’t anything to to with evolution of language, so don’t just dismiss it as such.

It is all about the way our minds over generations have been shaped away from the spiritual and magical of the natural world and transformed into mechanisms by which we try to define good and bad and answer life accordingly.

The very essence of living life in the spiritual or magical past was that it allowed people to live in a manner that didn’t require answers for everything. While the knowledge evolution that has happened since has provided many answers to the unknown and has allowed the human race to develop at pace, it has come with a pretty severe price.

The wealth of factual knowledge such as the world being round, has proven to be astonishing. But it has created in us an innate belief that all questions should be answered. That everything has an explanation.

We seek knowledge and that is a good thing but habitually seeking answers is not. Much of life is without answer and in our craving for one, when there is none, we invent solutions.

The ancients invented answers that had different god for the seasons, for wind, for rain. And when these answers were challenged, they were met with genuine resistance and often an accompanying punishment.

Similarly, we invent a life after death at the side of some omnipresent power and when challenged, the heretics are often chastised or even killed.

On a global scale the search for answers causes chaos and wars as different ideologies battle it out in favor of their own answer.

On a personal scale, we must be careful to understand that not everything in our life is explicable. Why did little Johnny have to die so young, why does she love him and not me, why did he win the lottery and not I?

You can beat yourself up as much as you want and you will never find the answers. Not because you have a finite brain in an infinite challenge, but because in many cases there is no answer.

Sometimes, shit just happens.

Understanding and accepting that none of us are gods is a first step in finding contentment regardless of what life throws at us. Reacting and coping are the skills that allow us to handle them.

Embrace the mist and find your purpose within.

… just a thought.

Little Things

It was a last-minute decision yesterday that took me to Marsh Rabbit Trail at Circle B.

I had originally planned a restful day with nothing on my agenda but once I saw the way the day was shaping up with a gorgeous blue-sky day unfolding, I felt guilty at letting it just pass me by. I needed to do something constructive and a few hours in one of my favorite places in the world would help me build towards the week ahead.

There is a lot of shit happening (good and bad) and I wanted to equip my soul with the weapons to tackle whatever the week throws at me.

The images I took along the trail became a real challenge as I focused more on the small birds this time, rather than their bigger cousins. And shooting little guys that move at the speed of sound through bushes and trees, will quickly dismantle any notions of being a good photographer that you might have.

Their movement is so fast and so hap-hazard that trying to focus and catch what is going on is a huge hit and miss effort.

It is much easier to get a clear shot of a larger bird, perched model-like on a branch. But this was a very real challenge as their position on the food chain makes them susceptible to attack at any moment and so they move accordingly.

Plus they just love to mess around and have fun. They seem to enjoy themselves much more than the bigger birds, whose vocabulary probably does not include the word “fun” at all.

I did end up with some neat shots of gnatcatchers, warblers, and others and have added them at the bottom of this blog. They include a really good capture of a moment where a spider bade farewell to life and became part of the greater circle. I hope you enjoy!

It was in the car driving home (as if often the case) that I began to muse over the thought for this blog. You see, I like to revisit what I have just shot or what my encounters entailed, in a bid to justify having gone somewhere.

Often times it is a major sunrise moment, or a near-miss with an alligator, or some particularly good shots of an Ospry with his catch.

This time though it was many encounters with these little guys that left the impression on me of having had a great time. There was no single big event and even with the many encounters, I didn’t know if my shots had captured anything worth sharing. You push the shutter-release and maybe see a quick snapshot of what you got in the viewfinder. But truth is until you pull it up onto the big screen at home, you really don’t know if you got anything worth capturing or even if it is in focus.

So my feel-good feeling was coming from something else. It was coming from the joy of watching these little guys flit in and around the bushes and trees. It came from fighting against my own inadequacies in trying to shoot them. And not least of all, it came from breathing in beautiful air under a blue-sky canopy that reminds me of how precious a place, Florida is.

Much of our life is marked by major happenings. These can be good or bad and they create an assortment of memories that we weave into the tapestry of our life story.

If we are fortunate, these happenings are noteworthy to where we can share the joy or seek comfort with those around us.

But the vast majority of our life is spent in small moments. Moments that we barely share with anyone and that from day to day might not even form a memory.

These are the little things that provide the parchment upon which the bigger moments are written.

These are the things that create the general feeling of contentment or dissatisfaction that underpins our mental state from the moment we wake until we close our eyes to sleep.

It might be a sore back or stiff joints on a negative side, to a good energy or feeling of well-being on the positive.

While we don’t talk about or share these with most people in our circle, they provide the general mood that we are in at any given moment in time and as such, we should seek to acknowledge them to ourselves.

For example, if you have been dealing with some lower back pain all day and lie down in bed at night to go to sleep, console yourself that there has been a root cause behind your general low feeling of the day.

Conversely (and this is the more important point) if you are feeling content of peaceful as you close your eyes, remind yourself that this was a day without pain, where things generally went well, or where you were quite productive.

It is really important to acknowledge the good days in our lives. And that acknowledgement is more important when the good days were built by many little things rather than a big win.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

Well, it is simple really. The bigger moments will have caused a memory to be built and on reflection you will likely be able to find it again at year’s end. But little things that occupied smaller moments won’t have generated a memory and therefore could be lost in time, without acknowledgement.

Looking back on a particular period of time, they could therefore be lost in time and allow the perception that last year was a bad one, even when most days were actually quite good.

… just a thought!


I’ve become somewhat of a crazy cat person and instead of fashioning them into my schedule, I have fully morphed into theirs.

No surprise then, that yesterday morning, I fall out of bed again at four in order to get the upstairs ones their breakfast, Tetsuo who is the outside night-watchman, his, and then feed and release all the overnighters in the office below.

It is a routine that I have established that takes the first 45 minutes of my day … every day. And though it may sound like I begrudge it, I genuinely don’t.

In many ways I have found purpose in helping these little guys and giving them a safe harbor from an otherwise unknown world.

Once done, I have my own breakfast and then look at myself to see what I want to do before I start the rest of my day. Yesterday (as often before), the decision was to grab a coffee and the camera and head for Lake Parker to enjoy the twilight and herald the day in that way.

It was a gorgeous clear-sky twilight where the horizon gets infused with the most beautiful warm orange and peach colors and I found such peace in the quiet and natural heaven that I found myself standing in.

It isn’t possible to have a more peaceful entrance into a day and I breathed in the moment that mother nature was kind enough to share with me.

I only had the 11 mm lens with me, so I hope you like the collection of images it took, which are at the end of the blog.

I’ve made that same decision in favor of a morning start at Lake Parker, many times before and I asked myself if it was the right decision to make once again.

But they say you can never have enough of a good thing and in this instance, I think that saying is correct. Though the venue has been the same for many of my shoots, there always seems to be at least a very slight difference from one twilight to another.

It might be the condition of the sky, the morning temperature, or even just the state of mind that I am in. But there always seems to be enough difference that stops me from feeling a deja vu moment.

After I paused and said hi to my mom and dad ( a tiny piece of them was poured into the lake after their deaths), I said hi to a couple of fishermen that were heading out in their boat, climbed into the car, and drove home.

As is often the case, I mused over what the morning had brought and my role in making it happen. There was no longer a question in my mind of whether I should or shouldn’t have gone there. But that’s when the thought for today’s blog began to run around inside my head.

You see, we make many decisions for ourselves each day and each one takes us on a different journey than if we had decided differently. In the “many world’s theory” there is an infinite number of versions of us that follow each decision path simultaneously and while I think that is an interesting thought, I balk at the reality of such a theory.

Rather, I choose to believe that there is only one version of us traveling on a single journey through life and in many ways this one journey is shaped by the decisions we make along the way.

In the many world’s theory, our decisions wouldn’t matter and it would absolve us of consequence of good or bad decisions. But in my reality our decisions do matter and as such, we are bound to make as many good decisions as we can.

It is difficult to confidently make a good decision. We can give it our best shot based on our knowledge, past experience, and whatever factors might affect its outcome. But there is no guarantee that any decision we make is a good one.

Life brings very few guarantees along the way and other than eventual death, I can’t think of a single one. Can you?

So what that means is that with no guarantees of success, it is important to understand our decision making process and try to reduce the risk that whatever decision we make might result in a fail.

Most people make decisions glibly without aforethought. They reserve aforethought for what they consider to be serious decisions (financial, career, future plans, etc.)

We can’t grind ourselves to a stop at each decision point in our lives, taking time to overthink what we should do. We would end up never taking a step forward and life would be arduous and slow.

But, like most things in life, there is a balance that we should seek between both extremes and make sure that each decision along our journey is given a reasonable amount of thought consistent with its importance.

“What shirt will I wear today?” is less life-affecting than “do I take up smoking?” which is less life affecting that “let’s play Russian roulette. I am bored.”

And even if analyzing our decisions before they are made isn’t possible due to the circumstances we make them in, then we should at least ask ourselves how we made that decision later when we have a quieter moment.

The value in doing that is that the importance of each decision is not always obvious and sometimes we make what we consider to be a small decision that turns out to be life affecting. “How about one more drink for the road?”

I am not going to labor the point but I have often found myself at night in bed reviewing decisions made during the day. It has turned out to be a very effective way to understand how it is that I make decisions and whether I have missed something or not that would improve the likelihood of a better decision.

Knowing ourselves and understanding what makes us tick is a very important part of our life experience. Analyzing how and why we make decisions is one part of that and well worth the few minutes that it takes.

… just a thought.