Little moments

I stood there absorbing the wonderful perfumes of summer blossoms when I noticed a tiny white feather floating past me, riding the gentle breeze. It was only an inch long so no surprise that I momentarily lost it as it took its final journey to the ground below.

I searched the ground around me, convinced that I would spot it again and could take it home as a keepsake. But it had vanished!

In mild-despair, I went back to shooting some of the nearby blooms and there it was, cradled within a tiny shrub whose own delicate flowers had stretched out to break its fall.

Apart from making a cute picture, this tiny moment of soft mystery got me thinking … there must be millions of tiny moments that play around us each and every day. We almost never notice because we are driven to only respond to the big moments that affect us as we go through our busy days. It is only human nature, of course, as spending a day of tip-toeing through the tulips when there is work to be done is more likely to lead to an angry boss than a “meaning of life” moment.

But at the same time, some of these moments can add a genuine sparkle into our day if we just give ourselves the chance to absorb them. Most days on my way to the front door, if there are butterflies around, I stop and hold my hands out like Rio’s famous “redeemer” statue. I just wait a few minutes, arms outstretched, and most days nothing happens. But some days, these fragile little beings will land on my hands and I speak with them.

It is quite possible my neighbors are creating a petition to have me committed, but until that moment I will continue to appreciate life’s little moments.

Hope your week gives you some memorable moments and the time to appreciate them!

Humanity and opposable thumbs

One thing I could never do is observe a creature in distress and do nothing. I know there is a “rule” of non-interference amongst the real nature photographers out there, but I repeatedly break it.

I have freed moths from cobwebs, rescued snakes, lizards, and frogs from our cats. I have pulled over at 4 in the morning and taken an exit off the interstate because I spotted a frog clinging on to my wing-mirror at 70 mph.

So, no surprise then that every evening I spread out nine dishes of food for our wild friends that are in search of some nibbles at nightfall. It’s a nightly routine now for almost a year and it has brought us in contact with a large range of amazing creatures (Raccoons and Possums, Squirrels and Cardinals, mostly). We have even had a gift left for us in gratitude one night by an appreciative Raccoon, but that is a separate story.

But about six weeks ago, I noticed the lovely lady in these images. She has lost the use of her hind right leg and is very slow moving. It is a disability that would almost certainly lead to starvation and death as her inability to truly forage in competition to her healthier cousins means that her pickings would indeed be slim.

But we started putting out some extra helpings and putting them out earlier and she comes ahead of all the others and gets a good meal before the competition arrives. She will never get back to normal but we have seen some improvement in her mobility. And she seems happily nourished … if these images are anything to go by.

Raccoons are an amazingly intelligent creature and she is particularly keen on the canned ravioli that we mix in with the cat food. They wash their food (if necessary) and generally wash their hands after eating. If these guys had evolved to having opposable thumbs, they would likely rule the world.

Which brings me to my thought of humanity. “Having humanity” used to be an expression which meant that we showed compassion, caring, and concern. It was a single-most quality that genuinely created a protective and constructive environment for communities to evolve and for humans to become “great”. But somehow we seem to have lost our humanity and have mostly become a pestilence to the planet on which we live. Our chosen path is destructive and uncaring and our focus on wealth and greed brings with it a huge price for the planet and our children’s children.

We buy into catch phrases like Make America Great Again without even examining what “great” actually means. In my humble opinion, humanity was once great. Compassion, caring, concern and a little empathy …. Would go a long way to making us great again.

Have a “great” week!

Nickernuts!

No, I am not swearing, nor have I developed Tourettes.

But yesterday morning before starting my day’s work, I decided to take an hour or two down by the bay to find these precious pearls of the sea. Since I discovered them a couple of years ago, they have fascinated me on several different levels. Apart from their use as jewelry items and good luck charms (which is what I sought them for), they have been used for centuries as remedies for dysentery, malaria, and in medicinal teas.

As I studied them yesterday though it truly drove home the aspect of intelligence and how humans generally walk the earth as if we invented the whole concept.

Certainly there are objects that exhibit complete lack of intelligence; rocks, sand, water, The White House. But the rest of the world we live in has evolved to shine a wonderful light on the wildly varied forms of intelligence that there are.

For those of you that don’t know what Nickernuts are, these photographs might show how they grow on a tree, typically near coastal waters. Their seeds are produced in spiny pods and when they mature, they burst open and the nuts fall either onto the ground immediately below or directly into the water to get carried away to distant shores. Nickernuts from Florida and the Caribbean have been recorded to come up on the shores of Ireland and Scotland thanks to ocean currents. They have an extremely hard shell which is impervious to salt water (which is one of the reasons they have been earmarked for jewelry purposes) and a slow sea-borne trip of five or six thousand miles degrades them not at all!

So as I was standing there yesterday studying the tree, I noticed the great lengths it went to produce a seed that could survive its surroundings. The tree itself was very thorny and so too the pod … good defense against creatures looking for a meal. The tree stood with its roots in salt water, thriving in a way that us humans have failed to do despite our genuine interest in processing salt-water to nourish ourselves. But this tree not only filters the salt water, but it knows that its seed must be able to withstand that very same salt water if it hopes to survive. So it places its seed in a hardened shell that is completely at home riding the waves to a new land.

The world around us displays such magnificent intelligence, much of which is beyond our own abilities to comprehend. We murder creatures and destroy an environment from the premises of greed and the belief that we genuinely know best. We place ourselves at the pinnacle of intelligence and look down on everything else around us.

It’s what allows us to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Have a thoughtful week and let’s all work towards keeping this wonderful planet around for our children and their children.

Judge not …

… it was never going to be a pretty sunrise. The thick cloud lay too close to the horizon and the morning had more of a grey than blue tinge to the sky. Patches of fog hugged parts of the trail and the shoreline.

I decided the only real chance at a decent shot was to get in close to the water and try to catch the sun as it broke the horizon before it got swallowed up in the clouds.

I noticed a lone female jogger run past me and disappear into the dimness and the grey fog and I thought “how stupid! Doesn’t she realize how vulnerable she is alone in the gloom of an altogether shady section of town?”

So I leaned down to the water’s edge, holding the camera less than an inch above the water surface. My knuckles were getting wet from the gently lapping water. The continued heavy growls of a large alligator a few feet away from me weren’t enough to change my pose. No, I was intent on getting the right perspective before I missed the sun entirely.

I kneeled there for a good two or three minutes and when I got up , wet knees dripping sandy water back into the lake, a few more growls close by made me snap out of my own stupidity and realize how quickly I judged the jogger while recklessly committing much more of an idiocy.

Isn’t it strange how quick we are to judge those around us, instance to instance on a daily basis, yet convinced in ourselves that we walk on water? My wet knees and dampened ego are testament to the fact that I, for one, don’t!

Have a wonderful week and keep your knees dry 😊