the art of doing meditative nature photography

Posts tagged ‘spring’

A Celebration of National Wildflower Week

May 4th-12 is National Wildflower Week! I would be remiss in my duties as a lover/photographer of wildflowers if I didn’t share some Colorado beauty in celebration. So, a collection of just a few of my favorite wildflower shots from the past few years…:)

One of the most uplifting aspects of spending time in nature is being soaked through your senses in beauty. There’s beauty in the smells of nature, the sounds, the feel of the sun on your skin and the wind through your hair. But come spring and the arrival of wildflowers, the eyes are offered the biggest treats. Splashes of color and grace blanket wild landscapes in lush displays of nature’s grandeur. Delicate, sunny faces smile at us with a cheery “Hello!”

May you all be uplifted by wildflowers this week! Enjoy all that nature offers us to heal, center, and delight us.

Copy of DSC_3866close cropcsg

DSC_0206ca1copysig

DSC_0012ca1csg2

DSC_0012ca3

DSC_0063ca1csg2

DSC_0083ca1csg6

DSC_0164ca1csg

DSC_0198ca1csg

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

DSC_8587ca1csg

DSC_0228ca1csg

DSC_0252ca1csg

DSC_0766ca1csg2

DSC_0947ca1csg

DSC_1267ca1csg

DSC_3868ca2csg

DSC_7425ca1csg

Advertisements

Grateful

Today I am so grateful that spring is just around the corner…
In two shorts months the pasque flowers will peek above the cold ground, and greet me with the news that the cold winter is ending…

DSC_0333ca1adjcsgwds

(click to enlarge)

Butterflies, Bees and Blossoms… Who Hears the Buzz? A Lesson in Using All Our Senses

(Click on any of my photographs to see an enlarged image)

It’s good to be back from Spring Break!

I took last week off from blogging to spend that time relaxing with my two beloved kids. That was sheer bliss!

On one lovely day last week I became highly aware of my senses. As a nature photographer, you might think that I rely mostly on my sense of sight. I’ll admit, it’s rather obviously primary, but I couldn’t do what I do without all of my other senses.

Out on my nature hike one morning I came upon a flowering tree at the bottom of a hill. A fellow hiker had seen me taking macro shots of budding chokecherry bush leaves and suggested I continue down the hill if I wanted to see some cottontails frolicking along the fence. I thanked him and trotted down the hill, stopping to capture some nice shots of a pair of magpies who were building their nest and flapping about rather noisily.

As I came to the bottom of the hill the path rounded a corner. The bunnies hopped away from the trail just as I arrived, escaping from some barking dogs and noisy people. I stopped and watched the rabbits while I let the people and their dogs pass by. And as they walked hurriedly on, chatting and barking away, I watched several groups of people move past me, some jogging to tunes on their ipods, some running the trails, some chasing after unruly children. Finally, they all moved on, and I was left alone with the bunnies. They hid under shady tree and sat down to recoup from their dog encounter. I just smiled. I took a deep breath, thankful that it was finally quiet and calm.

But then, almost instantly, I turned my head. I caught the sound of… hmm… what was that? Buzzing! The sound of an entire chorus of bees filled my awareness and turned me around. The cacophonous noise grew louder as I turned to face it. Before me was a large tree exploding with beautiful spring blossoms.

As my eyes focused, the tree seemed to move with the motion of the bees swarming it. In graceful peacefulness they went about their busy bee jobs.

I stepped closer to take it all in and suddenly something popped out in front of me. A painted lady butterfly landed on a blossom, I pulled my camera up and began shooting.

Oblivious to the mass of striped stinging machines all around me, I leaned in and snapped, snapped, snapped away. Not a single bug bothered me. It was remarkable to be so close to them and stay so calm. But I felt comfortable. What I was feeling towards them was appreciation- for their beauty, for their pollinating services, for the privilege of being able to zoom in on their graceful activities.

I stood there for twenty minutes taking pictures, but what was sad to me was that no passer-by ever stopped. They were too busy chatting or wrangling their kids or looking at the larger landscape scenery. I felt sad for what they missed.

They missed the harmonious synchronicity of the bees dancing through the trees. They missed the humorous ballet that bees and butterflies do when jostling for blossom positions. They missed the sticky sweet fragrance of spring intoxicating them with aliveness. They missed a smorgasbord for the senses, a buffet for the eyes, nose, and ears. They missed pink and white buds, golden orange bees and butterflies, and the bluest of skies blending perfectly with fragrance and buzz.

Two days later, I was at the park hiking and doing photography with my twelve year old son. We went to a different flowering tree down on the south end of Garden of the Gods by Balanced Rock.

I was snapping pictures of the painted ladies, this time on bright pink blossoms, when three other photographers saw me, asked what I was doing and excitedly joined in. A couple of kids were running about making noise as we all “oohed” and “ahhed” at the flittering, lovely butterflies. Out of the blue my son announced, “Hey wait, there’s a lizard here!” I asked, “Where?” and looked around. He said, “I don’t know, but I hear it scurrying in the leaves!”

Yep, there in the leaves was a little prairie lizard under the tree full of butterflies. The out-of-town tourist kids squealed when they saw it, prompting the scaly critter to run up the tree and hang inconspicuously from the bark.

Good listening, son! Now the photographers had two target subjects and the kids from out of town got to see their first wild lizard.

With these experiences I became acutely aware of why I ditch my ipod when I’m doing meditative nature photography. I want to take it all in, and feel the melodious blend of experience that all my senses together creates. Nature isn’t the same in one dimension or two. It takes all our senses to really get a feel for a place, to get the full richness of any experience. It still amazes me that on that first day, no one else noticed that the tree was smothered in bees and butterflies. They never stopped to smell the luscious aroma, never spotted a painted lady.

Poor people missed out. Because no one heard the buzz.

Old Oak Leaves and New Buds, Lessons of the Spring Equinox

The seasons give us perspective,

To know that our lives are complex,

With some things ending, new things beginning.

The transitions in our lives are much like the transitions of the seasons. They don’t happen all at once, on one magical day. They happen slowly, gradually, sometimes nearly imperceptibly until one day we wake up and realize- hey! It’s spring!

Often these transitions are in the process of occurring long before we’re consciously aware of it. The seeds that seem to lie dormant are really doing good and important behind-the-scenes work to get ready for the changes to come. Such it is with us as well. We are often in change before we are consciously aware of it.

In nature, the seasons are not the clean-cut, well-delineated rites of passage we imagine them to be. In the fall, while the oaks get ready for a restful winter sleep, the tansy asters are just blooming. This is their “summer”, so to say, their season of growth to fulfillment and fruition, at the same time the oaks are in the process of wrapping up for the year.

Like the forest, we, too have many seasons at once. The various stages of our lives are rife with crisscrossing events, some waning away, some waxing to culmination. It is never as simple as “I am in a growth phase right now”. For whatever you are growing towards, you are simultaneously growing out of something else, leaving it behind and moving on to the new.

Sometimes we choose to mark changes with rites of passage, with markers to celebrate the metamorphosis from what was to what will be. These repeating moments highlight the continuing progression of life, as birthdays roll by, summers come and go, and our lives evolve. The cyclical nature of some of these changes, like our birthdays and nature’s seasons, provide us with a sense of predictability and continuity, of expectation and celebration of the inexorable tide of time.

So it is, for all living things and living systems, which is why I love equinoxes and solstices. They are a quarterly reminder to me that we are all, collectively, hurtling around the sun, changing our perspective of our life-giving star, tilting towards and away as the seasons change, like babies rocked in the sun’s cradle of life.

Tonight (where I live, anyway- it may be early tomorrow where you live!) the earth will be aligned such that the sun crosses the celestial equator. The days will be, momentarily, equal in the length of light and darkness. The time of long nights and short days will phase, barely perceptibly, into the time of longer days and shorter nights. I will celebrate another transition in life, choosing this day to mark what I already see happening- the arrival of spring.

For me, a season of magic begins. Spring has an almost intoxicating pulse of life coursing through it. You can almost feel all of nature around you in a collective deep breath, as the race begins and the time of rest is over, for now. The excitement of renewal, rebirth, and re-invention of all our selves begins.

As a nature photographer, this season marks the start of the great thrill ride for me. One of my greatest joys is documenting new life from first bud to last bloom, observing in one living being the great race of life, all of its hurdles and triumphs, growth spurts and rests, milestones and mishaps.

Tonight I will take this opportunity to reflect on my own life, and ponder what this new spring season brings for me. I am in my own growth spurt right now, with new ideas budding and new aspirations emerging, while simultaneously other aspects of me fall away like the leaves in autumn. I feel as nature does, now. I am in transition. Tonight I will allow myself to feel the pulse of nature, tap into its collective breath, and try to catch some of that intoxicating rush of life-force that drives us forward in time, relentlessly reaching, growing, emerging.

I wish a Happy Spring Equinox to you all, a season of growth to bring to life and full bloom whatever dreams inspire your souls.

-Susie

Learning Patience from Flower Petals

My long wait is- finally– almost over.

I’ve struggled with patience my whole life. When I was in my twenties, my motto was “patience is a waste of time”. No kidding! My family is convinced that I’m part squirrel, and to be honest, I think they’re right. Hyperactive and impatient, yep, that’s me.

Luckily, I’ve found that I can learn just about anything from nature. I can pick up bits of wisdom, new coping strategies, fresh ways to look at life, and I can even discover new things about myself. Yes, nature is a fountain overflowing with inspiration, beauty, awe, wonder, and, apparently, life lessons. Which brings us back to patience. It’s another life lesson nature is drilling in to me.

While I think winter is beautiful and I love igloo building and a good sledding adventure as much as the next person, I long for warm weather. It has flowers bursting with a rainbow of colors and tender green leaves waving in warm breezes. It has soothing sunshine and soft rains (unless, of course, it’s monsoon season here in Colorado, in which case scratch that and change to “rain-and-large-hail-deluges”).

Winter comes and there’s not much I can do about it. It is grey and brown and pale, and compared to summer, rather dull. Nothing is growing and bursting forth new expressions of itself. Even the bears are sleeping. There are no cute baby bunnies to brighten my day, and so many of my delightful, chipper bird buddies have taken off for warmer climes. So each year as the cycle of seasons rolls on, as each winter approaches, I know the flowers will fade for a few months. The blue-grey gnatcatchers and the lesser goldfinches will fly south, and I will wait “patiently” for their collective return.

The seasons may be the circle of life, but I always end up feeling like a hamster in a wheel, thinking if I could only run fast enough along the circle, I’ll get there sooner. Yeah, I hear nature laughing at me, too, hoping someday, after all these years of “seasons of waiting”, I’ll finally get it. For having been such a good student, I sure can be a slow learner.

Alas, I don’t live in the tropics, so winter is an inevitable reality. Life has its lessons and its seasons, and though my allergies are making me miserable, the warmer air, budding trees, nesting birds and longer days are making me happy. So I’ll wait- hmmm- sort of patiently- for the flowers and leaves and my friends the lesser goldfinches. I’ll wait for baby bunnies to be born and black bears to re-emerge. And one of these days I’ll get this “patience’ thing. Yep, one of these days…

Though at least I know I’m not the only one looking forward to new green sprouts!

Ugh. If It’s One of Those Days, Just Try to Keep Your Best Side Showing!

Ugh. If it’s one of those days

Just try to keep your best side showing.

Oh, boy is it one of those days!

It’s official. I am blaming writer’s block, creativity block, and ability-to-write-worth-a-darn block on my allergies. Pollen has taken over my brain, and my thoughts are as congested as my nose.

And to think, spring is my “favorite season”. Hmm, I may re-think that and demote spring for its pollen-y rudeness.

It’s hard to chase rainbows when you’re sneezing. Yet that’s what I do every day! As a nature photographer and writer, doing daily nature photography is the air I breathe. My hiking adventures nourish me with the inspiration, purpose, and meaning I need to be happy. This past week, however, has been a bit of a foggy, sneezy blur.

So this week’s post based on the book is about keeping your best side showing. Although for me that’s a bit tough today, given that my nose looks a bit like Rudolph’s and my eyes look like they belong on a puffer fish.

No doubt today my best side is not quite as lovely as this little flower’s.

But that’s okay, for it’s our inner beauty that counts in life. It’s putting our best self forward that matters, regardless of the situation, be it red stuffy noses or a few embarrassingly missing petals. And though my brain is a bit befuddled with the wafting bud-dust of spring, I’m still giving my best effort, best side forward to the world.

My usual hike with my camera was cut short today, by chilly dropping temperatures and a mighty wind stirring up whole clouds of my pollen nemesis.

So it’s a bit of an “ugh” day for me.

I get the impression this little scrub jay knows what I mean. He looks befuddled, too.

But since I can’t breathe without a little joy from nature every day, I came home and made my own.

I am admittedly a little bit nuts about rainbows. Since I was a small child I have collected prisms of all shapes and sizes. I hang them in every south facing window and let them splash wiggling light splotches of joy all over my home. They look like flocks of crystal birds hanging delicately in the sun.

Today I was grateful for the miracle of just enough sunlight, peeking through the clouds of our approaching Colorado spring snowstorm, finding its way through my prisms’ glass bevels. My hike in nature may have been cut short, but I still chased my dreams… and I literally caught a rainbow today.

I just made the best of a kind of lousy circumstance!

My allergies won’t last forever, and this spring storm will pass. Maybe it will even create a nice rainbow as it drifts on by! One way or the other I’ll put on my best Rudolph the puffer fish face and head out on the trails again, looking for rainbows and glorious signs of spring. My nose may dislike spring, but my eyes know it to be a magnificent season of rebirth and beauty.

It’s a dazzling season to chase dreams in, full of the inspiration of buds, blooms, and bears bravely emerging from their winter slumber to live a new adventure.

So I’ll be brave, too, and keep hiking despite the pollen, and I’ll be sure to remember what I learned from the lovely red-and-yellow gaillardia flower- just keep your best side showing.