Following my Own Path in 2020

Often I feel like an alien that is somehow unlike what most folks view as normal. I’ve managed to infiltrate a world with my own different ideas about normalcy than most have been accustomed to. Yet I know we are each alive with hopes, dreams, and ideas floating in space that form stories that need to be told.

But what is normal and what is fantasy? Where do the lines intersect? What is the path we are meant to walk? Why must we walk it? Often we are searching for answers to life we do not yet have. Possibly this journey is needed for us to gain knowledge we do not yet possess. Sometimes the answer is simply because we have to in order to tell a story that desperately needs to be told.

I do not know the answers for others as both questions and answers are so different for each of us. The stores we carry are varied, valued, timeless, and endless. Each of those stories molds the person we are, and consciously or not, guides the path on which we travel.

The path to the door of the Ivory Tower I need to follow is one paved by swirls of authors from science and the creators of art. My heroes are many with inspiration coming from both ends of the spectrum. I know that I need to be the butterfly fluttering what seems to be aimlessly about causing microcosms of currents of chaos in the Ivory Tower. I fear for the future of our planet and the glaringly ugly present in which we live. I feel I need to take action! Use what I know, somehow creatively, to work toward raising awareness and positive change.

Merriam-Webster Definition of the ivory tower. 1: an impractical often escapist attitude marked by aloof lack of concern with or interest in practical matters or urgent problems. 2: a secluded place that affords the means of treating practical issues with an impractical often escapist attitude especially: a place of learning.

The Ivory Tower of Science – where science minds talk to science minds.

My world revolves around the Tower doorstep where I can be immersed in the wonders of science with so many unanswered questions. There are numerous fragments of unspoke words and elusive thoughts flittering about my mind. A breadcrumb that I’d followed led me to where I am. The Universe somehow back in 2008 captured my attention long enough for me to fill in the blanks and enroll in college. Something I’d wanted to pursue in high school but was told I could not. Females are just not worth educating as they are to get married and raise children. So having done that it was back to school!

Baby steps as they may often seem to me, I am enjoying my path of learning and conservation photography and educational solo exhibits. My goal of adding books to accompany my exhibits is the top of my 2020 goals. I dare not be too confident just yet. Mixing laughter, science, raising awareness of species, promoting conservation, and changing Worldviews is not a trivial task! I still believe the Universe will toss a breadcrumb my way as it always has. There is a path I must follow and follow I will!

Red-tailed Hawk Messages for 2020

This Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, welcomed my New Year’s day arrival at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. And stayed for numerous photo opportunities!
Happy 2020!
“Red-tailed Hawks: can awaken visionary power and lead you to your life purpose. It is the messenger bird, and wherever it shows up, pay attention. There is a message coming.” — Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

New Year’s Day 2020 I packed all my assorted camera gear into the car and headed to Rhode Island. I’d made a quick stop at Beavertail State Park but the winds were stiff and the Harlequins, scoters, and eiders were few and far off-shore. I headed to Sachusest National Wildlife Refuge and was not disappointed as the Red-tailed Hawk that had watched me walk past from a roof-top position suddenly took to the air to follow me. An awesome start to 2020! The lighting was not the best with many white clouds and small patches of bright sun, my camera set on some strange settings, and my decision to bring a 300mm 2.8 with a 2x extender for handholding ocean bird shots. I have to thank the winds as they helped keep this hawk afloat above me allowing me to photograph it without having too many tracking challenges.

There is little to compare to the moment of eye-contact with wildlife, and this Red-tailed Hawk did not disappoint!
There was an occasional fly-over to a patch of blue sky.

I did manage to adjust my camera settings between a series of quick shots and lean my head back with a heavy camera and lens balanced and frozen between my arms. The winds were with me and the hawk enjoyed moments of simply being suspended in the air allowing me to capture images that may otherwise have been challenging! My position in the trail between the two foraging fields was perfect!

Despite what appeared to be a full crop, the sight of a meal brought a quick change of direction and dive.

There must have been a successful catch as it was a few minutes before the hawk once again took flight. Too soon the hawk decided to fly to new areas that were out of range and sight. You will be my first of the year Red-tailed Hawk but not the last!

Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata

I made my way to the rocky ocean shore where I knew I should have at least some ocean birds to see if not photograph. There was a small group of scoters, scaups, eiders, and one stray Harlequin with this one Surf Scoter hanging around close enough for some nice viewing and photo opportunities. I made my way down the rocks as close as I dared to avoid scaring him off and getting a stray shower from the waves. What a ham he was! Preening and diving and playing in the waves. I spent some time enjoying his company before heading off as he drifted further away from the rocky shore. I was happy to see a group of folks had gathered on the trail directly overhead to enjoy his antics. I spent the day, except for a quick trip to Newport for lunch, but not a single Snowy or Short-eared Owl was to be seen. It had been my hope that at least one would be a welcome blessing after an awful 2019 and help kick-off an optimistic start to 2020. The Red-tailed Hawk seemed to be the one to come to share a message and show the way down a new path of many hopeful and exciting possibilities I’d been tossing around.

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