2021: The Year We Dare to Care

Well here we are. 2021 is not off to a start where hopes, dreams, accomplishments, and visions of a bright future are easily envisioned. 2020 surely had unexpected, and unpleasant, twists and turns that no one imagined or would have been prepared for. COVID-19 loomed large over all, believers with masks and non-believers fighting for their right to die and take others with them. A president hell-bent on destroying all that came before him with a cult of angry followers happy to do his bidding. Threats to the normal we knew and loved were many. The president and his cult became increasingly unhinged as many watched in horror. If you are on my site I imagine we are of like minds. If not please feel free to silently slip away as I’ve no consideration or patience for the hate, vindictiveness, racism, and so much more that you stand behind. We are what we associate with after all. Birds of a feather flock together.

The shutdown of 2020 left me far from bored. I managed to bird, hike, kayak, and take photographs in places that were less crowded. Rare plant surveys were done and wildlife rescue and transport was at times relentless. Gardens went untended, books unwritten, and photo exhibit plans set aside. I made face masks. Lots and lots of face masks. The majority of some 800 were donated and others sold to allow the donations to continue. It was my little part in doing something positive to help keep people well.  Wildlife rescues were sometimes challenging and rewarding and, too often, heartbreaking. The lessons of the year were many.  I was stronger, wiser, and more intuitive than I’d given myself credit for. Unexpected car issues left me with time to reflect on what had been set aside: Conservation Photography and Conservation Photojournalism.

I will never forget the takeover of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The day is etched in my memory with the horrors of 9/11, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas High School. This is who we are? The future is uncertain, although the President is Joe Biden and Vice President is Kamala Harris. They House and Senate are strong with Democratic winnings. There is hope and there is fear with the trump cult growing increasingly unhinged each day. All I can do is watch from the sidelines, pray for humanity to find a way to safety from COVID-19, and security of a country we once believed to be filled with less hate than we have now. The world is watching. At this moment, we are flailing and failing. God help us get through this with integrity and find ourselves morally and spiritually better. The opposite would be a nightmare of proportions known to those of that have seen the horrors that are unfathomable to many.

2021 brings a renewal of projects neglected. It is what I’ve labeled as The Year We Dear to Care. World Views has morphed into World Views: If we could see the world aa others do, would we dare to care? The addition of a White-fronted Amazon Parrot opened a door to Willow’s World: Life of a White-fronted Amazon Parrot as it is, as it was, as it should be.

Let the blog, exhibit planning, and books move forward into fruition at the end of 2021! Stay virulent well, and safe.

Today’s sentiment: We are tired. We are sick. We are horrified. Yet we must be vigilant. We are at a crossroads and we desperately need to follow the road with integrity to a resolution that will not leave us all in great peril. Too often I’m feeling like doomsday is before us! God help us.

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.

Flowers in Cyanotype

Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine

British botanist and photographer, Anna Atkins, learned cyanotype printing from a family friend, the inventor of the process, Sir John Herschel. Atkins created albums and a book of her prints for use as a scientific reference. The New York Public Library had an exhibit of Atkins’ book and prints from October 2018 – February 2019. It was amazing to see them all.

Today converting an image into a cyanotype is an easy process if you have the proper computer programs and some time to play with them. The images of the Eastern Red Columbine were originally intended for use as part of my World Views: Insects and People, ultraviolet photo exhibit. I rather like these versions as something just a little bit different.

Eastern Red Columbine under Ultraviolet Light as seen in the world of insects, birds, and mammals. The glass glows green due to the Uranium in the glassware.

This image was taken with an ultraviolet light so that the viewer can have an idea of what the world may look like to the insects that would be attracted to the flowers and in turn pollinate them.

Eastern Red Columbine with strong back lighting and front lighting.

This was done to indicate how little we actually notice the plants in our landscapes and also to entice you too look closer at some of the details.

Lotus: One Genus, Nelumbo with two Species

 “As the lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by the mud and water, so the wise one speaks of peace and is unstained by the opinions of the world.” – Buddha

Nelumbo nucifera
Nelumbo nucifera


One Genus, Nelumbo with two Species, N. lutea in North America and N. nucifera in tropical and subtropical East Asia and Australia.  Tubers, rhizomes, young leaves, and seeds of both species are edible.

In the environment N. lutea is visited by many bee species, home to some moth caterpillars, provides food for Canada Goose, Mallard, and Northern Shoveler, and provide habitat and shelter for wildlife.

Many visit the street-side Hamilton Harbour Lotus Garden in North Kingston, RI to admire the pink beauty of the Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera. N. nucifera is sacred to both the Hindus and Buddhists and the national flower of India and Vietnam. They were planted in the early 1980s to add beauty to the condominium complex and they have accomplished their task as can be seen by the crowds gathered each bloom season.

Yet in Cranston Lake in Cranston, RI a call is made to volunteers and those with kayaks and canoes to help collect seed pods from this noxious and highly aggressive invasive plant that poses a threat to native plants and aquatic life.  Presently it has become established and colonized 1.25 acres of the 12 acre lake hindering boating and other recreational opportunities.  A dumpster will be available for disposal of the seed pods brought in by boaters and collected by volunteers on land. Since the plant reproduces by seed and rhizomes, this will merely prevent further spread by seed and will not eliminate the proposed use of herbicides in the future.

“DEM said it’s urgent that the growth of this invasive species is culled, and the population managed, so it doesn’t spread to other areas in the state or New England.”

Typically white flowers are associated with purity, innocence, elegance, perfection, and sympathy while pink represent grace, gentleness, happiness, love, and femininity.

Given a choice, why is it we too often have picked the exotic over the native? Is it simply because it is different and we cannot appreciate the beauty and importance of what we have? Importing, exporting, trading, and collecting of plants has been going on since at least the late 14-00s.  It is time to consider the many consequences of our decisions. In many ways we know better and we need to do better for our environment and ourselves.

The origin of the Hamilton Harbour lotus garden August 13, 2015 http://www.independentri.com/independents/north_east/opinion/article_a0b0f1d1-a52d-5f6f-8d51-cf40a957bc7f.html

Fast-Spreading Lotus takes Over Cranston Lake July 16, 2019 https://www.ecori.org/natural-resources/2019/7/16/volunteers-needed-to-harvest-fast-spreading-lotus-in-cranston-lake?fbclid=IwAR3Sp6eUZRVbGvAJ9rOPR3FyhrLzvCfjIRdZ5-h26b_7DjHiP2UYwQsRWyI

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