Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Secret Lives of Hummingbirds. Part Two.

The Summer heat is upon us, today is humid, sticky and heavy. Big fast rain touched the garden this morning and Miss Flora did not appear until later in the day. Her behavior has quickened in recent days, this makes me think that perhaps she laid eggs and they have hatched. She darts from flower to flower with a new speed and incredible agility. 
I caught her napping on a cedar branch a few days ago. I never knew that hummingbirds napped sitting up! As I took her picture, she heard the sound of the camera and raised her head to see where I was and what the commotion was all about, only to rest her head again into her hummingbird slumber. 

Somehow, this picture makes me love her more. She is safe here. Safe enough to stay, despite my paparazzi tendencies to follow her around the garden with a very large and heavy lens, extender and camera body. She is teaching me about what she needs to feel comfortable and stay in one place. It is really a delicious metaphor for life.
It seems we are developing a new rhythm. She comes to the windows, looks in and continues to be just as curious about me as I am about her amazing tiny iridescent green being. 

Her favorite flowers continue to be purple salvia, magenta salvia, and deep orange fuschia. She loves hanging baskets, and it appears as though she often competes with bees for access. I have seen some serious bee pecking happening between the two of them.
The peonies above were from the garden. While she did not fall for the peonies, they were curious to her, she explored them briefly. 

Above is a picture of Flora on the tip of a cedar branch. How those tiny feet stabilize her on that very fine branch tip is very mysterious. The hummingbirds are so very delicate and yet so strong. 
Below is a picture that I took while she was feeding on the purple salvia. She appears so still, and as though she is looking directly at me. 

Since the last post, I have a few more observations to share from my time in the garden. The most significant is that waiting for hummingbirds is a complete and profound mediation. One can not have an expectation, or be tense in any way. She always seems to show up, with a low hum, just when my thoughts have turned inward or towards something beautiful in the garden. 
My nervous system becomes aware that she is near and sometimes I try not to look directly at her because if I move too quickly, she will dart away into the woods. 
I have more access to her when I am so completely in the moment and I remember to breath. There are times that I am taking her picture and I get so excited, I think 'oh this is the picture' and then my heart begins to race and my breath quickens and I realize that the lens is moving too much, there is a lot of wobble.
My capacity to go in, be still and available has only become more spacious with her here this Summer. I feel so very grateful to know her and share these images. 
Wishing everyone a beautiful evening. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Secret Lives of Hummingbirds. Part One.

Here begins an elegant adventure of the curious life of a beautiful female Ruby Throated Hummingbird named Flora. She travels long distances between the lush tropical lands of Central America and returns to the East End of Long Island, to Springs, in East Hampton.

First a little background on who these gem like creatures are...Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, also known as Archilochus colubris are named for the fine magenta feathers that emerge from the throats of the males. Last month, I was flashed by a male several times. His feathers were remarkable and the color was dazzling. When the sunshine hits these stunning feathers, they sparkle like a bouquet of shimmering rubies.
These particular hummingbirds travel to as far away as Panama and the West Indies for the Winter months, often to returning to the same gardens in the Northern hemisphere year after year. What I find most impressive, is that they can fly across the Gulf of Mexico from theYucatan to Florida and Louisiana and up the East coast. 
So Miss Flora is seen here in all of her glory. Females do not have the ruby feathers.
so far this season, several other hummingbirds have tried to compete for the garden, but as they are quite protective of their environment. She does not share her flowers. 

Throughout the season, regular postings of her adventures under dried Angelica flowers, mid-air antics, and regular nectar feedings from bright and beautiful flowers will be documented.

There is so much goodness and meaningful wisdom that arises when sitting in the garden for hours waiting for such delicate and revealing
moments and pictures. 
As I have cultivated this curious relationship with hummingbirds, so many pearls of wisdom have been uncovered...

~Slow is indeed fast~

~ Patience is a virtue~
For more interesting insights as miss Flora shares herself with all of us and additional captivating images, please stay tuned!
Wishing everyone a beautiful Summer. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dr. Bowling Goes to the Gardens.

It has been quite a full time, and now Spring is upon us and today the first oriole and hummingbird appeared. The warmth of the day brought on a feeling of hope and well being. 
This past week I was with my friend Tasha Mannox and his assistant David, for a special adventure in the Bronx Botanical Gardens. It was masterfully planned by the universe that we should all meet while the Chihuly glass exhibit is embedded in the masterfully designed arrangements of tulips, narcissus, allium, cherry blossoms and rhododendron. 
Tashi is visiting New York, after is trip to Bhutan. 
The experience of being at the Gardens was a feast for the eyes, soul and spirit. 
There was a sense that we were walking through fields of magic. 
Tasha's work is equally as magically as is his presence. He and David appeared for our meeting artfully dressed in the colors that melded seamlessly into the Chihuly glass sculptures.
Days of such goodness are to be cherished and tucked away in the reservoirs of our hearts where we hold our dearest and most colorful memories. 

Since my last post, I have finished my fourth year of trauma resolution study in Denver, Colorado and completed my Doctoral degree. There will be more time for photographs of hummingbirds and whales, Earl Grey tea and walks in nature with dear and patient friends who supported me from near and far while I dove down into myself and touched the bottom of the ocean of my potential and came back with an understanding that now I begin again from scratch and start anew. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016


The art of cultivating stillness while simultaneously being available for transition is the theme of the moment as we shift to the new calendar year. How to internally build and support capacity is one of my greatest explorations and curiosities. As we attempt to remain fluid in our day to day activities, it feels equally as important to remain paced and gentle with ourselves. This is the art of regulation, which is to move from one energy state to another. 

In this process, extremes sometimes appear. The brightness of the external world, coupled with the depth of the more subtle need to let go and be still. All the while, paying attention to the needs of the skeleton and the wisdom of the bones. In Chinese medicine, this would be referred to as the Water element. And here within, lies the Jing or Essence, which many of us know as 
life force.
In the northern hemisphere Winter is governed by the Water element. As I lean into the exploration of embodiment and how to stay alive in the process of being contained in the layers of the physiology, accessing the Jing, while also being available to the needs of others. Growth, meaningful dialogues with the external world, interwoven with the art of the 'pause' that is required to preserve Jing. 
In an age that is fueled by the sympathetic response, learning how to negotiate the changing energy states of physiology remains a life's work. 
Sometimes when we are in transition, what we need is the 'pause' in order to gently move into the next energy state. We are often rewarded for the push, for breaking through, overriding and ultimately exhausting ourselves and draining our life force.
My current exploration is cultivating time and space for the in-between, so that we may in turn practice more of the 'pause', thereby reaping the benefits of its' spaciousness. 
I chose these botanical images as representations of these concepts. The bright and beautiful Amaryllis in bloom in the clear Winter light and the skeleton of a magnolia leaf that was gifted to me by a friend. How different these two images are and yet they are vivid reminders of the juxtaposition of internal and external. Yin and Yang. Aliveness and stillness. 
In Chinese medicine, there is a wisdom that expresses one of the gifts of the Kidneys, it states that all of the other organs are controlled by the the Kidney's efficacy in balancing Yin and Yang. This is possible because they are the store house of the resources. By nourishing the Water element, we are in fact nourishing the capacity to live in the spaces between movement,  impulses and activation.

The leaf is tapped to the window just next to the red blossom.
Gentle reminders of how nature pendulates between life and death, Yin and Yang, in a rhythmic continuum. Day after day. Season after season. 
How curious is it to see the gentle softness of a fading petunia along side the rough and spiked external surface of a Jimson seed pod from Accabonac Harbor. There are so many beautiful layers to the stories in these two images. 

So as we transition into the new year and we allow the depth of Winter to wrap us in cold and hold us still, I hope that we may all remember the 'pause' as we pendulate between the brightness and the darkness, the hardness and the softness, the Yin and the Yang, as we build capacity to stay present within each moment. 
Wishing everyone a beautiful and very gentle new year. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Magic from the Great South Channel

Humpback bubble feeding nets, frothy aqua waters, shiny black skins, spouts of rainbows, flying dolphins, breaching whales, swishing tails, and spectacular skies filled my last CRESLI trip out to the Great South Channel. This was my third trip, and it was just as awe inspiring as the trips of years past. It was filled with riveting conversations with fellow naturalists, scientists and writers, shared snacks, and stories of adventures in far away places.
(It's all about the snacks.)
We also exchanged the curiosities of the natural world that we experienced in the past calendar year.
 And, most importantly, we had many laughs with new and old friends.

While taking pictures, I tried to focus on the textures, patterns and the details of whales and pelagic wildlife. Below are the bubbles that are seen as the Humpback whales collectively create a net that concentrates their food. As the sea life comes to the surface, birds swoop in, often sitting on the heads of the whales as they travel with open mouths. 

Below is a Humpback with it's lower jaw billowing and baleen exposed as it comes to the surface of the water to fill its mouth with food. 

Below, one can see a sand eel caught in the baleen of the Humpback. This frothy swirling feeding  mass makes for an exciting symphony of sounds. One of my favorite moments was watching the faces of fellow travelers as the early morning pink skies revealed this magical and mysterious feeding grounds. Sleepy incredulous eyes watched with what I can only express as pure joy, as the whales 
traveled the blue grey slate morning waters. 
There is little to say in moments like this, one can only rest in the knowing that it feels like a sacred experience. Or the places in ourselves where we feel our soulful spaces, knowing that we are part of something greater, and more beautiful.

Observing the water catch the light as the boat traveled at sunset was like watching a gold plated river move under sorbet skies. And as the moon rose, it looked like glitter was being poured over the surface of the ocean. These moments are like optical illusions, filled with exquisite colors, textures and salty goodness. Thank you everyone for sharing this moment with me. 

During moments like these, my imagination goes to a time when botanists and naturalists traveled months or even years along far oceanic routes to new lands to collect and document specimens. Something in my cellular memory speaks to this kind of travel. 

My grandmother Isabelle May who had deep roots in Appalachia, was a botanist and shared many of her travel adventures to far away places during my childhood. Through her letters and conversations, she spread her love of meeting new people, drawing plants and sharing her gifts. 
Her curiosity was contagious and feels very much alive in me, especially when I spoke with fellow naturalists.

 In years past, it felt unlikely that I could ever catch a photograph of one of the common dolphins in the air! They are so fast, most of my dolphin photography is done underwater with more time and contact.
I am thrilled that I was able to capture this dolphin with its' shimmering skin and visible markings, most likely from other dolphins.

The tail of the Humpback whales are especially graceful and beautiful. 

I love how in the photograph below, the early morning light reflected off of the skin of the tail.