Monday, November 25, 2019

The Hummingbird Series

Sometimes in a blink of an eye, a spark of inspiration may arise and it has in the past few days. I have created a few new images that birthed a series of hummingbirds and local flowers. 
They are floral collages that highlight the magic of the hummingbirds that have come to the garden over the years.
Here is one image, of Guapo the hummingbird. Bless his heart.
I am look forward to sharing more of them in the future. 
In the meanwhile...

Wishing everyone a generous and safe Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hawk Messengers

This beauty appeared in a series of images that I just found today. I am currently editing photographs for a collection of aviary delights and this beauty caught my eye. 
The bright sky, the red of the tail feathers and the transparency of the wings made me very happy. 

The hawks have been circling the property and their call has been filling my heart. 
While many of the migrating birds are now gone, the hawks and the owls remain. 
Just last night I heard the owls in the tress outside and I wished that they would allow me a sneak peak of them perched in the trees. While the owls have been here for years, I have never been able to photograph them as they come out at night. For now, I must be satisfied with my glorious hawks and be grateful that they fly low enough for me to capture these kinds of magnificent details. 
Hawks always feel like messengers for me, it is as though they are trying to convey an important piece of information from the heavens.

Praying Mantis Medicine and Autumn Sweetness.

It is Autumn now and for several months, the mantis have been revealing themselves to me. At first, on my back door. They hid behind the vines of the passionflowers and they seemed to blend in to an environment that kept them safe.

They had an eye on the house, the garden and on my every move. 
As I got close to them, they would turn their triangular heads, look at me, and seemingly study my every move. They peered through the windows and when I knocked on the glass doors they would move their heads in inquisitive ways.

At one point I felt as though I was under their mindful watch. 
I write 'they' because there were two. At first I thought the couple may have been mating. And then it appeared as though there was only one. So I expected that the female had devoured the male in her mating ritual and that she was preparing to lay eggs. 
My hypothesis was thrown to the wind yesterday when I found two mantis inside my house. No nest, larvae or babies were ever found.

So both mantis were delicately taken outside and released, but my curiosity could not fathom why two were inside my house and how on earth they managed to camouflage  themselves so well. 
A few images were captured, but they are very difficult to photograph.  
 I had the felt sense yesterday that they were protecting the land, keeping an eye on the hummingbird garden and gifting their presence to us. 
They say that they symbolize stillness, mindfulness, protection and good fortune. 
If this is all true, then I have been blessed twice and I am deeply grateful.
Wishing everyone golden sunsets and autumnal sweetness.

Best wishes,

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Art of Allowing, Transition.

As the season is transitioning, the light is softening into a gold elixir hazy dream experience, and the leaves are turning new and vibrant colors. The holly tree that produced small green berries in the summer heat, is offering red skins that deepen in color with each passing day. As lovely as these gem like berries are to witness, I see the small birds of the garden seeking them out for food as the days grow shorter. The bush is shaking quickly as the berries are being plucked by the titmouse. A part of me wants to say;
 'Stop! Please wait...'

 Moments like this make the transition time bittersweet. 
I sometimes notice a little bit of deeper resistance in my own physiology as these changing season times emerge. I feel like these moments arise with a little bit of melancholy. The brief sadness is not because there is anything specific to be sad about, rather it is a passing of time kind of sadness.
Already the hummingbirds are actively feeding to prepare for their journeys to warmer climates. 
The farmer's markets are coming to an end and the acorns are falling. 
The first acorns fell last week, and my internal response was mixed. Delight for cooler weather and new colors but morose because the colored leaves will follow. 
Today my felt sense was to lean into the transition with a more open heart and allow the details of change to be noticed rather than turning away from them with tension. 
I am sharing pictures that I have taken in the past few weeks that have captured the delicate changes in colors, textures and intensities of the natural world.

I decided that this week ahead, will be marked by more attention, more observation and more beauty. Rather than bemoaning the drying flowers, I will stay with them and capture their elegant decay and their wilting forms. 
What I am hearing is 'be kind with the process and let it happen, rest with it, sit with the shift and just be the observer of what is happening in this very moment.'
As I write this piece, there is a hawk crying overhead and hummingbirds and wasps are competing for nectar before the days draws to the close. They pull me into their natural rhythms and beg of me to give them a few minutes of my time. 

In Chinese medicine, this is the time of letting go, of allowing and keeping an eye on the health of our lungs and immunity. As cooler nights emerge, wrap in a little more warmth and stay gentle in the period of closing in...

Friday, August 30, 2019

Magic of the Day.

In the garden today. 

What a gorgeous dance of three hummingbird graces in the morning light. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

This Little Beauty, Rabbit Medicine.

This little beauty has been relishing in the garden delights of the multitude of ferns. I had wondered why the ferns were not reaching their full shady summer potential. The fronds have remained short and have not grown past a certain height. Where did the refined and elegant fiddleheads, apexes, pinnae, and blades of the green beauties go?
I adore the pre-historic perfection of the alternating leaflets. They remind of my grandmother Isabelle every year. I imagine that her compassionate heart would have delighted in the twitching nose, the shaking whiskers, the glossy eyes, the audacity, and the sweetness of the furry culprit. 

We would have made an elaborate story of 'how the bunny ate the garden'... it would have been a full blown illustrated and magnificent creation of botanical wonder. 
I caught a glimpse of these shenanigans out of the corner of my eye earlier in the season. 
Now my empty fern bed has explained the largesse of the adult rabbit that my newly adopted canine wonder has been chasing recklessly in the night. 
Rabbit medicine is quick, graceful, quiet and kind. 
This little sweet one has been prancing across the yard, the ferns and under the steps all summer. 
As menacing as his presence has been, we are grateful for his gentle energy. 

The light is now changing, and softening. The waters are warm and delicious. 
The seaweeds are pulling into themselves, the ospreys are competing for large prey, and the monarchs are making their way towards Mexico. 
The end of the hot summer days and nights are near and we are delighting in the rthymic waves of sound that the cicadas sing in the cedar trees. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Diamond Seas and Breaching Whales

Our last trip to the Great South Channel with CRESLI was abbreviated by big weather, but we had beautiful encounters with cetaceans and we were gifted spectacular and dramatic displays of common dolphin pods leaping through the water and humpback whales breaching. 
It has been two years since I was out there, and I missed the expansive skies and generous stripes of saturated color.
The day began with beautiful orange and crimson hues, we sat on the deck drinking coffee and tea while basking in the brilliant glow of the emerging light. For me, these are the most magical moments. The unfiltered light and the new energy of the sun that sends gem like colors up into the dark night sky. 

The hues are pure, rich, deep and opaque. They remind me of the incredible gift of a new beginning that we are awarded each and every day. 

The dawn gave way to clear skies and breaching humpback whales. I have taken this special trip several times and each one is very different. I try new ways of capturing the essence of the whales and dolphins in this environment through various lenses. 

This image is my favorite. It is of the underside of a pectoral fin that greeted us with waving enthusiasm. I see the markings as stories that tell us of scars, encounters, and travels to far away waters. In this image, I see the likeness of a bird. It reminds me of the barn swallow that is tattooed on the hands, chests, arms or necks of sailors that have traveled over 5,000 nautical miles. 

The tradition of the swallow tattoo also claims that if the sailor were to drown, the swallow would carry the soul to heaven, and ensure a safe return. This whale has no doubt traveled many miles and I found it both curious and beautiful that it too had a similar avian marking. 

I also love the black shiny humpback skin and the individual markings and unique forms of the dorsal fins. I am always in awe of the patterns of the scars and textures, so personal and unique to each whale. 

One of the highlights of these trips is being with the dolphins and watching them ride the bow and feeling the playful energy of the pods. The images are dreamy and a bit blurry but they capture the ephemeral moments of the joyful connections that we experienced as we plowed through the deep green waters. 

This time at sea was particularly interesting because of the amazing women that I met onboard. Scientists, writers, artists, whale lovers and a magical bee keeper sharing information, resources, alongside personal and professional desires and dreams that will make the world a better place. 
Thank you ladies for all of the inspiration and laughter. 

And thank you Dr. Kopelman for your dedication and for sharing your wit, humor and wisdom with all of us. You are a rare and special gem.
My gratitude to the captain and crew of the Viking that make this very special trip possible. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Return of the Peonies, Hummingbirds and Other Beauties.

After a late Spring, the peonies finally bloomed, the hummingbirds returned, the purple martins and black birds retuned to their watery dreamy worlds.
The days are drying out, the salvia making nectar and the waters are warming.

This beautiful purple martin, graciously allowed for me to take his picture near the harbor. I adore the color of their feathers and the luminescent quality of their dark purple and indigo feathers.

Guapo the hummingbird returned and has found his new favorite spot in the garden, perching on the end of a stick close to the flowers that offer him nectar.
He was shy at first, but now appears to be more comfortable with my camera and my presence, again.

Miss Flora returned as well, but she has had a much more quiet energy. She is photographed here below, feeding on the nectar of the purple salvia, her favorite flower.
The return of the hummingbirds was marked with cold and wet nights. I wondered how they could tolerate the cold weather, the winds and late Spring. They managed beautifully, and I am reminded time and time again that they have incredible resilience. How do they make such long journeys and how do they know where safe gardens lie for them to feed on their journeys?

As the Summer days progress, I will post more hummingbird pictures. I feel such a wave of gratitude that I am able to spend time with them and they they now trust me as I sit waiting for them at the end of the warmer days.
The sun is shining in the most spectacular way this morning and I am wishing everyone a fruitful and beautiful day. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees, 
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself, 
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly and bow often. 

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple", they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

Mary Oliver

I have recently fallen in love with the work of Mary Oliver. This particular piece touched me. Above is a collage of dragonfly wings, a purple martin and Accabonac harbor. The air is so alive with goodness, the birds and the trees are in their glory.
Thank you Mary for the beauty that you left for us. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Magic of the Day.

Accabonac Harbor, East Hampton, N.Y.

In Search of the Bald Eagle and Other Ornithology Adventures.

I have come to the art of birding as a side journey as I began documenting the natural world.  What started as curiosity has grown into a rich love affair with birds of all kinds. 
The hummingbirds have pulled me into their mercurial realm, one that is fast, colorful and curious. 
I have also fallen in love with feathers. Their symbolism, how they shine, colors, what they represent and how they catch the light. While I have looked tirelessly for a hummingbird feather, I have yet to find one left behind. 
This heron was photographed this past winter at Fresh Pond while looking for the Bald Eagles. It was resting on the edge of the pond with so much grace that it reminded me of a beautiful Asian watercolor. It took me by surprise.  The bill and the dead leaves made a beautiful color way. 
Birding is healing because it asks that we step out of ours lives and consider another way of looking at the world and the possibilities of another dimensions. 
It primarily takes us out of the cognitive and into the sensory. 
We watch the light change, a small flicker, a rustling of the leaves, soft sounds and changes in the environment. We focus our ears to listen to the subtle changes around us. 
There are mornings that I hear the owls in the woods from where I am sleeping. I use the stilling of my own system to better hear their sounds. Recently, I was able to hear the owls breath in before making a sorting cooing sound. I knew that it must have been just outside the window. This was a very magical experience for me.

Birding has taught me to be more kind with myself and the natural world. It has taught me to wait, and try to not respond from an excited or overstimulated place. It has asked of me that I stay present to my breath and stay rooted and grounded in my feet so that I may steady the camera and not frighten the animals. 
It has introduced me to environments that I might not normally visit and aspects of nature that I might not have previously noticed. For example tide pools, light on water and soft waves on harbor shores filled with small bait fish. 
As I was looking through my grandmother Isabelle's ornithology and Audubon books, I came across countless articles from the 1930's and 1940's that pertain to birding. She had clipped these small treasures from the papers over the years. They are small time capsules. 
Below is the image from the first pages of the book Birds of America, printed by the Garden City Publishing Company, Inc. 1936. 

There are countless treasures tucked in the book including an old Audubon membership form and statement. It is so very sweet that I have decided to share it in this post because the illustrations and statement are so wonderful. 

This past week I went in search of the bald eagles again and this is one of the images gifted to me. As we are in the midst of celebrations of new life, Spring, rebirth, new beginnings, ascension and the welcoming of a new creations, my heart is filled with gratitude. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Return of the Osprey. Resilience.

For many of us, the sounds of Spring are noted by the return of the osprey. They have a shrill and emphatic sound that awakens the beauty of the return to warmer weather. These beauties will winter as far away as Brazil, Cuba,Venezuela, and Columbia. 
I find their migratory patterns fascinating. 
I have always loved maps, especially old ones. I love tracing the continents, countries, landscapes and shorelines with curiosity and imagination. My inner voice asks, what does their nest look like in their tropical habitats? And how do they manage to fly all the way back to the same location year after year? What have they seen?
I spent summers much closer to the ocean and do not remember seeing them or even knowing about them as a child. When I relocated to the Springs I began to see them and hear their calls as they carry fish in their talons over head. In recent years I have learned that this is an extraordinary comeback and success story in the natural world.

Mid-March, they reappear, slowly rebuilding their nests and catching the first fish that enter the bays. Their return feels like the reuniting with long lost friends. They are now taking to their posts for the warmer days. Nests woven into natural platforms carved by the wind, dead trees, and man made platforms in curious locations. One of my favorite nests is at the entrance to Three Mile Harbor. From there they are the witnesses to all of the boats entering safely at the harbor. Perhaps they also bless the ships as they sail out to sea.

This osprey is now rebuilding a by adding seaweed. I took this picture a few days ago as they flew back and forth from the nest to the shoreline where they are gathering various nesting materials that they will weave into an extraordinary structure. 
I also love the yellow in their fierce yes. Their talons are magnificent, strong and curled. How they are able to physically carry fish, sticks, and other nesting materials adds to their mystery.

Getting pictures of an osprey carrying fish is challenging, to find the right light, being in the right place at the right time and having the light touch gently illuminate the subject. So often they fly overhead and the wings protectively cover the catch. This photograph was taken at Accabonac harbor. I often see the osprey fly low overhead when I am swimming in Gardiner's bay. They carry it to the nest that is situated in the protected area alongside fresh pond in Amagansett. 
One new observation that I have made, is that they do not put their catch down until it is completely consumed or when they are back in the nest. I would imagine that another bird of prey would take the catch if it were left sitting for any length of time. Many of the pictures that I have with fish in their talons are taken when they are protecting their catch from another osprey or an eagle. Grand arial shows with swooping dives and screeches have become common as the osprey are now establishing themselves for the warmer months ahead. 

My friends Patricia Paladines and Carl Safina just gave me a book written by Alan F. Poole, titled Ospreys The Revival of a Global Raptor. This book is a thorough exploration of their habitats, their  migratory paths, nesting sites, developmental phases, threats to their global existence and solutions for their survival. 
This book is a true treasure. 
The medicine of the osprey is resilience, survival, grace, capacity and beauty. 
As we deepen our transition into Spring and warmer weather, I am wishing everyone much resilience and spaciousness. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Birds of Prey in East Hampton. Eagle and Hawk Medicine.

It appears as though the eagles will be spending some more time with us here in East Hampton. In the past weeks I took this photograph of an eagle carrying a large stick. I watched it break off a branch from the top of a tree and carry it through the air. 
I am in complete awe each and every time that I have the chance to be with them in their natural environment. They are fast, they soar so high and they move with such grace that it is hard to track them from moment to moment. There are times where I am watching them fly so high that they vanish from sight.

Watching the eagles has been transformative for many reasons. They are teaching me about what they can tolerate and how they maintain their boundaries. As top predator they make all of the rules.

 It is a gorgeous sight to see them carrying fish in their talons as they fly through the afternoon sky.

As part of my ongoing curiosity, I have been reading about the eagle totem and clans in Native American history and lore. The eagles are known as the supreme rulers of the skies, the waters and the direct connection to the heavens. They possess a wisdom and power that is absorbing and fascinating. 

Hawks are also powerful totems and carry beautiful medicine. There is a pair of red tail hawks that live near the harbor and travel the neighborhood together. I caught this beauty hunting a squirrel in the canopy two weeks ago. It offered me an very intimate opportunity to photograph it in between short flights between branches. 

Hawks are known for their incredible eyesight. They are also considered messengers. In my experience they have often arrived moments or hours before significant news came my way. 
How or why this is possible is a mystery but a beautiful one. 

As the days lengthen and grow warmer I am inspired to deepen my experience and knowledge of these birds of prey. 
As I was walking to a friends' house this morning to deliver flowers, there were wild turkeys perched on dead branches and old trees. I thought, this is the magic. Having wild turkeys, eagles, hawks,  merlin and osprey so close to my home feels beyond special. 

Wishing everyone a beautiful Spring full of goodness and curiosity.