Category: Nature

Peaceful Morning with the Manatees

Peaceful Morning with the Manatees

SimoneLipscomb (17)Today’s encounter with manatees was nearly silent. There were few people and those present were quiet and respectful. For nearly two hours I floated on the surface, watching manatees sleep on the bottom. Occasionally, one by one, they would surface, breathe and slowly sink back to slumber.

SimoneLipscomb (8)To get a good photo or video the interaction can be the sought-for experience; but today I found pleasure in observing respectful humans take care around the sleeping manatees…and this made my heart happy.

SimoneLipscomb (16)The scars nearly every animal carries from propellers…even the babies…remind me how fragile the balance between humans and manatees.

SimoneLipscomb (9)In the quiet of the springs, surrounded by dreaming manatees I too dreamed of a global awakening to care, to love and respect all life. There are no stories of boisterous, curious, cuddly babies this night. Just the story of how humans and wildlife can interact peacefully, respectfully if humans grow into the peaceful, compassionate beings I know we can be.

Stay Wild

Stay Wild

SimoneLipscomb (6)A whistling duck stood in the sand frantically flapping his wings while three other whistling ducks stood in a semi-circle in front of him. They gave a half-hearted attempt but he kept whistling words of encouragement. It didn’t matter that he and his friends and many other shorebirds were in a permanent enclosure due to injuries. He refused to give up hope.

I stood witnessing the exchange and felt his wild heart yearning for, hoping for freedom. He was determined to keep his flight muscles strong so if the time comes, he will be ready.

SimoneLipscomb (31)An osprey was also on the ground looking up at me. Usually they are soaring high above looking down on me. To see such a majestic bird of prey grounded due to broken wings was heartbreaking.

I pondered the wildness still found in these precious creatures. They are fed and cared for by humans and yet there is still a spark of the feral within them at a very deep level.

SimoneLipscomb (40)Later as I wandered through Florida woods with stately palm trees, palmettos, spanish moss and sweet bays, I wondered how many of us stay connected with that wild part of ourselves. How many of us feel at home in the woods or a forest? Do we maintain that spark of wildness that helps us feel at home…in the truest sense.

Whooping Crane...one of a breeding pair. These endangered birds are part of a captive breeding program....hope for the wild!

As I stood photographing an endangered whooping crane I made a soft, little whooping sound and she immediately looked skyward. I saw the kinship this regal bird still carries within her being for others of her kind that pass overhead in migration. She longs for flight. She longs for freedom. And even though she is in an enclosure, she maintains freedom of spirit.

SimoneLipscomb (7)The little whistling duck’s message will stay in my heart as a reminder. Stay wild! Stay connected. Be ready….and above all…don’t forget you can fly!

Alive in the World

Alive in the World

Photograph by Renee Power
Photograph of me by Renee Power

White line spun off the reel as I frog kicked through the water-filled tunnel. Out of the green light of the cavern zone through limestone walled wetness, around a sharp right turn and then a sharp left turn at the well-known STOP sign and onto the gold line. The magical gold line that cave divers know as the main line in cave systems here in Florida.

Once tied in we had a continuous line out of the cave in the event of light failure. So my dive buddy Pam and I gently and with care to the cave, made our way into the inky blackness. Illuminated by our bright cave lights we enjoyed the beautiful geological formations. Swiss-cheese-like here and solid with wavy lines in other places. Layers of brown silt hung on the nearly vertical walls like cinnamon dusting a scrumptious delicacy. And in truth, these caves are delicacies and must be treated as such.

After being out of cave diving for a few years I took a side mount class several weeks ago. It’s easier carrying one heavy steel tank to the water at a time that two at once. My back has thanked me. And just this past weekend I have found my cave mojo once again and it’s a great feeling. I’ve had some great friends in the past who supported my training and skill development and this weekend I found out I still have great cave diving friends although there are new faces.

Me and my buddy Pam Wooten after our awesome dive at Orange Grove, Peacock Springs State Park
Me and my buddy Pam Wooten after our awesome dive at Orange Grove, Peacock Springs State Park

Two days ago I felt it kick in but today that cave mojo surged through me and I felt myself move past where I had been three years ago to a different place within myself about diving caves. Not in a reckless way but with a deeper respect for my own strengths and acknowledgment that I absolutely love being in an underwater cave and seeing the beauty of the Earth and her lifeblood as it courses through underground aquifers.

SimoneLipscomb (2)This evening finds me in sunset bliss awaiting two mornings of manatee encounters. After a delightful dinner of Thai curry vegetables that was orgasmic…I’m NOT kidding….(Thai Phoon has amazing, amazing food)…I walked out on the dock at King’s Bay and listened to little coots as they swam in their duck-posse making their wonderful little coot song. The orange of the sunset reflecting on the water was interrupted with mullet splashing and the last pelicans of the day finding a roost. It took me to a place of pure bliss. A place of openness and wonder and awe.

SimoneLipscomb (1)It wasn’t just the cave diving this weekend or delicious nourishment or the sunset that has my entire being humming, it is everything lovely and wonderful that has come about over the past few days that makes me feel so alive in the world. And so incredibly grateful.

 

Note: Anyone interested in cave diving or cavern diving should GET PROPER TRAINING! I am an open water instructor but I still needed extensive training to become a cave diver. People who do not get appropriate training and dive into caves put their lives at risk. If you follow the rules things can still go wrong but your training is what can help you make it out alive! 

Leavings

Leavings

The box of books came yesterday, filled with Wendell Berry works. It was like opening a little treasure chest.

As I carefully took them out I noticed there were three copies of a book of poetry he wrote called Leavings. Oops…did I order three? Obviously I was supposed to pay attention to this book.  So…today I simply share Wendell Berry’s words and my images. May they bring you peace…joy…beauty. And some things to ponder.

SimoneLipscombLIKE SNOW

Suppose we did our work

like the snow, quietly, quietly,

leaving nothing out.

SimoneLipscomb (1)LOOK IT OVER

I leave behind even

my walking stick. My knife

is in my pocket, but that

I have forgot. I bring

no car, no cell phone,

no computer, no camera,

no CD player, no fax, no

TV, not even a book. I go

into the woods. I sit on

a log provided at no cost.

It is the earth I’ve come to,

the earth itself, sadly

abused by the stupidity

only humans are capable of

but, as ever, itself. Free.

A bargain! Get it while it lasts.

SimoneLipscomb (2)GIVE IT TIME

The river is of the earth

and it is free. It is rigorously

embanked and bound,

and yet is free. “To hell

with restraint,” it says.

“I have got to be going.”

It will grind out its dams.

It will go over or around them.

They will become pieces.

SimoneLipscomb (4)XII.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.Hosea 4:6

We forget the land we stand on

and live from. We set ourselves

free in an economy founded

on nothing, on greed verified

by fantasy, on which we entirely

depend. We depend on fire

that consumes the world without

lighting it. To this dark blaze

driving the inert metal

of our most high desire

we offer our land as fuel,

thus offering ourselves at last

to be burned. This is our riddle

to which the answer is a life

that none of us has lived.

Wendell Berry from the book entitled, Leavings. Published by Counterpoint 2010.

A Photographer’s Least Favorite Thing to Do

A Photographer’s Least Favorite Thing to Do

Mountain Sunset taken with a group of friends from Asheville, NC. We were on a photog outing.
Mountain Sunset taken with a group of friends from Asheville, NC. We were on a photog outing.

I am celebrating a huge project that was finished just today. For many years I have attempted to sort and organize my photography library of thousands of images. The general work flow started with A and I usually quit by the time I got to D or E but those first few projects in my Aperture library were always neat and sorted. This time, however, I made it all the way through. It only took me three months of steady work to do it. I had to add an external RAID drive for additional storage since my D800 has files the size of buses. So all is well.

In celebration of this momentous occasion and in honor of what I love to do several images are included with comments. Over the past few days certain images have reminded me why I love photography as an art form and a way of communication. I hope you enjoy the images. And thanks for your interest and support….always. I feel the love.

When wild animals make contact with me I always feel so blessed...so fortunate...so joyful!
When wild animals make contact with me I always feel so blessed…so fortunate…so joyful!
Sometimes I think they are laughing at me....
Sometimes I think they are laughing at me….
Or playing peek-a-boo.
Or playing peek-a-boo.
Moments of nature's glory lead me to rapturous joy.
Moments of nature’s glory lead me to rapturous joy.
Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.
Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.
When the light and colors align and I happen to be there...magic happens!
When the light and colors align and I happen to be there…magic happens!
Of course sometimes you can't really take a bad photograph if you are alive and breathing and present enough to lift your camera and click the shutter...remembering to set the correct exposures....and lift the bottom jaw as it gapes from unimaginable beauty.
Of course sometimes you can’t really take a bad photograph if you are alive and breathing and present enough to lift your camera and click the shutter…remembering to set the correct exposures….and lift the bottom jaw as it gapes from unimaginable beauty.
One of my favorite experiences centers around children gaining experience in nature and learning about wildlife...like wolves for instance.
One of my favorite experiences centers around photographing children gaining experience in nature and learning about wildlife…like wolves for instance.
Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water...waterfalls...big water...underwater.
Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water…waterfalls…big water…underwater.
I revisit images and can describe my emotions, the lighting, the thoughts that came to mind from moments such as this....I am right there again.
I revisit images and can describe my emotions, the lighting, the thoughts that came to mind from moments such as this….I am right there again.
And while the image isn't great I wanted to capture the size of this old tree soul by standing on it and including my feet in the image. It was a profound experience.
While the image isn’t that special, the experience was.  I wanted to capture the size of this old tree soul by standing on it and including my feet in the frame. It was a profound experience.
My favorite images capture the soul, the spirit, of places and animals...and those of people lost in the creative process.
My favorite images capture the soul, the spirit, of places and animals…and those of people lost in the creative process.
While solo exploring the desert in Bonaire I took this self-portrait. It demonstrates perfectly how I feel when I'm there.
While solo exploring the desert in Bonaire I took this self-portrait. It demonstrates perfectly how I feel when I’m there.
My favorite people images this past year are of my daughter and son-in-law. My 'kids' bring a very special light to my life.
My favorite people images this past year are of my daughter and son-in-law. My ‘kids’ bring a very special light to my life.
I celebrate everything that is beautiful and right in this world...and hope we can add to the list of good things happening as we move through 2014.
I celebrate everything that is beautiful and right in this world…and hope we can add to the list of good things happening as we move through 2014.
And my favorite image of this past year (besides my kids)...this green sea turtle I met in Bonaire.
And my favorite image of this past year (besides my kids)…this green sea turtle I met in Bonaire.

So now I can get out and do what I love….photograph nature and people enjoying the creative process…and beauty. I like to celebrate beauty.