Tag: Nature Photography

Life Happens

Life Happens

Summer morning flight from home

Today as I was flying I felt the greatest sense of freedom. A huge hawk developed interest in the drone so I had to bring my bird down as the hawk could have been super-destructive to my aircraft. Then I watched the hawk play in the late afternoon thermals. And when it lost interest in my bird, it flew over the mountain top so I could resume operation. And flying…and freedom.

Summer afternoon flight from home

Flying in the bigness of open land reminded me of diving, of floating weightlessly in water. There was a sense of expansion and a loosening of bindings. Diving does that for me and so does flying the drone or visiting amazing natural environments. At one point, after I landed her to change batteries, I felt so anchored in the present moment and everything else…EVERYTHING…was gone. It was just my awareness of dirt and sky and mountains. It was good…seriously yummy feeling.

Flight this afternoon at my neighbors farm

Too often we allow ourselves to become mired down in worry, fear…no need to list the distractions that can tear us away from the present moment. The more I am able to be truly present in that expansive, joyous moment, whatever distracted and sucked my energy from me evaporates.

In the sweetness of life…that present moment

Diving, flying my drove, hiking along the creek, playing my native flutes, watching the fire, walking the spiral labyrinth…whatever I do that brings me into the present moment is where I find sweetness of life. So it seems I need to do more of the things that support my soul, that nurture my spirit.

Ireland…one of the sweetest series of moments I’ve ever known

What brings you into that sweet place in life where everything fades but the present moment, the beautiful moment where life truly happens.

It’s Not a Box-Check Life

It’s Not a Box-Check Life

Last night I was talking on the phone with my mother and telling her about going back to Cataloochee Valley this morning to visit the elk. She asked me why in the world I would want to keep going back after seeing them once or twice. As I drove through dense fog in the darkness before dawn this morning, I thought about her question.

Why do I return to see the elk? Or have in-water encounters with humpback whales…three weeks over three different years? Or visit favorite dive destinations over and over again? 

As I pondered her question it was like…why do I breathe? Just because I did it once…

First, to share breathing space with a massive bull elk or a sweet baby, still sporting spots in its shaggy fur or be close to a huge cow elk peacefully munching grass reminds me I am part of the whole, not the alpha or the better or wiser. I am part of Oneness. And secondly…it’s just so freaking amazing! To feel…yes, feel!… the eerie bugle call of bull elks echoing through the valley is one of the coolest things ever. And thirdly…how could I possibly get tired of the continuing saga of which bull will keep what cows and who will challenge who and will I get to witness their meeting? Or will that once-in-a-lifetime encounter yield an image that will touch people’s hearts?

The first time I was in the water with a massive humpback whale I wasn’t sure how I would feel because they are wild and huge and I’m a speck compared to them. What I felt was communion, like coming home to myself. My heart opened and my entire being melted into bliss. And it happened every single time, every single year. I even meditated with humpbacks in the water and did yoga under stars while whales surrounded the boat but, that’s for another post. How could I possibly find that boring? Or ho-hum? No matter how many times I did it? When something touches my heart it opens me to a great sense of life…of being alive!

Even the walks at Deep Creek, a part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, never feel boring and I walk there three or four times a week. There’s water flowing everywhere, trees, wildflowers, hummingbirds, butterflies, bears, snakes, rocks, rocks and more rocks and waterfalls and trails varying in difficulty from easy to challenging. When I walk in Nature I walk into a living Universe and I always experience these walks with wonder and awe.

As I was walking from the far end of Cataloochee Valley today, loaded down with camera backpack and tripod, I realized I can never be happy working inside for very long. The thought of a full-time, indoor job crushes my joy. As my hiking boots splashed through a creek, through mud and lush grass I had the realization that to honor myself I needed to spend time each day outdoors. It wasn’t a new realization at all but after several days of working indoors, at a part-time job, it was a good reminder.

I’m not ‘me’ in an office. I am most myself when the wind plays with my hair, the frost crunches underfoot, I’m nose-to-nose with a spotted dolphin or fluke to finger with a humpback whale, or when I have my telephoto lens filled with a massive bull elk bugling his powerful voice throughout the valley. Or the dawn shows me how lovely it is to be quiet and observe the mountains enshrouded with fog.

When I open myself to Nature I am at home in my skin; I feel a deep sense of place. For every wild animal that has honored me by allowing me to commune with it, photograph it and write about it…Thank you! You enrich my life with every encounter.

I’m not the kind of person that has a list of things to do in my life and once done move to the next thing. I live my life listening to wild creatures and places that call to my wild heart and will do my best to show up when I hear the call…no matter how many times they whisper my name.

The Sound…

The Sound…

The sound of water flowing over rocks was the first thing I noticed as I opened the door. Before I put my foot on the wet pavement the wonderful sound ahhhhhhhhhhhhhgreeted me and began to unwind me from the inside out.

It had been nearly two weeks since I walked at this water-place, this sacred place. The things that kept me away from this flow seemed important. I had been working election setup in my county, working in my yard, going to Asheville to walk at Biltmore gardens, attending online yoga teacher training…all great things but I was starting to become tight and felt my body gripping and unhappy to be boxed in.

As I walked I wondered…is the water making the sound as it contacts the friction of the rock or is this the sound of rocks laughing as water tickles them as it rushes down, down, down.

Walking nearly every day at a place it’s easy to allow the sounds to blend into a background hum but when we are absent and return those things that stand out to new visitors greet us again and we are re-aquainted with their wonder.

In this area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park the sound of water is never far away. In fact, you have to really work hard to find a place where there isn’t some sound of water….rushing, roaring, dripping, tinkling, booming.

As the trail moved away from the creek…all the crescendos and percussion and the ahhhhhhhhsound of water faded a bit and then there was birdsong. Birds were awaking from slumber and sweetly welcoming the day with singing and insects of the night still vibrated and sang under the dense cloud cover and mist. All these sounds touched some part of my being and created an invitation to relax.

When I lived in coastal Alabama I had a front porch that was my yoga practice space. At night I would go outside and sit in the darkness and listen. Chirps, drones, peeps of tree frogs, pond frogs and toads vibrated the space along with crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers and katydids. The chorus would immediately put me in an altered state of calm and stillness. During my nightly sessions I heard an inner voice remind me that these sounds help balance humans and when we cut ourselves off from the sounds of nature we become out of whack–off center, off balance.

Finally, after the vibrations and sounds helped unwind that inner spring, I noticed I was smiling. It wasn’t a smile simply on my face but my heart was smiling and every cell of my body was smiling. To be in this rich symphony of nature sounds is healing.

The sound of water rushing over rocks….purveyor of bliss.

Peaceful Waters

Peaceful Waters

As soon as I stepped out of the car I felt it….deep peace. Tourists either gone or not up so early. It’s like the entire area was in a different vibe. I was immediately drawn to the water…the flowing, flowing water. Ahhhhh…..and everything within me melted into this same peace.

Gratitude for the beauty filled my walk on trails I have come to cherish since moving back to the mountains. It wasn’t peaceful during the 18 months of looking for homes, having mine for sale….but I was looking in the wrong place, a place that had been awesome for me many years ago but has grown into a busy city without the Nature energy that called me. So finally….I surrendered and asked…Where?!?  And on that visit I heard to go where I always wanted to live as a kid…the Smoky Mountains. Once I got clear on where, my home sold and the rest came together beautifully.

When the national park was closed due to Covid 19, I walked the gravel road that is my driveway every day. And that was a fantastic way to get to know the forest here. And when the park re-opened, I allowed everyone to flock there and waited patiently. Then started visiting early in the morning to avoid crowds. And I fell madly in love with this section of the park…the quieter side, less hectic, less loved-to-death.

There’s so much challenging happening now….readers, you know this. So how nice to have a place to go that calls me to the profound peace of the deep, inner waters. Thank you flowing waters…thank you trees and rocks and flowers. Thank you Great Spirit for helping me hear the voice of my heart calling me home.

 

The Living Landscape

The Living Landscape

The stone skeleton stood against a blackening sky. Rain approached and each of the few, February visitors left except for the guardian of the site and me.

I stowed my camera, pulled out the low Irish whistle purchased earlier in the trip, and sat with my back to the wind. Tentative notes fluttered out as I thanked the ancestors who called me here, back home, to `Eire.

A few heavy raindrops fell but as I poured gratitude into the sweet notes, the cloud split and went around the Poulnabrone Dolman and the sun erupted. It was as if the ancestors and nature spirits returned gratitude for me noticing something more than just a popular tourist attraction.

It is a living landscape into which I walk whether in Ireland or the sacred mountains of the Blue Ridge where I live, move and have my being. Every day I am nurtured by a spiritual communion with the land, water, plants and animals–the living landscape.