photo: Nature's consolation March 31, 2020 C. McLean
The heartbreak of family separation over many months profoundly affects mental health...and yet the goal is to reduce contact and risk and keep people physically safe and healthy..
"February to July in lockup for unknown sentence. Even prisoners know when they are getting out !" dad
I came across this video on Twitter this morning...a compilation of dancers around the world performing during the "time of corona"...excellent work..credits Directed & edited by Angela El-Zeind Music: Garcia Counterpoint, by Bryce Dessner. With thanks to Beggars Group March-June 2020
A Hovering Muse an Encouraging Sign of Transition and Change
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Darwin
Hummingbird clear wing moth
It was after an unproductive few weeks I had taken my writing out to the deck.
I picked up my pen and just then saw hovering above the Bougainvillea what I thought looked like a large bee. On closer inspection, I thought... no, can’t be, it's a tiny hummingbird, must be the tinker bell of Ontario hummers, rare I guessed. I did note something strange. It had feelers.
Quickly I consulted my copy of “A Field Guide to the Birds”. I went directly to the section on hummingbirds. The ruby throated hummingbird at 3 ¾ inches is the only eastern species in Ontario. This curiosity was much smaller than that hummingbird. No feelers indicated..
My tiny whirring bird I soon discovered was not a hummingbird at all but a hummingbird clear wing moth. The moth was, in fact, closely related to Darwin’s hummingbird hawk moth a superb example of adaptive change and convergent evolution. Over millions of years it had developed hovering skill, rapid wing power and a well developed proboscis for probing flowers and feeding on the sweet energy giving nectar source it needed to survive. This creature, my muse, was all about change. The clear winged hummingbird moth had advanced through the miraculous stages of its own metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar,pupa to cocoon emerging as an adult moth. It used its own wing power to take to the air where it was battered by wind, rain and the elements all the while avoiding sharp eyed hawks and other predators. A survivor and a fighter, a rare specimen, I was seeing one individual that closely resembled another and yet in its own way was utterly unique adapting to the challenges of change and thriving. Sometimes when life seems out of sync and upside down, when you are seeking peace and grounding but find yourself surrounded by chaos and conflict the inspiration to carry on may be found in an observation close to home, in the littlest of things, like the fortunate sighting on my garden deck, a small clear winged hummingbird moth, that determined miracle of evolution I saw hovering there right before my eyes.
photo of coronavirus from twitter post The Agenda
The shape of these burrs I photographed on my walk this morning, the prickly specimens I saw through the lens.. I thought, amazing! Just look at those! The ideal shape for seed to be carried perhaps dropped from the host to the ground where it will take root and create another plant. Nature's creativity and brilliance in action, an adaptation fashioned by the ultimate design thinker. The simple but not so simple burr. A life giving shape in this case. But then, I couldn't help but think, when I looked at the image of the burrs later, and here I go again, this shape reminds me a little of the virus with its spikes and crown characteristics, but instead a disease chose a similar ingenious shape for its contagious and destructive mission. Although not exactly considered life or "alive"...it, as in the virus, must have life, human life, as its host sabotaging the health of its victim. In some cases a life taking process..the very opposite quest as sought by the simple burr. I was once told, by an honest but slightly frustrated friend, "Cheryl, you think too much."
He was right. At times I do. That can be a good thing, but sometimes a rest from my not always constructive overthinking might be healthy and worthwhile. But then again considering Richard Dawkins who in his book, "The Blind Watchmaker" pointed out the natural urge to think and associate and referred to the human mind as "the inveterate analogizer"it could be my own urge to create links and associations has evolved quite naturally..one thing relating to the other a few thoughts or found metaphors picked up in the woods sticking and carrying the seeds of an idea that might eventually have the opportunity to bloom in some other garden.
A family of geese crossed carefully in front of us as we were walking down the path, we stopped, I took a few shots. The hikers coming the other way quietly kept their distance and we all watched smiling as the geese carefully made their way from one pond and into the other. Passages across. Interesting. I must think more about that.
An overcast and grey day, wind and rain makes it more difficult to get out and walk the trails but robin wakes early, turns its back to the wind, gathers into itself for a time, then turns out again ...eyeing its next destination. Perhaps another branch or a quest for worms. For robin in the rain the grey clouds are of no concern... it's the best of days.
2 points of view
wind and rain
more difficult to get out
to walk the trail.
Robin wakes early,
back to the wind,
turns out again ...
grey clouds no concern...
wind a little rain
bring all a robin needs in May
to find the richest darkest earth
to see and listen close and feel for the worm
bring him just a little rain,
bring him overcast and grey
the very best of worming days.
cm may 20
Someone close to me was crying yesterday afternoon
crying into the phone, telling me she was afraid that this would go on forever, afraid that we might never be relaxed about being close again or ever be able to visit one another in comfort, normally, like we used to do. "It's hopeless," she said. "I'm going back to bed."
I tried to suggest she might want to get some air.
"Try getting out on your little patio. You have to get outside a bit. If you could just get a little sun."
"Well, no," she said. "Not today."
Then I tried the worse case scenario approach. "Just imagine if it was a war and if we all had to stay indoors all the time to avoid nuclear fallout, and if we didn't know when the war was going to end, and if we had already lost friends or family in that war. Right now we can still go outside. We are all well and so lucky."
"No sorry," she said. "I'm going to bed. Again. "
It may have been a weak strategy, to try to uplift the spirit with disaster comparisons but I couldn't think of much else at the moment to say that might help. It could be worse stories sometimes work and help us feel a little more fortunate for what we do have. But what we are going through although not a nuclear war, is confusing, depressing and uncomfortable. In truth I could understand why my dear someone close felt like going to bed. Again. It is very hard not know when or how this will all end and wondering when we will be able to come together without fear. So many questions that still can't be answered..the truth is we just don't know.
These days sometimes there are tears (and there were quite a few yesterday afternoon). Maybe the best one can do to really be in touch again with someone close is to be attentive to difficult feelings and to listen. I don't always succeed when I try to offer what I can, and I don't always feel up and encouraging about what we are facing, not at all..it's horrible not to be able to touch, to love without fear and anxiety. If I let my mind run and I think too far and too long there can be fears about the future and when it all feels impossible and I am lost and when there is nowhere else I can run and I feel nearly defeated, I turn and go outside. Again.
"Resilience" can always be found in the field.
going through some photos today from past years, it seems most things today I see or do are somehow experienced through the lens of the pandemic,
I am not a photographer in the professional sense but I like, very much, the creative process of discovering interesting subjects, sometimes exotic worlds, while taking pictures. I especially like to take photos that seem to evoke images of the liminal or transitional space which might well describe some of the feelings experienced now, when great change and challenge is underway in the tensions of the here and now and the unknown realities of the not yet there. Looking through the photos they resonate particularly now as change is the constant state of things living day to day through this pandemic.
I have featured above a few of my liminal space photos that reflect that transitional space in some way.
The first shot "The Phoenix" was a photo I took several years back of a white goose feather floating on a pond, the image of the phoenix on a branch came to mind as I looked at the photo later and saw the surprisingly close resemblance to the mythical and hopeful bird that rises from the ashes. The middle photo of the figure standing alone in the "blue bubble"...was also taken a while back and came about because I was standing in a junkyard and was attracted to an iridescent ball on a pole, an old discarded garden decoration shining in the sunlight. I had an idea. I took the ball home, set it up on the lawn then took the photo of my own figure as it was reflected up through the ball and cropped the shot for the image. The "blue bubble" shot also seems to have some significance now because there is a feeling of aloneness at some level, perhaps even isolation and yet the colours are uplifting and energetic..I can see trees and some kind of signpost for direction. The last shot of fallen leaves, under water in light could suggest hope and light even when experiencing loss and profound change.
What I also enjoy about finding such liminal spaces in an image is they allow space & room for projecting ones emotions, feelings and current mind states through the picture...a way to use an image (a photo you have taken) to raise awareness and self reflect.
Walked along the river in Kilworth today exploring the idea of flow in nature..came across many birds as well... The sound of the water at the river flowing over rocks was gentle and soothing. Experiencing flow in nature makes me feel energized, free and hopeful. I will stay on this subject a while and, on my next walk, search for more of this...there is so much more there yet to see.
A Socially Distanced,
Cheryl L. McLean