Chinsegut Conservation Center, coping, growing old, healing, losing battles, memories, natural wonders, nature, photography, solitude

A new you, I mean me…

Nature photography is new to me. For years I thought that cameras were for taking pictures of the grandchildren only, so in a sense I’ve reinvented myself as far as photography goes. Taking photos of sunsets and butterflies are one thing, always beautiful, but a trip to Chinsegut Conservation Center provides more than just the obvious photo ops. A locust chrysalis, which I would never have spotted if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, isn’t pretty, but in reviewing my photos from my trip there it’s the chrysalis that’s on my mind.

Seeing it made me think how nice it might be to just shed your outer, worn out, and thoroughly abused self, and re-emerge as a newer, fresher, you. Or me.  But knowing what you know now so you don’t make the same mistakes over again. Reinventing yourself so as to face a world that reinvented itself while we were busy and not paying attention. A world that dotes on youth isn’t such a friendly place these days. I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m the same person I always was, but better really because getting older really does make you wiser. Easier on yourself. But you don’t look better, just older, and stepping out into the world, this crazy youth-worshipping world, when you left your own youth behind years ago, leaves you where, exactly?

I’ve spent the last three years at home, telling myself that I was happy, but in reality I was using the house as a chrysalis, hiding, safe, because I didn’t know what else to do. And telling myself that I was happy, and loving the privacy. No witnesses, except the dogs and they don’t judge. And now I think wait a minute, is this all I want or need for the rest of my life? And I imagine various Hallmark movie scenarios of what life could be. Then I walk past a mirror and think, who are you kidding?

Mother Nature gets it, at least as far as locusts go. When they have become worn and tired, and have been buffeted around by life a while, they can just shuck their old shell and reemerge as a new and improved version. I’m thinking that I wish people could do the same thing…

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childhood, Florida landmarks, fun, grandchildren, kids, life, memories, moments, nature, on closer examination, photography, simple things, sunset, unintended images

Beach girls…

When I made the Beach boys post I also made one of beach girls, but something was missing.  This morning I remembered this old photo of myself, my daughter, and my grandmother at Duxbury Beach, MA.  There are very few photos of my grandmother so each is a treasure, and this is more playful than many I’ve seen.  Duxbury beach itself is a favorite of mine also.  I took Charley there once and he was singularly unimpressed, what with the rocks that had been deposited by a recent storm.  No, not the vast expanse of white sandy beach that he was used to, but still and always a favorite place of my childhood.  I once told him that I wanted my ashes sprinkled on Duxbury beach, and it still seems like a good idea.  Life was uncomplicated back then…

I snuck a couple of my granddaughters in there too.  And then there is this last picture, taken at Hudson Beach when I was there for the sunset.  I was practicing ‘street photography’ with my iPhone when I caught this image.  It just so happened to be election night, and once I got home and found out how the election was going I had to connect this photo with what Hilary must have been feeling at that same moment.

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birds, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, on closer examination, photography, Pine Island, sunset

It’s a bird…

It’s a plane.  No, it’s a helicopter.  Not a common site at Pine Island, but there was one out there all night on Monday night.  Hovering, it’s a little creepy the way it just sits there in the sky without moving.  But when it just dropped straight down like a yo yo it was even more creepy.  I had to get up to see if it crashed, but it was hovering at a lower altitude.  Then it went back up just as abruptly.  I heard a voice comment that it must be a military helicopter, I’ll take their word for it.  1016helicopterI’ve been going to Pine Island almost every night, I can’t seem to help myself.  The night before I had taken a pretty good picture of a bird, and I downloaded Merlin to help me identify it.  I belong to several photography groups, one on birds and one on wildlife, and I hate to ask them to identify a bird that is ridiculously common.  So I put my picture through Merlin and it told me it was a female boat tailed grackle, the same bird that I had taken a picture of when I was looking for eagles at the landfill.  In such a different setting it never crossed my mind that it might be the same bird. 1016femalegrackleSo I got to wondering about the male grackles, and that got me to notice the water spigots that are adjacent to the picnic tables.  One was dripping and I saw a bird take a drink.  I spent most of my time concentrating on the faucet after that.

While I was concentrating on the faucet I looked to check on the sunset and had this perspective, I thought it looked like a Florida Nativity Scene.1016flnativityIt was a pretty good evening, all things considered.1016sunset

coping, courage, grief, growing old, healing, life, life goes on, live and learn, photography

Baby steps…

I thought I had it all figured out. The rest of my life, it was set. I told my granddaughter that we were both going through the same stage of life. She, starting her second year of teaching Kindergarten in Bucharest, and learning a lot about herself at the same time, and me, figuring myself out now that I’m ‘on my own’ for the first time in my, ahem, many, many years. I think I had built a wall around myself, and felt safe. I was happy on my own, I told myself. Privacy is fantastic, not that I’ve changed my mind about that, but recent events have me questioning myself, and all my carefully thought out expectations for the future have come into question. A chink in my armor so to speak. Life was a jig- saw puzzle, pieces neatly in place, and it took a hurricane to toss the pieces into the air leaving me to figure it out all over again.

I once asked Charley if he was waiting to die. Not my finest moment since that’s exactly what he was doing, unbeknownst to either of us at the time. It was said because his big plan for the day was to take a nap. I had expected that we would go exploring the state parks, or to the beach, anything that got us out of the house and enjoying the freedom of retirement once we lived here full time. I thought we’d compete with each other to make light, healthy meals every day. Summer-y meals. I guess I neglected to run any of this past him however, because it was meat and potatoes, and naps every day. In truth, and in fairness to him, he probably didn’t feel well for a long time before symptoms became evident.

And since he’s been gone I hadn’t changed my ways, until I started taking pictures. That is the single thing that has gotten me out of the recliner and out into the ‘world’. My little part-time job at the bakery provided enough social interaction that I was happy to be home every night. Me and the dogs. But I recently asked myself if I was waiting to die, and I didn’t like the answer. So I’ve gone back to the Y to swim laps, and started eating (and feeling) better. It feels good to get moving again, I’m probably lucky it wasn’t too late. Well, it really is pretty darned late, for some things, but maybe not for everything.

Now what? What might life have in store? Really I have no clue, but baby steps are in order I guess…

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Fall comes to the Nature Coast…

Peeking out from behind houses, or shining through groups of trees, but occasionally standing alone where they can be properly admired, the fall foliage is in full swing in my little corner of Florida.  I get so excited whenever I see one of these trees in it’s full glory, you would think I was looking at a hillside of maples up north.  I believe this is the Chinese Flame Tree, and even though I wonder what it is every year, I had to look it up again this morning because I can never remember what it is from year to year.  It’s not the fall of New England that I long for, but it’s all I’ve got so it’ll do…foliagereduxfoliagewithtruckfalltreefallfoliage2foliageflowers