Category Archives: Animals

Das Fenster

Just outside this window there is a friendly dog–a handsome guy who looks like a black Golden Retriever–and a passel of kids, some of them mine, tossing him a branch-ish stick to retrieve. Down the road there are three horses waiting to be ridden; one of them particularly grateful for her new job, having been recently rescued from the scorching desert heat and someone’s unimaginably cruel neglect. Misery, they named her, a sweet irony to her newly nurturing life and what I could swear looks like a smile on her face.

A toothy llama, Rodeo, stands on the corner–not to be ridden–but to be seen, buck teeth and all. Her gentle, unassuming nature reminds me that in a small town, Julian to be exact, time slows down and pays attention to details missed in larger slices of society. I wonder what I have been missing in my own suburban town – what I might ought to begin to notice.

I nearly walk right past these incredible flowers, blooming freely in a very large pot on the sidewalk next to one of the local apple pie bakeries. It’s the color that stops me in my tracks. Are they blue? Are they purple? I don’t quite decide, I just take the shot and marvel at just how much I like particular shades of blue and purple; how soulful they are.

Later, much later, as I reflect on our impromptu jaunt into Julian, I vow to defect from the rat race and enter into a sort of distracted, nirvana-like existence; to breathe deeply like a nearly-comatose yoga student. Instead, I eat pie…lots and lots of pie, which is the other great way to become comatose. It really is that simple: appreciate what is right in front of your busy nose, eat pie, become comatose, and take a little nap–unless, like me, you still have a mountain to drive back down.

Words and photographs are the creation and property of author/photographer, Britton Minor and The Jaded Lens Photography

Howling at the Moon

My growing fascination with the moon, my collaboration with Deborah Batterman, and our recent field trip to The California Wolf Center, have me pondering the moon as a muse. I realize there is no novelty here; my epiphany is mundane.

Yet I’m still enamored, still fascinated by the rocky, dusty, uninhabited ball that is a mere 2,000 miles in diameter, with a tiny circumference of 6,800 miles. Earth is about four times the size. Yet, according to Gail Gibbons in The Moon Book, the moon has been revered for countless centuries; thought to be a goddess, Diana, to the Romans–Selene to the Greeks. Selene was even thought to ride through the sky in a silver chariot. Gibbons says, “Some American Indian tribes believed the moon and sun were brother and sister gods.” Clearly I am not alone with my fascination.

Last Friday at the preserve, when I was reminded that myths and beliefs about wolves are generally wrong, I was disappointed to realize that wolves also do not actually howl at the moon. I like how a wolf looks when she is howling, when the snout is pointing up toward the sky, presumably responding to the power of the moon. I’ve been known to try it myself when the neighbors are in deep REM sleep. So it is not without a bit of mourning that I give up this long-held assumption about wolves and the moon. In fact, since they howl for scads of other reasons, a teensy part of me still believes that wolves feel and respond to the unmistakable pull of the moon; fulfilling some deep, ancestral longing by howling at it.

I’ve decided that the moon-as-muse idea works well when I consider that more than four centuries ago, in 1609, Galileo gave us the first sketches of the moon (there is a fascinating JPL scientist, Jane Houston Jones, who has been sketching the moon for about 20 years) and later was condemned by the Catholic Church for “vehement suspicion of heresy” (since his discoveries contradicted the church’s stated beliefs). The fact that he had to sacrifice his freedom over his beliefs about the cosmos; eventually being forced to recant some of them, leads me to believe that it is not a stretch to say that the moon may also have been his muse.

When I was seven or eight, my father briefly lived on a La Jolla cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sleeping in the massive downstairs living room with the giant windowed slider slightly open, I would fall asleep to the lulling timbre of the sea; the moon often reflecting its unique manifestation of the sun’s light onto the roiling water. My fascination grew into a craving…the kind that nothing else can fulfill. And now, with my muse finally refusing to be ignored, it all makes sense. Tonight you may find me, and a few mythical wolves, howling at the moon.

Words and photographs are the creation and property of the author/photographer, Britton Minor and The Jaded Lens Photography.

Permission

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These horses couldn’t get enough of each other. I think they may be frenemies. Is this the nature of boundary-pushing friendships?

Certain people fall (or are pushed) into our lives. Sometimes the blessing one person provides–and at just the right moment–is beyond comprehension. We think, and may even say, “Where would I be without so-and-so?” Then we picture some horrible, smelly, wet, dark ditch (or, insert your own horrific thought here) that, without them, would surely have been our reality.

But what about other people whose impending presence make us sweat, bite our nails, tug our hair, or double-over with a belly ache? Too dramatic? Is there anyone in your life who, when they call, you send right to voice mail? Me neither, but just in case…

So why am I talking about this today? Because when I think about the people I know who are fighting for their lives, their marriages, their careers, their sanity; “life is short” is what comes to mind. And sometimes we have fallen into a trap in which other people’s expectations are what keep us from the kind of life we dream of, or at least from pursuing the goals we’ve kept pushing aside while helping other people fulfill theirs. Or we have a “friend” or two who take, but don’t give back. It may not even be a person, but a “thing” that we’ve committed to that doesn’t actually fit into our already busy lives.

Is there anyone or any thing that comes to mind? Is it time to say “No” and make it stick? Is it time to readjust the schedule or priorities? Do you need permission? Ok, you’ve got it! What are you waiting for?

Feeling Squirrelly?

I enjoy watching creatures. Insects, animals, humans; they are all fascinating. This squirrel was on a mission. There was a lovely picnic basket nearby, unattended. Three squirrels investigated, eventually tipping it over. Scurrying ensued. The sudden movement had frightened them. But they returned, undaunted. The loot was too tempting for them to ignore.¬†Watching these quick, resourceful, and inquisitive cuties filled me with peaceful pleasure. They didn’t seem to care that I was watching.

I wonder what others see when they watch me. I hope they see me smile, praise, laugh and encourage. But I know that sometimes they see my serious face, contemplating every detail of my life–as if the world will fall of its axis if I don’t. It won’t.

Sometimes a picnic basket and a few foraging squirrels is all I need to remind me how stunningly beautiful life can be…if only I will stop and notice. Today I will tip out the contents of my rich life and enjoy each item through the lens of simple appreciation. If you happen to see me, I will be smiling, broadly.

Picture is the property of Author/Photographer, Britton Minor