Photo by Elizabeth Halt
Photo by Elizabeth Halt

birds of a feather

May 4, 2015

i thought i’d share my latest feather finds with you because they make me so happy.

this feather is from a blue jay. i found it on a trail near great sand bay. (i picked it up from what looked like the scene of a fight or a meal, because there were actually a great number of them.) | blue jay feather

this feather is from a ruffled grouse. i found a handful of them on that same trail, not too far from the blue jay feathers. | ruffled grouse feather

these feathers are from a cooper’s hawk. i think i found them somewhere near the house, either on the side of the road or on a trail. | cooper's hawk feathers

this feather is old but delightful. it’s from a northern flickr. i found it years ago in portland and saved it because i loved the neon orange shaft. when i discovered the feather atlas, i was finally able to look it up. | northern flickr feather

speaking of feathers: wow, is the feather atlas useful! sometimes it takes me a long time to identify a feather – the great horned owl & wild turkey feathers took over an hour each – but without it, i would be completely in the dark.

i love collecting feathers. they’re like little love notes from the natural world. (and the angels.) i keep them in mason jars in my bedroom and choose one to carry with me whenever i need a reminder that i am loved.

now i’m curious. do you collect anything?

through a child’s eye

May 2, 2015 | through a child's eye

i am home again, after two weeks as a mother’s helper for my ten month old twin nephews. oh, do i miss them. they are sweet & silly & lively & wonderful.

fortunately for me, i came home to more small nephews & nieces.

one of the things i love about children is how they delight in the world around them.

i went for a walk this evening with my two year old nephew and three year old niece. we threw small rocks in the swamp, threw larger rocks in the water, looked at the patterns in the dirt, shouted hello & goodbye to the sun & the sunset & the giant round moon, climbed up & down both big & small hills, marveled at a soft fuzzy thing we found in the road (a bud from a tree), tried to catch a person in a fluorescent yellow jacket on a bike (or a scooter, we never got close enough to tell), watched a person get into a truck, and stomped in imaginary mud puddles.

my ten month old nephews were endlessly fascinated by door knobs & the handles on the dresser & the chain on the door.

can you see why i love spending time with children? they live wonder.


April 15, 2015 | atlas in stripes | atlas in stripes | atlas in stripes | atlas in stripes

atlas says: woof! i am on vacation!

and so he is. i am off to providence to spend two weeks with my sister and her family. atlas will remain here, to enjoy the sunshine & some much-needed time off. (keeping an eye on his person is a full-time job for my velcro pup!)

while i am away, i leave you this: a sunset-striped atlas and a reminder of your light.


April 9, 2015 | contrast

i sat down to write a completely different post but i was playing with the contrast on my image when i saw this version and i was (quite unexpectedly) drawn to it.

this image reminds me of three things.

  • an embrace peculiarity sticker from john fluevog that i found while tidying my closet.
  • an article i read about a woman who is training for the iditarod in which she said that she used to be afraid of the dark until she started mushing.
  • the northern lights, which i have seen dancing on the horizon at least four times recently while taking the pup out for his very late night (or very early morning) potty runs.

here’s to the fun of creative play! wherever & however we find it.

instead of breaking

April 6, 2015 | instead of breaking

I am currently reading The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. It had been on my to-read list for a while so I finally requested it from the library. The book is pure poetry, full of truth + beauty + wisdom.

Like this, the entry for February 19, Instead of Breaking.

“With the precise tools of modern medicine, unborn children who are malforming or experiencing obstructions can now be operated on in utero. Profoundly, these state-of-the-art techniques reveal a deep timeless truth about growth and healing. For just as amazing as the fact of these operations, is the fact that these surgeries leave no scars once the infant is born.

What this tells us is that if we tend to things at the deepest level, our repair will be so much a part of who we are that there will be no scar. It is easier to bend underneath the surface in the deep timeless fluid of the beginning, than to break once fully grown.

But it is too late for me, you might say, I am already full-grown. Not so, for in the world of our inwardness, we are always growing and are blessed to carry that fluid beginning within us. It is never really out of reach.

We can return and begin again by facing ourselves. In this way, we can go below our hardened ways to the soft impulses that birth them. Instead of breaking the bone of our stubbornness, we can nourish the marrow of our feeling unheard. Instead of breaking the bone of our fear, we can cleanse the blood of our feeling unsafe. Instead of counting the scars from being hurt in the world, we can find and re-kiss the very spot in our soul where we began to withhold our trust.”

That last paragraph! I keep reading it. It feels like a sweet sweet kiss. Also, it reminds me of moments of healing – when something that seems like an insurmountable problem falls away in an instant, leaving me filled with wonder.

If you read The Book of Awakening (past), or read it (present-future), do share what entries speak to you, please! I’d love to hear. I am bookmarking every entry that speaks to me, which basically means that I am bookmarking almost all of them. Clearly I need my very own copy.

signs of spring in the keweenaw peninsula

April 2, 2015 | | signs of spring in the keweenaw peninsula | | signs of spring in the keweenaw peninsula | signs of spring in the keweenaw peninsula

it seems that lake superior is slowly shrugging off her thick winter coat.

someday, in the not too distant future, i will be swimming in this lake. in the meantime, i am enjoying all the colors & textures & layers.

what i think vs what they think

March 30, 2015 | what i think vs what they think | what i think vs what they think | what i think vs what they think | what i think vs what they think

i took these photos one day last summer. every time i looked at them, they made me smile. one day, i started to share them with you, but voices in my head stopped me. you see, i had recently stumbled upon a photographer’s critique of photographers who deliberately take out-of-focus images. shortly after, i stumbled upon another one. for some reason, their harsh words stuck with me, and i tucked my images away for safekeeping.

when i tucked my images away for safekeeping, what i was really doing was protecting the tender part of me who loves her images and now felt wrong for loving them.

in my experience, other people’s words tend to pierce me when they agree with something part of me fears is true already. it seems there is a small part of me that thinks (worries) that in order to be a good photographer, in order to be a photographer, my flowers need to be in focus. (side note: this seems oddly specific.) those photographers were popular, or famous, and therefore their assessment of my photos (even though they were speaking generally, not specifically) must be right.

after i let all of this simmer, i remembered two things. the first was that while the other photographers’ words might be true for them, that doesn’t mean they are true for everyone. the second was that i take my photos for me, and the only thing that matters to me is how i feel about them. i think this is true of all art. it might even be true of everything.

keweenaw shores snowshoe hike

March 26, 2015 | keweenaw shores snowshoe hike

my cousin & i went on a guided snowshoe hike through keweenaw shores & the upson lake nature sanctuary last weekend with the michigan nature association. it was one of those perfect blue sky sunshine days. the snow had such a hard crust on it that we didn’t need snowshoes at all – and there were a few spots under the trees where the snow was gone altogether.

on the hike, we saw a snow & ice-covered lake superior, an animal bone, wintergreen leaves, two large piles of deer hair, native mistletoe, lichen, red pine, part of the copper harbor conglomerate, a frozen stream & fresh woodpecker holes.

i took a chunk of the deer hair home with me for atlas. it was a hit. he sniffed & sniffed & sniffed the hair with very evident pleasure. (then he followed me to the garbage bin – clearly he did not think such a treasure should be thrown away.)

i had worked every day for the two weeks leading up to the hike so it felt extra good to move my body & to spend time outdoors in the fresh air.

giving ourselves a break

March 23, 2015 | giving ourselves a break

today, i did something on my mental to-do list. it was one of those things that should have been done a while ago, but today was the very first day that it was possible for me to do it. as i was on my way to do the thing, i noticed that i was mentally berating myself for being unable to do it earlier.

when the voice in my head became conscious, the thought that popped into my head was this: why was i beating myself up for this one small part of the story of the thing, instead of giving myself credit for everything else?

what happened next surprised me.

i heard not-quite-a-voice in my head, more like a felt-sense in my body, and the message that landed was this: you went through something hard with grace & dignity. you are doing a good job and i am so so so proud of you.

the message brought me to tears because i could feel that it was the truth.

i am wont to wonder why: why do we pick ourselves apart in order to beat ourselves up?

instead, i think i am going to focus on the fact that patterns can be changed – that my pattern is changing – one moment of loving kindness at a time.

goodness around the web

March 18, 2015 | goodness around the web

today, i want to share a few of the things i’ve seen around the web of late that have inspired me, moved me to tears, or just plain intrigued me.

:: love your homepage :: a free e-course from allie of allie creative. allie designed my website and i still love it more than i can say.

:: the apple slice & social media envy :: an exquisite piece on the comparison trap from erin of design for mankind. when i am tired or lonely or overwhelmed or afraid, it’s easy for me to think that a slice of someone else’s life looks better than the life i deep-down know is full + rich + perfect for me. erin’s words landed in my heart like a blessing.

:: use your words :: a reminder that words are valuable from shauna niequist. if you wonder whether you should tell someone that you’re proud of them, that you love them, that you see them, shauna’s piece might just hold your answer.

:: the winter of scrabble :: a poem about connection & heartbreak & wordlessness from mccall erickson.

(wondering about the photo? it’s the lights on a copperdog 150 sled dog team as they raced past me. though you cannot see the dogs themselves, it is my favorite of my photos.)