I think in pictures. Although I consider myself a fairly good writer, my inspiration always comes from an image: The color of the light on a summer evening, a still-life of leaves, berries, and bones where a wolf had fed months before, or the silhouette of a chickadee on a winter afternoon. Whatever the situation, the image precedes the words. So, in a sense, the pen with which I write is a camera.
I’ve been a photographer since I was six. My fascination began when I saw a flock of indigo buntings along a path in the woods. I was captivated by their startling color and the grace and I desperately wanted to photograph them. I begged my parents for a camera and, when Christmas came around, I got a little Kodak instamatic and I was hooked. Granted, most of my early work is less than grand, but now,almost forty years later, I feel comfortable using the word “photographer” with confidence. But that’s just half of the story…
I have been a Lover of the Wild from the time I was born. I grew up in a family that saw Nature as a teacher and guide, the essence of the Divine. I learned the names of backyard birds instead of nursery rhymes, lectured my kindergarten friends on the plight of the endangered South American quetzal, and spent most evenings pouring over the pictures in National Wildlife and National Geographic. Nature was my passion and the wilderness was my refuge. I loved The Wild, but I had no idea it had a love for me.
The name for my photoblog comes from a quote by naturalist and writer, Sigurd Olson. Olson was a pioneer in the environmental movement during the 1960’s and wrote passionately about the remote landscape of Northern Minnesota and the need for its preservation. I have vacationed in Ely, Sigurd Olson’s home, many times, and on a trip in 2006, I was sitting on the stoop of Sigurd Olson’s cabin (now a historical site) reading his book Reflections from the North Country. As I read, a passage seemed to lift off the page and glow with living light. It said, “Then a great peace came over me…and I seemed to hear the pines and the wind and the rocky shores say to me, ‘You… lover of the wild, are part of us…’ “
I looked around at the ancient pines and the blue water lapping on the shore and the spirit of the forest seemed to draw around me, like a warm embrace. I marveled that Nature would welcome me, a part of the species that seems bent on destroying Her, and receive me as her own simply because I love Her. It was a moment that changed my life forever. Now I am in relationship with Nature, not just a student at the feet of the master. I love The Wild and She returns my love in ways I had never imagined.