“We have no way of knowing how or when our intentions will manifest, and we don’t need to worry about the details. We simply need to allow ourselves to appreciate the joy of every moment as often as possible. Cultivating a deeper sense of love and appreciation for Mother Nature and all her children is my intention for 2019, and beyond.”
– Kerri Martin, last year’s final countdown blog post.
This was my statement of intention for 2019. A deeper sense of love and appreciation was not only cultivated, I tended the soil, planted the seeds and grew several buds of realized potential. I had more than just five meaningful encounters in 2019, but these five do a fantastic job of illustrating my current state of circular thinking
1. Northern Saw-whet Owl: Powerful Presence
Photographed January 16, 2019 in Lethbridge
To Jan 28 2012 – I distinctly remember seeing a pair of reflective golden eyes, peering at me through a finely-feathered mix of beauty, adorableness and ferocity. My first encounter with a northern saw-whet owl (NSW) took place almost exactly seven years prior to this one. I was deeply impacted by the encounter, as described here.
I wrote about the impact of my only other NSW, pictured above, in two parts:
2. Wolf: Unlimited Potential
Photographed June 1, 2019 in BC
Jasper, summer, 2004 – the wolf was probably at least 80 meters away, but even through the distance, I immediately zoned in on the piercing yellow eyes surrounded by thick tufts of black fur – an emulation of that iconic, face-on photo of a black wolf I would love to have captured that day.
Using a manual, film camera back in 2004 (seriously!), I had no possibility of changing the lens, raising the camera, manually setting proper exposure values, focusing and capturing an image before he faded back into the forest. However, he saw me, I saw him, eye contact was made, I was changed forever.
That was the moment I realized miracles do really exist. I had never imagined I would get a chance to see such a magnificent creature ‘in real life’ before. Previous to this experience, I had only seen wolves as photographs, replications of reality, not reality itself.
The exact same thing happened 15 years later with the wolf seen above. We made eye contact, I changed. Read more here.
3. Barred Owl: Powerful Appreciation
Photographed October 20, 2019 in Kananaskis
While I had photographed Great Gray Owls (GGO) before, my first chance to observe one hunting (for more than just fleeting seconds) occurred in March, 2013. I wrote about the experience here, but the CliffsNotes version is: it was so amazing!
The keen observer will notice the owl pictured above is a barred owl, so why am I circling back to my 2013 GGO experience? They are both beautiful owls with similar features, and this photo came from my first opportunity to observe a barred owl hunting. That alone probably constitutes a deeper connection, but there is also a human-related element.
While photographing the 2013 GGO, I meet a fellow photographer named Shannon Carson. She is an amazing photographer – view more of her work here. We connected online back then, and exchanged a few messages over the years, but I did not see her in person again until October 20, 2019. My friend Jamie and I came across her while we were stopped looking at what we thought were wolf tracks on a gravel road in Kananaskis. She is the reason we both got a chance to observe and photograph this barred owl. She directed us to the area she had photographed him earlier that morning.
I’m so grateful to Shannon for allowing us to share her experience. Photographers are often hesitant to share locations with other photographers these days, for justify-able reasons. More social media, more photographers, etc – I am definitely more thoughtful about sharing specifics these days than I was seven years ago. But sharing locations in general is not bad, and can have a powerful impact. Every circumstance is different.
Shannon’s gesture of sharing, for example, allowed me to spend time with this amazing owl. This, in turn, bought me out of the ‘photographic funk’ I had been in for several months, triggering a series of events which led me to number four…
4. Lynx: Compassionate Indifference
Photographed November 3, 2019 in the Canadian Rockies.
The first time I ever saw a lynx in the wild, July 2013, we made direct eye contact. Like with the wolf, the experience changed me.
The second time I saw a lynx in the wild, May 2014, we made direct eye contact, and I was changed even more.
The third time I saw a lynx (two actually!), we made direct eye contact, and (you guessed it!), I was changed.
Here’s my point: making eye contact with an animal, any animal, domestic or wild, offers the gift of connection to our natural state of being. Our level of awareness, compassion and acceptance as humans dictates the degree to which we are able to accept this gift.
I plan to explore the gift of connecting with animals, the power of eye contact and various states of beings more in the coming months. Stay tuned to my blog if you are interested. For now, I’ll leave you with something I’ve been pondering around the natural qualities of dogs vs. cats – both equally powerful, but dramatically different.
Eye contact with a wolf/canine offers: complete acknowledgement of your unlimited potential.
Eye contact with a lynx/feline offers: complete acceptance of who you are RIGHT NOW. Or, compassionate indifference.
5. Winter White Weasel: Realized Potential
Photographed December 25, 2019 in Lethbridge
January 14, 2019 – exactly 365 days ago – I published my final post in a series of top twelve lessons from mother nature for 2018. Here’s a quote from myself:
“Perhaps I’ll see another lynx? Saw whet owl? White weasel? Cougar? Wolverine? Who knows?
In terms of wildlife sightings, I have no doubt 2019 will present me with unlimited potential – all I need to do is be conscious of the possibilities embedded in every moment.”
Ummmm – lynx, white weasel and saw whet owl, making up three of my top five encounters for 2019?! This is a 60 percent success rate!
In the hopes this trend continues, here is my wildlife wish list for 2020:
Pine Marten, Cougar, Wolverine, Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster.
I have a feeling 2020 is going to be a great year!
Until next time, continue loving life and everything wild. 🙂