Dear Readers: I apologize for publishing this final part 3 days late. I was distracted for a couple of days, then drawn to southern Alberta by the possibility of seeing a special owl.
Welcome to the final post! If you missed the first two, you can read them here:
9. Broaden your perspective
Pika are adorably entertaining, and in September I was particularly taken with this little character bounding from rock to rock at Rock Glacier in Kananaskis. I have taken several thousand photographs of Pika over the years, and I’m always looking to up my game when it comes to capturing an ‘in flight’ (all feet off the ground) photo. I’m pretty happy with this image:
While pika tend to be my photographic target when I visit Rock Glacier, the area surrounding this expansive rock slide is also home to a number of big horn sheep. Depending on the time of year, they regularly work their way down from higher elevations around mid morning to lick salt off the highway.
The intense focus needed to photograph pika on that day required me to take a mental and physical break. I turned away from the rocks, relaxed, and my vision shifted upwards and outwards, treating my senses to a vibrant blue sky punctuated by light wisps of clouds. The blue collided with the sharp contours of the rocky slope, forming a jagged separation between earth and sky. The first of a herd of sheep began working her way down the mountain.
What a beautiful sight!
Intense focus is essential to photography and any creative endeavor, but our eyes, brains and muscles cannot sustain such focus for too long. We often need a break. Looking beyond the singularity of our attention shifts our perspective, revealing detailed nuances of our surroundings which often remain hidden to narrow vision.
10. I need to get into better shape
‘Kerri, do you need help? ‘ Jill called down, seeing me precariously perched on a steep slope that lurched towards an even steeper slope that ended in the narrow, rocky bank of the Athabasca river. ‘I’m good!,’ I responded as I clumsily inched my way up towards more level footing. Jill, Simon, Jamie and myself were among a small group of photographers watching two, large big horn rams on an October evening in Jasper.
Navigating up the slope was a bit more onerous than I had let on. The truth was, I was tired, wobbly and shaky from a mere 500m hike up the knoll. Was it worth it? Of course, I captured a few of the best images I have ever gotten of big horn sheep:
But a mere 500 meters hike drained my entire being!? Come on Kerri.. I’ll take this as a lesson from Mother Nature, nudging me towards a more physically-conditioned body, better able to endear the demands of outdoor photography.
11. Pay attention to your periphery
While photographing this stunning short-eared owl (SEO) in November, I noticed movement from my left and shifted my camera to focus on another flying figure. I initially assumed it was another SEO, but quickly realized this was not the same species. ‘Harrier? Prairie Falcon?,’ I thought, but held off on evaluating in favour of snapping as many photos as possible of the two birds going to talon to talon in mid-air – none of which turned out, but here is Mr. Shortie pre-chase:
When the action was done, my photos revealed several clear shots of the invader. It turns out he was a beautiful, juvenile northern goshawk.
I just love these hawks, and it had been years since I had seen one. What a cool interaction to be able to witness!
Similar to lesson number 9, this encounter speaks to the importance of not allowing ourselves to get too focused – we never know what might appear in our periphery.
12. Owls make life better
Yes, I believe this is a truth that applies to all animals, but there is something so magical about an owl of any kind. This last lesson is short and sweet, highlighting two species of owls I got a chance to photograph in December:
My intention for 2019
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago – there is something so harsh and unyielding about resolving to make a major change in your life. I believe intention is more forgiving and far more powerful. An intention is the delicate web that connects our authentic selves to our physical bodies. We often lose track of the amazingness we all possess – intention has the power to bring us back.
Intention is gentle and non-forceful. Chances are, when we set an intention, it will not manifest in an obvious, ‘in-your-face,’ kind of way. There’s no timeline, no rules. Instead, intention reveals a series of subtle clues that lead us towards our authentic desires.
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.
On the first day of 2019, on my annual New Year’s day drive with Jamie, I found these Canada lynx tracks in the snow.
Would I have preferred to see the beautiful cat who created them? Of course, but I know these tracks are leading to an intention that is slowly coming to fruition. 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.
I will, of course, keep you posted on what lands in front of my lens in the coming months.
Until next time, continue loving life and everything wild 🙂