2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas 2014

Christmas Day, finally the frenzy of commercialism is behind us. The stores are all closed and most of the people are gone, gone to where ever they all go for the holidays. Christmas Day is one of my favorite days of the year for the solitude in the mountains and woods. God seems far away from me this year as we celebrate His arrival as a human on this earth but as I walk the woods in His magnificent creation perhaps I can bring myself closer, only if it is just a little bit.

Trio of mule deer

Trio of mule deer

I can tell that even the creatures that inhabit the woods are appreciative of this day. There is little traffic and there is a silence that isn’t experienced often anywhere in Colorado. I always enjoy taking pictures of the deer on Christmas Day. With all the people gone there are no dogs running loose to wreak havoc on the peace of the day or screaming kids to pierce the silence. The animals all seem calmer and less likely to bolt and they seem to be aware of the special peace that only Christmas Day can bring. The deer look at me almost as if they are curious about why I am the only one out on this day. It is almost like they know I am one of them, that I belong.

Later today it will be even better when the snow begins to fall. It doesn’t get any better than a snowstorm on Christmas. The particular herd of deer that I like to photograph lets me come closer in the deep snow. One time I rounded a thick stand of scrub oak in heavy snow and found myself in the midst of the herd. They looked a little surprised but had a look of “oh, it’s just you”, and went on about their business of eating leaves and searching for the forest grass beneath the deep snow. I’m sure I could have reached out and touched them if I had wanted to but I didn’t want to disturb them so I just snapped a couple of shots and kept on going.

Only the sound of my snowshoes in the deep snow… shoosh, shoosh, shoosh. Alone in the snow walking with Him. To me this is how to celebrate Christmas, the true meaning of the day experienced alone in silence, surrounded by His Creation.

Winter Solstice 2014

The Winter Solistice, the event which converges all the forces of orbit, angle and rotation to bring about the end of the Northern Hemisphere’s plunge into the darkness of winter will officially hit Colorado this afternoon at 4:03 p.m. Mountain Time. The science of it all is complex, but for me it is simple, the sun will begin it’s travel northward and our brothers and sisters down under will be saying g’day a bit later each morning for the next six months.

It may be insignificant to some, but for me the Winter Solstice is my new year. I despise the short days and the long hours of darkness that disrupt my whole outdoor lifestyle, and just knowing that each day is a little longer gives me a lift on this day. With Christmas and the calendar New Year holidays approaching I know the rest of the month will pass quickly and 2015 will be upon us before we know it. As January wears on the days will become noticeably longer and here in Colorado it means that the chances for many days of extreme cold are numbered. Of course at 9000 feet of elevation it will continue snow well into April and sometimes even May but I can handle that. It’s the below zero stuff that I experienced in my youth that I find most difficult to bear in my old age.

I have to say 2014 was an eventful year and unfortunately not such a good one. I experienced the loss of my beloved friend of 17 years, my border collie Sweet Pea. A lot more time was spent shuttling back and forth to hospitals than I expected and my stock photo business took a bit hit with the resulting diminished time spent on it along with the eventual loss of my main camera. But there were some high points as well. 2014 was the year that I finally got my framing and printing website underway and also began writing in earnest for the Examiner. 2014 was the year that I started this blog and finally got my Linked In and Twitter profiles set up and working well for me. In 2014 I met new friends and was adopted into a loving church family that has given me the strength to continue moving forward in the face of loss and hardship.

Coyote

And almost unbelievably, after hundreds of facebook posts, blogs and Examiner articles, word came in yesterday from my fellow wolf warriors that wolves in some of the worst wolf killing states of all had been placed back under the protection of the Endangered Species List in the Great Lakes Region after having been betrayed by the Federal Government years ago. Now at the end of 2014 I am gratified to report that wolves in a total of four states comprising some of the worst violators of the spirit of the law have been brought back under the protection of the ESA. Oregon and California are already taking steps to assure that wolves in those states will not face the atrocities perpetrated upon them in other places.

With the advent of longer days and more sunshine I am hoping that 2015 will be a great year. It appears that many of the changes implemented by Getty / iStock, including the introduction of the subscription license, are beginning to take effect as the long drain on the customer base is reversed and buyers return from sites where they took their business in quest of more price options. I have begun to scout out new camera models, comparing prices and specifications while keeping an eye on the calendar looking forward to events I might attend to photograph and write about. Maybe 2015 will be the year I can organize a tour of the Wolf and Wildlife Center in Guffy and maybe I will finally get to travel across the high plains of southern Colorado to attend the great whitewater festival along the Arkansas in Salida next summer. Maybe I will travel to the Lost Creek Wilderness and take some of the hikes described in the book I bought last winter at this time.

halo

Halo on the Pikes Peak

This afternoon as I write I am looking out of the big window in the reading room of the library it looks like the peak is wearing a halo. The mountain is a temperamental lady though, one minute she is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen and the next she seems like she is trying to kill you. The forecast has called for a snowy solstice this year and I can’t think of a more appropriate way to reflect on the end of the solar year in 2014 than fresh snow on Pikes Peak. Here’s to a great start to the new solar year!

Winter 2015

Fall has come to an end and winter is nearing its official start as the solstice nears. There was however time in the season for the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group (WWAG) to make one more Peaceful Civil Disobedience Action (PCD) trip in an effort to help wolves in Wisconsin. Fortunately there was a Colorado angle to the story as one of our own attended the action and gave me a reason for an Examiner report on the trip. Wisconsin is one of the worst wolf killing states of all, allowing and even encouraging the barbaric practice of hounding. I sincerely hope the PCD and the ensuing media attention will give considerable help to the wolves.

Winter-Series-3The winter running season in Colorado is nearly upon us as winter racing series are starting up in January and running through the winter with increasing distances in an effort to help people build up their endurance for the busy summer marathon schedule. I am currently engrossed in various running calendars trying to come up with a guide to the best runs in the Front Range which I hope to be able to publish on the Examiner by Christmas.

With any luck, my report will coincide with some white stuff so we can have a white Christmas to enjoy along with my winter running report. Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed so you can receive notifications immediately as I publish new articles and updates.

Death of a camera

Still mourning the loss of my Canon 40D. First time in my life I have actually worn a camera out. So I was thinking back at the times I had with that camera and it Deer-Triooccurs to me that we covered a a lot of ground together. For starters I imagine there were probably close to 1000 treks through the wildlife preserve and the lake to photograph the deer herd where I used to live. There were the balloon festivals, marathons to be covered, hikes in the mountains of Boulder, the sheer cliffs of El Dorado State Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Mount Evans Wilderness. The camera was with me as picked my way onto rocks Climbing-Teamnear the banks of Clear Creek photographing Dipwhitewater rafting and kayaking. We were wary when we photographed the female bear with her cubs and were surprised by a nudge from behind from a curious bighorn sheep and we made ourselves comfortable with a family of coyotes while they feasted on a deer carcass.

Coyote

The camera was with me in good weather and bad, sunshine, rainstorms and blizzards.  One other time I thought the camera had seen it’s last shot during a blizzard in 2009. My gloves got wet and I think a little moisture must have seeped into the shutter button. Anyway the camera quit shooting, but I opened all the little doors on it and later on it dried out and started shooting again.

Through the lens of my 40D I experienced the aging and passing of my samoyed and my border collie along with their feline buddy Bubba. The camera was along when we said goodbye to our home in Parker that we thought we would retire in.

We stared in wonder at the constantly changing north face of Pikes Peak and explored the forests and parks of the Pike National Forest when we first moved to Teller County in 2010. Since then there have been fires and floods, drought and storm, and some incredible mountain snowfall to capture.

Pets

Finally, at the most inopportune time, my trusted device failed me. I was trying to get some shots of a small herd of young doe mule deer who were strolling past. Much to my surprise the deer just walked right up to within a few feet of me. Close enough that they passed between me and my friendly little tabby cat Tigger who didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned. I was worried that the deer would become startled by the little guy and was holding my breath hoping not to scare them into any sudden violent behavior. TiggerBefore long I was gazing in wonder and amazement as Tigger and the smallest deer of the group were touching noses and making friends. Unfortunately the only record of the incident will be in my mind. The final image captured by my 40D was the portrait of Tigger that I had taken moments before.

All in all it was a very rewarding six year run with that camera. I hope then next six years are equally filled with wonder and adventure. By the grace of God they will be.

 

The Fold

I was out hiking in the woods with my Samoyed some time ago when we came upon a situation I wasn’t expecting. There are a lot of deer around here and some coyotes too. The two don’t usually have much to do with each other as there are plenty of rabbits and squirrels and the deer are too big for the coyotes to want to mess with. However this day a fawn had failed to keep up with the herd and soon it was scrambling for it’s life with a big coyote in hot pursuit. Fortunately for the fawn, Klondike was way more interested in the coyote than he was in deer and he was the only thing standing in the way of some very ugly business. The coyote spotted Klondike and decided to make a wide circle around him while the desperate fawn just sped right past us. Klondike gave the fawn just enough time to make it back to the herd of does who quickly turned the tables and had the coyote fleeing in the other direction.

Fold

Almost every species from cockroaches to giant musk oxen is the target of another greater species seeking food. What occurs to me is that God has given each animal a unique method of defense. Some have been given camouflage, some great speed, others teeth and claws. However for most large and relatively defenseless species like the deer, the only defense is numbers. Predators often set their sights on the young as the most likely candidates for a kill. Without their parents the youngsters would be completely defenseless. They have not yet acquired the speed or size of the adult animals and would have no chance of surviving without the protection of their parents and their herds. When the herd detects danger a protective circle will often be formed around the babies to keep the predators at bay.

It occurs to me that humans are no different. When we get separated from our families and friends we are vulnerable. For children, parents are the first line of defense while watchful neighbors, teachers and friends come in a close second. As adults we are not as vulnerable as children, but danger still lurks once we are alone. Illness, job loss, natural disasters and society’s criminal element can all cause catastrophe for individuals and families. For many, the extended family may make the difference between safety and disaster. For some, the extended family might be aunts uncles and cousins. For others who have moved far from home in quest of a career, a church family may close the gap.

More importantly, as spiritual beings our struggles are not always with an enemy we can see. Sometimes “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers of the air”. Just like the deer our enemy is a roaring predator roaming about “seeking whom he may destroy”. The bible refers to us as sheep and of course sheep are most vulnerable when they are separated from the others. Perhaps it would be wise not to stray too far from from “the fold”, but will I follow my own advice?