Consider the Egg

A432 and EggConsider the egg. The obvious part, the shell, is made up of calcium carbonate crystals and on close examination, its grainy texture contains thousands of tiny pores. The shell is actually a semipermeable membrane through which air and moisture can pass. I figure that must also be how Laysan albatross are able to communicate and, possibly, imprint on their chicks, because as soon as an egg is laid, the parents start talking to their newborn. They’ll stand, point their serrated four-inch bill between their legs and speak every so sweetly, “Eeh, eeh, eeh.” Both parents get in on the action, because the world of albatross parenting is an equal opportunity endeavor. Read more

Introducing Albatography

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 10.27.26 AMFirst, let me introduce to you a seabird known as the Laysan albatross. Or mōli, in Hawaiian. This seabird is equipped with magical powers to cause your eyes to widen, your jaw to drop, your opinion of birds to change, and your understanding of an albatross to be anything other than a burden. Albatross will make you a birder. They will make you a science geek. A fan of physics. Albatross will make you a believer in the goodness of the world. A lover of nature. A protector of the ocean. A champion of the environment. Don’t believe me? Follow along throughout this breeding season, and let’s see what you say in seven or eight months. Read more

September in the Rear View.

September’s come and gone. How did that happen?

I blame it on Mark Twain.

My head was down all month, re-living his escapades in Hawaii. I poured through his 25 dispatches for the Sacramento Union. I dug into his notebooks and letters. I scoured a gem of a book–Mark Twain and Hawaii–by Walter Francis Frear. And I wrote.

I wrote.

I wrote.

I wrote.

So much so my head hurts. No, it really does. I’m off to see my reflexologist for help this afternoon.

In an 1896 notation, Mark Twain penned, “There is in life only one moment and in eternity only one [moment]. It is so brief that it is represented by the fleeting of a luminous mote through the thin ray of sunlight–and it is visible but a fraction of a second. The moments that preceded it have been lived, are forgotten and are without value; the moments that have not been lived have no existence and will have no value except in the moment that each shall be lived.”

I interpret Twain as reinforcing the importance of living in the moment. What many self-help and spiritual gurus might say as, “Be. Here. Now.”

green sea turtle
Green sea turtle.

I managed to drag myself away from my laptop and managed a few outings this past month. There was the trip to Volcano on Big Island. There was a celebration of the opening of Ke Kai Ola, the monk seal hospital. There were a few treks along a few beaches in search of Hawaiian monk seals. There was an evening watching an unusual visitor to Hawaii–the common ringed plover. And there were a few snorkel outings.

I spent this morning reviewing photographs taken in September. It’s just my way of grabbing hold of a few luminous motes of moments in an effort to extend their value a few more moments. Here are my September motes in pictures;-)

Labor in Nature? O.K.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday we know as Labor Day—the one that provides a day off from work and rolls around every year on the first Monday in September—was the “creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

For me, as a child, Labor Day signaled an end of summer.

For me, this summer, after quitting my J-O-B in April, my economic contributions to our country have been slim.

In further researching the origins of Labor Day, I discovered a few tidbits that made me scratch my head.

First, while I’m not surprised that New York and New Jersey were two of the first states to institute statewide holidays, I am a little surprised that Colorado was also one. Should I be?

Let’s put things in context.

Some 120 years ago, in 1894, Labor Day became a national holiday. The bill to make it such was introduced by Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota.

I know. I know. I’m showing my ignorance here. But Colorado? South Dakota? Big labor states? In the 1890s? My guess would be mining. Anyone know?

Most of us think of Labor Day as a chance to kick back and have fun. Maybe fire up the BBQ grill. Go on a road trip. Bust out the camping gear. Open a beer or two. In short, celebrate life.

If I understand the intention behind Labor Day correctly, it also encourages that we contribute to something larger than our selves. And, that is, the place in which we live. Our community. Our world.

While my economic contributions this summer may have been slim, I like to think I’ve been contributing to our social world in a little fuller way. And one way, I suppose, is by celebrating nature in photography. So, here’s a slide show (click on any of the thumbnail images above to start it) of my summer, shared not to be smug about the place in which I am blessed to live, but to encourage more love and respect for the natural world around all of us, no matter where we live.

How will you celebrate Labor Day this weekend?