Fisher Pond, reflection

Well, it’s that time of year again… Today was my birthday.

As self-reflection seems to be the thing to do on such days, I did some thinking about my new life and all the changes that have taken place recently. (For anyone that somehow still doesn’t know, at the tail end of last year, I moved from southern California to Vashon, Washington.) It hasn’t just been an extreme change of scenery for me, it’s been a pretty big shift in my lifestyle as well. I went from walking the arid, chaparral-covered hills of a canyon to exploring the moist, green forests and rocky beaches of an island. I also went from spending the vast majority of my time alone with my camera and the critters to becoming part of a small, tight-knit community that I have quickly grown to love and with whom I am eager to share my nature experiences.

All in all, my 37th year was a good one. But the latter half of it seemed to whiz by at the speed of light. The whirlwind of moving to a new state, the excitement and bustle of meeting so many new people, trying to get acquainted and accustomed to my new home; all of it has left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the comfort of some of the things I left behind.

I thought about that a lot today and realized that one of the things I was really missing was this blog. This blog and also the friends who encouraged me and participated by sharing their wonderful comments and insights here. I really want to make the time to give myself this gift once again. And I definitely want to reconnect with my very patient friends who may be wondering what the heck happened to me. *grin*

OK… enough blathering on about stuff. I’ll just end by saying, I’m glad to be back here and looking forward to once again sharing my photos and stories about the things that I love most.

(Photo taken at Fisher Pond… one of the many new “favorite” locales I frequent these days.)

Harsi / May 7, 2012 / water / 8 Comments

The Unexpected

So, when I last posted on the morning of the 23rd in honor of the autumnal equinox, I wrote: I find myself curious and eager to see what this new season has in store.

I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. About an hour later, I encountered this gorgeous immature rattlesnake just hanging out at the base of our porch steps.

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, immature


My last rattler sighting had been back on the 12th of August (which feels like ages ago), so I felt rather satisfied by the sighting and pleased with the pics that I managed to get. It seemed like a truly auspicious beginning to the unfolding new season!

Little could I have possibly imagined that the very same morning would also bring THIS….


Mountain Lion


Yup. That is indeed what you think it is.

I tell you, it’s enough to leave a gal speechless… Well, almost anyway. *GRIN* This is a teaser post as there are other better photos and an entire story that still needs telling. I’ve been holding my tongue on sharing this news for a couple days now though and I simply couldn’t wait any longer.

Life is good. It may not always be easy. You may not always get things exactly how you want them or when you want them. But there are lions and snakes and birds and trees and spiders and moons and toads and rainbows and squirrels and clouds and all the other totally amazing things that make me wonder what tomorrow will bring and keep me hangin’ in there to find out!


Harsi / September 25, 2011 / mammals, reptiles / 7 Comments

In Celebration of the Autumnal Equinox

Mourning Dove feather
Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Mary Oliver

Thank you, Mary, for the gift of your poetry… for having the words and the insight to write of things that seem fresh yet ancient, personal yet universal.

I find myself curious and eager to see what this new season has in store. Wishing a wonderful day to all of you reading this!

(For those that are interested, the lovely image is a wing feather from a Mourning Dove.)


Harsi / September 23, 2011 / birds, quotations / 4 Comments

Hullo again, dear friends!

California Ground Squirrel, on stump

Well, what I thought was going to be a short break has turned into a full month of silence. Just in case anyone was seriously worried about my disappearance, let me assure you that I am fine.

All better and back to normal then?!

No. I can’t tell you that.

I used the words “uncomfortable” and “exhausted” in my last post and I think that is still a fairly accurate assessment of how I’m feeling these days. One of my dear friends sensitively commiserated that GI problems are tough because it’s not really something that is as socially acceptable to talk about in depth, the way one might if it was a broken bone or a bad cold. This is certainly true. And, when it does get discussed openly, it’s usually detailing a brief and unpleasant bout of some virus or bacteria that you picked-up which should resolve quickly with medication or of its own accord after a few days. My difficulties with my intestines are long standing though. Several decades, in fact. I am still uncertain why I am having such an acute and extended experience, but this is not the first time this has happened to me. Quite some time ago, I was extremely sick for almost a year before things started to seriously improve. Some people might call it “stress”. Most doctors would probably label it “Irritable bowel”. I have come to think of it as a wake-up call from my body or my spirit that they need some things I haven’t been able to give them lately. My task is to figure out what those things are and try to heal.

I thought about sharing in more depth what sort of remedies and therapies I’ve been trying, what my exact symptoms are, what seems to be working and what hasn’t. But… I don’t really want to.

I have always had a host of health issues. In addition to the intestinal stuff, I have several chronic pain conditions, long-term struggles with anxiety and depression, and I honestly don’t think I can remember what a “good-night’s sleep” actually feels like (it’s been too many years). Some of this may be new information for a few of you, but that’s because I never really wanted this blog to be about any of that. I wanted this space to be about JOY and DISCOVERY and my PASSION for nature. I’d like to keep it that way for the most part.

This past month has been full of challenges and changes, yet observing wildlife and the deep solace I perpetually find in being outside alone in the middle of it all remains unchanged. I have had to limit the amount of time I can spend wandering the hills and photographing, but my enthusiasm and delight in those marvelous things that I see every day here in the canyon has not been lessened in the slightest. This has been a great source of comfort to me and an important reminder of just how stable and crucial my connection with nature is.

I’ve decided that it makes no sense to try and predict how much or when I will be able to post here and share with you all. It seems unlikely that I will go back to regular daily posts anytime soon, but I do hope to return to doing what I truly love — sharing through photos and words some of the many experiences that daily open my mind, heart and soul to the beauty and flow of life around me. *GRIN*

Harsi / September 20, 2011 / not nature / 4 Comments

Be Back Soon… I Promise!

California Ground Squirrel, tail


I had this notion that I would try and stick with doing a full year’s worth of blogging every day. Why a year? I don’t know. Just because it sounded good, I guess. It felt like a nice solid accomplishment to shoot for.

Well, it’s only been a little more than three months of continuous blog posts, but I’m gonna’ need to take a bit of a break. I’m hoping to only be gone about a week or so as I really do enjoy sharing photos and stories of the things I love most with all of you. My GI problems don’t seem to be resolving all that quickly and I really want to try and focus as much of my energy as possible on feeling better and getting back outside where I belong. I’m doing OK and other than being somewhat uncomfortable and very exhausted, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

(Though I chose a photo of a California Ground Squirrel for this post, I can’t resist mentioning that the fox family continues to come around regularly — several times a day now for the past 6 days! Watching them from the window or out the front door has been such a incredible and unimagined delight! In between foraging for dried olives on the ground they will occasionally romp and play, leaving me completely smitten. There are at least 4, and possibly 5 of them. We have seen more foxes in the last week than we have in the last 7 years of living here. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, but I can’t help but feel that the “nature gods” decided to smile on me just when I needed it most. Despite how crummy I feel, I can’t possibly say I wish this last week hadn’t happened or I’d have to give up all those wonderful memories in the bargain.)

Harsi / August 20, 2011 / mammals / 6 Comments

Color Therapy

As I sifted through my recent photos looking for inspiration, a vibrant shot of pink caught my attention. It was the sky at sunset last Friday night.

pink sunset & pine

It doesn’t feel like it’s already been a week since then, but time sort of blurs together when you don’t feel good.

Even when I’m tired or hot or I don’t see anything particularly fascinating to photograph, I NEVER regret going outside. It is something that I think is always worth doing. When I’m stuck indoors for any length of time, I appreciate my memories and images of outings all the more.

At the moment, I am reveling in this sky. It gives me immeasurable comfort to know that there is this kind of wonderfulness out there.


pink sunset


Oh, did I forget to mention why I went out to photograph the sky that night? Perhaps some of you may remember that last Friday was the 12th and it was a full moon. I’d already been out for a short walk earlier in the evening, but when I looked out my window and saw that beautiful glow peeking over the hilltops, I couldn’t help but put my shoes back on and walk back outside again…


full moon, August 12th


*Savor the moments of simple beauty and joy.*
I truly believe they have the power to heal and bring happiness.

Harsi / August 19, 2011 / skies / 0 Comments

How To Melt My Heart


Gray Fox, funny face


OK, so I know this is an out-of-focus, improperly exposed and poorly composed shot… but, how could anyone not save and treasure this photo?! As I was saying yesterday, several foxes have been hanging out around our place lately. The amazing thing about our cabin is that it serves as a really nice blind for viewing wildlife. In general, (with Coyote being a notable exception to the rule) the mammals appear to view the cabin as just another element of their environment and as long as you don’t make any sudden movements, they seem to ignore slight movements at the windows, or else simply stare with a cautious curiosity. I have seen and photographed (or filmed) some truly astounding things through the windows of this place! There are downsides, of course. All but one or two of the windows in the house are screened and those photos are often very blurred or distorted-looking. The large picture window in the kitchen is my favorite place to photograph, but even those photos only come out well if I can shoot straight ahead. If I have to point the camera at an angle to the glass, the photos are once again distorted. Fortunately, while I do have very high standards for what I consider to be a beautifully-executed nature photograph, I also see plenty of value in those images that serve as visual field notes or simply to capture a happy memory or experience.

So… back to the photo! I shot this one as I crouched at the base of my smaller, screened kitchen window.  (The black on the left side of the image is actually the window frame.) The fox was busily gnawing away at one dried-up olive after another just beyond the ledge of the window (maybe 10 feet!) and seemed entirely oblivious to my presence. Though it looks as though it is making eye contact with me here, I’m pretty sure that it was just eyeballing the house itself. I’m assuming that the little bit of tongue sticking out is also incidental and not directed at me personally. *GRIN*

Harsi / August 18, 2011 / fun stuff, mammals / 0 Comments

Now Are The Foxes!

Gray Fox, running


For the past three days, we’ve had multiple Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) sightings around our cabin! I saw two running together one day and there is also a third who is recognizable due to a injured front foot. They’ve been showing up to get a drink of water at the containers, but at least one of them is also coming to chow down on the dried-up olives that litter the ground beyond our front porch. These creatures’ coloration is incredibly beautiful and they are so agile and dainty. It never ceases to amaze me how small they are (usually somewhere between 30 and 40 inches long, but their tail accounts for about half of that)!

I always feel blessed to have the opportunity to live in such close proximity to these foxes, but I have felt more intensely grateful of late. Being able to look out the window and view something so wonderful is a true gift. You see, I’ve been stuck inside (and mostly in bed) with some seriously nasty GI thing. I haven’t really wanted to clutter this blog with talk of that unpleasantness, but if by any chance you’ve been waiting on return correspondence for me — I’m very sorry for the silence. Just trying to take it easy and give my body time to heal and feel better.

Hopefully, there will be more photos and stories about our foxy neighbors (and also some more adorable deer photos) in the next few days… *grin*


Harsi / August 17, 2011 / mammals / 2 Comments

Isn’t He Lovely…?


Western Tanager, male


I’ve been seeing several Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) lately and their fiery colors never fail to please! Yesterday, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to the return of the White-crowned Sparrow and there will be many other well-loved fall and winter visitors arriving with them soon. But, this will inevitably mean saying good-bye to those species of songbird that arrived last spring and stayed to breed through the summer months. In addition to the Western Tanager, a few other familiar faces that will soon depart include the Bullock’s and Hooded Orioles, Black-headed Grosbeak and Phainopepla. I’ve tried to be especially conscious of this when out walking in the last few weeks… spending a little more time observing and admiring these guys before they take to the wing.


Harsi / August 16, 2011 / birds / 0 Comments

Crowning Glory


White-crowned Sparrow & branchesWhite-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)


I love these sparrows… The smart look of their black-and-white caps and the dappled browns of their coat. The way their songs fill the air in the morning and evening hours. I’ll have to wait another month or so before they return to the canyon from their summer breeding areas. I’m looking forward to seeing them hopping around in the leaf litter and bushes once again!


Harsi / August 15, 2011 / birds / 0 Comments

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