Nothing is good and clever

camping brier island
Brier Island, Nova Scotia

One of the lessons of history is that

nothing is often a good thing to do

and always a clever thing to say.”

— Will Durant

sunset view nova scotia
However, ‘nothing’ is not a good way to get that last graduate school essay written…
wish I was back on Brier Island, Nova Scotia, watching the clouds, whales, seals,and seabirds…
If you haven’t been, I highly recommend a visit. It’s one of my favorite places. 

Christmas time is nearly here

jasper under the christmas tree

Christmas time is nearly here

Give a shout, hooray!

It’s time to be with those held dear,

To frolic, sing and play.

 

Christmas 1951

But behave yourself, the warning goes,

To kids, both naughty and nice

See, Santa Claus, he always knows,

Every kindness and every vice.

 

Smith cousins Christmas

Still, I’ve never met a kid who hates

The Christmas season time,

For parents though that love abates

With all the Christmas whine.

mom and dad christmas morning

So give a hug to one you love

And go romp in the snow,

But don’t forget when push comes to shove,

It’s Christmas time you know!

 

sledding in Boulder Colorado

I wish you happiness, I wish you cheer,

This glorious Christmas time,

I wish you joy, with loved ones near,

Enjoy my Christmas rhyme.

Bogie puppy eyes

Christmas Field Guide

My new favorite website! Science comics by field naturalist Rosemary Mosco, who seems like a really awesome person and has made some really awesome nature comics. Hard to pick a favorite, since they’re all so great. I’ve spent the last few hours reading them all and then sending them to all of my friends. I love the combination of nature and art. 

One of the biggest problems, to me, is that many people expect scientists to do all the public outreach for their research subjects. Some scientists are great at outreach, but we can’t expect them all to be interested in public relations, or to have the time for it! I think there should be more go-betweens — people called “science communicators” — who can help both sides. And art can play a part in making science clear to laypeople.”

– from an interview with Rosemary Mosco on The Birdist

This is exactly what I want to do (and what I’m currently applying to graduate school to do), only with words instead of art. Like with some of my animal poems. Yay for science communication!

One of my friends posted one of Rosemary’s comics on Facebook (bird sound mnemonics), which is how I have just now discovered this site. It’s fantastic! Check it out: 

bird and moon

And in honor of the upcoming holiday season, here is a handy-dandy field guide you should probably print out and keep in your pocket for easy reference. 

What messages do you try to focus on in your comics?

Hmm.

1. Nature is infinitely complicated.

2. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be funny and heartwarming.

3. So we should take care of it.

another excerpt from an interview with Speaking of Science. 

Black Vulture

everglades florida

Everglades National Park, Florida. 2009.

I have no doubt that one day I will be an old black vulture, my face a mass of wrinkles and sparse hair. I will sun myself along the boardwalk, and stare down anyone who gets too close. My walk, ungainly, slow, will take me along. I will pick apart dead things, old things, the decaying bits of conversation no one else wants. Those will be left for me, to have my way with. I will stare death in the face and not blink, I will circle it, be drawn to it, draw life from it.

It is how we gather, all of us, drawn together to bring life from death. To consume death, and become stronger because of it.

Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue Fundraiser

Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue Fundraiser

Hey everyone~

As you might have known from my previous post Max Seigal Photography, I’m good friends (I’d even go as far as to say best friends) with Max Seigal, who takes epic pictures. Seriously, they’re epic– check them out.

If you’d like:

1) the chance to honor Max’s mom Alice, a veterinarian in Boulder, Colorado and all-around amazing woman, who passed away in October,

2) to support the Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue,  and specifically a dog named Coco Puff who needs cataract surgery, and

3) the chance to win one of Max’s pictures (makes the perfect Christmas present!), then check out this Facebook link:

 

Post by Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue.

For only $10 you can be entered into a drawing to win one of Max’s pictures. There’s no limit to the number of tickets you can purchase. The RMCR is trying to raise $4,000 to pay for cataract surgery for one of their dogs, Coco Puff.
(Click on the link, or the picture of CoCo Puff below to read more about him). 

Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue

To purchase tickets, write a check payable to:

RMCR, c/o Shannon Matthews, 2138 Doris Court, Loveland CO 80537.

You will be sent a receipt with your ticket(s).The winner will be announced Sunday, December 8th via email, and also posted on the RMCR Facebook page and RMCR website. Said lucky winner will receive a promo code to use on Max’s site for the 20×30 print of their choice, on either paper or metal (go for the metal– they look fantastic, don’t need to be framed, are much lighter than a traditionally framed picture of that size– no glass!, and are quite durable and easy to clean).

If you need any help selecting your photo, I’d be happy to make recommendations. My first recommendation is this: buy a couple tickets, and then go over to his site and buy a few pictures. One Max Seigal photograph is pretty sweet, but two (or more!) is even better.

 nature and wilderness photography

26 Things I’ve Learned in My 26 Years

Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don’t be afraid.

— Frederick Buechner

Canyonlands National Park Utah

Canyonlands, Utah

1. Not everything in life has to be hard.

Sometimes the easy path is the one you’re supposed to go down. Sometimes it’s the universe showing you where you’re supposed to go.

lily in sunlight

Oregon

2. If you throw the candy wrappers away in the trash, Mom will never find them.

If you stuff them in the couch she will find them and you will get in trouble.

 

imageswhisper-words-of-wisdom_615x454 3. Let it be.

As in, the microwave/car/laptop/whathaveyou that is malfunctioning will probably start working properly again if you let it alone for a spell. Granted, this doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I have in fact “fixed” a microwave and a few car problems this way.

 

4. A sense of humor will take you far in the world.

I honestly don’t know how you’d get by without one. Life is ridiculous, there’s no getting around that. So just enjoy it. Laugh and be merry.

winter camping Wyoming

5. Go camping.

If you want to get to know someone really well, go camping with them. Hopefully you realize that they’re awesome, ‘cause if not it’s going to be a looong weekend.

Fundy National Park New Brunswick Canada

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

6. Travel.

Traveling is imperative for any well-rounded individual. Even if you can’t physically travel to far-off lands, mental travel can be enough. Read a book, or watch a documentary/movie that transports you somewhere else and teaches you something about other people and the world around you. The world is a large place, but not as big as it seems. The people living on the other side of it are just like us. It is not as scary as you think out there. GO!

blue springs state park florida

Another travel perk: hugging manatees.

7. A good book is always worth its weight in your checked bag.

These are your reserve books for the travels home, because of course you will have finished the books in your carry-on bag. You should have a book to read on your person at all times.

8. It’s better not to tell Mom what you did until after you make it back safely.

Or ever. This includes skydiving, almost getting arrested in Washington DC for sleeping in your car, and picking up hitchhikers in foreign countries. Especially that last one.

skydiving Ohio

9. If you make cookies, they will be eaten.

Especially if you live in a bunkhouse with other field biologists. And especially if they are male.

10. If you simply expect things to work out, they probably will.

The world does not have it against you. It might not happen exactly how you planned, but it will work out in some fashion.

Adopt a kitten, get some sweet corn!

11. Going for a walk is an excellent way to generate thoughts.

galapagos islands

12. There are many people in this world who do not know how to put toilet paper on the holder.

Perhaps they purposely didn’t change out the empty roll because they wanted you to have the joy of doing so.

change toilet paper brain damage sign

13. Not speaking does not mean not caring.

Or not being intelligent. Sometimes we just can’t speak, or don’t know what to say.

Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

14. Just because that’s how it’s been for a long time doesn’t mean that’s how it’s supposed to be forever.

15. My family will always be odder than yours.

Therefore, there is very little you can do to weird me out.

Lauren and Grandad with hats

16. It is very hard for me to be happy if I can’t go outside every day.

Sunshine, trees, fresh air, blue skies, and some mountains would be preferable. That’s all I need. And some birds.

Nepal Annapurna

17. Sometimes you just want to do nothing.

And that’s okay. You don’t have to be working on something all the time. It’s okay to take a break every once in awhile and just breathe.

Teton Science School Wilson Campus bunkhouse

18. Though sometimes you might think otherwise, it’s probably better that you didn’t actually say what was on your mind.

Stupid can’t be taken back, and neither can unkind words (no matter how deserved they are).

Darn it, if only my parents hadn’t raised me to be such a polite and respectful person…

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

19. Climbing up a mountain on your own steam is a powerful feeling.

The view is always better when you work for it.

trekking Mt. Kinabalu Malaysia

It is not always advisable to wear Teva sandals and socks to climb mountains. But I find them to be excellent hiking foot attire.

20. Be excited about something every day.

I learned this one from my dog, who, for all of his 14 years, was excited to the point of backflips for his food. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that excited about food, and, thinking about it, I’m not sure why not. Food is exciting stuff. Life is exciting stuff. So get excited about it, and don’t bother with what other people think.

food truck moab utah

21. You can’t outrun your past. Or a charging moose.

And of the two, I can personally attest that the charging moose is much more terrifying.

Fundy National Park New Brunswick Canada

22. Birds are cool.

Like really cool. For instance, migration. Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. RTHUs weigh 2-6 grams (0.1-0.2 oz) and are 7-9 cm (2.8-3.5 inches) long. At elevations of 2,000 to 5,000 feet, in 11-18 hours, the tiny birds fly 600 miles over the Gulf. Woah.

Ruby-throated-Hummingbird-52

23. Send postcards.

Everyone loves to get mail. I mean really, is anyone going to say “Don’t send me any more mail, I don’t like getting a little personalized note that lets me know you’re thinking about me”? No.

24. People leave their brains at home when they go on vacation.

On that note, the middle of the road on a blind curve is not a good place to stop to take a picture when there is traffic coming from both directions.

Also, when the sign on the visitor center says “Hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.” that doesn’t mean we employees want to sit here another half hour while you use the bathroom, ask detailed questions about the refuge, and browse the gift shop. But by all means, go right ahead. I get the equivalent of 87 cents an hour for this internship, and no, I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time right now. I really don’t want to go home and eat dinner or anything like that.

south carolina hiking

25. Make music.

Sing. Play an instrument. Music is the language of the soul. And it just feels good.

Especially when it involves boomwackers and Call Me Maybe.

26. Love like sunshine.

Love should warm you, brighten up your day, help you to see things you didn’t before. It should be everywhere, illuminating everything.

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Also, I wanted to mention that I have learned a great deal of other things in my 26 years, this is only a sampling. Just wanted to clarify.

An Unfortunate Reality

 

It is an unfortunate reality for innate idlers that our modern world requires one to hold a job to maintain a sustainable existence.”

— J. Maarten Troost, from the book The Sex Lives of Cannibals

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Cape Breton Highlands NP, Nova Scotia, Canada.
One of the best places to spend a morning with a hot mug of chai and a journal.

Max Seigal Photography

Hey Everybody!

My good friend Max Seigal has a new photography website, which everyone and their dog (and other pets) should be checking out right this instant! Here’s the link (I’ll make it real big so you can’t miss it):

Max Seigal Photography

 

Max and I have known each other since college: classmates, friends, rock climbing partners, travel buddies… ah, what memories (some, like the time I indirectly puked on his foot, or when we trekked up to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, are more epic than others). I’ve been along on many of his photography trips, and have slept through a number of his award-winning shots, including the lightning strike at False Kiva (the first picture you see on his website. I wrote about it here: The eyes of this place). It’s hard to stay awake at night when you have to sit in the dark for long periods of time. He was worried that we were going to get struck by lightning, or soaked to the bone in the pouring down rain. I sat up, remember saying, “Oh look, that’s some big lightning,” and then immediately fell right back asleep. My mom did always used to say that you could send a marching band through my room and I wouldn’t wake up.

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Myself and Max, about to chow down on some delicious quesadillas in Moab, Utah.

I’m also asleep just out of the frame on the left in his self-portrait at Delicate Arch with the Milky Way (in both Personal Favorites and Night Shots). I tucked myself out of the way behind a rock, determined to sit there and enjoy the night sky. It was cold, so I had brought a down sleeping bag to sit in, and, well, when I’m warm and tired and it’s dark I tend to fall asleep. Max actually didn’t even know where I was, and had to call out for me a few times so I didn’t get left behind.

I also almost got lost trying to get out to the Arch that night (actually, I believe it was technically early morning), because my headlamp battery was dying, and I could only see in a 1 foot circle around my feet. Which isn’t so bad when you’re on a trail, but once you’re on slick rock and relying on rock cairns to direct you, it gets a bit trickier. There were a few moments I thought about just sitting down and waiting for Max to come find me once he was done taking pictures. Luckily, I’ve been out to Delicate Arch a number of times, and was fairly familiar with the trail. And, another photographer had left some glow-sticks at a few strategic points along the trail, which helped.

IMAG0836_615x348

Hiking the Narrows, in Zion National Park, with a bum foot. I think the freezing-cold water actually helped, because I went numb from the upper-thigh down.

He’d left me behind, as usual, because he was in a hurry to get up there and start taking pictures, I had to use the outhouse before I left, and I had badly sprained my foot just before we left on our trip and couldn’t really walk very well. In hindsight, I probably should have just stayed in the car. I should have also probably gone to the doctors and had it checked out, but we Smiths tend to follow the “walk it off” recovery method. Which could explain why my knee, which I dislocated a few years ago, still bothers me every once in a while (after my kneecap eventually popped back into place, it didn’t hurt as bad so I just kept working).

Well, while I reconsider my health/injury decision making, make sure you look at Max’s fantastic photographs! I shall include the link here again, so you don’t have to scroll up to the top of the page to find it:

Max Seigal Photography

Happy Picture Perusing!

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Joby, myself, and Max, enjoying breakfast on the trek up to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. The porters and other people we met along the trail all got a kick out of our sweet hats.

I stay a little longer

Good-night! good-night! As we so oft have said

Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days

That are no more, and shall no more return.

Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;

I stay a little longer, as one stays

To cover up the embers that still burn.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

from Three Friends of Mine

I see you there, in your fleece zippered robe, bare feet, smile. We sit at the computer, watching a television show, giggling and exclaiming together. Three of us, brought together by your love. They laugh, secure in knowing they were chosen, they are treasured, the daughters of your heart. You keep asking if you can adopt me too, and I grin and say yes. First to bed, first to rise, you usually head upstairs before we do. They have school tomorrow, so we won’t be up late. I will ride with you, and after the school run we take the dogs for a walk before going for coffee. We will meet the guys at the coffee shop. We do this almost every school day; a routine, a ritual.

Now we are left, loving echoes and memories. We listen for your voice on the stairs.

NIght-night honey buns! I hear you say. I love you!

Love you Mom! Night Mom, love you!

Goodnight, I say. See you in the morning.

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Alice Seigal

January 14, 1957- October 23, 2013