Sally’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (and a Photographic Visual Puzzle*)

06 February 2017


Conservancy Plants, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Conservancy Plants Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Click image to enlarge. Let me know what you think about my photograph. Prints are available upon request.


As I write this meditation, the air is calm, clouds are lingering, and the temps are frigid. It is an apt analogy for the season and climate in America. And I’ve been hoping to fully distract myself from the anxiety and tension that continues to build daily in my country.

A few weeks ago I became privy to a book of essays by the poet, Mary Oliver. While I have read Oliver’s nature poems, she comes only occasionally into my reading life. When Upstream arrived, it lassoed my heart: lassoed it with her profound insights, melodic observations, and meteoric rhetoric. This small tome has become the calm in the midst of chaotic social and political history making.

Upstream nests on my kitchen table. As I pass it, I am compelled to grab my glasses and savor another essay. It is impossible to sit and read it cover to cover, because every essay is made of words that rattle my thoughts. Her descriptions are vibrant in their silence, radiant in their energy, intrusive in her examination, compelling in devotion. Oliver is a gift to those of us who revere nature and those that can be eased into Mother Nature’s charming ways. Her words can be read repeatedly, and that brings me rays of calm.

In perusing her (often) stream of consciousness that weaves in and out on a continuum, the notion suddenly arose: I feel lost, not lost in place and time, but in the throes of a dismantling of American democracy. While I am reeling from the direction that my country is taking under new leadership, it is the consequences for the greater good of humanity and the planet that has become embedded in my thoughts day and night.

What a phenomenon to be enthralled by a writer’s work and wanting on some level to gift it to treasured friends, and on another plane covet the work for myself, to pledge its quiet brilliance and become immersed in its cadence. To keep her where inspiration hovers and lands. To keep her as meditation in the midst of upheaval.

Mary Oliver is my heroine who created a teeny tiny opus (Upstream) of deeply poignant personal philosophy. In the first few pages Oliver describes her own pilgrimage as a youth to define herself through discovery of nature. Those descriptions can be felt as universal words for digestion and rumination.

In the Lens section is another photomontage that reflects my current mood and lifelong dedication to Mother Nature. I feel as though nature wants to hide and be seen at the same time. We, humans, have given her much to consider: our selfishness, our interference, our destruction, our egocentrism, our holier-than-thou approach. For her devotees it is heartbreaking.

But resistance is waving their informed hands, and this rising political and social movement may just make the difference. Yes, my spirit is emboldened that hope is steadily growing across the American landscape and globally.

*Photographic Visual Puzzle © Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Tip of the Week:

In this time of great change I am supporting more and more organizations whose work have shored the heart and soul of Mother Nature and the Earth. Here are my top choices for those that are mobilizing greater forces to combat the new administration’s stance on climate change, drilling for oil, and other policies that will add to the ills of our planet. Each organization makes suggestions about how we can do our part locally as well as nationally. Of course, donations help them fight the fight. You can select from many, but these are my favorites: Sierra ClubNational Wildlife FederationWorld Wildlife FundNational Parks Conservation Association, National Geographic Society, and National Defense Resource Council. I have been their supporters for many, many moons. My membership in the World Wildlife Fund, for example, goes back numerous decades. I hope that you will support one or more. It has never been more important than now to do so.


View other entries for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

****If you would like to buy a print of any of my photographs or have any questions, please view the Contact Information found on the masthead. Thank you.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Photomontage, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

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50 Responses to Sally’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (and a Photographic Visual Puzzle*)

  1. I certainly understand your feeling some anxiety and tension these days. What better way to distract yourself than to create some beauty in this world? Like this lovely composite photo.

  2. Wonderful thoughts Sally and I love that image and the solace of nature! I will have to check out Mary Oliver.

  3. This book is on my list for this year and I am so excited to get to it!

  4. Amy says:

    A wonderful review of Mary Oliver’s work, Sally! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. 🙂

  5. smilecalm says:

    Wonderfully meditative and instructive, Sally 🙂

  6. Suzanne says:

    Hi Sally, your photo reflects the mental disturbance you write of. Your essay really touched me. I share your hope that the current political climate across the globe will somehow result in more people waking up to the necessity of caring for our planet. I like the title of this challenge too – I too faced a photographic visual puzzle that led me to write my post. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. Thank you for your thoughtful ‘pens’ post, Sally.

    I was prompted to pop of to the Book Depository and found that they have quite a few of Mary Oliver’s books on sale, but, in the end, I went to Amazon. I got ‘Long Life: Essays and Other Writings (Kindle Edition’) because, from what I read inside, it looks wonderful, and it was 52% off – I’m far too stingy to pay $20 for an e-book. (I now have a rope of dead fish on the beach in my head. My gosh, her imagery is beautiful.)

    I’ve forgotten to look at your ‘lens’ part!

  8. thirdeyemom says:

    Just ordered it from library and there are a lot of people in front of me! Maybe I should order it from Amazon! 🙂 I too am feeling quite crazed and also anxious with the reality of what is happening right now. I could use some good reading!

  9. thirdeyemom says:

    I love Mary Oliver! I first heard about her work on a podcast on NPR. I fell in love with her poetry. Now I’m curious about Upstream. I think I too am going to request it from the library. I need some deep rich philosophical stuff right now and I’m thinking this may be exactly it. Beautiful post as always Sally.

  10. I sadly don’t often comment on your “Pen” I am so often trying to catch up in the blogosphere! I love the “visual puzzle” of your image and you write eloquently and poignantly on the plight of nature – lovely review of Mary Oliver.

  11. prior.. says:

    Oh Sally – I loved the way you wrote about this gem of a book. I have read some Mary Oliver – but the book sounds like the timing of it was right on – and really liked how you described the impact it has had on you. And I just keep praying for the leadership – and we all need to do that anyway – but even more so now with the tension and all…
    wishing you a good week – and in that photo from Longwood – the color behind the verticals offers us a feeling of hope.

  12. restlessjo says:

    I’m glad that you’ve found some solace, Sally. They are indeed strange times. I love the soft diaphanous background to your photo. 🙂

  13. Nato says:

    Your photo is very entrancing. It makes me think there is a magic that awaits us…if only we would go out of the shadows. I agree. All this “progress” is concerning, and I truly hope the world and humanity survive it. Like you said though, we must all find a way to support our world, nature, humanity, and true basic decency. Together, we all can make a difference:)

  14. pattimoed says:

    Beautifully expressed sentiments, Sally. I feel the same sense of urgency and I’m supporting groups/program that are important to me. I am excited too about Mary Oliver’s book. I have read her poems, but didn’t know about that work. And last but not least–your photo beautifully shots the mystery of nature…what is seen and what is hidden from view. Have a wonderful week, Sally. Maybe we’ll have some hopeful news this week?!

  15. Off to look for Upstream… Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and thoughts on nature today, Sally. I’m watching snow fall outside my window now and enjoying the change in scenery. As long as it melts before tomorrow. 🙂

  16. Angeline M says:

    Your photo montage is just gorgeous, Sally. I really have liked thinking about the trees, if they are indeed trees, inside and we are looking out through a window at the flower. Such a delicate and lovely transition from the dark to the color of the flower.
    I also love Mary Oliver, but need to get my hands on Upstream.

  17. Allan G. Smorra says:

    A great photo this week, Sally. I love silhouettes and I have been sitting here making up stories to myself about whether the trees are inside looking out at the flower, or whether the flower is in a cage apart from the trees. I like this photomontage on so many levels.

  18. Elisa Ruland says:

    Nice post and photomontage, Sally. I’m looking forward to learning more about Mary Oliver and her works.

  19. Mary Oliver is a National treasure! My breathing deepens and my heart slows even thinking of her work. I can see her book nested on your table. I will have a copy on my table by weeks end thanks to your review. Your Visual puzzle is a natural “hash tag” and so much better then for Twitter and Facebook.
    Quit Monday Challenge

  20. Here is what I see: Trees and plants indoors with a window. The trees could logically be curtains. Thought-provoking picture!

  21. As much as I enjoyed the photomontage, reading about Mary Oliver’s book excited me even more. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed her poems, so I’ll have to rush to the library site to see about the book of essays. Thanks and a happy Monday to you.


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