Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 59) – Lifting the Curtain to See Nature

24 February 2020


Stepping into Layers of Nature Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2020 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.


Winter 2020 has produced a season that will undoubtedly leap to the forefront of memory.For me it’s a grave example of our future; that is, unless we act. With less than a month until the official arrival of spring we’ve already seen renewal that signals spring’s performance. Just in the last few weeks I’ve seen the completion of naturalized crocuses in my backyard, buds of daffodils readying to bloom, trees budding, unseasonable temps, birds flitting in and out of birdhouse on the search for nesting opportunities, one short snowfall, mostly temps in the 30s and 40s. We’re in winter but the weather is not in any way meeting its description.

This current awakening of the earth is so troubling, because my region of the Mid Atlantic has not had its much-needed weeks of inches-deep frozen earth. Without that hard freeze the ecosystem is off center, not able to control the imbalance that undoubtedly will surface. For an entire season to be set askew is to mourn human’s lack of attention to our greatest threat: the climate crisis.

And so my heart is ablaze with action. I’ve been buying seeds and planning more wildflower gardens. For twenty years I’ve been turning the majority of my property into wildlife habitats. Certainly, this passion has its rewards.

And as every gardener knows, it’s a never-ending story: the assessment and reassessment of a season and its progeny. For me it’s a combination of intuition, education, planning and selection. My goal has remained: reduce grass and return the land to its wild state. Within a small university progressive town my neighborhood is blessed. There are mature trees that are perfect habitats for all sorts of wildlife, red-shouldered hawks overhead, raccoons, skunks, opossums, a myriad of birds, groundhogs … It’s a glorious balance in a non-rural setting.

While it’s usual for me to garden for much of the four seasons, it’s late February and I’m gardening as though it’s early April. The earth is workable and I’m weeks ahead in preparation for spring planting.

Do I temp my eagerness to plant? No, I steady my patience and use my years of experience to hold tight.

The act of being able to spend hours out in my gardens suffices. Most importantly, that immersion keeps my mind occupied and thinking of the joys ahead, even as analysis continues.

In the Lens section is my latest tribute to Mother Earth and the world that we long to inhabit, at least I do. It’s a tribute to the vital planet that gave us abundance, fertility and majesty. Such splendor is being threatened every day and tears at the heartstrings.

Recently, I learned about the well-respected nature writer Barry Lopez’s essay “A Literature of Place (2004).” Here is a quote that touched me deeply, and started my thoughts meandering across space and time with nature at the forefront.

“If you’re intimate with a place, a place with whose history you’re familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows you’re there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned.” As humans our connection with nature provides (he continues) “a fundamental human defense against loneliness.”

Lopez was primarily describing how the relationship with the land shapes our inner landscape. Animals, wild and domestic, also do this. Maybe if people spent more time in nature, a bubbling reverence would emerge, and it would become the single driving force to save the planet.


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18 Responses to Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 59) – Lifting the Curtain to See Nature

  1. Maria says:

    It is so surreal. I like all the different elements which combine some familiar ones too, such as a red and green caladium leaf somewhere? The trees along the border work great and frame it real well.

  2. that patch of light gives me hope. and yes to our awareness of mother earth calling us to do something!!

  3. Amy says:

    Love thy layers of beautiful trees, plants and flowers, beautifully done. Changing weather pattern is happening everywhere, worrisome.

  4. I just read Noami Kleins book This Changes Everything, and despite the gloomy outlook, there are still hope that we human beings might come around. As always your photo montage is beautiful.

  5. Lignum Draco says:

    An interesting quote, Sally. Despite the evidence everyone is experiencing, people still deny the problem.
    Over here, we even have a politician who wants to promote educational resources for children in schools – which will deride climate change as a “hoax”.

  6. Tina Schell says:

    We’ve had a very odd winter here too Sally, mid 60s and sunny one day, low 40s and cloudy the next. Up and down like a yo-yo. I think this week will be our final taste of winter and then spring will be upon us (as is normal here at the time of year). Our worry is what happens come July and August but time will tell. I share your concern about mother earth. If only your final thought would become truth. Alas I fear we are still in the minority.

  7. Gallivanta says:

    Wonderful quote. Your garden sounds like a treasure. We are in drought like conditions. Not unusual for this time of year but summer has been challenging.

  8. That’s a lovely, lovely montage, Sally. I like your passion to return the earth and plant wildflowers. I’ll be in such a different place when we move to Arizona, so planting will be completely different. I also like that quote. I recently finished “The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana” by Rick Bass. You’d love it. He shares your passion and writes eloquently and deeply.


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