Week 34 … #26 Loneliness … Nature at it’s Harshest

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Cape Buffalo, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

On one of our evening drives in Kenya looking for wildlife, we came upon this old Cape Buffalo, lying in the open, alone.  He looked tired and lethargic and took no heed of our jeep as we pulled near … just calmly chewing his cud and watching us unalarmed.  No other buffalo was around which seemed unusual, since they tend to stay in herds.   Our Masai Mara guide explained to us that old bulls, like him, have been kicked out of the herd by younger, more virile males and lead a solitary existence.  Unfortunately, without the  protection of a herd, old bulls commonly fall prey to lions.  I wonder if this ended up being his fate.

Week 30 … #14 Humor …McDonalds!

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Impalas, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

One wildlife animal that was plentiful on the Kenya plains were Impalas.  We saw so many, we began calling them “McDonalds” due to their rear-end markings that looked like the McDonald’s logo.  And secondly, because they are the fast food item for lions, leopards and cheetahs.  So it became a standard joke every time we saw an impala herd we spoke out “Oh look, there’s some more McDonalds!”

Most baby impalas are born mid-day as this is the safest time to give birth since most of their enemies are resting.  Unfortunately, half of newborns are killed by predators within the first few weeks of life.  A fascinating fact that our guide shared was that impala mothers can delay giving birth for up to a month if weather conditions are harsh, such as during the wet season.  But upon looking up this fact, it is more a myth than reality.  It is  believed that to cope with poor conditions, impalas may choose to abandon or abort their young rather than risk their own lives to look after a lamb whose likelihood of survival is marginal at best.  A sad reality on the plains of Africa.

 

 

Week 27 … #18 Door …Enter Into a World of Possibilities

“How To Turn Anything Into Something Else”, Mural Arts of Philadelphia

Having been a Philadelphia resident for 11 years prior to moving to Lakewood Ranch, I would frequently come upon one of the over 1,300 murals that paint Philly’s downtown landscape.  The Philly Mural Arts Program is an anti-graffiti mural program bringing professional artists and graffiti writers together to create new murals in the city along with involving and educating children in the arts.

With some free time this past weekend while in Philly, I took a tour of some of the works in Center City.  The image above particularly stood out with its bold colors and background story.  I thought it served as a perfect illustration for a metaphorical “Door” theme, where one can open it into “an ever-changing world.”

The mural development paired 13 artists and students ages 10 to 15 over the summer of 2011 to develop the concept.  Below are some excerpts that explain the design:

“Though the images in the mural appear strange and whimsical, they hold a mirror to the world the kids inhabit in real life –  there are systems of travel, places of danger and places of rest, spaces of darkness and of light.  There are factories that pollute the water, and there are portals that hold new possibilities. A dragon’s back turns into tracks and supports a freight train, a lemon transforms into a bird taking flight, a boat becomes a whale, and scissors’ arms break apart to sprout separate individuals.  This was aptly summarized by 10-year-old Marquis Fabii, (ultimately becoming the title of the mural), How to Turn Anything Into Something Else.

“Together we made a world that is at once a version of the one we inhabit, the one of which we are afraid, and the one for which we hope.

“Towering over everything in the top-right corner is the many-muscled Kira, a direct representation of a drawing by Big Picture student Shakira Lowery.  Kira is the strongest woman in the world, has flashlight eyes and sees through darkness. She casts a guiding light on this new, uncanny place. We decided to use Shakira’s image as a welcoming beacon for folks on the sidewalk and as a tribute to the strength and creativity that is demanded of us all as we set out into an ever-changing world.”

 

Week 23 … #46 Fear … Circle of Life

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Cape Buffalo and lionesses battle over calf, Masai Mara, Kenya.

Cape Buffalo are fiercely protective of their young — and of each other — despite the fact that they have few predators.  Also known as Black Death, the Cape Buffalo can be extremely dangerous, and have a tendency to attack humans.  They are to be feared!!  It is said Cape Buffalos have killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa.  But then, I have little sympathy for big game hunters!

We came upon this scene of a young buffalo mother trying to protect her several day old injured calf.  She was alone which probably meant she had been there for a while as the herd had moved on without her.  Buffalo herds are very protective of each other and stick close together, even engaging in mobbing behavior when fighting off predators.  In this case, it would appear that the herd was aware of the futility of saving this baby calf and moved on without her.

The scene was filled with a dozen or so hyenas, two lionesses and a jackal, all surrounding the mother and the calf, waiting for her to walk away.  Each time that she attempted to leave the calf, the lions or the hyenas would approach the calf, biting at it or trying to drag it off.  The calf would cry out, she would run back and chase off the predators.  At one point, the lions attacked the hyenas, pushing them back, but overtime, they inched their way closer.  We must have watched this scene for over an hour with the mother torn between staying with her calf or leaving.

We decided to pull out of the area and find a spot for our mid-morning coffee and breakfast, a nice perk to early morning game drives.

IMG_0898When we returned to the site an hour later, the mother’s struggle to stay or leave still continued as the predators attempted to take the calf.  After another forty minutes watching this scene, the mother ultimately, but hesitantly, continued walking away from the calf as he no longer cried out when the lions were upon him.  She had made her decision to leave.

And so did we.

It’s a sad scene for any animal being attacked or killed but in this wild African kingdom, I came to accept the fact that one animal’s death may mean the survival of another.  Birth, survival and death … in its most raw form in Africa.

Week 19 … #14 Humor … Old Man in the Tree

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Old Man in the Tree.

Sometimes, we can come upon a scene that just lights up our day and makes us chuckle.  The above image did that for me on my dog walk the other day.  We pass this tree quite often.  It is a huge, beautiful oak tree in Lakewood Ranch on Balmoral Woods Boulevard.  It has a long outstretched branch that one walks under and every time I think … please don’t fall on me today!  Because it looks like it could at any moment.

Sometime in the past week, some awesome person added these adornments to this old tree.  How perfect!  Every time I walk by now, I chuckle and silently thank the person who gave me this humorous gift!

Week 5 … Theme # 6, Forsaken

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Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert, Maine

On a recent visit to Acadia, I had hopes of capturing some beautiful images of this stunning national treasure that lies on the coast of Maine.  But the weather had other ideas, and our two days there were primarily encased in fog.  No matter, though, because fog delivers its own beauty.  I came across this scene when we were exploring several of the small towns in the area and immediately cried out “Stop!” to my hubby.  He pulled over and I trekked across a field to this lovely, quiet scene.  I enjoy capturing images and scenes that evoke some emotion within myself and this scene did just that.  These two solo boats seemed lost and abandoned wrapped within the fog.  It evoked a feeling of forsaken within me.  Maybe it does that for you as well.

Week 2 … #2 Quiet Moment

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Meet Lucy.

She is our four year old Australian Cattle Dog mix or a Heeler, as some may say.  She is a member of the herding breed and is related to Australia’s famous wild dog, the Dingo.  She loves training, learning tricks and always ready for a game of fetch.  She’s a bossy, high energy, vocal girl preferring people over other dogs and I’m sure would have preferred to be a solo ‘child’ instead of sharing her space with our Harry, a dachshund, whose temperament is her extreme opposite.

I captured this iPhone image (and edited in Lightroom) of Lucy in a ‘Quiet Moment’ as I took my time to wake up one morning.  Yes, she sleeps on the bed and obediently waits for permission to leave it.

This is the look I get as she waits.  Each and every morning, as if saying  “Ready for a new day, Mom?”