If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Taking Lessons From Nature


Last week I finally bit the bullet and labeled the pictures I had taken so far in 2013. Well, not all of the pictures, only the ones I had not previously deleted. Without this filing process, it is difficult to find any particular picture when I want it. The use of metadata tags makes searching go much more quickly.

This process also had the benefit that I got to view my pictures with a fresh eye and on a day when my philosophical hat was firmly in place. Here are a few that caught my attention and some of the thoughts I had about them.

I stumbled upon this spider’s web on a morning walk in Savannah with our now-deceased golden retriever, Morgan. What intricate work the spider performed in order to eat.

Some days later I sat and watched another spider construct its web. Similar to writers who spin stories, the spider started with the major frame lines and then filled in the details until the project was complete.

It worked diligently until it was nearly finished, and after a short rest added a bit of filament here and there to fill in a few gaps in the story.

Then it got out of the way and let the web do its work. I often forget that part and keep trying to improve something long after it has become fully functional.

How ephemeral the first spider’s work was. A storm came through later that day and the next morning the web was gone.

I was working in my Savannah study one morning when I spotted this male eastern bluebird outside. He flew from one lamp post to another warbling his bubbly song, letting the world know he was there and this was his territory.

Sometimes it is necessary to take a risk and proclaim from a spot exposed to predator attack that this is yours and you are proud of it.

Overdo it and a sharp-shinned hawk has you for lunch. Hide in a bush and you never get the girl.

I wish I could figure out the right proportions when it comes to publicity for my writing.

When we returned to our northern home, we discovered a beaver had decided to change the landscape in front of the house without consulting the local zoning laws and without a permit from the human owners.

I suppose his motto was to ask forgiveness rather than permission. In any event, I was not about to go to a nursery and purchase a half-dozen sixty-foot trees, so I had to live with the change.

On this tree, the beaver worked hard, but got nothing because the tree didn’t fall to the ground; it hung up in other trees. The beaver was successful with other trees, but not all work is productive.

From my perspective, this tree was still dead and now represented only prospective firewood and a drop-on-my-head hazard until I completed the beaver’s work and took it to the ground.

Only after I stopped being angry at the beaver’s decimation of my birch stand did I realize that by removing the trees the beaver had opened up my view of the lake (positive), opened up the view of my house from the lake (negative), and changed the amount of light reaching other trees and our house (positive if you are another tree, not so useful as the extra light heats up our house during the summer months). That reminds me of a story I tell on our neighbors across the lake: they took down many of the trees in front of their house to improve their view of the lake and then had to install blinds because of all the extra light they let in.

As summer progresses, I notice the surrounding trees are reaching limbs into the vacated spaces, preferring to grow out rather than up. Most forest trees are lean poles as they grow straight up in their battle for light. These rare holes in the canopy allow for changed behavior.

Humans, too, can experience new growth spurts when something causes an opening in their personal canopy. Unlike the trees, however, we can sometimes be our own beaver.

These two Northern Crescent butterflied gave me pause.

                                                           
The one on the left is freshly minted, whereas the one on the right is scarred with life’s travails. Lefty is more colorful and has its life mostly in front of it. Righty has more experience and to me is more interesting. How did it lose the edge of its left hind wing? Was it always less colorful or did the sun bleach out its colors? Did each of them perceive their own shadow, and what did they think about it if they did?

I resemble Righty more than I usually care to admit.

After the bear arrived two successive evenings and mauled our bird feeders, I now have to take in the hummingbird feeders overnight and put them out again each morning.

The first birds up in the morning are my hummingbirds and an eastern phoebe that never tires of saying his name. Like this male ruby-throated hummingbird, the hummers not so silently wonder why I am sleeping in as they buzz their “flowers” and discover they are not yet there.

As soon as I awake, I put out their feeders; and I can’t go to bed until long after the sun goes down because they’re still being used. Since we are so close to summer solstice and I live above the 46th parallel, there is a lot of day between dawn and sunset—almost sixteen hours. The hummers arise in the predawn and retire after dusk. For me that requires a nap.

~ Jim

9 comments:

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I love your pictures. You seem to live in the best of both worlds - the south, but not too far south so that you are in a world overrun with people, and in the north with the beauty of woods and a lake. I love my morning walks in the woods and even though I follow the same path, I notice new things every day. It's also where I come up with many of my writing ideas for poetry and mysteries.

Most people don't understand why I think the perfect vacation involves camping. That is if we don't get stuck in some park packed with people and huge RVs or big trailers with TVs and running air conditioners. My siblings and I prefer more natural areas where the campsites are either isolated or spread far apart.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Beautiful pictures, Jim. Thanks for giving us a virtual vacation!

Paula Gail Benson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Montgomery Jackson said...

Gloria,

Walking the same path daily can allow you to see the world at a different scale. Are you aware of the book by David George Haskell called The Forest Unseen: A year's watch in nature? He takes 1 sq. meter of forest and watches it for a year.

I haven't read it, but I plan to.

Unless we find ways to unplug, we can't hear ourselves think.

~ Jim

saintsandtrees said...

Thanks, Jim, for the pictures and your observations. I live in a small town, not such an idyllically rural setting as yours, but there's plenty of nature to see. Here, when we lose trees, it usually some bone-headed home-owner, and it makes me both angry and sad. All too often, people don't seem to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Kaye George said...

This is the best post I've read in a while. What fun! Thanks!

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Nancy -- Developers are some of the worst - they'll clear-cut the entire plot, strip off the top soil and when the construction is done, plant puny trees and bring in sod.

Kaye -- thanks, much appreciated.

Thanks

Kara Cerise said...

Beautiful pictures, Jim. I like your observations about nature and life. Right now I'm looking at cranes "fishing" in a marsh. The water reflects the colors of the sun setting. Brilliant.

Warren Bull said...

What a treat to see your photos.