Four score and four months ago

Seven years ago today I began a wee experiment: this blog.  My capricious tendencies have seen it through many incarnations.  It has traveled across domains and has lived and died on multiple platforms and multiple servers.  Historically I gave it a face lift almost as often as I posted.  Yet through all of that, 84 months have passed since it came to life in 2003—and it’s still here.

Through this online journal I have met many fantastic people.  It has gifted me with new friends and it has helped me find a community of like-minded individuals.

Blogging also has given me a chance to exercise my writing and my photography.

But why did I start?  More importantly, why do I still do it today?  Instead of trying to answer those questions anew, let me republish something I wrote last November, something that perhaps was meant more for this anniversary than it was the random writ it seemed to be at the time.  Hereafter is The journal is the thing, only this time I will augment it with images of my favorite kind of creature: raptors.

* * * * * * * * * *

A turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) flying overhead (2009_12_13_044565)

Should I waste that which spills from my soul?  Should I dispose of haphazardly the many tellings which spring forth from cluttered and uncluttered thought alike?  Such writs take shape with ease, gleaning from life’s treasures the simple and complex notions that wind their ways through labyrinths of ideas until finally taking shape in the guise of pedestrian words.  Dare I forsake such a thing?

I am but a tool in the hands of creativity.  A lithe bit of sandpaper destined to remove sharp edges from nature’s display.  A rigid scythe meant to clear a path through grasslands too overgrown to be enjoyed by the masses.  A sturdy bridge meant to convey observers across imagination’s mire.  And a supple cloth to dry the sweat from a hard day’s work.  These things am I…  And more.

A male American kestrel (Falco sparverius) perched on a wire holding prey (2009_11_28_042860)

Green pastures stretch out before me like maidens lying in wait for gentleman callers.  Hills rise like breasts from an earthen mother, and shores stretch like her lips around warm waters.  Trees sway in the breeze like dapple braids of hair touched by loving hands.  If indeed life is anything more than existing, it is a consummation, a marriage betwixt what is and what can be.  I fear ever denying the embrace of this seductress.

In the tiniest of things I find inspiration; in the notation of them I find being.

A juvenile sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) hiding in a tree (2009_12_20_046363)

I reap from fields sown of the universe’s seed.  What comes from me, then, is the simplest interpretation of the greatest mysteries.  To find magic in a single leaf hanging above my head while I travel paths ancient and new…  To bend a twig and find upon it the hopes of a timeless soul wrapped in winter’s slumber…  To stand by the riverside and hear sweet whispers from the commotion that hides beneath its still surface…  Ah, to live in the now, in such a wondrous place, and to never wish to lift a pen so that I might complete the journey that I began…  Blasphemy, it is.  I would rather die.

Why toil with clumsy language?  It remains clumsy only in the hands of those unlearned in its use, uneducated to its robust expression, and unfamiliar with its mystic secrets.  Nay, the journal is the thing in which I conceal and through which I perform.  Find within its borders the vellum of life, a papyrus upon which I paint in fine and broad strokes of words every bit of me, and every bit of the world where I reside.

A red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) in flight (2009_12_20_046514)

Catharsis barely scratches the surface of why I blog; expression even less.

I find everywhere the riddles begging to be solved, the confidences left openly where none shall see them only to be discovered by those truly looking.  By the rhythm of the sentence and the cadence of the photograph do I reveal such things as much to myself as to others.

A female red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched on a limb (2010_01_12_048405)

For decades have I reveled in the joy of the journal.  For almost a decade has that joy found new life in blogging.  The universe opens her dress for me, welcomes me to her bosom, holds me close as I ponder the magnificence of her being.

Never could I give it up.

A female Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) flying overhead (2010_01_24_049071)

— — — — — — — — — —


[1] Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)

[2] American kestrel (Falco sparverius); male

[3] Juvenile sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus)

[4] Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

[5] Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus); female

[6] Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii); female

14 thoughts on “Four score and four months ago”

  1. A notable milestone! I, for one, am very happy that you continue to blog and I look forward to many more excellent posts in the future. You blog is one that I check daily — thank you for sharing your wonderful photographs and your insights into the natural world. Celebrate!!

    1. That’s a terribly kind thing to say, Swampy. Thank you! Hopefully I can keep up the sense of discovery that has imbued these past seven years. Then again, thanks to Mom, I’ve felt a sense of wonder and discovery for 40 years no matter what I’m looking at. It’s hard for me to imagine ever looking at nature and thinking it’s pedestrian.

  2. Congratulations on what surely must be among the most long-lived nature blogs in existence. Still fresh and stimulating — both visually and mentally. Thank you for everything you have taught me.

    1. You’re far too kind, Ted. You have my heartfelt gratitude. I’m humbled and honored that you say you’ve learned something from me. I look up to you as someone who can teach me, so your remark is a compliment I can’t possibly repay. Thank you!

    1. David, you were my inspiration long before I considered myself a nature blog. And I laughed at the 113 years remark! Thank you for the broad smile–but more importantly, thank you for continuing to inspire me.

  3. Congratulations Xenogere. Joyeux Anniversaire! Speaking as a blogger of very short duration, I doff my cap to one who’s kept the words and images coming for so long. God knows whether I’ll have such longevity as a blogger. Interesting that you mention being a journal keeper long before you ever blogged. It seems to me the habit was really established with you back then. Me too. I kept dense journals for about ten years but stopped at the point that i left the theatre. (Things got too painful at that time to continue. I sort of clammed up.) They’re stacked upstairs somewhere, bulging with letters, tickets, photographs etc. Can’t quite bear to look at them now. That can be a job for someone else one day.

    So often you explain that you have no artistic skills, though anyone looking at your photographs would laugh at such a notion because clearly there’s visual creativity aplenty in you, and moreover beautifully expressed. But every now and again you post wonderful paeans like the one above, where language, at which skill you’re never less than adept in your writing, suddenly flowers with hot-house abandon. I felt that I was reading the journal of a young Poe or Hawthorne, to the point where when I came across the word ‘blog’ I was dragged forcefully back to the present century to be reminded that I was enjoying not a work of fiction, but a contemporary journal.

    Jason, I’ve noted these flights to another realm within your blog from time to time, and I always look forward to them. I’d love to know what you read when you began to discover the joy of language. Particularly by way of fiction. I myself used to be in thrall to Rider Haggard, and I recall that when I began to produce essays for literature classes, my style undoubtedly looked for inspiration to R. H., in whose novels language was such an adventure (to me anyway) and it was O K to be highly coloured and swooningly romantic.

    Most of that got knocked out of me at school, where teachers just thought that I was fanciful and curiously old-fashioned. (And I was, because in my heart I was 19th century swashbuckler!) It took me a long time to learn how to keep my interior worlds under lock and key, so that I could survive in the rough and tumble. But looking back, it was no surprise that I got out of Newport… my birthplace… as soon as I could, and got myself to a stage school where the other kids didn’t think I was getting above myself because I had a taste for Dickens.

    I’m rambling. Apologies. It’s just that your post reminded me of how much I’m smitten by words and the expression of ideas, and I’m bowled over by the fact that when you write about love and yearning… which of course is what you are writing about… you do it with such heartfelt passion and joyous abandon.

    1. You’re not rambling at all, Clive. Your comments are always insightful and inspiring, and you always make me look inward so I can truly know myself in the eyes of others. Thank you!

      As for what fiction I read when I was young and what I read now, it’s eclectic at best. Stephen King, Shakespeare, Ambrose Bierce, George Bernard Shaw, and the list goes on. Nothing has ever been out of bounds for me. Sure I ran into plenty of garbage, but I also found a world of diversity that I could hardly imagine. And I’ve always delved into nonfiction with the same enthusiasm, from science and research to biographies. I consume the written word as hungrily as I consume air and food and water.

      But when the rubber meets the road, here’s the name that means the most to me: Kahlil Gibran.

  4. Happy 7 years! Keep it up cause I greatly enjoy your bloggings. Beautiful words and photos in there too, Jason . I really like the kestrel (never have gotten a photo of ’em!) – they always look like watercolor paintings to me. Thumbs up again to you, sir!

    1. What a gracious compliment, Jill. Your blog always leaves me wishing I could experience but half of your adventures and could demonstrate but a fraction of your photographic skill. I very much appreciate your comment!

      And kestrels are a real challenge for me as well. This one holding a katydid was chance: he landed long enough for me to aim and fire, but then he took off and left me standing in the meadow like a lost puppy.

  5. I’m behind on all my blog reading, just catching up, so I missed this when you first posted it. I didn’t realize you’d been blogging for so long! I feel like such a noob in comparison. 🙂 Although, I guess prior to The MIN I had what amounted to an online journal that goes back to 2002, but not quite the same as what I (or you) post about now. Congrats on keeping it up for so long, and maintaining such high-quality content through it all.

    1. You’re much too kind, Seabrooke. Thank you! The real gratitude goes to nature for always providing a new way to look at things, not to mention always providing new things to look at.

      And you tickled me with the noob remark. Anyone viewing your content would scarcely think of you as a noob.

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