Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #150 – Wild

Guest host this week, and our natural guide through the wilderness is Dianne Millard of Rambling ranger – ”I don’t want to see groomed gardens or animals in the zoo. No people or signs of people. I want to see and revel in the natural world in your posts. Where’s the wildest place you’ve ever been? Where do you go to let Mother Nature regenerate your spirit?”

Most of you know I am a great nature lover and I always do my best to protect her and … taking only photographs, leaving nothing but footprints.

But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had eyes to see.

Edward Abbey

Seeing how Dianne lives her life, I can only admire and love her for what she is doing. I share her love of the wilderness, but I guess I was not made for such a tough life that she is living in Alaska… Go see her amazing adventures and photography!

We can all find and love pieces of wilderness at home – but this time I went back to one of my wildest and most loved adventures. Ecuador, the Amazon and Galapagos. I will start like Dianne – with my morning view, of the Napo river.

Every morning after breakfast we went by canoe into the jungle – for a new adventure.

Most significant were the playful monkeys – jumping in the canopy above, curiously swinging down to watch us marvel.
The silence of the gliding canoe, and then all the sounds of the jungle. The diversity in tangled plants and the absolute love and gratefulness of being there… It’s really impossible to describe in words or images, and the feeling impossible to imagine if you haven’t been there yourself.
The light in the darkness under the trees – and us waiting for an anaconda to swim up beside the canoe…
(Luckily?) No anaconda appeared during these days, but every detail was a beautiful gem. Only occasionally it was possible to take decent photos. Low light, no open landscapes, only dense jungle.

Climbing to the top of the canopy, we could hear and see many birds – but from a distance only. We spent our last night high up in a Kapok tree, watching the sunset over the Amazon basin. And I was also enchanted by all the glorious wild orchids residing in the trees.


To really get close encounters with the wild life – we then went for almost a week on a sailing boat to the Galapagos islands.

Here a close-up with one of the most special animals connected to these islands – a giant!

Other special, endemic wildlife here are the Land iguanas –
– and the Marine iguanas. You never forget their faces once you have seen them…
Seals were everywhere of course. This male had a big harem, and he kept a close watch on all the females…

So many adventures we had together, mostly on the water, and incredible close contact with the animals! We met so many lovely faces, and if we only kept a two meter distance, everything was OK. My favourites here are the little yellow warbler and the Mocking bird…they used to come up to me and look me in the eye. The mocking birds tried to steal things from my bag. Paradise is not having to be afraid of one another ♥. We spoke softly together.

Late evening, and both the iguanas and the boobies seemed to love the last rays of sun – just as much as we did.

Every island has its special landscape. Grey, dead trees? Take a closer look…

And every island has its own endemic inhabitants – blending in perfectly. A survival kit we all need.

Thank you so much for sharing last week’s wonderful colours with Tina and the rest of us! And thank you Dianne, for letting me return to another wonderfully wild place on planet Earth. We are looking forward to seeing more wild things, from home or on travels, linked to Diannes original post.

Next week, Patti will be offering LAPC #151, so be sure to check out her site then!  Her theme is From Large to Small.  Pick a colour and take several photos that feature that colour.  Start with a photo of a big subject in that colour (for example, a wall) and move all the way down to a small subject in that same colour (for example, an earring).

Thursday Thoughts – Hiking Gedaryggen

We went with a hiking group last weekend. We always walk alone otherwise, but were invited by a friend to join in. 20 people in the big forest. All vaccinated except me. A great day.

Normally, the beeches would have been green by the first of May – but this year has been very cold so far. Today the Maiden Fall and the Maiden Stone were the two main attractions – besides walking in the forest of course.

Do you see the eaten cones on the stump? Never in my life I have seen this many! We saw one every 5th meter. The forest must be a complete mice den…but, we did not spot a single mouse scuttling around.

Our eminent guide, Bo, is a real nature’s man – and a natural forest man. He sleeps in a hammock under the canopy several nights a month – and he asked how many of us who wanted to try it in June…and got some three – four positive to the idea!
This was really a great hike, and the resting places were beautiful. Young and old had their imagination filled with new mysteries, and climbing through the stone was an adventure. The sites have their own story about the young maiden, Elsa, hiding there and staying in the forest to escape followers during the Scania war 1675-1679. Nobody knows if there was a happy ending though…the story does not tell…
After 6 hours of hiking Gedaryggen (”The Goats Back”) we were rather tired and some had sore feet. My left foot (operated on a couple of years ago) told me this was enough for the day.

Thursday Thoughts

We truly live in a magical world – not only in my many corona jigsaw puzzles.

As the sun is warming up my forest, I walk slowly and rejoice in the small signs of life returning from its winter sleep.
The brook is alive again, and lying on the ground I could easily fall asleep listening to its happy rippling. Milo and Totti do not agree with me there…they run into it, happily splashing while I quietly laugh at them – trying to save my trousers from getting all wet.
There is a special light in the air, a light that only arrives with spring…soft, silent and promising. And the song thrush throws his clear tunes into the open sky.
The little wren is fluttering in every corner of the dense forest floor – letting his clear voice be heard while he is watching me watching him. Isn’t it magical how such a tiny bird can harbour this great voice? He will not let me photograph him though…
Tiny buds are coming out – and soon the forest will be all green. I always love the forest, in all its shapes and costumes, but maybe the most this time of the year. In spring it is ”transparent”…and I can see everything before it becomes hidden in green plumes.
The sun is luring the ants to come out. Seeing them swarm like this always makes me think what a dreary life they must have. Work. Only work. When I was a child I felt so sorry for them – no fun ever! My mother and I used to give them a lump of sugar – a feast to wonder at. Of course I did the same thing with my own children as well.
The spring wonder is arriving. And I am more grateful than ever – it has been a long and hard year.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142 – You Pick It!

”Like robin’s song or bluebird’s wing

Or throats that make the marshes ring,

Her beaming face and winsome grace

Are greetings from the heart of spring.”

– From John Burroughs’ Hepatica

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.
— Diane Arbus

This week it is my turn to host You Pick it! And, I have chosen different faces of Anemone Hepatica. This tiny flower is the first one to appear in our forests in spring, and it is a much loved beauty. Many people go out looking for her already the first sunny day of March. The flower has got many names – as it usually is with loved ones…She is also named the common hepatica, liverwort, kidneywort, or pennywort, and belongs to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to woodland in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Anemone hepatica grows 5–15 cm (2–6 in) high. Leaves and flowers emerge directly from the rhizome, not from a stem above ground. In Sweden I have never seen them grow higher than 7-8 cm.

I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new. – Ernst Haas

The flowers are blue, purple, pink, or white. The white variety is not common in Sweden, but in my forest all the others grow and they are flowering simultaneously. If they grow mostly in the shadow, their colours are darker – the sun makes them turn purple.

The Hepatica is protected in Sweden, and so are all our orchids. In this photo we can see two stems broken – but I do hope the flowers were not picked. They would have been too short to have in a vase too…
Only photograph what you love.
– Tim Walker
And finally, a lovely surprise when this photo was opened on the computer – a thin spider’s thread making its way between the two flowers. It made me smile.

I am grateful for this lovely morning alone in the forest. I was mostly lying on the ground, but it was very rewarding. And I was very hungry when I came back home again! This day the temperature reached 15 degrees C. But it lasted only for two days, so, now we are back at 7 degrees again. Nature’s wonders are still with us though – and I want them to be slow…

Thank you for all small and big geometric examples last week for Patti’s challenge! We quickly realised that geometry is to be found everywhere we look, and there were so many surprises with things never thought of before!

Last time Tina started off You Pick It by saying …”we hope you’ll share a subject that is near and dear to you, that you find interesting, or challenging, or perhaps that shows us something new or unique to you.”

So, this week it’s all up to you – choose your subject and share whatever it is about it that you find interesting. We are looking forward to seeing your interpretations. Please use the tag and link to my original post. Next week, Amy will be your host.

Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

This week, we will look beyond the life-changing events and share some other special moments and what they mean to us, Tina says. I think we all have so many of them…It will be hard to choose, but I will try to pick some unforgettable ones …

A moment of solitude and contemplation on this small crater island of the Azores. Walking up the mountain, we did not know what to expect when turning around the bend… but the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – The feeling of floating free in this silent universe. Blue hydrangeas, blue sky and blue ocean – and us flying on a green, tiny spot in the middle of it all… Otherworldly.

The Pothala palace is representing the Dream-Come-True moments in my life. I have been so lucky as to have a few of those. So, I finally arrived in Tibet, after some 40 years since I read about Shangri-La in Lost Horizon, the 1933 novel by James Hilton, and saw the movie Lost Horizon from 1937. They represented the enigmatic and enchanting world out there…far away from my home and far away from any landscape I had ever been. I was lost for words – and breath – in the thin air.

April 2017, and I met Michael Lindnord and Arthur. The Swedish multi sport team were in Ecuador 2014, trying to win the world championships. Instead the team leader, Mikael Lindnord, found that in the middle of the jungle, his team of four had got a fifth member…Arthur. Mikael had never had a dog of his own and never thought of getting one – he was a tough athlete and a determined leader for his team. But, all it took was one meatball…

King Arthur. He owned the place from the first second he entered the room. I loved every minute of being close to him, touching him and listening to their story. Seeing the very special bond between Mikael and Arthur.

Mikael himself says that Arthur stands for Hope.  The Lindnord family have also started a fund for homeless dogs in Ecuador – There is hope for many ill treated and abused dogs with people like Mikael, who was prepared to even let go of his team’s victory to save this dog’s life. Mikael says he recognized himself in Arthur that very first day…they both stand tall, they never give up. So, how could he let Arthur down, when the dog put all his trust in him ?

December 9, 2020, Arthur passed away from an aggressive cancer, 13 years old. 2021 is the startup for shooting the Hollywood movie – ArthurThe King, with Mark Wahlberg starring together with a not yet chosen dog to play Arthur. I am looking forward to seeing it – hopefully cinemas will be open by then…

I can honestly say, that no other journey in my life gave me more special moments than the one to Arthur’s home country, Ecuador. Sailing along the Napo River in the Amazon and in the Galápagos Islands.

I could not stop watching them, all these little seabirds following our sailing boat in Ecuador. They could actually walk, run and stand still on the water! This is the smallest seabird in the world – an Elliot’s Storm-Petrel. Another enigmatic fact is that no nesting site for these birds has ever been found…

The stay at Sacha Lodge on a quiet lake – open to all the sounds of the jungle – still echoes in my mind today, 5 years later. Silent canoing through the tangled forest, watching swarms of monkeys foraging in the trees, jumping and playing. And the tiny Paradise Tanager – shooting veritable neon lightings in the trees – (I only managed to capture a couple of them in a photo) The first glimpse of the flock was very special – they moved faster than Chip ‘n’ Dale juggling around with the colourful Christmas baubles – and Pluto trying to handle the situation…

So, I will end with the late evening climb up in the Kapok tree, staying for the day’s last hours watching the sun set over the Amazon Basin. Imagine the sounds, the light, the soft warmth, the birds and the monkeys calling each other…I have never slept better in my entire life, than I did in the Amazon jungle.

Finally, a big Thank You for the inspirational set of Natural Lights, and hopefully you will join in for some special moments too! Please link to Tinas original post, and add the Lens-Artists tag.

Next week we’re excited to announce Beth of Wandering Dawgs as our Guest Host. Be sure to stop by and check out her always-interesting blog. Until then, stay safe and be kind.