Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It was sometime in the late eighties when I first I stepped foot into Pheasant Branch. The conservancy has meant different things to me over the years and I didn't have much awareness for its avifauna until the early nineties. Today, though, it's difficult for me to imagine being without such moments of appreciation and reflection on nature; weekly or even daily, but there was such a time. The moments themselves can be as subtle as leaves collecting in a pool of water or as big as a canopy of autumn's colors illuminated by a star millions of miles away.

When by mere happenstance a living creature, be it a bird, mammal, or insect, connects its existence to my own, my visits with nature are doubly enriched. I enjoy observing what they do and think of them as possessing the planet in their own way. I don’t entirely understand why I desire to know more and spend so much time outside, but the pace and activity seems right. It feels like this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing with my brief time here. I never feel more certain about my existence than when I’m in the field observing, documenting, and recording nature.

The depth of time preceding a moment in nature possesses a contingency of natural events going back for millions of years. Sometimes when I'm at my home office, I pick up a fossilized trilobite I keep on my desk and reflect upon the fact that it was already a fossil even before there were dinosaurs. What were its moments like? Isn't it a gift to have this kind of knowledge and inquisitiveness about our world?

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

-- Robert Brault

All images © 2010 Mike McDowell


  1. A very nice post. You put in words what I feel as well trying to connect to nature. The moments are too few, with work, but are very special and keep me going.


  2. This is my favorite blog post of yours so far. Probably because I get the exact same feelings and thoughts when I am out enjoying the beauty of nature.

  3. Wish more people were like Mike, instead most would do all they can to destroy our little world...in my little piece of heaven today, Oct 23, around a seasonal pond in a lowland Ash Forest,near Kewaunee there were Marsh Marigolds(a spring bloomer) blooming(very small plants) and Skunk Cabbage sending there first daggers into the air...just like in spring, has anyone ever seen that before?