Squirrel1

I used to think they were cute, too.

 

The history of my fascination with both nature and photography can be traced back to my days as a four-year old, flipping through the pages of my mom’s National Geographic magazines. I would stare for hours in wide-eyed wonder at the photographs of Africa and Antarctica and other far away lands, and I wanted to be in those places. I still want to be in those places—all of them…..at once.

It helped to have a mother who loves and appreciates nature and wouldn’t think twice about picking up icky things like worms and snakes. I tried picking up a snake once. It didn’t go well. All I’ll say is, snakes are very flexible. But then, you probably already knew that.

My mom even rehabbed a couple of robins and a baby squirrel that had fallen from its nest. I look back on that last one with horror, but it seemed pretty cool at the time.

Squirrel4

What was mom thinking?

 

That aside, an appreciation and respect for the wild critters began at an early age. I dreamed of being a nature and wildlife photographer and working for National Geographic. But for decades all I did was dream.

Tell me true. When you think of wild places, do you think of New Jersey? No, probably not, and for decades I didn’t either, even though I’ve lived here all my life and grew up having adventures with my friends in the woods that surrounded our neighborhood. I always thought that, to be a nature photographer, I would have to move to Wyoming or Alaska or someplace like that. Then one day I realized, “I’m not going to move to Wyoming or Alaska.”

It was apparent that, if I was ever going to realize my dream of becoming a nature photographer, I was going to have to start right here in New Jersey, which would require me to start looking at my state in a different way. Over time I’ve learned to stop looking for things that may or may not be there and start allowing myself to see what is there.