photography, wildlife

THE GREAT GRIZ AWAKENING

Just around this time of year, grizzly bears start to emerge from their winter hibernation in our little part of Wyoming.
I get so excited in the spring for this ritual of nature. My heart is breaking that I can’t be there yet, but we are hunkering down until the coronavirus outbreak calms down. So for now, I’ll reminisce over a few encounters from the last several years… I hope you enjoy!
Last year, I got to witness sow 793 with her two cubs. The cubs are both getting to the age where they are preparing to leave mama and venture out on their own. But there’s still important play and learning from mom that has to occur.
They follow her everywhere. But frequently break into play fights with each other when they get bored.
This was a large sow with two younger cubs that I found in Yellowstone several years back. She was gorgeous. And the cubs were so playful and curious.
It was a brief experience, as they moved out of sight only shortly after appearing near the road.
Then there is of course my favorite bear encounter of all time. The other many sightings of these incredible creatures are most often with dozens of other people. Usually on main park roads.
But this one, was just me and this young griz.
It was probably his first spring alone, judging by his relative small size.
I was driving down (what used to be) a little known, inner park dirt road one morning, when I spotted him digging in the wildflowers, looking for food. I slowly pulled up in my truck. He glanced over at me, took a sniff, and then got right back to business.
I likely watched him for around 30-45 minutes… just us. Toward the end of this magical experience, he got within 10 feet. Don’t worry, I was in my truck the whole time, and I never moved closer to him. He never really seemed bothered by my presence. 
Just before he moseyed off, he raised his head and allowed me to make a quick portrait.
I loved being able to capture the raw vulnerability of such a feared and powerful creature, out in his element, all by my lonesome. I will never forget any of my bear encounters, that’s for sure, but this one in particular, is one of my absolute most favorite moments of my entire life.
I don’t expect anything like it will ever happen again, but I pray that it will. 
— Andrew
P.S. Im in the initial stages of putting together a brown bear photography workshop in Finland for summer 2021. If you are interested, drop me a note so I can put you on the early notification list. More info here.

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music, photography, random thought, writing

sister winter

i love winter. when i lived in wyoming, winter was considerably more “involved” than it is in texas. but the fact remains; winter is the season of death.  no matter where you live.

certainly i am no lover and harbinger of death. “slayer” is not carved into my arm.  but i am obsessed with what inevitably walks patiently beside death:  the opportunity for renewal.

where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.  ~  rumi

there was a time in my life when my heart froze over – it took so many years to thaw.  sufjan’s song sister winter reminds me of this time.  

it seems to be a beautiful and poignant letter of explanation to his friends.  he tells them that his heart has returned to sister winter, and is as cold as ice.  the weight of sadness is almost too much to bear.

he goes on to describe in filmic detail a failed relationship.  it cuts deep into the listener. 

but what i love most about sister winter is the end of the song. it builds and builds… and when all of this scar tissue and raw emotion culminate and burst forth, breaking free from the frost, sufjan belts out an intense, “and my… friends, i’ve… returned to wish you all the best…  and my… friends, i’ve… returned to wish you… a… happy Christmas!”  the ice melts, and love flows again.

it ends with bittersweet undertones.  sustained strings in unison fade.

may spring come!  but not before we have proper time to mourn our losses.

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