The Year in Pictures/Das Jahr in Bildern

 As I did for my 2016 review, I am again reminding myself of the motto expressed on a historic clock in downtown Colorado Springs: Dum Vivimus Vivamus. While we live, let us live.

     The greater my disenchantment with political, religious, and familial strife, the more I seek refuge in nature, camera in tow. Next to books, it is the only place where I can live in the moment, and be utterly happy. The more time I spend outside, the more photos I take of birds and plants. I am sharing some that have not found a home in my previous posts. Unless otherwise noted, all originated in Colorado. 

     I hope 2017 was a good year for you – and that 2018 will be even better.


     Wie auch im Jahresrückblick 2016, erinnere ich mich wiederum an das Motto einer historischen Uhr im Zentrum von Colorado Springs: Dum Vivimus Vivamus. Während wir leben, laßt uns leben.

     Je größer meine Verdrossenheit über Politik, Religion, und Familienangelegenheiten, desto mehr suche ich Zuflucht in der Natur, mit meiner Kamera als Begleiterin. Neben Büchern ist sie der einzige Ort, wo ich im Hier und Jetzt leben, und mich völlig glücklich fühlen kann. Je mehr Zeit ich draußen verbringe, desto mehr Bilder mache ich von Vögeln und Pflanzen. Hier teile ich einige, die in meinen vorherigen Blogbeiträge noch kein Zuhause gefunden haben. Wenn nicht anders erwähnt, stammen alle aus Colorado. 

     Ich hoffe, 2017 war ein gutes Jahr für Dich, und 2018 wird noch besser.


American Kestrel/Buntfalke (Falco sparverius)

Russian Olive/Schmalblättrige Ölweide (Eleagnus angustifolia), invasive species, but the berries are much beloved by the birds/invasive Art, deren Beeren allerdings von den Vögeln geliebt werden


House finch/Hausgimpel (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Last year’s sunflowers, with Pikes Peak in the background/Sonnenblumen des letzten Sommers, mit Pikes Peak im Hintergrund


Spotted Towhee/Fleckengrundammer (Pipilo maculatus)

Cottonwood tree in the light of the setting sun/Pappel im Licht des Sonnenuntergangs


American Avocet/Amerikanischer Säbelschnäbler (Recurvirostra americana)

Pasqueflower/Echte Küchenschelle (Pulsatilla patens), one of Colorado’s earliest spring flowers/eine der ersten Frühlingsblumen Colorados


Osprey/Fischadler (Pandion haliaetus)

Crabapple/Holzapfel (Malus sp.)


Great-tailed Grackle/Dohlengrackel (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Prairie Spiderwort/Dreimasterblume (Tradescantia occidentalis)


Flammulated Owl/Ponderosa-Zwergohreule (Otus flammeolus), handled by Colorado College Professor Brian Linkhart who has been studying this species for decades/wird von Professor Brian Linkhart des Colorado College gehalten, der diese Art seit Jahrzehnten studiert

Green Gentian (Monument Plant, Elkweed)/Grüner Enzian (Frasera speciosa)


Northern Red-shafted Flicker/Kupferspecht (Colaptes auratus cafer), male in the back, female in the front/Männchen hinten, Weibchen vorne

Colorado’s State Flower, Colorado Blue Columbine/Kleinblütige Akelei (Aquilegia caerulea)


Great Blue Heron/Amerikanischer Graureiher (Ardea herodias)

Sunflower/Sonnenblume (Helianthus sp.)


Western Bluebird/Blaukehl-Hüttensänger (Sialia mexicana)

Fall landscape with signature aspen trees/Herbstlandschaft mit unverkennbaren Zitterpappeln


Cedar Waxwing/Zedernseidenschwanz (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cottonwood tree in late fall foliage/Pappel in späten Herbstfarben


Hooded Crow/Nebelkrähe (Corvus corone cornix), Berlin, Germany

Christmas Rose/Christrose (Helleborus niger), Germany


My body is in line.

It is at its darkest point,

but only for a short time.

Not enough time for madness or temporary depression to

     set in.

The darkest point is only a brief window of opportunity.

Opportunity for sadness, loneliness, falling out of love

     and other states associated with the lack of light.

But before the opportunity can be taken, the shadows


The light becomes stronger,

pulling me toward it.

The warmth, the promise it holds.

And so I begin another cycle,

along with the animals, the plants, the oceans and winds

and all that feel this same pull.


I come into balance.

I begin again.

It is only December twenty-second and it is already

     starting to feel like summer.


Ofelia Zepeda (born 1952), “The South Corner“, from the anthology Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose & Poetry about Nature. Lorraine Anderson, ed., 2nd edition, 2003.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I don’t consider myself a practicing Christian, yet continue to practice – and relish – Christmas, at least certain aspects. In a globalizing and homogenizing world, traditions have the power to ground and to offer a sense of belonging.

My recent journey to Europe coincided with the holiday season and re-exposed me to some of these cherished traditions. Opening one door of my advent calendar daily, from December 1 through the 24th, to discover a different piece of chocolate, used to be my favorite childhood activity, other than opening presents on Christmas Eve. It still is, even when I am content to find something other than candy behind each door.

I experienced two advent Sundays in Germany, and with them, the festive lighting of the first two candles of the advent wreath. For the illumination of the 3rd and 4th, I will be back in Colorado.

Towns and homes I visited were bedecked with seasonal decorations, with each family adding its own touches, thereby beautifying human habitations and gladdening the senses.

Christmas markets, famous beyond Germany’s borders, were in plain evidence. While I did not seek them out, I happened across them wherever I went. Berlin seemed to showcase one on each public plaza. As I am no lover of large crowds, I did not linger long after absorbing the atmosphere. What appeared to be a serious case of associated shopping frenzy acted as additional deterrent.

The new normal, pervasive police presence, in response to last year’s attack at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz

Mainzelmännchen in the pyramid equals Mainz

     November and December weather tends to consist of cool, covered, or rainy skies in many regions of Germany, but I was surprised by a series of snowfalls, albeit short ones. A walk through the wintry woods with my father created one of my favorite memories for this trip. ❤ 

While the ways to interpret the meaning of Christmas are as manifold as ice crystals, my fervent hope against hope continues to be that, one day, we might all embrace one of its central tenets: Peace on Earth.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

Late Autumn in Germany

When in Germany for a late fall visit, I vacillated between simple admiration of the floral abundance, and concern about the effects of climate change. Having lived away from Europe for decades, I am ignorant of blooming cycles of most plants, but the quantity and variety of still-blossoming flowers at the end of November seemed unusual. Next to the expected or absent fall foliage, multiple blossoms I associate with summer continued to shimmer. Despite the problematic implications I could not help but smile at the poly-petaled plethora, and revel in its inherent beauty.

While I struggle with humankind’s destructive effects on our exceptional and exquisite Earth, I marvel at its vitality and wonderful resilience – in spite of us. May we fail in our best attempts to destroy the only known planet that affords us life.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:


     Seventy-six years ago today, on December 7, 1941, Japan bombarded the American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In reply, the United States, heretofore officially resolved to stay out of WWII, declared war on Japan and its ally Germany, a momentous step which would later change the course of this cataclysmic global affair. More immediately, it changed the lives of individuals of Japanese descent living in the United States. Within months, in a disproportionate, xenophobic response to a perceived Japanese threat, approximately 126,000 people, two thirds of them American citizens, were forced to abandon homes and businesses on short notice, without compensation. They were rounded up at temporary facilities before being distributed to one of ten internment sites in various states, Colorado among them.

     Officially and euphemistically called the “Granada Relocation Center”, Camp Amache was situated near the town Granada, in remote southeastern Colorado. The camp’s name was an ironic choice. Amache was the Cheyenne wife of a pioneer in the small settlement of Boggsville close to present-day Las Animas in the 1860s, where White, Hispanic and American Indian cultures coexisted peacefully. Even though the distance between Boggsville and Amache measures only sixty miles, and spans only eighty years, the two were worlds apart. From August 1942 until October 1945, Camp Amache confined up to 7,500 people to a one-square-mile area surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. They lived in crowded wooden barracks and were separated from the High Plains’ blazing heat and frigid cold only through thin wooden walls. Sanitary facilities were communal and located away from the barracks, resulting in additional loss of privacy.

     Despite its isolation and simplicity, Amache turned into a fully-functioning town due to the resourcefulness of the prisoners. In an impressive example of self-government, a council of elected representatives established rules and regulations. Schools, hospitals, churches, police, a newspaper and various stores were run by the detainees. They grew their own food on sixteen square miles of arable land, raised livestock, prepared and served their own meals in cafeterias. Many had been experienced farmers in California who coaxed such high yields from Colorado’s soils that they managed to supply other camps with the fruits of their labors. To support the sudden population growth, agricultural lands surrounding Amache were bought by the government from local farmers against their will, but despite their alienation they adopted and perpetuated some of the newly-introduced farming practices after the camp’s dissolution.

     A museum in downtown Granada illustrates how faraway events in Hawaii altered its fate and how a local community deals with its challenging past. Run by the Amache Preservation Society, the brainchild of a local high school teacher, it is staffed by students from the same school. About one mile west of the museum lies the former camp, now a National Historic Landmark, also open to the public. Of the original infrastructure, only the foundations and street grid survive. One barrack, one water tower and one watch tower have been reconstructed.

     Along the fringe of the camp lies a cemetery. It is a peaceful verdant island resembling a Japanese garden. Several headstones, a shrine, and a monument are dedicated to those who lost their lives at Amache, or while engaged in the second World War. The United States draft did not exclude Japanese-Americans who had been “relocated” by the American administration. Not unexpectedly, many refused to comply and, absurdly, were punished with prison time. More surprisingly, despite their ignominious treatment, about ten percent of the internees volunteered for the United States Armed Forces, and more than thirty perished, making the ultimate patriotic sacrifice for the country – their country.

     In the face of our collective human foibles, misguided actions, and frustrating steps backward, I continue to cling to the hope that by trying to understand the past, we can improve the future.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version: