Memorable Moments 2021

Nothing inspires and delights me more than spending time in nature. Birds are the beings who make my heartstrings vibrate most fervently, but I also enjoy encounters with other animals. Fortunately, it’s still possible to meet scaled, furred, or feathered creatures, but I don’t take these joyful moments for granted and feel privileged whenever they occur.

In order to share some of them, I dove into my archives and selected a few images for each month of this waning year, starting with the Great Horned Owl which granted me a glimpse into its sleepy eyes on January 1, and ending with yet another locking of eyes with a nocturnal animal taking a daytime nap in a tree in December.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. 

January 2021:

American Dipper; Wilson’s Snipe

 February 2021:

Pair of squirrels dancing a two-step; newborn sheep (I watched it drop to the ground)

March 2021:

Mountain Bluebird; Porcupine

April 2021:

13-lined Ground Squirrel (the lines are on its back); migrating Snowy Egrets and Greater Yellowlegs

May 2021:

Cuddly Canada Goslings, often the first spring bird babies; Painted Turtle; Bullfrog

June 2021:

Red Fox; Racoon

Some of you will remember my review of one of the most memorable books I have ever had the good fortune to come across. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass” advocates approaches for living in the world that appear novel, even though they have long been practiced by various Indigenous cultures. In the chapter “Learning the Grammar of Animacy,” which summarizes her efforts to learn her tribal language, the author explains:

To whom does our language extend the grammar of animacy? Naturally, plants and animals are animate, but as I learn, I am discovering that the Potowatomi understanding of what it means to be animate diverges from the list of attributes of living beings we all learned in Biology 101. In Potowatomi 101, rocks are animate, as are mountains and water and fire and places. Beings that are imbued with spirit, our sacred medicines, our songs, drums, and even stories, are animate.

Furthermore, she ponders:

Learning the grammar of animacy could well be a restraint on our mindless exploitation of land. But there is more to it. I have heard our elders give advice like “You should go among the standing people” or “Go spend some time with those Beaver people.” They remind us of the capacity of others as our teachers, as holders of knowledge, as guides. Imagine walking through a richly inhabited world of Birch people, Bear people, Rock people, beings we think of and therefore speak of as persons worthy of our respect, of inclusion in a peopled world. We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities. Imagine the access we would have to different perspectives, the things me might see through other eyes, the wisdom that surrounds us. We don’t have to figure out everything by ourselves: there are intelligences other than our own, teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world would be.

July 2021:

Bullock’s Oriole, embodying the vibrancy of summer; curious alpaca

August 2021:

Not one but two Northern Pygmy-Owls; Mississippi Kite; Burro in a meadow

September 2021:

German Roe Deer doe with fawn in a vineyard; German cows resting in a lush meadow

October 2021:

Galloway cow with a calf in Germany; German domestic goose taking an open-eyed nap

November 2021:

Draft horses at Rock Ledge Ranch enjoying (?) late-autumn sunshine; alert Mule Deer watching me

December 2021:

Northern Pygmy-Owl at Red Rock Canyon; irresistible Porcupine (I want to cuddle it so badly)

In this spirit, I hope you have had your own special experiences with Brother Bear, Sister Swan, Cousin Cougar, or Aunt Anteater, and I wish all of us memorable and meaningful moments with our animal relatives in the year to come.

62 thoughts on “Memorable Moments 2021

  1. I too would happily cuddle that porcupine, and also most of the other critters you’ve featured! And my late mother would have gone crazy for your horned owl. Great set of images, reminders of all that’s wonderful about nature.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Mrs. P., your statement about wonderful nature brings it all to the point. Why porcupines look particularly cuddly I don’t know, but my instinct to hug them is not deterred by my knowledge of their pointed quills. Fortunately for me, they always keep their safe distance.
      Happy animal encounters to all of us in 2022.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brian. I know that, as a photographer yourself, you speak from experience. I like to take the time at the end of the year to look through all my photos as a reminder. It’s amazing how often I am a reminded of a particular moment I had already forgotten.
      Wishing both of us good times for the coming year.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. So far, the Mountain Bluebird has had 3 comments, which is not surprising, as it’s an extremely charismatic bird. I’m wishing all of us many bluebird encounters in the year to come.


    • Dankeschön, liebe Maren.
      Mountain Bluebirds sind für mich immer wie eine Erscheinung aus einer besseren Welt, und ich kann gut nachvollziehen, daß Du Dich an Deine Begegnung mit ihnen in Yellowstone erinnern kannst.
      Auch Dir die besten Wünsche für das kommende Jahr.


  2. Liebe Tanja,
    der Mountain Bluebird ist und bleibt mein absoluter Favorit bei Deinen diesjährigen fotografischen Fängen.
    Dieses Blau erscheint mir märchenhaft, fast unwirklich und das ist für mich besonders ansprechend – ein bißchen vielleicht wie die berühmte Blaue Blume der Romantik.
    Ich teile Deine Einstellung zu Natur und Mitwelt. Auch ich finde Gleichgewicht und Regeneration beim Aufenthalt in der – möglichst wilden – Natur. Und wenn es dann sogar noch zu einer besonderen Tier- oder Pflanzenbegegnung kommt, ist das eine willkommene Zugabe, die mich mit freudigem Dank erfüllt.
    Herzensgruß von mir zu Dir ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Liebe Ulrike,
      ich danke Dir für Deine Reflektionen und erinnere mich, daß es Dir die Mountain Bluebirds bereits in vorherigen Beiträgen angetan hatten. Das kann ich gut verstehen, denn mir ergeht es ebenso, wann immer ich sie sehe.
      Wie ich in einem vorherigen Kommentar bereits sagte, erscheinen diese Vögel wie Boten einer besseren Welt, und mein Herz macht immer einen kleinen Freudensprung, wenn sie durch die Lüfte segeln.
      Für das neue Jahr wünsche ich uns beiden besondere Tier- und Pflanzenbegegnungen.
      In herzlicher Verbundenheit,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful memories, all of them. As always it has been a real pleasure to read your writing and view your images this year. Sincerely looking forward to sharing more “bird” (and other) stories next year and beyond. Wishing you and all your dear ones a safe and healthy happy new year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Takami,
      Thank you for your kind comments throughout the years. Your continued support is much appreciated. 😊
      I also wish you and your family and friends good health and many meaningful moments in nature in 2022.
      Kind regards,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post brought to mind something I’ve been meaning to tell you. Do you remember my posts about the wonderful pink prairie grass called Gulf Muhly? Its genus is Muhlenbergia, and in the process of researching the genus, I discovered that the ‘sweetgrass’ used for braiding is a relative commonly known as gulfhairawn muhly.You can read more about it here. I would have missed the connection, except a friend who lives in South Carolina, and who sent me a grass basket for Christmas one year, remarked on seein ga grass similar to ‘my’ pink grass stacked and drying in the shop of the woman who wove the basket.

    This was a particularly interesting bit in the article:

    “weetgrass leaves or “threads” are the main component used for African-coiled basketry made by the Gullah/Geechee community around Mount Pleasant and Charleston, SC. The common name “sweetgrass” comes from the fresh, corn-silk fragrance of the threads. Sea Islands Germplasm is being used by the Corps ofEngineers in coastal restoration plantings in South Carolina toreduce soil erosion and to reestablish populations that have been displaced by development and damaged by hurricanes and tropical storms. These reintroductions are being made in areas that are accessible for harvesting by area basketmakers.”

    John Muir was right; there are connections everywhere. Now, after all that, I have to tell you how much I enjoyed the photos in this post, just as I’ve enjoyed all of your posts through the year. I doubt if I’ll come across a porcupine this year, but I might finally see a bullfrog!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors! Her previous book: “Gathering Moss” is such a hauntingly beautiful labor of love. As are these photos you’ve captured this past year! Wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful selection of images as well as food for thought. Paired with some of my drawings in the show is the question, “What would the owls say to us if we could understand their language?”

    Last week when I squatted to speak to the orphaned Howler Monkey, I replicated the sounds the monkeys taught me years ago in Costa Rica. One sound they made when they were very content, basking in the big trees over where I sat below. The other was a high-pitched squeaky sound the young ones would ‘say’ to me – to get me to stop working and pay attention to them. I would repeat their sound, then say “Hola and Hello”.. and they’d squeak again.

    I thought the sounds would comfort the monkey, but no one expected it to ‘bolt’ to me lightning fast, and onto my back/shoulders and head, where it began making strange sounds. I didn’t know if it was scared or mad or comforted, but we later decided it was the closest sound to its own it had heard in a long time… It was hard to leave it — but they said it was going to a rescue shelter.

    Those who don’t enjoy nature are missing a lot, aren’t they?!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate your comment, Lisa.
      And thank you for sharing your experience with the howler monkey. That’s definitely much closer than any of the encounters I have enjoyed and I imagine that it left an indelible impression on you.
      I hope the howler monkey will fare well, and I hope the same for so many other creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a fabulous post, Tanja! The thing that strikes me is the truly wide variety of creatures you have been able to see and photograph. What is more uplifting than nature!
    On to more sightings in 2022!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Tanja – I really enjoyed your selection of lovely photos showcasing such a variety of interesting creatures and celebrating the nature that is there if we are lucky enough and also choose to see it. I remember reading about the book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ in your post last year and being quite struck by it. I like these two quotations and the notion that nature has the vast capacity and wisdom to both teach and comfort us. It is good to go forward into the year ahead imagining and trying to be aware of new possibilities.
    Sending best wishes to you for the year ahead with many special encounters in nature to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ich bin begeistert von der Zusammenstellung deiner wunderbaren Fotos, liebe Tanja. Jedes einzelne zeigt zauberhafte Lebewesen, auf die wir aufpassen, die wir respektieren und die wir schützen sollten. Ich kann mich gar nicht entscheiden, wlches für mich das schönste Foto ist – vielleicht die beiden kleinen Käuze auf dem Ast, die gelassen umherschauen oder die niedlichen, putzigen Gänschen, die sich aneinander kuscheln?
    Hach…wie schön doch unsere Erde ist!
    Ich liebe diesen Planeten…
    Tanja, ich wünsche dir und deinen Lieben ein wunderbares Jahr voller kleiner Freuden, hellen Glücksmomenten und vor allen Dingen natürlich Gesundheit. 💕😊
    Alles Liebe und Gute…..von Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

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