light housekeeping

stormThe past few months have knocked me on my butt, if I’m being honest. Good things, mostly: I started a new, more demanding, more fulfilling position is the biggest one. But I didn’t have much space around the edges of a new job for snooping or photography. My lunchtime walks disappeared under a few heavy duty work projects. I’ve been withering under fluorescent lights since September.

The days grew shorter, that’s another thing.

I also led my very first natural history workshop two weekends ago, Smartphone Nature Photography, at the South Fork Natural History Museum nearby. I’m not going to lie—I offered to do it mainly so I’d have a chance to hang out with other nature lovers. Everybody who came was wonderful, and they took great photos! I liked it so much, I volunteered to lead a bird walk for the museum in February, tentatively titled “The Shiveriest Duck Walk.” More info to come on that soon, I guess.

Anyway, without a whole lot of time to spare, I tried to settle into this new reality where I had to scramble to make time for nature, a huge contrast to how I’m accustomed to living. I’d grab an hour here or there, but nothing like the grand old snoops I’m used to. I mean, work is work, right? Can’t fight daylight savings time, either. Lots of people go months without a breath of fresh air, and it probably wouldn’t kill me either.

Except, I was kind’ve dying, and I didn’t even know it. Until I did.

At exactly noon today, I walked out into a glorious fresh November day, into the sunshine, away from my desk. I spotted a merlin sneaking into the scarlet oak trees to terrorize the local birdlife. Painted lady butterflies flitted among the falling leaves. Chipmunks and sparrows and juncos dug around in the duff, and my miniature winter wren friend bounced like a clockwork toy on her little bitty legs, scolding me for disturbing the peace. It was *swear word* magical.

I missed all that, and I missed this place too. I want to keep the faith here, but I need to make a few changes to keep up. So here’s the deal: I’m going to try to write and post weekly for the next few months. To meet that goal, I absolutely have to get out, so there are upsides for everyone, though I may have to resort to comics or something to fill the space… There will be fewer big photo posts, probably more phone photos, and perhaps some illustrations, if you’re ok with that. I hope you are, because I’m sort’ve heading in that direction anyway. If I can scratch together an extra few hours, I might even give this rusty website an overhaul. Redecorate the place, make it a little more welcoming, maybe. What do you think?

So that’s the current state of the union: Life is full, but the balance is off. This little blog  helps me maintain the right balance, so I plan to be spending more time here. Hope you do too.

spy vs. spy

egretibisLook out behind you!

Actually I caught this shot of a snowy egret and a glossy ibis just after the ibis finished scratching her head. Mid-motion, she looks like she’s about to pounce on the egret, but she did no such thing. Seconds later she was squatting down to fluff the water in between her feathers.

I only happened on this scene by accident—I’d watched the flocks of ibis and egrets flying upstream all morning while I stalked the river banks for songbirds. The big birds disappeared into the phragmites grass when they landed, out of sight I thought. But I followed a deer path instead of the people path as I headed back, and it led me to this small, shallow mudflat, filled with all the birds I’d been chasing. Northern shoveler ducks sleeping with one eye open. Egrets and ibis. An osprey who shouted me out from his perch in a maple tree. I stayed as long as I could, watching from high on the bank behind a tree. I stayed because the birds let me, and then I left them to their peace before I stayed too long.

But now that I know where to find them, I’ll definitely be back…

TFW on your wall!?

So… would you like some pictures?

I’m placing an order to print TFW photos this weekend for friends, and I thought I’d open it up to everyone who’d like a piece of The (My) Familiar Wilderness to hang on your own walls.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a gallery or shop set up yet (this was kind’ve spontaneous!) but if you’re interested, here’s how it’ll work this time around:

1.)   Browse the TFW archives or my Instagram feed ( to find a picture/pictures you’d like to have for yourself. Open them in a new browser tab, and copy the URL for each one.

2.)   Pick a size*:

  • 5×7
  • 8×8
  • 8×10
  • 9×12
  • 10×10
  • 11×14
  • 16×20
  • 20×24
  • 20×30

3.)   Send me an email at erin [at] thefamiliarwilderness (dottie) com. Include the URLs of the images you want, the sizes you’d like, and your mailing address.

4.)   I will reply to confirm your selections and give you a total price for your order, as well as my PayPal information.

5.)   Orders will go to the printer on Sunday afternoon, and into the mail early next week.

* Depending on the original image and cropping, I may recommend a different, similarly priced size, or your image may include a white border. The printer can do other sizes if you’re looking for something specific. The square sizes are only for Instagram photos.

Each picture will be printed on professional quality photography paper. For this round, prints will cost $15 + cost of printing (varies by size) + cost of shipping.

The deadline to confirm your order will be noon on Sunday, December 8. But don’t worry, hopefully there will be other opportunities to buy TFW prints soon!

I’ll be glad to answer any questions in the comments below, or feel free to send me an email. Looking forward to hearing from you!