As the season lengthens toward winter, the fall is creeping past us and the cold is snapping our mornings. The sunlight is dim in the evenings, and we start to think about the coming storms, holidays and, for some, loneliness. The holidays are not always filled with joy. Many of us suffer from either depression, a lack of connections and/or bad connections that exacerbate the winter blues. It’s not just about seasonal effective disorder, though. Wishing someone a Merry Christmas isn’t just culturally insensitive (pretending there is no other faith/belief in the world but one’s own—basically erasing other traditions), it ignores that for many Christmas was anything but merry. It also ignores that many are going without, and the holidays are a reminder of their lack.
One area where I find lack is in the understanding of human/animal relations and the needs of wildlife. During this season, I usually send off a check to one of my favorite charities to help them educate the public on the need for wildlife to keep our environment healthy. Several years back, I had the opportunity to go the Virginia Zoo while visiting my brother. I hadn’t been out in some time to photograph anything, so this gave me an opportunity to capture wildlife that isn’t native to my area—beyond birds, and insects, the flora they live among. Documenting such animals helps to spread awareness about them, or at least remind people they’re out there. So, hopefully, this holiday season, they will not be forgotten as people line up or wrestle one another in the aisles for the next hot toy. In the grand scheme of things, our planet is worth more than any X-Box or Tickle Me Elmo.
November 2015 Art Feature