Thistle, straw, seedlings, and spindly flora at Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, CO

One of my favorite parts about spending time outdoors is simply enjoying the little things – plants, bugs, pebbles, twigs, you name it. My climbing buddies will quickly confess that I often spend more time chasing insects around boulders than I do actually climbing the rocks. I can’t resist becoming instantly distracted the moment I see a beetle crawling by, or a tiny flower peeking out from the dirt.

My mother always proudly credits herself with my buggy fascination. When I was a little tot, she used to wrap earthworms around my fingers and have me wear them as rings – now do you see where my adoration for creepy crawlers comes from? She always encouraged my affection for rolling around in the dirt.

The wintry weather in Colorado seems to have driven the bugs from their usual swarming tendencies, but I still managed to snap some sweet photos of unique dry-weather plant life while hiking through Three Sisters Park (also known as Alderfer Park) in Evergreen, Colorado. The parched landscape has taken on an entirely new appearance since my last visit to the area during summertime, and I think I quite prefer this desert-style look.

As if I needed another reminder that I am in dire need of a macro lens, these up-close shots of nature’s tiniest jewels offers another reason to justify splurging on new photography equipment – but hey, these photographs aren’t too shabby considering I was using a standard kit lens with my Nikon D7000!

5 Ways to Celebrate La Madre Tierra for Earth Day!

Looking for a way to pay homage to the beautiful planet that so kindly houses you, feeds you, waters you and creates boulder formations for you to climb? – Consider one of these five ways to say ‘thanks’ to nature on Earth Day.

1. Plant something. The possibilities here are really endless. Plant a tree, take a cue from my neighbor and plant some dainty flowers, or get creative. Eatin’ a pineapple or avocado? You can plant ‘em! I currently have a pineapple head and a sprouting avocado pit basking in the sunshine on my patio. Good for the earth, and an entertaining little project. Stick a few tooth picks into the pit, prop it up in a little cup and fill it with water until the base is nicely situated in liquid. Voila!

2. Feed the critters! It is no secret that I am obsessed with my little creature buddies. Birds, squirrels, raccoons – I love ‘em all. Making bird-feeders is a quick and fun way to celebrate Earth Day. Check out my how-to make a bird feeder using recycled products, or go old school with a simple feeder made by rolling pine cones in peanut butter. Hang it by your window and you’ll have entertainment all day long, like the time the Squirrel Bandit parkoured his way up to my feeder..

3. Pick up some trash. There is no shortage of litter in this world, and there’s no better day to tote a plastic bag around and fill it with the rude garbage that clutters the earth. I’ll be collecting trash around Tally Rock Gym today after I volunteer a belay party, so feel free to come join me.

4. Thank your farmers. Not exactly thanking nature, but today is a great day to appreciate the people that work hand-in-hand with the earth on a daily basis. Forgo the mass produced food that is processed using methods that create pollution and waste – stop by a farmers market (like the Thomasville Farmers Market, or the Pinecrest Farmers Market) or local grocer, and take a bite out of something good for your body, and good for your earth.

5. Take a hike! Or leisurely walk, or bike ride, or canoe ride. Get outside and revel in everything that the earth has provided for you. We spend too much time taking advantage of our resources, and not enough time appreciating our blessings. Head to a local park, make a drive to your favorite beach, canoe along a river – the ways to cherish the outdoors are endless, so stop making excuses.

Did I mention that these things are great activities for ANY day, not just Earth Day? This holiday aims to raise awareness about our need to give back to the earth, but you efforts to celebrate Mother Nature shouldn’t be reserved solely for April 22nd. Every day presents a prime opportunity to make a difference.

Nature Update!

We have been anxiously waiting for weeks while Baby Cap munched his way towards pupating, and last night it finally happened. He molted his caterpillar skin for the last time, exposing the light brown chrysalis that will transform him into a butterfly. It was particularly difficult to get a shot of the chrysalis because it is in the screened enclosure, but I was able to get one decent picture to share.

** I highly suggest you click on the picture of the furry moth, it’s of fantastic quality at greater size. **

While we are still on the nature theme, I wanted to start chronicling my experience growing sunflowers. My mom sent up a little do-it-yourself kit of sunflowers, in a package that also included killer rice krispies and my Dad’s awesome AE1 35mm. I planted them about two days ago, and they have already begun to sprout! I thought it would be a fun mini-project to document their growth, so enjoy.