I'm an antisocial nerd. Seriously. I have a hard time getting to know people, probably partly because I prefer to bypass social pleasantries such as "Hello. How was your day?" and skip right to "Actually, you're totally incorrect. Listen while I tell you why," or "Hey! Wanna hear me talk for an hour about black widows?"
Maybe stemming from that, I have a hard time cultivating the social circle around me that I'd like -- people who are as passionate about the things I am, in the same ways I am, yet still inspire and surprise me. Luckily, others don't share my deficiency, so the circle still forms. I get e-mails and invitations, even though I hole myself up in a messy home office and talk mostly to my cats. And then, I get to pass it on to you! Only in the Internet age.
Making connections -- it's one of the best things about the Internet, about writing, and about the passions we all pursue. Here are a few I'm loving lately.
Tom Keyes, and other awesome Arboretum folks
You know I love the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. And that it happens to be featuring nature photography from yours truly right now. (See it all this month!) You know what else is cool? The people there. Paul Wolterbeek, the volunteer coordinator/public relations guy/all-around He-Man of the arboretum, knows that cool folks flock to the place, and he's awesome about connecting them to each other. A while ago, he noticed similarities in my Species a Day posts and local artist Sandy Tracey's Painting a Day project, and sent us each other's info. Last weekend he passed along this gorgeous etching made by arboretum volunteer Tom Keyes, going off one of my exhibit photos. Remember this image?
Check out the awesome etching he did:
Gorgeous, isn't it? It's getting a place of honor in my home office, I think (though my son did suggest his room). Apparently, Tom just makes these gorgeous pieces like they're no big deal and often shares them, just because. Makes him a pretty cool guy, in my book.
Everyone who sends me awesome science, beauty, etc. just because you know it's my thing
My friend BJ Bolender (known around these parts as Ms. Cobalt) sent me the sadly beautiful video on the death of a dragonfly. Sad as it was, I loved that she thought to send it to me, because I know she appreciates and cares about dragonflies like I do, but also because we sort of see things the same way; and I could imagine her noticing the details that I noticed. Several of you sent me the eerily gorgeous "Loom" a while back because you knew I'd love it. And don't even get me started on photographic inspiration. Here are just a very few shots from my Flickr contacts lately (click through to see each photographer, with links):
You guys are inspiring.
I've "known" Rus for a while now -- he's a Facebook contact and a fellow Gopher (Goucher College grad), but he graduated a few years before I did, so I didn't really know him. It seems I missed out. He sent me an e-mail out of the blue the other day. Totally not a big deal to him, I suppose. Just a note saying, basically, Hey; you're doing great stuff. Keep it up, to tell me he'd been enjoying my online work. But it hit my Inbox at just the right time, when I was feeling uninspired and dumpy and not so great at all. It was perfect. And come to find out, that's what he does: inspire people and foster community for some of us creative-types. Also, he's taken some pretty kick-ass photos himself.
I've long loved Jim Burns' photos. What I try to do in bird photography, he just does, with apparent ease that I know is really from years and years of meticulously honed skill and practice. He knows his equipment, he knows the birds, and he's good. Really, really good. I don't know if there's a North American bird he hasn't captured, and well. (That's his Cooper's hawk shot. Have you ever seen a more unique hawk shot?)
So you can imagine my pleasure and surprise when his latest column (he's also a nature writer, and he's good at that too) was entitled "Kim Hosey." Seriously. I'm not nearly that big of a deal, so I was really pretty tickled. It's a column about my exhibit, but it's mostly a reflection on our connection to nature growing up. It's perfect. What's even better, though, was that he gets me. I began my artist statement in my exhibit with the sentence "I am not a photographer." I wasn't trying to be cute (not too much, anyway), and I wasn't feeling insecure. I'm really not a photographer, at least, not primarily. The thing I bring to the table is how I see the world -- or even that I see the parts I do. He got that. I was thrilled.
Also, just go check out his work. He seriously rocks.
Dragonfly Day folks
Here's a late shout-out, but I went straight from the event to camping, back home, and, well, things pile up. The Chandler Environmental Education Center at Veteran's Oasis Park put on a great event, dedicated to one of my favorite orders of insects. I had a table with some recent photos I've taken, and I got to talk about the insects and how I got some of the images. (Tough, I know. You know how I hate talking about animals.) Naturally, my exhibit was accompanied by an informative sheet by none other than The Dragonfly Woman, who you may have seen around here. Honestly, I felt like I was getting more than I was offering. I got to meet all kinds of nature-loving people. Pierre Deviche, who runs the website Arizona Dragonflies, gave a captivating lecture on dragonflies, evidenced by the fact that my son disappeared to the lecture and reportedly sat still and silent (!) for over an hour. The folks at the Center were wonderful. They're building a hub of environmental outreach and education, bringing together teachers, presenters, the public, and the natural world. Good stuff.
I think my favorite part of the day, though, had to be the kids. Kids aren't always familiar with nature, but they're nearly always open to learning more about it. Probably two thirds of the questions I got were from kids: What do dragonflies eat? Do they eat each other? Why do they have hair? Why do they do that weird thing to mate? What's this bright red one? And, from what I swear was six-year-old me: Are you sure that's a blue-ringed dancer? Because I saw a whole bunch of that kind out on the pond and I think it's another species; hang on; let me look in my book...
Meeting the next generation of nature nerds. I guess the circle is complete.