The Hiker

DSC_0344The hiker climbs a mountain and explores forests thick with unknowns.

Her senses sift through myriad notions.

She brushes against thriving sages of centuries past,

inhales their pine scent, absorbs the strength inherent in knotted bark,

and she’s encouraged.DSC_0400She moves through damp, shady inner woods,

climbs over stripped impressions, weathered limbs, and rotting leaves–

the decay atop nature’s compost long ago felled by weak ideas.

DSC_0395She scrutinizes muck for a hint of green or fibrous thread–

any viable root she can claim as her own,

She wraps an inkling in warm thoughts and sets it inside a sensitive pouch.

Her soft words soothe it. Her tenacity infuses confidence,

and she continues her trek up the high peak.

2Mt Equinox

At summit’s edge she witnesses endless possibilities

Stratified hues and layered perspectives flow to the horizon

and the wind frees her from stale, worn-out conceptions.

2Lake Placid

The hiker shapes her parcel’s substance

and her mind’s eye spins its tale.

 

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Photos 1 & 4: Views from Equinox Mountain summit, Green Mountains, VT

Photo 2:  A view from the woods around Lake Luzerne, NY

Photo 3: A view from the woods around Tupper Lake, NY

Photo 5: View from Whteface Mountain summit, Lake Placid, NY

All photos were taken with a Nikon 7100 camera with a Nikkor VR 18-105mm/ 3.5-5.6G lens by Joann Pensabene

 

 

 

The Last Hummingbird

Taking Aim

Taking Aim

Hummingbirds guest at my home each spring and summer. Extraordinary beings. They announce themselves with a “bzzzz” produced by their flapping wings. They’re always hungry and I am a serious host: I lay them a fine table with some of their favorite foods. Hanging baskets of red, white and orange impatiens grace my front porch. Pots of purple and lavender flowering mallows stand in front of my house , and my back deck offers begonia, coleus, basil, and peppermint flowers for their pleasure.

Getting Closer

Getting Closer

The birds visit several times a day, every day. They feed from the flowers and pollenate the plants and they don’t mind sharing an outdoor presence with me and my family and friends. Indeed, we and the hummers enjoy life together. The birds offer us wonder, serenity, and pleasure and we offer the hummers safety, calm, and quiet as they feed. It’s a remarkable relationship, one I haven’t experienced with any other wildlife. The birds show no anxiety around people, though they’re anti-social among their own species and tend toward territoriality. Thus it’s a fair guess that I see the same birds here each day. And that makes the experience personal and intimate.

Feeding at the Flowers

Feeding at the Flowers

They arrive at my home, usually one at at time. They flutter around the plants and hover in midair as they devour the nectar inside each of the flowers. The birds don’t dally. As soon as they finish, they fly off in search of nourishment elsewhere, and in the case of the females, to feed their young.

Feasting on Nectar

Feasting on Nectar

The bird feeding on the coleus flowers in these pictures is a female, ruby-throated hummingbird. Her neck and underbelly are white and her back is greenish. Her male counterpart is a more colorful, showier individual with an actual ruby-colored throat.  This lady is my last visitor for this season, I think. I haven’t seen her or any other hummers for days. So I’m honored that she allowed me to get within five feet of her to take these pictures.

Leaving the Scene

Leaving the Scene

It’s migration time and as autumn closes in, plants that were nutritious and lush with leaves and flowers all summer are now spindly and withering.  The birds head to Mexico and Central America where they’ll feast at tropical  smorgasbords. They”ll be gone by the end of this month and I’ll start preparing for my own northeastern winter. As spring approaches, however, I’ll plan another floral table for the hummers return complete with all their favorites and perhaps, a few surprises.

A Thought At the End of A Busy Day

Early evening,

 a pleasant time for short walks and winding down,

Lake Luzerne Evening

for watching ripple-distorted reflections,

Lake Luzerne Evening 2

for commiserating with a fallen tree,

Gully

for admiring a vegetation medley in a gully,

 for being a part of nature’s sanctuary.

and

for feeling grateful that it exists.

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[All photos taken by Joann Pensabene with a Nikon 7100, edited for contrast with Photoshop 9]

Not Guilty: Some Thoughts, A Correction

In my Friday, July 26, 2013 piece, “Not Guilty: Some Thoughts,” I stated that George Zimmerman’s gun was returned to him in the courtroom after he was found not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter charges.

That statement is false and I apologize for the error.

George Zimmerman’s gun, along with other evidence in the case, is in the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice which has resumed its investigation of Zimmerman into the death of Trayvon Martin.

Not Guilty: Some Thoughts

Not guilty.

A wasp’s sting. I’d hoped for a conviction but I did not fully expect the primarily white, female jury to acquit George Zimmerman. I had little confidence that the prosecution would prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Their charges were stiff, the burden of proof, high. Evidence was not collected at the crime scene or from Zimmerman that would have strengthened the state’s case. Indeed, Zimmerman was arrested only because of a national outcry demanding an investigation into the shooting. Now, due process complete and after weeks of a show trial, the public received a burning dose of social and legal reality.

Not guilty.

Something was very wrong here. I wanted justice for Trayvon Martin not a Zimmerman exoneration.

I thought about the jury. As a former juror who served on a criminal case in New York years ago I well understood the deliberation process–hours of sifting through evidence, determining the credibility of witnesses, weighing the prosecutor’s case, searching for reasonable doubt. Jurors are expected to be impartial in their deliberations but no one can be totally objective. Jurors do interpret what they see and hear in the courtroom through the filter of their own life experiences. Why was there only one black juror on this case. Why were others who could have added minority perspectives to this case not included?

I blamed Florida law and the prosecutors. Six jurors in a second degree murder case did not seem enough to tease out the truth. I know verdicts should be derived from the perceptions of the group based on evidence presented within the context of the law as explained by the judge, but I wondered if deliberation arguments and the outcome would have been different had there been twelve multicultural jurors on this interracial case.

Not guilty.

The verdict did not represent Trayvon’s perspective, how he experienced Zimmerman’s stalking. Was he fearful? Perhaps he should have called the police. But did he have any  expectation that the police would help him, a black teenager? We can’t know for certain. The seventeen year old is dead.  His voice, unheard. His killer, acquitted.

The jury spoke. The state’s case is finished.

Is there any recourse? Of course, the U.S. Justice Department would resume their case against Zimmerman, but could they charge him with a hate crime? How would they prove intent? Another high, judicial bar. I didn’t place much hope here.

My heart broke for Trayvon’s parents. Their ordeal had to be agonizing. I admired their grace, dignity, and strength. I wondered how they sat in court, day after day, and listened to defense lawyers blame their son for his own death. The loss of a child is a nightmare. Chilling.  As a mother, I have never had to deal with such horror. My own children grew to adulthood. Their child never would.

I knew Trayvon’s parents have the right to file wrongful death charges in civil court against Zimmerman, the right to seek a monetary settlement from him. It would not carry the same weight as a guilty verdict in a criminal case, but it would hold Zimmerman accountable for his actions. If he testified and if they won their case.

But how does one place a monetary value on one’s child’s life? A child who had a right to be where he was, a right to walk to his father’s home unmolested? How does one place a monetary value on any of our children? More importantly, why should we have to? All children, regardless of race, have the right to adult protection in our communities. This clearly did not happen in the Sanford, Florida neighborhood that Zimmerman claimed he watched.

Not guilty.

I wondered about George Zimmerman. His gun was returned to him in the courtroom. He walked out of there a free man. How does a free, adult man live with the fact that he shot an unarmed, innocent boy to death.? At point blank range. In the heart. I had not heard about any expression of remorse from Zimmerman. I could only surmise he believed the jury added a sense of righteousness to his actions. Now he was armed and back on the street. I wondered how he celebrated his acquittal?

Not guilty.

I blamed the Florida laws that allow people to carry concealed weapons and stand their ground. I believe that carrying a gun inflates one’s confidence with misguided power. One feels that one has life and death control over any situation. Carrying a gun reduces the chance of  responsible discernment in questionable circumstances.  The danger is that verbal communication can be replaced by lethality arising in the heat of the moment. I also believe that standing one’s ground should not allow for provoking a confrontation. Neither should it give one the right to claim self-defense for acts committed as a result of such provocation. Especially when the provocateur is told by a 911 operator to stand down and wait for the police to arrive.

George Zimmerman, by his own admission, did not wait for the police to arrive. Instead, he stalked  Trayvon Martin. In so doing, he set up the circumstance that allowed for a confrontation. When he felt he was losing the altercation, he pulled his gun and killed the teenager. In essence, George Zimmerman chose to take matters into his own hands. Tragically, they were matters of his own making. Had he exercised adult responsibility at the time, the seventeen year old would still be alive.

Perhaps if Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watch volunteer, had not profiled Trayvon as a criminal but asked the boy where he was going and inquired if he needed help, he’d have seen Trayvon’s bottle of iced tea and his bag of candy, and realized he had nothing to fear from the boy. Had he talked with Trayvon, he may have realized that Trayvon, like himself,  belonged in that neighborhood.  Instead, he acted on an untrue premise that ended in horrible fatality. And he walked away from it without consequence.

Not guilty.

It does not mean innocent.

Always Room for Improvement

Nikon camera and Sunpak Tripod taken with iPhone 5 by Joann Pensabene

Nikon camera and Sunpak Tripod taken with iPhone 5 by Joann Pensabene

Photography class at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne tomorrow. And yes, I’m excited.

I’ve spent the past couple of months updating my photography equipment, reading the camera manual, and clicking practice shots here and there. Most in the auto focus mode.

I’m an amateur photographer and I hope to improve my skills. Nature is my subject. Tomorrow I’ll learn how best to apply camera to the outdoors and take photos that I’ll really be able to write about.

So, here’s my formulaic goal:

Writing + Photos + Positive Creative Energy = Quality Blog Posts

(at least as compared to what they’ve been since I started.)

Hey, I used to take x-rays for a living. I can do this.

Right?

American Independence Day

We

celebrate our investment in our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,”

aspire to our “American Dream,” a home, suitable work, and a good education,

hope that each generation prospers better than the one preceding it,

pledge our commitment to “liberty and justice for all,”

strengthen our proclaimation that our  government is

“of the people, by the people, and for the people,”

and,

when the barbeques, baseball games, and fireworks are over,

we remember how our country paid for it’s freedom,

review the reasons we call it home,

and reaffirm that

“we the people” have an obligation to come together as “one nation,”

and

participate in our political process

by keeping ourselves informed,

by debating our goals and principles,

and by striving toward “the will of the people.”

We Americans have been around for 237 years–not a long history within the context of measuring civilizations, but long enough to look back and review and accept who we are, what we’re really about, and how we arrived at our present place. Then, perhaps, we can ask where we want to go from here and plan politically, socially, and culturally inclusive ways to get there.