Finding Joy in the New Year

Green Honeycreeper, male, Trinidad

In this fresh new year — try to find a spark of  joy in every day.


It could be a spot of bright nature;

Azure Kingfisher, Australia


or something new you’ve never seen before;


Male Kudu, Botswana, Chobe River


Conversely, joy could appear in something you see every day, but never stopped to appreciate.


Monarch Butterfly, Horicon Marsh, WI


Twelve-spotted Skimmer Dragonfly, California


We can find joy in remarkable human engineering feats;

Sydney Opera House, Australia


or inspiring people;


Gandhi Statue, The Ferry Building, San Francisco


Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

or art, so many forms of art.

Ancient Kangaroo Rock Art, Kakadu NP, Australia

Chihuly Sea Star, Seattle, WA


Some of the most cheerful joy comes in simple forms.

American Robin nest, Wisconsin

California Honeysuckle, lonicera


There will be times, however, in the new year when difficulty or despair take over.


Joy might not be readily accessible in the darkness.


Olympic Peninsula, Washington


For these times, go to sleep, rest…


Grey-headed Flying Foxes, Sydney, Australia


… and try again tomorrow.

Warmest thanks to my blogging friends and readers, for a year filled with joyful sweet moments, warm words, happy smiles, vicarious adventures, stunning images, and heartfelt sharing.  Gentle wishes for a new year filled with joy.

Written by Jet Eliot
All photos by Athena Alexander.


White-bellied Woodstar, Peru


Maui, Hawaii



A New Year of Peace

Ulysses Butterfly, Australia

On this holiday, one that is shared across the globe, here are a few of earth’s wild and worldly inhabitants to remind us how to find peace.


Enjoy the gifts of food

Purple Finch, California, USA

and water, and help those who do not have it.

Zebra, Zambia, Africa


Take in the glories of nature wherever it appears.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Costa Rica, Central America


Practice courage and perseverance,

Lioness and African Buffalo, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, Africa

and navigate the dark.

Northern Potoo, Mexico


Paddle through adversity.

Domestic cattle, Belize, Central America


Take time to relax.

Basilisk Lizard, Belize, Central America


Find whimsy

Hippopotamus, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Africa

and be flexible.

Spectacled Flying Fox Bat, Australia


May each day begin with song

Common Yellowthroat, Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, USA

and dance,

Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Isl., South America

with times when you shine

Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Isl., South America

and sparkle.

Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Costa Rica, Central America


Take comfort in your community

Parrolets, Mexico

yet reach out beyond it.

White Rhinos, Kenya, Africa


Demonstrate patience and compassion to the young

Thornicroft giraffe mother with baby, Zambia, Africa

and old.

Giant Tortoise, Galapagos Isl., South America


Embrace these basic elements of life,

and you will have peace and love

every day of the year.

Lambs, California, USA

Thank you, my friends, for another great year of sharing.

Written by Jet Eliot

Photo credit: Athena Alexander


Happy New Year

Monarch Butterfly, Horicon Marsh, WI

Monarch Butterfly, Horicon Marsh, WI

May you find the tender leaves of hope

wherever you turn in this new year.


Photo credit: Athena Alexander

Line one: William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII (1613)

The Gifts of the Crane

Sandhill Cranes, California

Sandhill Cranes, California

I live near a region of northern California on a bird migration belt called the Pacific Flyway.  Every winter for over 20 years I have driven a few hours north in search of the sandhill crane.


When I am in their neighborhood, they are present, even though I cannot always see them.  They winter here to escape the cold extremes of the northern U.S. and Canada.  But it is often raining with low fog when they visit, and they fly high, invisible.


Sandhill Cranes, Lodi, Calif.

Sandhill Cranes, Lodi, Calif.

But if I stay still and listen carefully, I hear them.  Their sound is distinct, a mixture of gobbling and bugling.  It is not loud, nor low, and sometimes not even audible, unless I stay still and concentrate.  (Click to hear)


Regardless of inclement weather, at dusk they come in to roost in the flooded rice fields.  Even though it is almost dark, they are now visible.  Grus canadensis is nearly four feet tall and weighs 6-10 pounds; a big bird with a red forehead.  For one magical hour, pairs and groups gregariously descend from the sky, gathering, calling, settling in for the cold night.


When they are invisible, they can be heard; when it gets dark, they appear.


There are 15 species of cranes in the world.  Every crane I have ever observed is a strong and elegant creature.


Crane and Deer. Photo: Athena Alexander

Grey-crowned crane, Zambia, Africa

Cultures all over the world revere the crane.  Although there is a slight variation in all the interpretations, they are considered the symbol of luck, longevity, and fidelity.


Poised for their arrival, my rain slicker dripping, I stand beside the muddy California rice field at dusk, waiting and listening…and thinking about this.  What does luck mean?  To me it means you prioritize your dreams and desires, and go forth to meet them.


Wattled Cranes, Botswana, Africa

Wattled Cranes, Botswana, Africa

What does longevity mean?  When you stay connected to each moment of each day, the richness of this passion makes each day a lifetime.


And fidelity?  Stay true to yourself and the song that sings within your heart.


Whooping Cranes, Horicon Wildlife Refuge, Wisc.

Whooping Cranes, Horicon Wildlife Refuge, Wisc.

These are the gifts of the crane — and as we venture forward into the new year, I give this gift to you….


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

Happy New Year!

Performance Artist in San Francisco

Performance Artist in San Francisco

Here’s a toast to all my blogging friends.  Thank you for your stories and photos, laughs and insight, time and energy.  I’ve enjoyed it immensely and look forward to 2014.  I hope you have a great new year!