Hart Quill Blog | Love in the Galapagos Islands | HartHaiku.com

Love in the Galapagos Islands

Sometimes we discover love in the most unexpected places. And so it was on that scorching April day along a dusty trail on North Seymour Island, Galapagos.

It was not my first visit to the Galapagos, and it surely will not be my last. I love the untamed ancient beauty of the islands. On this particular outing I had joined a group to hike and primarily bird watch. There was also other wildlife to enjoy, such as majestic giant sea lions basking in the sun on the giant shore rocks. Sea lion pups nestled in nearby crevices and I was able to get within several feet of them. The amazing thing about the birds and animals on the Galapagos Islands is that they have no fear of man. Close encounters with the wildlife are very usual. I was in my heaven that April day.

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It was mating season on North Seymour and love was definitely in the air. Magnificent male frigate birds crouched in barren bushes, with red breasts puffed out to attract the females. Several times I saw females approach the males, and a somewhat awkward tango with gangly flailing limbs would ensue atop the low lying shrubbery.

The other avian species profuse on the island were the quirky blue-footed boobies. The booby males exhibited their elaborate courting dance, lifting one bright blue webbed foot then the other while strutting around their potential mates. Their distinctive whistling enhanced the exuberant posturing. The guide pointed out that the brighter blue the male’s feet, the more desirable he is to the duller females. Brightness is apparently an attractive sign of youthful male virility.

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Boobies breed and nest only when conditions are right, and they scout out several nesting sites to choose the one most perfect just before the eggs are laid. In other words, boobies are not at all careless where they put their progeny. Some of the females had already laid eggs in nests under bushes along the edge of the trail, and crouching birds watched us carefully as we passed by.

As we curved around the far side of the island, I became somewhat separated from the group. I lingered near one large nesting area, as I found the bird population to be extremely colorful and interesting. I had just circled back to take a few last photographs when I heard a little grunt from the ground near my feet. I looked down and to my surprise discovered that I had almost tripped over a booby right in my path. I was focused on taking photos, and, she was squatting in a most unusual open area.

As startled as she likely was, she did not budge an inch from her spot. I crouched down right in front of her and spoke softly, “I did not see you there little one. I’m sorry if I scared you.”

She calmly looked me in the eye and then slowly stood up. Looking down at the ground between her feet, she revealed to me a large beautiful egg. There was no nest built around her or her treasure. It was as though she’d been walking along the path and got caught by surprise, much as human ladies sometimes have babies in improbable places. What are you going to do? Babies wait for no one once they decide.

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The blue-footed booby moved her gaze from her prized egg back to my face for an instant. Then she looked back down and a second time back at me, transmitting great pride. The moment was frozen in time.

She clearly was saying, “Look at the lovely thing I have made. Isn’t it wonderful?”

I exclaimed over the beauty of her egg, and told her soon she would have a cute little chick to protect. I was awestruck in this simple encounter, so pure in its innocent love it was. In that moment two females of very different species acknowledged between them the magic of all creation. I was acutely aware of the web of love that connects all of life here on Earth.

Sometimes the infiniteness of the ocean can be seen in a single drop of water. The encounter between the blue-footed booby and I was one brief small exchange, and yet it had immense depth.

As unpredictable as love between humans may sometimes feel, in actual fact it is a universal law as constant as gravity. They are one and the same. This invisible, powerful force draws us magically and inexorably together into the One. We are bound and challenged by it. And ultimately that is why we came here…

To learn and get better at Love.

Hart Haiku | Fast-takeaway Inspirations | Susan L Hart   facebook

Love in the Galapagos Islands © Susan L Hart  2017-2019

First published as A Little Love Story, in Seven Degrees of Wisdom, Welcome to our Circle

Tick-tock Madman | HartQuill.com

Tick-tock Madman

That round evil man
with his shallow pretty face
leers from my wall.
Cruelly and incessantly
he chips away at my life
with his sharp little pick-axe.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

My days mete out
in an endless dribble of
task and responsibilities.
And he watches me.
Be on time, get it right!
Get up again, do it again.
And again, and again, and again.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

I thought he was my friend
that insidious little man.
Mom said he was.
Dress for success, be on time,
and your life will be right.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Then one day I woke up
and my life felt all wrong.
Where are my dreams
you cunning little man?
You stole them when
I wasn’t looking.
I was busy listening to your

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Oh poacher of my hours –
Is there still time for me?
Still hope for me?
The Me you took while I was
distracted and toiling,
And worried about being on time.

And that smug little man
with his false pretty face
just stares coldly at me
from his unfeeling wall.
Silent he is, but for
the relentless

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Hart Haiku | Fast-takeaway Inspirations | Susan L Hart   facebook

Tick-tock Madman © Susan L Hart 2016-2019

Our Losses & their Lessons | HartHaiku.com

Our Losses & their Lessons

“Michelangelo knew… A most powerful tool of the Master Sculptor, Loss is.” Loss is a life teacher, and our losses may be our hardest learning. But just as chiseling away the marble revealed Michelangelo’s masterpiece David, so does loss sculpt the beauty of our souls.

Our losses carry fear with them

Beyond loss itself, we consequently grapple with fear of it. The void that loss creates in us feels gigantic and black. Fear of more loss becomes crippling. Potentially it keeps us from risking anything that might repeat it. And of course, the losses we take around love feel the most brutal. We open our hearts, and sometimes they are crushed.

It is only by moving through the fear that we finally achieve the fullness of loss lessons. When we can acknowledge and embrace the good that came out of our losses, we are able to move on to risk again. Taking risk, being willing to make mistakes, reaching out for all that life has to offer in the face of potential loss, leads to great growth and gains.

My poem about Michelangelo and his creation of the famous sculpture David is a metaphor for how loss lessons grow our souls. Interestingly, the statue depicts the legendary David, of David and Goliath fame. David risked his life to take on the giant, an act of courage and faith.

Loss Unveils the Masterpiece

Michelangelo knew …

A most powerful
tool of the Master Sculptor,
Loss is.
It was the taking
away that unveiled
breathtaking David
to the world.

“I saw the angel
in the stone and
set him free.”
Inside every raw
slab of marble
awaits a masterpiece
to be revealed.

We are all
magnificent works
of art in progress.
And losing a beloved
is perhaps the
greatest Master
chisel of all.

We gasp, clasping
our hearts when
our loved one dies
or leaves us.
How will we ever
risk to love again?
And yet, we do.

For in our loss
we learn to cherish
the value of love.
We understand
the power and
importance of “now”.
And we grow.

Love is the fine grit
that hones the
rough broken edges
to a polished glow.
The answer to our
growth lies within
the problem itself.

Michelangelo, you said
God guided your hand.
And in the taking away,
you revealed
astonishing Beauty.
David is your work of Love,
and a lesson for us all.

Our Losses and their Lessons

Hart Haiku | Fast-takeaway Inspirations | Susan L Hart   facebook

Our Losses & their Lessons © Susan L Hart 2019
Loss Unveils the Masterpiece © Susan L Hart 2017-2019

Seeing Beauty in Australia | HartQuill.com

Seeing Beauty in Australia

The beloved poet Rumi wrote about beauty, and a favorite quote has been, “Beauty surrounds us”. But much to my surprise, I discovered just lately that the full quote is actually, “Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be in a garden to know it”. Yes! He was making the point that we tend to tune in on a narrow bandwidth for seeing beauty. This was really driven home to me personally when I began to travel.

My old lens sought landscapes lush and green

I started my travels almost 20 years ago in paradise: Hawaii. When I close my eyes and picture the plumeria trees, the heavenly scent floats back to me, and with it all of my memories of Hawaii. You might imagine that this would be my epitome of landscape beauty, but that is not true.

I grew up immersed in rugged, expansive and stunning landscapes, with lush green summers and glorious fall color. Art was my passion, and my goal was to show people the beauty that surrounds them, every day. My eyes became used to seeing the Earth in a certain way, that of the landscapes I painted. And when I began traveling, that was the lens that I took with me.

Seeing Beauty in Australia

Suffice to say, Hawaii was a delight. But, being as lush as it is, it did not challenge my idea of beauty one whit. In fact, it only helped to “raise the bar”. Australia, on the other hand, significantly challenged my viewpoint.

Australian summer started to stretch me

We arrived in Australia in December, the beginning of their summer. To say that Aussie summers are harsh is an understatement. The intense sun and heat are severe and unforgiving. In extremely short order, the grass is fried to a crisp, and the eucalyptus trees take on a dull drabness. In my eyes the landscape was colorless; as Mom would say, “nothing to write home about”.

Eventually, we arrived at a point near Adelaide, South Australia, where we decided to stay put for awhile. Daily I tramped up and down, again and again, a dusty little dirt road for my exercise. Usually I walked an hour a day, so that meant many laps of the same short road. For personal safety I did not venture off my route, as the area was somewhat remote from town.

I learned a broader way of seeing beauty

Day after day there was seemingly nothing new to look at. I was therefore forced to examine every detail and nuance of that road to relieve the boredom. And little-by-little, the beauty blossomed before my eyes.

Like Monet, I love the play of light on a landscape. I have tried to capture that often in my own paintings. I started to schedule my walks for dusk. At that time of day, the sky was softening from hard azure to soft pinks and apricot. The sunlight turned deep golden, burnishing the rough trunks and dry leaves of the eucalyptus trees that rimmed the road.

And the birds came out to play

And, perhaps best of all, the pink galahs and cockatoos came out to play. The respite from the torrid heat was their invitation to soar and cavort. The distinctive calling of the birds in unison echoed over the valley. Previously I had only ever seen a cockatoo imprisoned in a pet cage back home. Something about those birds playing together unleashed a feeling of freedom in my soul. It was if they were calling out to me, “Open your eyes, open your eyes; come play with us!”

The brown, dry grassland receded, and I was surrounded by beauty that I could not see at first glance. That was because I had been looking through the same old lens, using it as a measuring stick to judge and reject.

There are many lessons on the big road of travel

All these years since, I have very fond memories of that little dirt road. I can picture it clearly to this day. It opened my eyes wider, and I saw deeper. I spent many a walk along that road, whispering “show me the magic”,  for I was also struggling with loneliness. And it did reveal itself to me, as told in my story Miracle in the Park.

Being a landscape artist, I believed I knew this already. And to a certain degree, I did. But throughout my travels, I am still learning it in a deeper and deeper way. I am falling in love with the world. Thank you, Australia, for showing me a different way of looking.

It’s a big world out there. Seeing beauty everywhere takes desire and a broader point of view. But, it’s always there to be found, for eyes that want to see.

Seeing Beauty in Australia

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Seeing Beauty in Australia © Susan L Hart 2019

Forest photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels
Australia photo courtesy Sabel Blanco, Pexels