Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

A year in pictures – 2020

2020 started off strangely for me, and then it only grew more weird.

In January, I had surgery to swap out an old hip joint for a modern titanium one. That meant two or three months of rehab, and then I had plans to hit the road, starting with a trip to South Sudan. Beyond that, work beckoned from the Philippines, Indonesia, and other places.

That’s not my photo, though it is my body. With an aftermarket joint. Pretty slick.

As I recovered from the surgery, however, the world was overwhelmed by the coronavirus. Travel ground to a halt. Countries like South Sudan stopped admitting foreigners. Weeks of staying home became months of staying home. Fortunately for me, my home environment is filled with native plants and fascinating critters, so I started capturing images of the flora and fauna of my back yard.

Bee on broccoli.
An Oregon iris (Iris tenax) flowers amid Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa).
A bug on Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum).
Probably a cross orb weaver spider.
Oregon swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon oregonius).
A hover fly on a Douglas aster.
A Poplar click beetle (Ampedus apicatus) explores some Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Bee on red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum).
Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) on a Mock Orange flower (Philadelphus Lewisii).
A Pacific tree frog (Pseudacris regilla) on blueberry bush.
Lemon cucumbers.
Frog in pond.
A Goldenrod crab spider on oregano blossoms.
Red Columbine (Aquilegia formosa).
Blueberries. But you knew that.

And who couldn’t ignore the birds that graced us with their presence?

Cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) eats fruit from an Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) think about moving into my duck house.
An Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) delights in Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum).
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula).
A male Northern flicker woodpecker (Colaptes auratus).
A Wood duck (Aix sponsa).
A female Hairy woodpecker (Dryobates villosus).
A Townsend’s warbler (Setophaga townsendi).
A Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus).
An Oregon Duck. Of course.
A shy chickadee.
A Chestnut-backed chickadee (Poecile rufescens).
Feathers and egg shells from a Wood duck nest.
A Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus).

In pursuit of birds, I did venture away from home a few times, whether to the Delta Ponds along the Willamette River just east of my home, or to the Skagit and Nooksack Rivers in northern Washington.

A Barred owl (Strix varia) in the forest above Oakridge.
The rare two-headed Double-crested cormorant, Delta Ponds, Eugene.
A Water ouzel, or American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), in Champion Creek, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon.
An American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) chows down on a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
A Black oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) at Coquille Point, part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Bandon.
A Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) catches its supper, Fern Ridge Wildlife Area,
Angela, a Bald eagle, shows her new pedicure to two friends on the Nooksack River.
A Bald eagle gets ready to eat on the Nooksack River.
Bald eagle on the Skagit River.

At times I played around with that other button on my cameras that records video. Here’s a video guide for how to photograph owls, featuring a Great horned owl that spent its days in our back yard for a couple of weeks.

I did accept one assignment at midyear, recording video interviews with three US veterans of the Korea War. It was designed for use in August during commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the war. It was released by the World Council of Churches in three separate videos, but here’s my cut of three edited portions of the interviews.

I also ventured out to photograph a couple of demonstrations in my home town. I wanted to drive the two hours to Portland to photograph the demonstrations there, which regularly turned more, err, interesting, but some lingering issues with recovery from my hip surgery convinced me I couldn’t run as fast as I might need to. Eugene’s demonstrations, with a couple of exceptions, were much calmer.

I couldn’t resist traveling in July into the nearby Cascades to photograph Comet Neowise as it appeared over Mount Washington.

In the fall, as Coho salmon started migrating upstream to spawn, I took a camera to catch the action at nearby Lake Creek Falls.

Since I was stuck at home most of the year, I decided to clean out several dusty boxes filled with slides and negatives from pre-digital days. Sorting through tens of thousands of images, I discarded most, but selected a few to sort and digitize. I’m still in the middle of that process. The images include a boy living on the street in Brazil (circa 1986), a rice farmer on Java (1995), a young sheep herder in Bolivia (1988), a demonstration in Cuba (1992), and a father and daughter in Chiapas (2002).

I also waded through old images from Aleppo, Syria (2003), a takeover of the US military’s bombing range on Vieques, Puerto Rico (1999), an Islamist rally in Peshawar, Pakistan (2001), and a woman standing in the ruins of her home, burned by US-backed rebels in Angola (2001).

Many of the oldest images are from the nine years I lived in Nicaragua. Here’s a photo of me interviewing a participant in a 15-day Lenten pilgrimage from Jalapa to Managua in 1986, part of the Evangelical Insurrection that opposed the US war against the people of Nicaragua. (Sorry, I don’t remember who took the photo.) And then there’s a girl killed by the US-backed contras (1986), and Fr. Ernesto Cardenal (along with President Daniel Ortega and Foreign Minister Fr. Miguel D’Escoto) from 1986. Cardenal died this year, and I was asked by the National Catholic Reporter to remember him.

Old images from El Salvador include soldiers stopping a bus, from which they detain anyone they think looks at all subversive or of draft age (1987), a woman being struck and detained and likely disappeared by security forces in San Salvador (1987), and a girl doing homework in the ruins of her home in Sonsonate following a 2001 earthquake.

Old images from Guatemala include a soldier in the brutal Kaibiles, a US-supported counterinsurgency battalion, during a graduation ceremony at their jungle base (1994), and a Maya K’iche’ indigenous girl near San Andres Xecul (1987), and a Maya priestess during a ceremony in 1987.

There are many more slides and negs to review, and if I time it right, I should have them finished about the time I get the coronavirus vaccine and some parts of the world start opening their borders once again. May the prayer of the Maya priestess, and all our prayer and action, help bring wellness, justice, and peace in the new year.

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