“Visions of the Bosque” is a showcase for some of the great amateur and professional photographers in our community who have captured the unique beauty of the Bosque with their work. If you wish to submit your photos for consideration, please email us 5 to 10 sample photographs.
“Voices of the Bosque” features voices of our community. It is a place where we can share what the Bosque means to us, why we are grateful to have this natural place as part of our city, why we come here to walk or pedal along, to witness the changing seasons, to observe the birds and other wildlife, to enjoy the solace and peace and beauty of nature, and why we want this area to be preserved and protected. please email us if you'd like to submit some writing to us for publication.
Featured Photographer / AUTHOR: Kathy gRASSEL
I was visiting my mother in the nursing home a few months before she died. My mother’s cognitive strength was in decline, such that we couldn’t talk about politics anymore—the one topic between us that had never failed. I asked her absentmindedly what she would have liked to study if she hadn’t become a nurse. She thought a long time, as if she would be betraying allegiance to nursing had she admitted to other dreams.
She answered, with hesitation, “Biology.”
I replied that biology was broad—would that be zoology or botany?
I pressed on. Could you narrow that down a little more, Mom?
“Birds,” she blurted out.
I was astounded that I didn’t know this about her after all these years, only knowing that she loved watching the finches at the feeder outside her kitchen window, and that she would worry if they didn’t come. In the months that followed before her death, I didn’t think too much about that conversation, especially since its utility was in being there with her in the nursing home in her last year of life.
It was just days after she died, as I resumed my daily morning walks in the Bosque, that I suddenly started seeing birds. They were everywhere—all different sizes and colors, none of which I had seen or could name except goose and crow and duck. One of first birds presenting itself—remarkably, since I haven’t seen one since—was a fully-camouflaged Western screech owl perched in a tree hollow. I stood gazing at this bird as if it would have been a vision of the Holy Mother. This went on day after day, month after month, as if the birds were coming to me. How had I missed that bald eagle, which, I figured out as the seasons came and went, returned every December to the same tree? The first time I saw a cedar waxwing I thought I would faint.
All these years—since the 1980s actually—I’ve obviously been among these many birds of the Bosque, running and cycling, taking classes about the Bosque, writing papers about the Bosque, going to meetings about the Bosque, measuring water levels in the Bosque, weeping over scorched landscapes after the fires—all without noticing this tremendous avian life all around. Now I have binoculars, cameras, field guides and birding apps, yet every day is as breathtaking as that first poignant moment with the Western screech owl.
People knowing my mother believe with all their faith that she went to heaven. Maybe so, but not before becoming the birds she always wanted to study.
- Kathy Grassel