Archive for the ‘Scavenger Hunts’ Category

American Crow by AudubonCrows are common scavengers around Flandrum Hill.  The sound of their caws is in the background as I write.  Like other scavengers throughout the world, they are adept at making the most of opportunities that present themselves in their environment.

Crows are able to sustain themselves on what others might discard or overlook.  Besides intelligence, they are gifted with adaptability to their environment and possess a highly developed language for communication.  Like most scavengers, they are especially successful when working together in groups.

Though the crows will keep scavenging until it’s time to fly south, our Midsummer Scavenger Hunt has come to an end and now it’s time to celebrate.

The great thing about blogging is that it’s a culture of cooperation, not a culture of competition.

~ Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

Thank you so much to everyone who participated and also to those who kindly offered comments.  The photos were amazingly good and made the theme of the elements come alive in a way that I just could not have imagined.  Each submision seemed to be a marvel in itself and were collectively awesome.

During the spring hunt, Kathy at Opening the Door, Walking Outside managed to find something prize-worthy in each submission, which I had hoped to be able to continue (as long as the number of submitters wasn’t too great).  So, let’s celebrate…

The Best of Each Element:
EARTH: Jessica’s seashore at Jessica’s Nature Blog
FIRE: Dawn’s Australian flower at Sahlah Photos and Thoughts
METAL: Joan’s Canadian silver hair at Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt Submissions
WATER: Kathy’s rain splattered fern at Opening the Door, Walking Outside
WOOD: JoAnn’s elder growing out of an old car at Scene Through My Eyes

5 elements

The Fastest Speed:
EARLIEST SUBMISSION: Jessica at The Magical Mundane

Thanks also to Jessica for bravely going first and explaining the elements in more detail for everyone’s benefit.

The Most Creative:
MOST CREATIVE APPROACH: Robin at Robin Eye Photography (Elementary Edibles – now THAT’S scavenging!)
MOST CREATIVE THEME: Gerry at Torch Lake Views (Recycling and the Cycles of the Elements)

Heartfelt Pride of Place:
STRONGEST SENSE OF PLACE: Pamela at Books in Northport (Don’t we all want to visit Leelanau, Michigan?)

If anyone would like to coordinate an autumn scavenger hunt, please feel free to let us all know in the comments section.  It can be simple or complex, with as much or as little organization as you’d like.  I, for one, would look forward to participating.

All prize winners will be receiving a Limited Edition print of a Spiral Shell.  Let me know of your preference of a pink or brown shell (as shown below) by email, along with your mailing address.

2 spirals

Image credit:  American Crow by John James Audubon

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metallic treesStrong, solid, brilliant, inflexible and reflective are all words used to describe metal as an element.  Its mood is melancholic and serious.  Metal is also a conductor and can represent bright ideas and  communication.  In nature, metal is associated with white, grey, silver and gold.

Although green in the daylight, the leaves on the trees at left shimmer silver in the moonlight.  Their eerie look was made even more so by the presence of bats flying above me as I took photos along the Salt Marsh Trail in the minutes before dawn.

The metal images from our scavenger hunt reflect the greatest diversity of interpretations of an element yet.  Despite metal’s quality of rigidity, two animals, a frog and donkey,  and a human scalp were featured as subjects in our set.


An iron buoy, wrought metal, bone and flowers add to the mix.  These images left me with such questions as… Which is more important, shape or color, in helping us determine what something is?  At what point does yellow become gold or grey become silver?  What role does white play in revealing a subject’s reflective quality?

An excellent man, like precious metal, is in every way invariable;  a villain like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards.

~ John Locke

This montage is the last of our five elements.  Tomorrow, I’ll offer a summary of our scavenger hunt.

Images in the montage were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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sun risingEven when it’s raining and the days are cloudy, the sun is still blazing in the sky.  Its presence is vital to our survival and that of every other living thing on the planet.  It’s no surprise that so many cultures throughout the ages have worshipped this ball of flames. Though we shouldn’t look into the sun (see here for some good reasons why), we can look into the flames of a fire.

Like us, fire requires oxygen.  It can provide warmth and cook food or be a destructive force like no other.  Visually, it can be mesmerizing.  Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau was already lamenting the growing absence of open flames in hearths due to the introduction of wood stoves.  He believed that you could always see a face in the flames, and that gazing into a fire at the end of a long day of hard work was both warming and relaxing.

What is fire?  It’s a mystery.  Scientists give us gobbledegook about friction and molecules, but they don’t really know.

~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


Who would have thought that fiery reds and oranges could be found so easily in the summer landscape?  A Pileated Woodpecker, berries, seaweed, flowers and leaves are all examples of the fire element in nature at this time of year.  It’s no wonder that the fire element is often associated with the summer sun.

Images in the montage were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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fox tracks

It’s so easy for us to take the earth beneath our feet for granted. It demands nothing of us. We know it has nowhere else to go. It’s here to stay.

The earth nourishes. Its stability enables seeds to grow. Animals dig in it and make tunnels and dens for shelter.  The sand at left was dug out of dunes by foxes at Rainbow Haven Beach.

The colors of the earth are varying shades of brown, oranges and yellows.  This element is found in nature in the light sand on the beach, rich dark soil and compost in gardens, shifting desert sands, clay, mud and stones.

An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it.   In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth.  What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend,  but it helps to realize that even though they are many,  they work as one.
~Carol Williams
Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998


Images from our scavenger hunt illustrate earth’s many forms, from the red Australian sand to the wet seashore in England and beautiful fields in British Columbia and Michigan.  The image of a cave entrance from Scene Through My Eyes reveals earth’s mysterious qualities of depth and hidden strength.

Earth images in the montage above were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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green window
The living room window is covered with a curtain of green vines at this time of year.  I feel like I am looking out into the world from the shelter of a forest cover of green.  The layers of Boston Ivy leaves insulate the house from the outdoor heat during these summer months. Later in the autumn, they’ll turn a brilliant red.

To humans, the green wood element refreshes the spirit in springtime and provides food in the summer and fall.   It represents growth and life, attracting and nurturing living creatures within its environment.

If I keep a green bough in my heart,
the singing bird will come.
~ Chinese proverb

wood montage

This montage of images from our scavenger hunt shows how beautiful wood is in all its stages of growth and decay: from young seedling or shoot, to leaf and fruit laden bush or tree, to aged tree stump and driftwood found along the seashore.  It can be pliable but also sturdy.  The wood element thrives with water, is harmed by metal, destroyed by fire and draws its strength from the earth.

Montage images were taken from the Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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license plate

Along with an image of the Bluenose schooner, our Nova Scotia license plates have ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ written on them. Water is everywhere here: in the sea that surrounds us almost completely, the lakes that dot the province inland and the misty bogs that are found in the spaces between. To live in Nova Scotia is to know water. Our history and lore is full of fishermen, sailors and privateers, men who made a living at sea.

But you don’t need to be a Bluenoser to know water. You just need to live on the planet. Water is everywhere and where it is most rare, there it is also most precious.

water water

Water images from our recent scavenger hunt reveal the variety of ways water infiltrates our psyches.  Jessica from The Magical Mundane offered that “Water is a feminine, flowing element associated with patience and quiet strength, but it can also generate fear with its power.”  Dawn‘s image at centre, of a fish in water, is from Australia, where water resources are highly vulnerable to climate change.

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Water’s colors range from bright aqua to the darkest of blue-blacks with everything in between.  It is also transparent.  Fluid and adaptable, water conforms itself to whatever shape will hold it:  crystals in snow, or droplets in clouds and rain, fruits and flowers and swimming pools.  Water also makes up most of our human bodies.  We are water itself.

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

~ Loren Eiseley

License plate photo credit:  woody1778 at Flickr

Water images photo credits:  A Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt

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