I’ve been a naturalist since I could walk. As a small child in New England, U.S.A., I waded in brooks and learned how to catch frogs and salamanders and feel their hearts beating against my hand. It wasn’t until after age 40 that I realized how important the natural world was to me and left the legal/business world for a life surrounded by tropical nature. I worked eleven years with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) at its Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica. It was particularly inspiring to work with botanists and ecologists. With their help I learned to interpret and share with visitors information about the natural history of native plants and their relationships with pollinators, seed dispersers and herbivores.
In 1994, while working at Las Cruces near San Vito, I purchased 17 acres of degraded pasture with a wetland pond and set about, with help from Tico (Costa Rican) professionals, reforesting and restoring the land now called Finca Cántaros. In addition, I designed gardens not only for personal enjoyment, but for our neighbors, as well as national, and international visitors, so they could bird and picnic in a quiet refuge only minutes from town. Those who visited multiple times could witness over the years the growth of over 5000 trees of about one hundred different species and the return of greater biodiversity. I planted with birds, butterflies, and small mammals in mind. These many years later, the forest and understory plants are dense secondary growth and provide cover and food for myriad creatures. The pond and marsh are likewise diverse biomes; all this richness and beauty are now in the hands of a new owner/custodian as of January, 2019. The property has been open to the public since 1995 and continues to be so.
In 1999, I left Costa Rica, remarried, and enjoyed a rewarding eight years working with biologists and staff at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco, before returning to San Vito in 2008.
And in early 2019, life and family responsibilities moved me and my husband to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are wide open to the wonders here, and enjoy learning about the spectacular Southwest region.
During the last decade, I have taken time to record my interests photographically wherever I go. Now in my early 70s, I like sharing some of these photos and the stories behind them. With this blog, I hope to select from and make sense of my personal vision. May you, fellow quester, find something of interest among my pictures—and stories—of people, places, flora and fauna.
Ai Weiwei, the consummate Chinese artist, writer and dissident said, “Creativity is part of human nature. It can only be untaught.” I believe the same can be said of scientific curiosity. May these writings and photos come to you as occasional letters from a friend exploring our magical world.
Equipment note. My current camera is a Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV.
Tech note. Without my husband Harry’s tech support, this blog would never have seen the light of day.
The Foto Diarist logo, above, is copyrighted by Gail Hewson Hull 2015.