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Butterfly specimens by Bryan Pfeiffer

The Year in Flight

An Incomplete Ending to 2020

December 31, 2020  |  by Bryan Pfeiffer  |  23 comments  | 

There can be no fitting closure to 2020. Not while the pandemic and the president rage on. And there can be no celebration of a new year. Not until the most vulnerable are safe and the rest of us can see light ahead into 2021.

Although I now bring you some pretty pictures from my privileged year in flight, the new year won’t really begin for me until noon on January 20, 2021. I have neither illusion nor naiveté that on Inauguration Day President Biden will surely light the way for our ailing nation. Even so, I have some hope that we, as individuals and communities, states and nations, might move forward once we cast off the depravity now in power here in the US. For that reason, on Inauguration Day, I’ll celebrate a provisional renewal.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) tempting fate on 25 April at home in Montpelier, Vermont.

I intend to write more about all this on January 20 — with our place in nature, as usual, guiding my way. In the meantime, here below (in no particular order) are a few images from 2020, which included, before the pandemic spread, my spending two months in the southern US. In January I worked among millions of butterfly and dragonfly specimens at prestigious collections in Gainesville, Florida (including, in that banner image above, various tropical butterfly species on the left and members of the temperate genus Speyeria on the right). In February, Ruth and I visited Big Bend National Park along the Texas-Mexico border. And in March, our puppy Odin arrived, just in time, to bring us immeasurable joy and wonderful chaos.

In whatever way you might choose to mark this change of the calendar year, I hope that health, justice, peace of mind, and lots of nature come your way. Click any image to start your slideshow. And below the pictures you’ll find links to my three most favorite blog posts from the year.

My Three Favorite Posts from 2020

Even more evidence that butterflies were big (and little) in my year.

  1. Sandra bruggemann says:

    Bryan, Love your blogs, photos, everything I get from you. Happy New Year to both you, Ruth and your new puppy. Iowa being bombarded by the virus, Trump is on his way out (thank goodness), the vaccine is on it’s way, hoping for a better 2021. So far, so good here in DSM.

  2. Pat Phillips says:

    Thank you! Your pictures reflect the solace that many of us have sought through quiet observation of the world around us. Turning away from the cacophony of political turmoil, helping those near at hand in need of support, reflecting on the goodness in most people, and enjoying the beauty of nature have been steps toward finding inner peace. Your photos, words, and good nature enrich all of us. Thanks again.

  3. Patricia Fontaine says:

    Thank you Bryan – just the antidote for right now: wings, emerging things, reflections, puppies eyeing glasses of beer, sugaring steam.
    Looking forward to your take after 1/20.

  4. Gabe Halberg says:

    Beautiful pics, Bryan! And Odie is a knockout.

  5. Carol Day says:

    Thanks, Bryan ..for such “bright” photos today …. Cannot wait until we can see the beautiful things of nature again to brighten our minds and our world 11

  6. Mari K Cordes says:

    Gorgeous, Bryan. I didn’t use the movie function so that I could savor every image and step into the world of each one.

  7. John and Sue Gregoire says:

    Happy New Year Ruth and Bryan ! It has to be a better year in 2021. Stay heathy and safe and welcome to your new pooch ! We also adopted two lovely cats that had been buddies for a few years before they ended up incarcerated in a shelter for months; they have been a blessing. We finished the year with 2 saw-whets and a respectable annual moth total. Our 17th, or is it 18th, year of Anax study took a twist with longipes far outnumbering junius. Could it be a cop? 2021 will tell.

  8. Shirley Zundell says:

    Bryan, it was so uplifting to end this year reading your thoughts and seeing your stunning photos. The “real new year” will begin for me as well on January 20, 2021 at noon. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. Sam Sanders says:

    My greatest joy in the summer of 2020 was chasing butterflies. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Hi Bryan. Thanks for continually sharing your nature excursions with us through you photography. Hopefully next year at some point we can have a get-together of former journalists. They were alway fun.

  11. Dan Bisacio says:

    Thank you, Bryan, for your words and photos throughout this year. I so enjoy your blog. 11 days ago the Winter Solstice for us in the Northern Hemisphere gave me pause to reflect. It was a day caught short of sunlight. It was also the Summer Solstice for the Southern Hemisphere – a day with abundant sunshine.
    Given this turbulent year 2020, I found it important to keep the above in mind. Natural and predictable rhythms for us and our planet.
    I, for one, can get stuck in my hemisphere of thought way of thinking. That day, I reflected on the this with hope for 2021: getting out of my singular hemisphere to view the greater view.
    2020 brought us to distill what is most important in our relationships with family, friends. one and other as strangers who we meet, where we stand regarding social & environmental justice, our jobs, who we volunteer our efforts for, and rekindle what we stand for. Thrilled with the November election results, although I am not naïve in thinking that all is better now. Thrilled that we have several COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out. I am looking forward to a time – “soon come” – when we can all get back together again, and I can hold my granddaughter.
    In the meantime, I wish a peaceful, joyful, as well as healthy, New Year in 2021 to you!

    • This eloquent and wonderful, Dan. I’m so glad you contributed these thoughts to our conversation. And thanks for your kind wishes for the coming year — kindness and insights for us all.

  12. Hi Bryan. Your photos all get the triple thumbs up. And little Odin gets triple hugs. I’m feeling very fortunate to be able to go hiking out my back door with the LBDs and always find something spectacular.
    Thanks for your work.

  13. Richard Harlow says:

    Excellent images, beautiful shots!
    We all are in the same boat, I just feel so lucky we are in Vermont and have nature to keep our minds occupied and active!

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