Our world is nothing less than a miracle, our lifeboat in the vastness of space. Earth’s ideal combination of gases that we call air and plentiful liquid water have resulted in a remarkable diversity of life…life easily taken for granted in our daily rush. Our planet has a 21 degree tilt that gives us seasons and, more importantly, moves air and water around the globe in currents. These currents spreads life to every corner. Consider that Saharan sand is lifted as dust carrying microbes as far as the western U.S.  The “thin blue line” of ozone and a strong magnetic core combine to produce a shield from harmful radiation without which the planet would rapidly overheat.  Earth is truly a miracle planet!  A one in many billions planet. Look at the lifeless (or near lifeless) state of our neighboring planets. Chances are there is another like Earth somewhere but we’ll likely never know for sure given the almost incomprehensible distance involved to the nearest possibility. Earth may well be it – a singular miracle.

I was not a wildlife photographer until recently. Taking hikes into nature with a camera has given me a tremendous appreciation for the life that surrounds us.  Even in heavily urbanized Long Island, where I spent 35 years before recently relocating to Naples FL, there is a remarkable diversity of wildlife…if you just look. In Naples I am within an easy drive of  North America’s only subtropical wilderness, the Everglades. But this planet exists in a delicate balance, and we have in too many ways upended that balance.

We need to take care better care of Mother Earth. If we ruin this place, there is no other for mankind.  Although some have dreams of colonizing Mars or some other mythical place beyond our solar system, and I am all for exploration, that simply won’t happen as anyone who knows the science will tell you. We are so lucky to have this place to call home.  That is what our exploration has taught us so far!

The Story So Far…

Where it all began.  With Mom, Mary C. (Malanga) Henderson, Mineola NY, 1959  My mother was truly inspirational to me, the smartest person I’ve ever known.  She was born July 16, 1928 and passed away January 3, 2012 after a long battle with Parkinson’s.  Along the way, she escaped depression era poverty growing up in hardscrabble Elizabeth NJ with the help of her beloved mother Divina Malanga and a loving family, ultimately earning a PhD, teaching at a variety of universities including NYU, Columbia, Pace, William Patterson College and others (and to her great satisfaction, a guest lecture spot at Harvard).  She was the foremost scholar in the world of the New York legitimate theater (“Broadway” to the rest of us), curator of the Museum of the City of New York Theater Collection, member of the Tony Awards committee, writer of numerous books on the theater.  And she was an incredible, loving mom to her three boys.  Always missed and never far from my thoughts.  Mom was featured in a New York Times obituary, a well deserved honor.
Robert Morton Henderson was my dad, a handsome man who might have become a well known actor (his goal as a young man) but fate intervened, bringing him together with my mom in Pittsburgh where he was a student at Carnegie-Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) and my mother was attending the University of Pittsburgh, both in master’s degree programs. He was born January 14,1926 in Muskegon MI. My grandfather, James F. Henderson, was a Canadian immigrant turned sportswriter for the Muskegon Cronicle, my grandmother, Marion, a music teacher. The depression was tough for the small family but they made it through. At 17, my dad entered the Navy during WWII looking to serve on PT boats (he must have thought they looked like the yachts on nearby Lake Michigan). Thankfully, he didn’t get his wish or I and my brothers might not exist so perilous was that service. Instead, he was assigned to a PB-4Y bomber off the Gulf Coast looking for enemy submarines (they were there but he never claimed to have bombed one, “only a whale or two….”) After the service, my dad finished his BA at Michigan State (go State!), went on to Carnegie and then earned a PhD at NYU. His career took him to Lincoln Center where he was Chief of the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts (how I hated saying that as a kid when asked what my father did!). It was a plumb job that connected him the arts, but he was not trained for it and I suspect he dreamt of greater glory. He retired from the Library and moved to Scottsdale AZ. Dad always had dogs in his life, right up to the end when he adopted a rescue named Jiggs. He passed at 91 May 21, 2007. A life well lived, a good man and better father.
Christmas with my Brothers 1962.  Rockville MD.  Christmas was always wonderful in our home.  Santa, as usual, got all the credit but it was mom and dad that made it real.  I have very fond memories of waking up just after my parents had gone to bed to sneak down and look at the tree.  Some how the living room went from empty to full of presents in an instant…and the cookies were gone from the table!  We wanted to believe long after we had figured out the truth!
Fall of 1979, age 20.  I was on the last leg of the longest hitchhike of my life, from UVa in Charlottesville, Virginia to Granville, OH to return to Denison University for homecoming.  I had gone to Denison my freshman year.  Lots of adventures along the way.  I would not do it again!
Tokyo, Japan.  2007  My first trip to Asia, which included stops in Hong Kong and mainland China, for the B&W Group.  I logged many miles over the next decade.  My fascination with our world was only increased.
Lyon, France. 2013.  Lyon is a beautiful city bisected by the Soene and Rhone Rivers in the shadow of the Alps.  I had only a brief visit and hope to return one day.
Old Furnace State Park. Killingly, CT 2017  2017 was an eventful year with the loss of my dad (my mother having passed in 2012), a dear friend and a career change.  I am a born optimist, however, and accept the trials and greatly appreciate all the joys of life.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain