Spoiled Soup

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I opened my eyes two days ago to the first snowfall of the year!  What a beautiful sight, indeed, was that first morning glimpse out the window…a Christmas card image come to life. I fixed my coffee and curled up next to kitty on my pink couch to soak in the view… beautiful images of birds flitting, branches lightly dusted with snow, and geese flying in the distance over the creek.  Incredibly, with all that unspoiled beauty before my eyes, my mind’s eye kept returning to spoiled soup!

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Spoiled Soup?! Yes, spoiled soup! I have a bit of an addiction to a particular pumpkin soup recipe a friend from church shared with us…not sweet, but spicy with the addition of red pepper flakes.  I have made this soup more times than I can count, much to my husband’s dismay, but this particular batch I made for the first time with an actual roasted pumpkin, not from a Libby’s can.  Yes, I was quite proud and enjoyed one delicious bowl before putting it away to enjoy even more the next day.  Everyone knows that soup is so much better the next day, when the flavors have really had a chance to meld together.

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And so, when a certain son got it out for a late-night snack before I headed off to bed, I left him with one simple plea…”please, please, don’t forget to put it back so it doesn’t spoil.”  Off to bed I went, and as often happens when I go to bed too early, I lay awake thinking, and all I could think of on this particular night was that pumpkin soup. Did he put it away, should I go check…

Finally I dozed off, forgetting the pumpkin soup… surely he had put it away.

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No doubt, you all know by now that the first thing I saw when my sleepy eyes reached the kitchen early the next morning, was that left-out pot of pumpkin soup.  Oh, coffee, I thought, just take me away!

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Slowly sipping my coffee, doing my usual morning stare, my mind left the pumpkin soup, venturing several weeks ahead to when we would be driving this soup-spoiling son to a college 3-days drive away.  Suddenly, soup really was not that important. Flashes of him as a child now took over my mind, along with the realization that I would take spoiled soup every day for the rest of my life for just one more moment of both my sons’ childhood years back.

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One more sunny day building drip-castles at the beach, one more trip to the zoo, feeding and chasing the geese, one more bicycle ride around a nature trail, one more time their chubby little hands held tightly onto mine, one more invasion into the house with a muddy frog in tow, one more Christmas morning of them running down the steps in their little footie pajamas….

 

 

The list could go on and on.  But, as soup is good for just a little while, so it is with childhood.  Time marches on, like it or not, and so we let go and pray we have done our best, releasing them into God’s hands to guide, direct and bring back safely again.

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unbridled joy racing down a leafy hill
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yearly trip to “Mr. Peppers”

 

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picking blooms for mom

Until next time dear friends,

may you have joy in family moments, and peace when letting go.

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∼ Jen

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It Started on a Hike…

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For three years in a row I had the pleasure of heading to West Virginia with two friends for a girls get-away weekend.  After breakfast, we would pack our lunch and head to that day’s designated hiking spot, and usually not return before late afternoon or sunset.

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On one particular hike one of my friends asked what we each saw as our unique giftings.  I actually wasn’t sure how to answer at this weird stage in my life, when empty nest syndrome has started to kick in bit by bit.  One friend brought up my singing, which had always been my number one passion, but, that has changed through the years with raising a family.  My other friend asked me about the healthy products I like to make for myself and friends and asked why I didn’t consider doing it as more than just a hobby.

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Long story short, she and our other friend encouraged me to follow that passion, and two years later it has come to fruition!  I really wasn’t sure about sharing it here on the blog because we have all been “spammed” by one business or another, and I truly care about my blogging friends. But, I also share what is going on in my life in other ways, and know that some of you are actually into this kind of lifestyle as well. And, hopefully it will explain why I don’t always keep up with reading and writing on here as much as before!

So, here’s to chasing a passion and turning it into a reality….

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Yes, that’s my creek.  I never knew that wonderful day I spent on the creek would create a picture for a website cover, but life can be like that!

Until next time…

follow what you’re passionate about…you never know where it may lead.

∼Jen

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day

Lydia Maria Child

 
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Over the river, and through the wood,
  To grandfather’s house we go;
       The horse knows the way
       To carry the sleigh
  Through the white and drifted snow.

 

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Over the river, and through the wood—
  Oh, how the wind does blow!
       It stings the toes
       And bites the nose
  As over the ground we go.
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Over the river, and through the wood,
  To have a first-rate play.
       Hear the bells ring
       “Ting-a-ling-ding”,
  Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

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Over the river, and through the wood
  Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
       Spring over the ground,
       Like a hunting-hound!
  For this is Thanksgiving Day.

 

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Over the river, and through the wood,
  And straight through the barn-yard gate.
       We seem to go
       Extremely slow,—
  It is so hard to wait!

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Over the river and through the wood—
  Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
       Hurrah for the fun!
       Is the pudding done?
  Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

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Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful blogging friends!  Whether your country celebrates a day of thanks or not, may you find something to be thankful for each and every day!

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 Until next time,

∼Jen

Cycling Historic Oxford

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Frantically searching for yet one more mild-weathered day for cycling-as I typically do this time of year- only two days were left as possible options.  Of course when left with just two days to cycle before winter shuts it all down, you make sure you find just the right place to finish out the season…and hopefully the right person to join you as well!

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Robert Morris Inn

I was fortunate that one of my dearest friends, a newly-retired teacher of 32 years, was more than eager to go! After narrowing down the options of places, the clear winner was historic Oxford….Oxford Maryland that is.  Now, historic to we Americans is laughable I know compared to Oxfords I can think of elsewhere, but 1683, the date of our Oxford’s official founding, is pretty impressive to us yanks.

The first place my friend and I stopped was the Robert Morris Inn.

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room circa 1710, Robert Morris Inn

  Originally built as a shipping house in 1710, it began operations in 1800 as a full-time inn…the oldest full-service inn in America. Robert Morris, Sr., was an agent for a Liverpool shipping firm and greatly influenced the town’s growth. His son, Robert Morris, Jr., was known as “the financier of the Revolution.”

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original dining area 1710

Walking on the historic, wide-planked floors, and gazing at the oversized wooden mantels over the well-worn brick fireplaces, we fell into a reverent awe as we imagined the conversations held in these very rooms.  According to the brochure of the Inn…

Four of our 310 year old rooms were indeed slept in by Founding Father Robert Morris, George Washington and many other dignitaries of the day and since. Red brick fireplaces around which heated discussion on the arguments for independence from Britain took place and negotiations for sugar cane, tobacco and French wine worked out. Wood paneling, red brick fireplaces and oak timbers are all as they were 310 years ago, hand built by ships carpenters from locally acquired materials and the red bricks from England, used as ships ballast. One cannot get any more historic than this.

Other notable persons of the history of Oxford include: Jeremiah Banning, sea captain, war hero, and statesman; The Reverend Thomas Bacon, Anglican clergyman who wrote the first compilation of the laws of Maryland; Matthew Tilghman, known as the “patriarch of Maryland” and “father of statehood” and Colonel Tench Tilghman, assistant to George Washington and the man who carried the message of Cornwallis’ surrender to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

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Until the American Revolution, Oxford enjoyed prominence as an international shipping center. With the loss of British ships and their variety of imported goods and tobacco replaced by wheat as a cash crop, businesses went bankrupt, and the population of a once thriving Oxford dwindled.  It would be 100 years till the sleepy town awakened to prosperity again, this time due to the completion of the railroad in 1871 and improved methods of canning and packing, which made marketing the oysters from the bountiful Chesapeake Bay near tiny Oxford possible.

water view oxfordYet again, business was booming and houses were going up everywhere until the early part of the 20th century when the oyster beds were depleted, and the packing houses shut down. Businesses went bankrupt, and the railway and steamships eventually disappeared. Oxford became a sleepy little town once again, inhabited mainly by watermen who still worked the waters of the Tred Avon.

 

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Oxford remains a waterman’s town today, but is enjoying a new resurgence based on tourism and leisure and as a well-know cycling destination of the mid-atlantic.  The suggested cycling route usually includes a trip across the Tred Avon River aboard the Oxford Bellevue Ferry, believed to be the nation’s oldest privately-operated ferry service.

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Knowing this was a popular cycling destination, I assumed there must be trails going around the town.  It was with great pleasure that my friend and I discovered the town itself was the cycling trail. As we cycled through this quaint little town surrounded by historic, flag-bearing houses…upon narrow, cobble-stone streets…lined by trees ablaze with autumn leaves…on the banks of a river…

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there was no doubt we had picked the the perfect grand finale of our cycling season!

Until next time,

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∼Jen

 

Snapshots of Fall

“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on
the feelings, as now in October.”
–  Nathaniel Hawthorne

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On the last day of October my youngest son, myself, and a beautiful family girlfriend headed to our local pumpkin patch and then to a nearby state park to immerse ourselves in the ever-fantastic beauty of fall.

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I have been navigating this maze since my youngest was a baby; the fun never gets old…

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Our beautiful model showcasing a white pumpkin…

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On to the park for a picnic on the banks of the tranquil pond…

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I nick-named the little cypress below the “Charlie Brown Cypress”

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Happy fall to one and all!

Until next time,

∼Jen

 

 

Unexpected Treats

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Yesterday while relaxing on the couch it occurred to me that the tide was up, the heat and humidity were down, and no storms were in the forecast.   As if catapulted from my seat with this revelation, I made a dash for my camera, life-jacket and paddle and down to the creek I went.  It is rare that I sail out on my own, but sometimes that’s the best way to observe nature and just enjoy the serenity of the creek.

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“Rivendell”

The first unexpected sight I came upon was of a beaver dam.  I’ve heard the beavers slap their tail before when entering their territory, but had still yet to see one.  Yesterday was my first sighting of any dam, so I was excited to be able to see it up close.  I heard the warning slap of the tail when I ventured back for more pictures later, but still never caught a glimpse of the owner of the slapping tail and decided to take his warning seriously, paddling away after a few pictures.  I had been hoping to get a picture of the beaver himself, but they are elusive little characters.

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beaver dam

Further down the creek I spied a squirrel grabbing a small branch to take away to its nesting spot.  He froze when he came up out of his hole and saw me, so I was able to capture some cute pictures of him peeking out.

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I watched as ospreys circled the creek looking for their next meal and observed a smaller bird giving chase to a large flying insect, catching up to it eventually and carrying it back to  its nest.  The butterflies were out flitting about the plant life on the banks, seeming to enjoy the day as much as I was, while numerous dragonflies skimmed the water in every direction in search of insects. Yes, the creek was full of life visually and audibly and I was ever so glad to be out there among it.

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osprey

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magnolia tree gracing the creek bank

On my way back I caught a glimpse of a great blue heron perched atop a large, dead tree in the creek preening its feathers.  I’ve never been able to get that close to a heron without them noticing and immediately taking flight…screaming insults at me all the while, of course.  This heron broke all the rules and sat there after preening for at least five minutes while I let the boat simply drift around as I took pictures.  Finally he or she had enough of modeling and took flight across the creek, but the unexpected photography session was definitely a treat!

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Preening

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After getting back from my rewarding time on the creek, it was still too beautiful to go inside, so I decided to linger by the creek on a bench enjoying a cup of afternoon coffee. My husband joined me, and then we actually spotted him above the water-finally!

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beaver

My last unexpected treat was getting a close up glimpse of a green heron.  In our six years here I have only spotted it once, and that from very far away.  The pictures I got are blurry as I had to shoot as soon as I saw him, but I was very happy to finally see him nonetheless.

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For a much better visual of him and to read more about this particular heron and others check out this link .

Until next time, wishing you unexpected treats as you explore your own beautiful corner of the world!

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∼Jen

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∗ A very informative link on Great blue herons

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

By William Wordsworth

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I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

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To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

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Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

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The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

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The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

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If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

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Until next time,

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∼Jen

A Mother’s Heart…

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
—Tenneva Jordan


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This is a repost from last year for technical reasons I have been dealing with and have finally fixed!  The above quote is so like my mother that I had to add it.  Happy Mother’s Day to all who are actual mothers, and all that are not but love as if they are !!!

Last night we were under torrential downpours with lightening strikes all around us and a tornado watch in effect.  Both our sons had not yet returned home for the night, but my husband and I went to bed, saying prayers for their safe return while keeping one ear open, as all parents do, when awaiting their kid’s return.

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Mother and fawn taken in Colorado Rockies

I think of my own mother, how on earth she survived raising five children, and how many nights she and my father must have prayed as they waited for their children to return home each night.

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My mom was not only a terrific mom, she was also my confidant and friend….sticking with me through thick and thin….cheering me on, encouraging me when down, and always believing in me no matter what.

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Mother northern cardinal feeding young

She was and still is a source of inspiration to myself and so many.  One of her greatest accomplishments, which still amazes me, was earning her nursing degree while raising five children.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye sitting at the table doing her homework after we finished dinner, which she had also prepared.

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Mother wood duck leading her young about the creek

Now that I have raised two sons myself, I am even more amazed at her accomplishments and am not sure which is more amazing, earning the degree or raising five children….probably the latter!

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Spectacled bear with cub, part of an effort to prevent their extinction

Eventually our first son came in with a few friends in tow, an hour later our oldest son safely returned home as well.  Both stopped in to give us big hugs before heading off to their own beds, and my mother’s heart could rest peacefully knowing my beloved treasures were back safe and sound, and all was right in my little world.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow mothers!

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 Until next time,

∼ Jen

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

Fantastical Frogs!

 

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If I could have only one backyard accessory, decoration, whatever name you want to give it, hands down, it would have to be a pond!  Add little boys into the mix, and there is nothing more fun, delightful and entertaining as a pond.  Why?  Frogs, of course!

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One Mother’s Day weekend we were wandering around Lowes, and when I spotted a small pond I requested it be my Mother’s Day gift.  I had an idea of the fun it would be for the boys, but just how much fun I really could never have imagined!

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 It was definitely  the gift that kept on giving for many years, and hopefully is now delighting the new owners of our home and their small children as well.

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I still remember the time I was applying make-up in my bathroom years ago when my oldest son, the main frog-lover of the house, appeared with a monster-size bullfrog in his hands…

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oldest son with “Bowser”

My sons named that particular bullfrog “Bowser.”  There was also “Lazy Leo,” a leopard frog my son got permission to take from a farm we visited to deposit into our own pond.  Leo earned his name because he would put his front little feet onto a small stick and allow the kids to give him “rides” around the pond.

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southern leopard frog

Even though my little boys are all grown up, I still enjoy the many noises, and there are many, that frogs fill the air with.  Some sound like the banjo we are used to hearing, then there are the burps, squawks, and that other weird noise that can’t even be described.

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resident bullfrog nicknamed “cave frog”

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Living in a mostly wooded area, sticks/branches are always in abundance for an evening fire pit. This spring while enjoying such an evening relaxing by the fire next to our pond, I was treated to the first “croak” of spring!

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I had heard the first of the spring peepers heralding the beginning of spring the previous week, but with the addition of full-fledged frog croaking, spring in my mind was officially here!

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I probably have almost as many frog pictures as I do birds and flowers. They are quite the entertainers and posers, allowing you to get right into their personal space for just the right shot.

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flower petal on nose

Some may even accuse them of being outright exhibitionists, and I would have to agree!

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poor image quality, but still love his statuesque appearance

I can’t imagine a world without frogs and would not have many of the fun memories my sons and I share of their childhood years without these cute little creatures!

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caught in the act of “idol worship!”

I hope this spring, if you have frogs in your area, you too are entertained by their fun antics and enjoy their original tunes, which are sure to put a smile on your face!

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And, if you are looking for a fun, unique Mother’s Day gift, look no further than a small pond.  It is well worth the effort and is sure to provide much entertainment and joy for generations to come!

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∼Jen

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First Kayak Ride of Spring

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Heaven reached down to kiss me yesterday with the convergence of my schedule, my son’s schedule, the tide schedule, and a gorgeous, mild-temperature spring day….all perfect for a mid-afternoon kayak outing.

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The sky was a cloudless blue, the perfect backdrop for the emergence of new leaves budding out next to the evergreens, which brave the winter months gracing us with their beauty  year round…

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My son wanted to head for the nearest little island in the creek, which he and his older brother have enjoyed exploring since we first moved here.  It is a perfect nesting spot for  geese, and evidence was spotted of that before we even disembarked….

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We were fortunate enough to spot the first egg of the clutch, and hopefully not the last.  We’ll come back to check the progress next week and maybe catch mama laying on them as we did a few years back.  The female goose lays eggs about 36 hours apart, and can lay anywhere from two-ten eggs per breeding season.  The incubation period is 28-30 days, so we should certainly get a glimpse of mama at some point during that time.

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The little island is carpeted with luscious, emerald moss decorated with newly fallen red maple buds-mama goose certainly has good taste in homes…

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On our return trip we were treated to “Harold” or perhaps “Henrietta.” Either way, it is always a surprising delight when he or she appears from nowhere, squawking its displeasure at us for daring to enter its domain.

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The houseboat, which appeared at Thanksgiving time two years ago, is still gracing the creek with its presence …

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I would love to get a peek inside this home, and can only imagine how peaceful it must be to live literally on the water.  I am blessed enough, though, to be able to live next to it and am always thankful to be a witness to the wonders of nature the creek brings in all of its seasons.

Until next time, happy spring to those of you in this hemisphere!

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∼Jen