Eagle Inundation!

Bald eagle in flight spring 2021

I still remember, quite vividly, a time in the backyard with my family at our previous home when suddenly we all heard a very loud and unfamiliar sound overhead getting closer and closer. We looked up to see an adult bald eagle, seemingly skimming the tops our our heads! When an eagle soars that closely above your head, it’s a moment in time you never forget!

As early as I can remember, seeing a bald eagle has always been a special treat. At one time in our country they were very much endangered, but regulations to protect the waning population…banning the pesticide DDT and placing them on the endangered species list, has brought them back from the brink, and they are now a very regular, though still quite spectacular, sight. In fact, according to reports, the bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009 and they were removed from the endangered species list in 2007…WIN!!

spotted while cycling Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Maryland

Since moving to our present home, which is located along a creek, the eagles have been a very special sight, each spring especially, as they glide gracefully up and down the peaceful waters behind our house, busy with nest-building activities and searching out their daily meals. It is very few kayak rides I take that I don’t see one or two gliding high above me, competing with the herons and osprey for the catch of the day.

Blue heron at Blackwater

A treasured memory was the special kayak ride with my dog Princess as together we went in search of a suspected nest on a nearby peninsula. Yes, they have always been a delight to behold, until… this spring.

This spring instead of one or two, it is six and sometimes more in a single day. They camp out in our backyard trees competing, quite feistily I might add, with each other and other bird species for their daily catch.

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They put on quite the show and were the topic of neighborly conversations, with one neighbor referring to them as simply “vultures with white heads.” Well, that’s certainly a new take on this majestic bird, however true it may be. Indeed, one morning it was truly like a horror show as I counted up to 17 vultures and eagles emerging simultaneously from their hidden places among the bank-side trees, heading down the creek for what must have been a rather large meal. Eww.

Another morning I watched with baited breath as our old friend “Tail-less” jumped from tree to tree, with each leap getting dangerously closer and closer to the spot where an eagle was perched, looking very intimidating.

morning eagle sighting in creek-side trees

I couldn’t sit still and watch, and neither could my son as he leapt from his seat and raced down the yard yelling things at the eagle that neighbors should not have to hear. Despite his tirade, I had to thank him for saving our dear Tail-less as the eagle flew off for quieter hunting grounds.

Tailless yet again raiding the bird feeders!

The next morning I had to chuckle as a heron couple both took a break from their fishing and with up-turned heads watched with rather indignant expressions the eagles who had dared to enter their territory. Two days later I watched as three eagles flew by, seemingly being chased by a Blue Heron…that was indeed a first!

Harold and Henrietta, rather indignant

Yes, I am glad the eagle population had escaped the endangered list…but the old saying, familiarity breeds contempt, is starting to apply to the eagles who share this creek with me. I am hoping the wood ducks, which I look so forward to seeing each spring do not leave us for quieter nesting spots as the owl pair has done, which neighbors attribute to the eagles’ presence. Then again, it may be better for them if they do, though I will be beyond sad to not have them grace our area of the creek anymore. Time will tell. Yes, there are definitly two sides to this eagle comeback success story. Nevertheless, they are still spectacular to behold, and I hope I never lose the awe they inspire in me.

spotted at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware

Until next time,

I hope your are enjoying the natural beauty in your little corner of the world!

Jen

Tail-less, Still Going Strong!

one of the first to raid the new feeder

To the delight of myself, and my family, Tail-less is still going strong, a year and a half since our first sighting of him! We have kept an eager eye out for him and have worried on more than one occasion when we go several days and sometimes longer with no sighting. But, much to our relief, he always shows back up at a nearby tree or a freshly filled feeder, delighting us with his antics. Basically, Tail-less has become our unofficial backyard pet.

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The above picture was taken just last week after we had not seen him for almost two weeks-we thought for sure that this time he was a goner. When he re-emerged on the sunflower seed-sprinkled hammock, I literally squealed with delight! Yes, he has indeed captured our hearts!

The newly found driftwood pulled from the creek have become favorite feeding spots for our little friend.

We call this tree, pulled from the creek, the “Dr. Seuss feeder” as it reminds us of the Grinch’s hand…it is definitely Tail-less approved!

We were concerned Tail-less had been injured in a narrow escape based on the apparent sores seen in the below picture, but other squirrels had the same type of sores, a type of skin condition, and he has healed nicely as of this writing.

Hopefully our little friend will continue to entertain us throughout the winter and for many more seasons to come!

Until next time!

Jen

The Tail-less Squirrel That Could!

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Early this spring, while sitting on my porch, I noticed a little squirrel, not quite like the others. In my backyard these little rascals are quite abundant, so one squirrel is just pretty much like another in looks and personality. But this one, when I noticed the difference, captured my attention, and soon my admiration, and now I never see him or think of him without being reminded of this beloved childhood book:

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As the title of the post indicates, this little squirrel is indeed without a tail! From certain angles his little tail-less rump is quite hysterical. One of my sons noted that he looks like a miniature ape from behind, and in fact he does!

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I don’t have a picture with the ape-rump angle, but I’m happy to have any pictures at all, because this tail-less wonder can really scoot!  His lack of tail slows him down not one bit, in fact, I think it has made him all that much faster than his little peers.

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We kept an eye out for him all summer and were treated with glimpses from time to time, but still we wondered how he would make out in the long run. Well, he has apparently made out just fine, as these pictures were taken only today, fourteen days into our new decade, and I’m delighted to see he is still going strong!

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showing off with the split-leg hang

On one occasion this fall, I noticed a squirrel jump from my bench to a nearby tree and was amazed at the speed of his leap.  On further inspection, I was surprised to see my little tail-less friend, which I have affectionately dubbed The Tail-less Wonder.

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I really should not have been surprised at all.  This little squirrel is obviously not letting a little thing like a missing tail slow him down a bit. In fact, he seems to exhibit quite the air of determination and spunk with an “I can do it” attitude… and indeed, he can!

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So, whenever you may have doubts about your abilities or feel inadequate for the task at hand, remember this little squirrel and the One who made you, just as you are…and like the little squirrel and little engine that could, you’ll soon be saying…

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Until next time, just go for it,

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you’ll never know unless you try!

∼Jen

 

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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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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mr. pepper American Flag

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…

trap pond fall trees

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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