…whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. Phil. 4:8
Hi, I'm Jennifer, better known as just "Jen" to family and friends. I'm a wife of 25 years, mom of two great sons, and lover of nature and all things beautiful! Fields to forest, creek to ocean, I'm blessed to live in a beautiful area where the wonder of nature abounds. From the unfurling of the tiniest leaf to the majestic eagles that grace the sky, I am in constant awe of the creation we are surrounded by and even more the Creator of them all. Join me, and let's enjoy these gifts of beauty together!
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.
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!
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:
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!
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.
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!
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 TheTail-less Wonder.
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!
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…
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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….
Anson feeling safer watching from table-top:)
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.
Until next time dear friends,
may you have joy in family moments, and peace when letting go.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Yet 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.
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.
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…
there was no doubt we had picked the the perfect grand finale of our cycling season!
“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
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.
I have been navigating this maze since my youngest was a baby; the fun never gets old…
Our beautiful model showcasing a white pumpkin…
On to the park for a picnic on the banks of the tranquil pond…
I nick-named the little cypress below the “Charlie Brown Cypress”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Until next time,
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1
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!
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 howmuch fun I really could never have imagined!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Some may even accuse them of being outright exhibitionists, and I would have to agree!
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!
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!
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!