Seeing Blue

 

 

DSC_0325

Over the past few months one bird has appeared very prominent in our backyard…the rascally bluejay.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the peanuts I put out to lure him in or the sunflower seeds placed strategically about. Whatever the reason, I’m glad he and his many cohorts are decorating the scenery with their beauty and are affording me many pictures of their antics.

DSC_0669

 I decided the blue beauty was worthy of his own post and looked through the many    pictures I have of him to pair up with the following poem by Emily Dickinson. I hope you enjoy!

The Blue Jay – Poem by Emily Dickinson

No brigadier throughout the year
So civic as the jay.
A neighbor and a warrior too,
With shrill felicity

DSC_0540

Pursuing winds that censure us
A February day,
The brother of the universe
Was never blown away.

DSC_0321

The snow and he are intimate;
I’ve often seen them play
When heaven looked upon us all
With such severity,

DSC_0128

I felt apology were due
To an insulted sky,
Whose pompous frown was nutriment
To their temerity.

DSC_0685 2

The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder — terse and militant —
Unknown, refreshing things;

DSC_0675 2

His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.

– Emily Dickinson

DSC_0616

Until next time, if a jay’s in your corner of the world, buy some peanuts to welcome in this fun neighbor!
DSC_0712
 ∼Jen

Morning Time – December

DSC_0399

Christmas decorations have been put away and the New Year has cheerfully been rung in around the world…now to mentally adjust to the new date of 2018.  I can still remember back in high school when we had an assignment on what we thought the year 2000 would be like….back then, that was like trying to imagine living in outer space. Eighteen years into this millennium and it still sometimes feels surreal to me.

DSC_0368

We had our first snowstorm of the season in early December which gave me some beautiful pictures to look back on.  As I sit writing this, we are in the midst of our first blizzard, dubbed a “bomb cyclone.”  Thankfully, we have not lost power, and I have been baking off and on for two days.  Something about snowstorms puts me in the baking mood, which my family always appreciates.

DSC_0393

I was out early the day after the December snowfall taking pictures before I even had my morning coffee….for me that’s saying a lot.  I wanted to get some pics before Princess and the neighbor’s dogs started leaving their tracks.

DSC_0389

Something about the morning after a freshly fallen snow is just magical.

DSC_0204

DSC_0411
snow covered beauty berry

The snow was the kind that clung to the branches, and the snow-laden limbs overhanging the creek were indeed picturesque.

DSC_0391

I had plenty of bird food, with one area in particular resembling a southern smorgasbord, minus the grits, of course. Between the sunflower seed, peanuts, a variety of suet cakes and mealworms I was a shoo-in for birder of the neighborhood.

DSC_0296
downy woodpecker

Unfortunately, it has also become a natural hunting ground for the neighbor’s cats and at least one hawk. I try to keep everything in as safe an area as possible for them, which can be a challenge… a place with no hiding spots for the furry intruders but with a covered brush area for the ground feeders, to hopefully hide from dastardly Mr. Hawk.

DSC_0300
tufted titmouse

Whenever I see the little dark-eyed junco around the feeders, I know a snow is in the near future-he certainly lives up to his nick-name “snowbird.”

DSC_0341
dark-eyed junco

He was caught below doing his happy little “snow victory dance.”

DSC_0343

This is a good article about how to welcome the little guy and other wintering birds that may come to your area.

DSC_0138
blue-jay
DSC_0445
male northern cardinal
DSC_0276
carolina wren

The snow only lasted a few days before the weather warmed up, only to  plunge us into a bitter cold streak a week later. The birds kept me entertained as the cold brought them to the feeders early each day.

DSC_0776 2
carolina wren

The secret to keeping blue jays happy and continually coming back is found in the power of the peanut!

DSC_0644 2

Though the male cardinal is known for his beauty, I find the female equally beautiful…

DSC_0550
northern female cardinal

The little group of finches gathered together at the feeder one morning reminded me of little old men meeting up at a country store to gab over breakfast…

DSC_0767
house finch

The wood thrush is a rarely seen visitor, but he makes his presence known by his hopping about and flinging through the leaves so violently with its beak it’s a wonder he doesn’t give himself whiplash.

DSC_0511
wood thrush

Besides birds, the squirrels are always good for a show, and I really don’t mind them raiding the bird feeders or grabbing the jay’s peanuts.

DSC_0724

He was not the only wild mammal to visit our yard…before I had barely opened my eyes one morning I spied a fox trotting off with something in its mouth.  I was relieved to see it wasn’t my cat but a little sad to think one of my squirrels had just become his breakfast.

DSC_0854

The geese didn’t seem to mind the frigid water temperatures and they delight me each morning as they honk their goodbyes when leaving the peninsula.  They don’t wander  into our section of the creek often, so I enjoy it when they do.

I end with a morning view from our anniversary getaway. The deck was obviously too cold to enjoy, but the scenery was well worth waking up to.

DSC_0481

I hope my dear blogging friends going through the blizzard with me are staying warm and cozy and enjoying the beauty of the snow and the wildlife it highlights.

DSC_0110

Until next time,

∼ Jen

Merry Christmas…

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 8.51.19 AM

 To my dear friends and treasured acquaintances here in the blogosphere, I wish you a very merry and wonderful Christmas season!

DSC_0041

As I sit here sipping my coffee, watching my cat sleep peacefully by the fire, I can’t help but recall all I have to be thankful for in my life, and I wish this  same peace and joy on all who may read this.

DSC_0445

We know it’s not about the material possessions, status, or any of those other things that have no lasting meaning…peace and happiness come from inside and the relationships we surround ourselves with.

DSC_0386

 One of my most peaceful Christmas seasons came at a time when I didn’t know when my next paycheck was coming…true peace transcends those things.

chickadeeDSC_0283

And at this time of the year especially, as we celebrate the birth of our savior, we find life’s truest joy…

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 8.50.37 AM

I have been reading the last in the Thomas Kinkade’s Cape Light series, this one written by Katherine Spencer, and I loved the way a character in the book summed up the manger scene:

….it is a scene of community, cooperation, a coming together of so many diverse players in this joyful drama.  Characters of high birth and low. A tradesman and his young wife, seeking a new home. A shepherd and a king. A wise man and even an angel. All from different backgrounds, with different perspectives on the world and different opinions, I’m sure. But their differences seemed suddenly trivial, eclipsed by their common experience the awe-inspiring experience that connected them, that brought them to common ground, both literal and spiritually. The recognition and adoration of the baby Jesus.

…finally, I thought of the beautiful, innocent baby in this scene.  A baby who responds the same to the admiration of the shepherd or the king. A baby who doesn’t know the difference between any of the different faces surrounding him.  He reaches toward all of them with equal love. Because that is the way God has created and loves us.  We are all equal in His eyes and all worthy of love, respect, and care.

 

May you each experience this true and lasting joy.

Until next time,

∼Jen

 

 

The Last Two…

DSC_0936

“Hmm, what’s this? Looks like the little lady put out some peanuts for our morning snack”

 

DSC_0922

“Whoa, wait a minute there blue, those nuts are spoken for.”

 

DSC_0923

“That’s right, off you go, I saw these first.”

 

DSC_0938

“What, you again….didn’t we already have this discussion?”

 

DSC_0939

“Back away, back away I tell you!”

 

DSC_0941

“Uh, oh, this is not looking good…”

 

DSC_0944

“One, one little nut to get me through this coming snow, the world’s gone mad I tell you…”

 

DSC_0945

So, who got the last nut? Your guess is as good as mine! Snow is in our forecast, so, I’m off to fight the crowds of milk and bread buyers….I’ll be putting peanuts in my cart;)

Until next time, go buy some peanuts, you’ll be glad you did!

∼Jen

 

 

Morning Time…October-November

DSC_0567

Well, Thanksgiving is behind us, and though it is not officially the end of fall,  winter doesn’t seem too far off.  I love living in a place where I can enjoy each of the four seasons, and quiet mornings, sipping coffee, seem a wonderful way to savor them.

DSC_0689

Once again, I have gathered those pictures from my morning photo shoots to relive the moments. With fall being very hectic I missed October’s post so am combining the two months…I hope you enjoy.

DSC_0462
Red-bellied woodpecker

Woodpeckers like these are the reason I ask my husband to leave the smaller dead trees on our property standing.

DSC_0448

The pileated woodpecker, below, is quite the character, and also quite loud, competing only with “Harold” in volume.

DSC_0770

The net was put on the pond in October, and the frogs put on quite the show as they bounced on it like a trampoline.  There is a large opening allowing them access into and out of the pond, and one was actually observed bouncing, then doing a backflip into this exposed area…Nadia Comăneci would have been impressed.

DSC_0580

Taking a break from gymnastics….

frogDSC_0477

The squirrels enjoyed raiding the peanuts and sunflower seeds from the bird-feeders…

DSC_0881

DSC_0506

Downy woodpecker is a frequent visitor to the bird feeder area, especially enjoying the suet…

DSC_0769
Downy Woodpecker 

Another favorite at the feeder is the tufted titmouse, such a friendly little guy…he flys off to nearby branches to bang open the sunflower seeds.

DSC_0901
Tufted Titmouse

DSC_0740

Sparrows and chickadees were also in abundance, however, the chickadee was not very photogenic;) Though I think the below sparrow is a white-throated one, I am not confident of that-feel free to educate me!

DSC_0841

DSC_0826

Of all the birds I enjoyed watching in the last two months, I was more than thrilled when the typically seen cardinal reappeared after more than a months absence.  His presence one morning in the tree below made my day!

DSC_0596

I tried to convince myself the cardinals were not around the feeders because of the abundance of fall seeds, but after seeing red feathers on the ground, and the character below on at least three occasions near the feeders, I was beginning to worry.

DSC_0786

I’ll be the first to admit, though I admire nature more than most, I am not at all a fan of hawks!!!  If I saw them flying with a snake dangling from their mouth I may feel differently, however, I have only ever seen them zooming by with poor, helpless songbirds in their clutches.

DSC_0513
Morning sunlight on the creek

Lastly on my trip down photo memory-lane… I was able to photograph the raccoon below as he neared the creek at low tide, then nimbly walked across a newly-fallen tree to the peninsula on the other side.  I wish I could have gotten his front, but he is still a beaut from behind.

It was an adventurous two months of coffee-time scenery, and I enjoyed many other nature moments and firsts not captured on film. Though it’s hard, sometimes I resist the dash for the camera and force myself to simply sit still and treasure the moment.

DSC_0711

Until next time, may you have many memorable nature moments as well.

∼Jen

A Grateful Heart

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

DSC_0084
Mourning Doves in the fall

Well, today is that glorious day we set aside here in the states to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us from our gracious Heavenly Father.

IMG_0585
A fall walk

It’s usually a day spent with family, enjoying one another’s company,  grateful for each one gathered, while recounting another year of the many things to be thankful for. Our family is fortunate this year that we will all be present and accounted for…with a family of five siblings, that is no small feat!

IMG_0496
Toad trying not to be seen

Usually, I would be scurrying around preparing the corn pudding, baking pumpkin pies and the usual things I contribute to the feast. Today I will be doing those things and a few more at a leisurely pace, as our family will gather tomorrow so that all can be present.

DSC_0858
Purple Finch

 I am reminded this year, as in many past Thanksgivings, of the importance of counting our blessings and truly being grateful for what we have, even in the hard, and sometimes lonely times which we all go through in life.

DSC_0459

In doing so, I usually look back to a trip I took with members of my church to Haiti as a young adult. I vividly remember my first sight of the poverty-stricken country… I wanted to run back to the airport and catch the first flight back.  I had never seen such conditions up close and personal, and it left an impact on me I will never forget.

DSC_0517
A quiet bench in the fall

What impacted me more, though, was the absolute joy and gratitude, and what could only be described as graciousness, from the Christian people we had the opportunity to meet with while there. I recall going to a church out in the country-dirt floor, rough lumber for pews, no electricity-and the absolute spirit of thanks these people had as they
showed off their prize possession. We were also invited into their homes, where they shared enthusiastically from their very meager supplies, meals served with the greatest of hospitality.

DSC_0482
Glen Ellen Farms, upper Maryland

 After experiencing such phenomenal gratefulness in the face of such abject poverty, I remember getting back to the states where hearing complaints for the smallest of things felt like being slapped in the face with an ice-cold cloth.  And, after determining I would never grumble or complain again, sadly, I too, soon fell into my old ways of not always being thankful for even the littlest of blessings in life.

DSC_0495
Geese at Assateague Island, VA

Oh,there are many times I thank God just for hot running water, as there we experienced just a trickle in the shower, while some of the locals were bathing in mud puddles in the street.  And when I take my  first sip of steaming coffee in the morning, I am usually very grateful.

DSC_0149

But, there are those times, when I simply forget and grumble about the smallest of things when I have so, so much to be thankful for….a  loving family, friends, a warm home, food, clean water, books to read and the ability to read them, the love and care of my Heavenly Father… the list could go on all day.

DSC_0649
Squirrel on island of moss

My prayer continues to be that I will always be grateful for even the smallest of blessings and be mindful of those less fortunate than myself.

DSC_0260
Wild turkeys encountered on a cycling trip

Wherever you are, whether celebrating Thanksgiving here in the States or elsewhere in this big, wonderful world, may you celebrate all the things to be thankful for in your life, this day and each day forward.

Jen wallpaper2

Until next time

∼ Jen

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1

 

Simply Fall…

DSC_0918

Late Autumn by William Allingham

October – and the skies are cool and gray
O’er stubbles emptied of their latest sheaf,
Bare meadow, and the slowly falling leaf.
The dignity of woods in rich decay
Accords full well with this majestic grief
That clothes our solemn purple hills to-day,
Whose afternoon is hush’d, and wintry brief
Only a robin sings from any spray.

And night sends up her pale cold moon, and spills
White mist around the hollows of the hills,
Phantoms of firth or lake; the peasant sees
His cot and stockyard, with the homestead trees,
Islanded; but no foolish terror thrills
His perfect harvesting; he sleeps at ease.

DSC_0902geeseflying
Geese grace the autumn sky at a local state park

  I have enjoyed reading many Autumn poems this season, and it would be interesting to know, of the four seasons, just which one has inspired more poets.

While each season holds its own special enchantment, fall definitely has a magic of its own…the cool, misty mornings; later sunrises, earlier sunsets; trees bedecked in jeweled tones; leaves dancing on the breeze before floating gently to the ground, scents of smokey fireplaces drifting in the night air; outings to pumpkin patches and wandering through corn mazes, while pumpkins, gourds and mums decorate the landscape.

For this post, I simply wanted to share some of my favorite fall pictures, past and present.  I hope you enjoy!

IMG_2873pumpkin

The above picture of the snail posed perfectly on the pumpkin greeted me as I stepped outside one crisp, fall morning.

DSC_0839

Mature trees lining the streets make fall an especially favorite time for walks….

DSC_0831

A  pair of geese enjoyed a few hours on a fallen log one autumn afternoon…

DSC_0775

and my buddy “Harold” remained longer than expected as we kayaked into view another fall day…

DSC_0964

Fall colors through the window of a favorite reading spot…

IMG_3863

Green makes way for fiery oranges, yellows and reds …

DSC_0817DSC_0525

DSC_0878DSC_0840

Geese honk their arrival in the evenings as they rest for the night on the peninsula, and at a favorite park during the day they glide over then land with a splash…

DSC_0895DSC_0874

I hope this season finds you joyful and well!

Until next time!

IMG_2835

∼ Jen

Morning Time – September

Lo! a ripe sheaf of many golden days
Gleaned by the year in autumn’s harvest ways,
With here and there, blood-tinted as an ember,
Some crimson poppy of a late delight
Atoning in its splendor for the flight
Of summer blooms and joys­
This is September.

Hilaire Belloc

dsc_0343monarch.jpg
Third or fourth generation Monarch butterfly

Ah, beautiful September…how did you pass so quickly?

October is my favorite fall month, but September begins the beauty of it all.  Now that it is behind us I feel like I somehow missed it…like I blinked and it was over. I have spent many hours inside with my nose buried in math and Spanish curriculum, but on the bright side, I’m sure it’s a wonderful Alzheimer’s preventative.

dsc_0524morinngfrog.jpg
Frog basking in morning sun

I have given myself permission to take the day off from curriculum and enjoyed a walk with my dog Princess earlier this morning.  I have missed writing so much I decided I would also take the time to enjoy doing just that when I returned from the walk.  Already six days into October, it was past time to pull up my September morning-time pictures.

dsc_0597prayingmantis.jpg
Praying Mantis I discovered one morning because of kitty’s growls:)
DSC_0554frog
Another morning frog, I believe the Southern Leopard frog
DSC_0301spider
Argiope aurantia beside porch

Thinking about writing a new blog post I asked myself, like probably many bloggers do….why on earth do I think people really want to see pictures of my flowers, birds, dog, Harold….or read the ramblings and memories of a mom going through beginning empty- nest stages?

dsc_0230momcardinalwyoung.jpg
Mother cardinal bringing sunflower seed to young
DSC_0238cardinal young
Juvenile female cardinal
DSC_0236youngcardinal
…obviously the awkward looking stage

And yet, I continue to write, because like other bloggers I enjoy the creativity it allows and the connections formed with other bloggers along the way.  The latter was something I was told would happen by a friend of mine, whose blog I have admired for years, but I really had no idea what she meant until I started blogging myself.

DSC_0249fallfern
Ferns getting their fall color
DSC_0260
Gabby, a visual reminder to cut back ferns for sake of the birds….

I find myself thinking of the people whose writing I have connected with….the elderly widow who writes of her granddaughter and grown sons and her transition to a smaller home, leaving the place where memories were made as she raised them; the writer who has written her first book and has found a purpose to enjoy in her newfound retirement as she plans another book; the man who so artfully writes of the beauty of childhood memories and an almost forgotten time of past societal innocence; the teacher who brings nature into the lives of his young students, reminding me of my own former joy of teaching little ones; the many gifted artists in photography and drawing, who bring beauty to my world and others by sharing their talents…all these people and many more have enriched me in many ways.

DSC_0500
Autumn Sedum

 

DSC_0498flowersinpot
I call this my “hello-goodbye” plant…blooming when I got it and not again till September, its final show

Though I will most likely never meet any of them, I am grateful for their presence…

dsc_0002harol.jpg
My morning buddy, Harold

They have enlightened me, inspired me, entertained me, and like the nature I am surrounded by, have added beauty to my life in many different ways.

For that, I am grateful.

DSC_0358Monarch

Until next time,

∼ Jen

A Stroll Through the Park and Memory Lane

An accumulation of a lifetime of memories does create a musical score that we can assess from an artistic if not scientific perspective. Each happy memory generates a beat of minor joy that when strung together form the musical notes demarking a person’s prosodic inner tune.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

dsc_0610-black-bird.jpgOne of my favorite places to visit in our area is the local park.  I have taken my sons there since before they could walk and have fond memories from my own childhood visits there.  There were family picnics, outings with my mom and grandmom, racing around the top of the big, brick, circular wall-which is still there-and sledding down its big hill with a send-off from my dad in the wintertime. It has, of course, changed some over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the gift of memories and nature it still provides.

dsc_0371.jpg
Boys when young enjoying the same circular area I did as a child…deer statue new

DSC_0599When my sons were young, I made it a habit to turn necessary appointments in the area into fun outings by picking up lunch afterwards and heading to the park to picnic with the geese and ducks.  I have many happy memories of my two little boys feeding bits of their lunches to the geese and then running along side them squealing and playing.

DSC_0365
feeding the geese

dsc_0364-e1507306843728.jpg

DSC_0366
 feeling safer watching from table-top:)

dsc_0367.jpg

Those outings, like many things, have sadly ended as my sons have grown, but I managed to squeeze in one more just before school began this year with my youngest.

dsc_0606

As usual, we were greeted by the ducks like long-lost friends. We know better than to be  flattered as we are well aware they are excited about the scent of our curly fries and not so much us. We can no longer feed them, as it is now forbidden, but that doesn’t stop them from coming close to get a whiff and pose for pictures.

DSC_0631.jpg robinDSC_0633.jpg robin

On this particular afternoon the birds seemed to be quite noticeable, so I was able to get many photographs of them as well as the waterfowl…I found this robin very agreeable to a photo session.  I had no idea how different our American robin is from the European robin until I saw one posted on the blog 30daysofwildparenting. For the absolute cutest picture of a robin ever, check out his picture here.  I actually thought it was fake at first glance….it is seriously adorable!

DSC_0619

This cardinal was in a tree just over a path we took, and he was content to sit and preen while I took dozens of pictures.  It’s obvious these birds are used to humans because the cardinals in my yard fly away at the slightest movement.

cardinal DSC_0627

Cardinals are one of my favorite birds… besides being beautiful, they are very attentive parents sharing the duties of nest-building, feeding and training their young. They are also very docile at the feeders, unlike mockingbirds and feisty little hummingbirds.

We ate our lunch on a quiet bench in a shaded area with this tree directly in front of us.  If I was in a fantasy world, I would swear this massive, barked image with leaf bangs was watching us…it did bear a striking resemblance to Treebeard!

DSC_0607

After wandering the park for a bit, we ended our outing by the river and enjoyed one last look at the ducks before heading home.

DSC_0660

Another beautiful day to add to the precious memory book of life….

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.33.35 AM

Until next time…

dsc_0374.jpg

∼ Jen