“Almost Heaven” in the Fall

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
–  Albert Camus
 

dsc_0436wv1.jpg

How does a landscape go from beautiful to spectacularly beautiful…..it gets clothed in the magnificent colors of that breathtaking season we call fall.

DSC_0540WV2

In the summer, my son and I were able to enjoy some of the natural beauty the picturesque state of West Virginia has to offer… I shared a post with some of our highlights here.  I was once again able to enjoy its beauty, but this time in its fall glory, on my yearly, girl’s-weekend getaway with a few treasured friends. In this post I’ve gathered some pictures from that trip and also a few from our past fall trips; I hope you enjoy!

DSC_0587

Trails were marked with a kaleidoscope of colors and leaves decorated fern, moss and rocks like nature’s confetti.DSC_0087

DSC_0077

They softened the path as we walked and the ones that didn’t make it to the ground graced the evergreens like natural Christmas ornaments.

DSC_0073

The countryside was decked out in all its splendor…

DSC_0020WV

DSC_0658

while fields of gold nourished the lingering butterflies.

DSCN1599

DSCN1603

DSCN1585

Dolly Sods was a mosaic of colors resembling nature’s quilt on one side…

DSC_0335

while showing off its grandeur, tinged in autumnal hues, on the mountainside.

DSC_0274

The many waterfalls and creeks in this state are only that much more scenic when fall is in the air…

DSC_0719
Douglas Falls, Thomas WV

DSC_0238

DSC_0182
Blackwater Falls, Davis WV

DSC_0676

Mountains, valleys, creeks and rolling pastures, Autumn in West Virginia is simply spectacular!

DSC_0502

DSC_0522

DSCN1636

DSC_0429

A special thanks to our husbands for, once again, manning the “home front” while your wives hiked the trails!

As in the last post, pictures of West Virginia wouldn’t seem complete without its most famous song…enjoy!!

 

∼ 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

Morning Time – August

August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.

Jonathan Safran Foer

Pond lantana
Lantana blooms

  August seems very much to me like March in that it “comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” The hot, humid days slowly turn to cooler mornings and evenings, and time to linger outside is welcoming once again. I have collected some of my morning time pictures to share from this last month of summer, sad to see the blooms prepare to leave but excited for the glorious season of fall that will soon be upon us.

DSC_0911 2
The very appropriately named Devil’s Walkingstick,Aralia spinosa,

As soon as the humidity that slapped me like a wet blanket disappeared, I once again ventured out for mornings on the porch and saw some old friends…

DSC_0658
One of our many pond frogs
DSC_0022
Red-bellied woodpecker
DSC_0012
“Harold” fishing for breakfast and grouchy as ever

I enjoyed the flowering hostas, liriope, and marigolds as they put on their final show…

DSC_0009

dsc_0859.jpg

I also noticed this little guy come out of the shadows when he lunged for some creeping insect passing by-picture was taken while he was enjoying his meal…

DSC_0013 2
Six-lined racerunner

My feathered friends were more visible after I refilled the bird feeders.  I leave them empty for June and July so they can help control the insects and teach the young how to feed from nature, but… I hate doing it.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and was ever so glad to give in and fill them. Also, the migrating birds will need to have food stations along their travels, at least that’s what I tell myself.

DSC_0862
Chickadee
dsc_0201.jpg
Tufted titmouse

The first to arrive were the chickadees and tufted titmice, with the cardinals and finches following soon after, the latter two still donning their bright courting colors…someone needs to break the news to them.

DSC_0977
Male cardinal
DSC_0408
American Goldfinch

I also cleaned and refilled the hummingbird feeders one last time before they take off on their long migratory flight south, some travelling as far as 900 miles.  One morning I was treated to observe this juvenile male sitting on a hydrangea branch preening himself outside my bedroom window. The red dot visible on his neck in the picture on the left is the indicator that it is a male juvenile ruby-throated hummer.

This summer’s group has been a rather feisty and mischievous bunch….I actually noticed one chase a peacefully munching titmouse off of the bird feeder and into a nearby tree!  Of course, they are constantly giving each other chase through the yard, and their aeronautical feats never cease to amaze me.

DSC_0057
Peeking through the window at me from a favorite perch

The squirrels have yet to notice the feeders have been filled or they are simply off hiding their store of winter nuts. I’m convinced the nut-hiding is just for show as they eat their fill of bird food each winter (and spring, summer, fall) instead.  Either way, they are still entertaining me during my coffee time.

DSC_0875

The bird pictured above in the grass is, I believe, a summer tanager. I just happened to notice his head pop up but was not able to get any good pictures of it when it flew off to a nearby tree.

I also noticed the head pop up of a chickadee having a good splash in the bird bath on the same morning…

DSC_0885

With the cooler days, I have once again enjoyed my daily walks…crepe myrtles, wild daisies, and even tasseled grass make the walk that much more beautiful…

DSC_0902DSC_0899DSC_0892

I even happened upon some “silver dollars” on one of my morning strolls…

DSC_0905
Annual Honesty (Lunaria annua)

My son shared the below picture he took one morning…a picture of days and morning memories long gone by…

DSC_0808
Forgotten swing covered in honeysuckle, photo by Anson

Opening the blinds on another morning gave view to this unexpected and delightful sight….

DSC_0783
Beautyberry

These Beautyberry are my favorite fall bushes and I look so forward to them blooming each year.  Besides being gorgeous, they are a wonderful feast for some species of birds.

DSC_0787

I will end with the first glimpses of fall color I observed peeking through a sunlit tree by the creek…

DSC_0795

and a tiny damselfly on a favorite hanging plant, the fiery orange begonia…

 

DSC_0223

DSC_0228

It’s been a summer filled with many kinds of beauty-now, onto my much longed for season…fall!

 Until next time!

∼ Jen

Nest Stirrings…

DSC_0754
Wren with food in beak for young

“A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.”
― Amit Ray

So, today’s post was going to be an update on the wren nest, a Little Flying Thieves sequel, but there are rufflings in my own nest, and that has dominated my thoughts for this day.

DSC_0767
Wren building first nest it ousted chickadees from

 

For the second time, my nest has experienced stirrings of things to come. Our youngest began his first day of his senior year…and as I watched him getting in his car, the reality of that and all it signals slowly began to sink in.

I finished my cup of coffee, then, too antsy to stay in the house, I was actually glad there were weeds to pull….I needed something to do with my hands and fresh air to linger in with my thoughts.

As with every milestone reached in our children’s lives, we ask ourselves the question, “Where did the time go?” In the words of a popular song when my oldest was graduating middle school, “it happens in a blink.”

I think of the little wren family-the young have flown their own way.  Mama and Papa wren gave them all they needed to survive and hopefully thrive, and then it is left in the hands of nature.  So too, of course, with our own children.  We give our all, we love them as best we humans are capable of, then we leave it in the hands of a very capable and loving Father, Who, after all, loves them way more than we ever could.

They are His Masterpiece .

DSC_0593
Wren’s final nesting choice, hanging fuchsia
DSC_0587
Ever watchful parent
DSC_0675
Newly hatched wrens

Psalm 139 reminds me that God knew my children before they were ever born, and He has a plan for their lives beyond what I am able to see….

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

DSC_0766
Photo taken day before wrens left nest

So today, as our journey as parents continues to bring us one step closer to a true “empty nest” I look back over our sons’ lives so far, and I am thankful….thankful that I have been blessed with two sons to call my own; thankful for a husband who supported me in my desire to be a stay-at-home parent; thankful for our homeschooling years and the days they were able to spend in nature doing their lessons; thankful for the teachers who continued those lessons and further impacted their lives; and thankful mostly for knowing they will not walk this road of life alone but will be guided by the One whose “eyes saw their unformed bodies and has all their days written in His book before one of them came to be.”

DSC_0820 2
Picking Rose of Sharon blooms for me when very young
DSC_0371
summer before senior year

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

∼ Jen

“Almost Heaven, West Virginia….

dsc_0407.jpg
Dolly Sods

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…

DSC_0475
Blackwater River trail

Life is old there, older than the trees,

Younger than the mountains, Blowin’ like the breeze.”

dsc_0305.jpg
Lindy Point

The above lyrics are from the song “Country Roads” by John Denver, and if ever a state deserved to have a song written about it for its beauty, West Virginia is certainly deserving of that honor.

DSC_0325
Blackwater Falls

My younger son and I were blessed to have a week to explore some of its beautiful trails, gorgeous in their own right, and leading to breathtaking views at the end. Pictures will never do it justice, but I will attempt to share bits of the beauty we enjoyed.

DSC_0331
Picturesque trail leading to Blackwater falls

Although Blackwater Falls (pictured above) is probably the biggest attraction, we preferred the idyllic views of:

DSC_0484

Not far into the hike, it felt as if we had stepped onto the set of a magical Disney film or a Lord of the Rings set.  From the moss-covered rocks and trees to the abundance of ferns, blooming rhododendrons, mushrooms, and the babbling brook leading to the waterfalls, it was truly like stepping into another world.

DSC_0486

DSC_0568

DSC_0214
Rhododendron blooms above the falls

DSC_0498

DSC_0636

DSC_0490
Large rock-island serves as a “planter” to trees, ferns, and rhododendron bushes
DSC_0110 2
Elakala Falls

Lindy Point was another place we explored. Hiking this trail was like taking a stroll through the jungle….rhododendrons hugged the path as we made our way to the top where we were met with this view:

DSC_0303

In the Monogahela National Forest we hiked part of the Dolly Sods Wilderness.  It boasts incredible views from the top and has terrain of bog and heath ecotypes more commonly found in southern Canada.

DSC_0429

The rocks are extremely fun to navigate, and the scenery is simply spectacular.  While resting on a large rock formation taking in the views, I looked to a nearby evergreen and was delighted with a sighting of one of my favorite birds, the Cedar waxwing.

It was the first time I had ever been on equal altitude with this beauty!

DSC_0399
The red markings on the wing tips look like melted wax, thus the name, Cedar waxwing

The drive up to Dolly Sods is quite long, but the beauty along the way makes the journey as enjoyable as the destination.  A variety of wildflowers, butterflies, and a scenic creek adorn the trek, making a non-stop drive all but impossible to a camera-wielding, nature enthusiast.

DSC_0340

DSC_0457
Bristle Thistle Carduus nutans

DSC_0345

And, of course, what drive in the country would be complete without a good ol’ barn-sighting…or a house that looks like a barn, not sure, but charming, nonetheless.

DSC_0469

After a hike at dusk one evening, we saw this adorable woodland creature…

DSC_0298.jpg
Fawn with mother near Blackwater Falls

Growing up near the shore I will always be a fan of the ocean, but I am always grateful for a trip to the mountains where I can hike and relish a different kind of beauty…all a part of this glorious gift we have been given called nature.

DSC_0135
Elakala Falls

This post is dedicated to our dear friends Ed and Denise….thank you for introducing us to the beauty of this often overlooked state, but mostly for your gift of friendship!

 

For your listening pleasure, the song behind the post:

I hope you find your own country road to explore and take in the wonders around!

DSC_0302

∼ Jen

Sunday Thoughts…Daily Inspiration

The purpose of this blog is to provide a place of beauty, where one can escape the “craziness” of the world and focus on the beauty our gracious heavenly Father has bestowed on us. This beauty very often can be easily overlooked and overshadowed by daily headlines or personal worries. Though I have been working on a post about a recent trip to West Virginia, a re-post of this seems to be more appropriate given all the recent “activity” in the news of late.

 I sometimes re-read this post for peace and comfort, because it’s not my words, but mostly the words of the only One capable of giving “peace that passes all understanding.”  As someone once said:

“We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 1.34.06 PM
Northern flicker

It’s a mild Sunday morning, beautiful 70 degree temperature with a few clouds promising rain later in the day. My husband and I have recently returned home from church, he enjoyed some banana-oat and I some yummy buckwheat pancakes:) We have now settled into our own little writing nooks….he is busily editing a book, and I have been thinking about today’s sermon, which was on worry. It brings many images from the Bible to my mind….some of which point to how God takes care of nature as our example.  I thought I’d add some photos with a few scriptures as my takeaway from a theme that’s good to be reminded of daily.

DSC_0316
Atop an Alpine in Colorado

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Mt. 6:26,27

DSC_0050
Wood thrush

 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Mt. 10:29-31

 The above picture is of a bird I rescued after it flew into our window.  Every time I hear a thump, which is sadly often, I race to the window to see if I can spot the victim and get to it before my cat does.  I’m amazed at how much I care for these little birds, which I had nothing to do with bringing into the earth, and then, how much more our heavenly Father cares for us!

DSC_0059
Butterfly finding nourishment from the daylilies
” And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Luke:25-27
DSC_0281
Wild grasses by the bay
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you…Mt.6:30
DSC_0059 2
Mother cardinal checking on nest
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself…Ps.84:3
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4
DSC_0101
Female Eastern towhee
A phrase our pastor said that really stuck out to me was…
“To worry is to imagine a time when God will not be with you.”
God has already promised us in Mathew 28:20
“And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”
DSC_0846
Bleeding Heart

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6,7

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 6.16.38 PM
Eastern Phoebe enjoying a moth

Of all the beauty that our loving, heavenly father created, there is none more precious to Him than us…..

Psalm 8:3-9English Standard Version (ESV)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[a]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

DSC_0890
 Happy Sunday!
∼ Jen

Morning Time…July

DSC_0720

At the moment, I am sitting on a deck in West Virginia watching and listening to a thunderstorm roll in and thankful that it waited until after our morning hike.  I love a good thunderstorm, especially when they are so conveniently timed.  Since our hiking is on hold, I thought it would be a great time to pull out my morning-time memories from July.

dsc_0790.jpg
First blooming water lily of the summer
dsc_0724.jpg
Lacecap hydrangea bloomed in July
dsc_0722-2.jpg
Stargazer lilies graced July with a quick show…Lacecap hydrangea in background

I know some people are not very keen on spiders, but they don’t bother me if I know they aren’t poisonous and they don’t get in my way.  We even had a beautiful argiope build a nest on the porch at our old home and we liked her so much we named her “Miss Nelly.” When the powerwasher came to clean the house, he thought I was crazy when I gave him strict instructions not to dare harm Miss Nelly!

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 8.41.55 PM
“Miss Nelly”

Back to July….and a web I saw the morning sunlight shining through-they can be a real work of art.

DSC_0815
Spider web stretched between coral bells’ stems

The home-wrecking wrens abandoned the nest they ousted the black-capped chickadees from…apparently the male wren may build several nests before the pair choose the nest to use.  Below, mama wren is waiting for me to leave the porch so she can take the moth in her mouth to her waiting babies. She took over my hanging Fuschia plant, and I don’t know how long I was watering the poor eggs before I saw the wren and discovered the nest.  All is well, I didn’t drown the fledglings, and I will post pictures of them soon.

DSC_0754
Carolina wren

I was very pleased this dragonfly stayed perched on a Tiger lily bud long enough for me to get a picture…

DSC_0697

The autumn sedum is gearing up for its fall show with emerging buds…

DSC_0738

Black-eyed Susans, Russian sage, and hosta blooms really come into their own in July…

A mourning dove looking rather coy, or regal, not sure which….

DSC_0797

One of my favorite little creatures enjoying some greens…

DSC_0039

And finally, what would I do without my morning, or anytime, Harold sightings! He really showed me some new stuff this month.

First I caught him looking rather, for lack of a better description, bizarre

DSC_0749

I was actually worried about him when I first observed this strange wing “arrangement.” I watched him for a while until to my great relief, he flew away, allaying my fears that he was somehow hurt.  When I googled this spread-wing posture, I learned that this can be done to dry their wings, keep their balance when perching, regulate body temperature and several other reasons.

Next, if I hadn’t known herons build their nest up high, I would have thought he was building a nest on one of his favorite perches during another morning observation of him.  I watched him for a while as he grabbed different sticks off the fallen log and put them down into a pile before he finally found one he liked and flew off with it!  I don’t know if he was adding it to a nest already in the making or if it was the stick he planned to use to woo a passing female with. Since nesting season is pretty much over, however, and herons stick with the same mate all season, I’m really not sure what Harold was up to… maybe the nest just needed some repair.

DSC_0904
Harold with chosen stick in mouth before taking flight

So, that wraps up my morning time from July in pictures! The rain stopped here in West Virginia, and my son and I were able to get in an after-dinner hike and take in some more scenery of this beautiful state.  I look forward to sharing some of those pictures with you!

Until next time!

∼ Jen

Confessions from the Garden

DSC_0718
Russian sage in front of Black-eyed Susan

It’s said that confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

I am guilty of a crime, and I committed this crime/sin with the full knowledge that what I was about to do could quite possibly kill, or at the very least, temporarily wound the innocent and unsuspecting.  I, however, could not help myself-much like a man armed with a chainsaw can’t stop until every last branch within eyesight is maimed “pruned,” I, too, was on a mission.

My crime? Transplanting a very happy plant in the dead of summer….in fact, in the middle of the worst heat wave so far this year.  What was I thinking….well, that’s just it, I wasn’t.  Much like a spoiled, rebellious, impatient child, I didn’t care about the rules-I simply defied all authority in the transplanting laws of nature. That plant simply was not where it needed to be and I wanted it elsewhere, heat wave or not. Waiting for fall was not an option.

The innocent? The one and only, beautiful beyond words, Russian Sage.

screen-shot-2017-07-13-at-8-12-18-pm-e1499996165431.png
Russian Sage

This gorgeous plant has been my favorite perennial since I planted my first flower garden way back when.  In my previous garden, I had abundant sunshine and it thrived and returned yearly like a faithful friend.  Because I am still trying to find the right spot for these to thrive at our new home, they lack the abundance of stems seen in the above picture. Mine boasts only several per plant as seen in the first picture.  For that reason, the victimized plant was moved to a much sunnier location where it will hopefully flourish and return next year to let me know all is forgiven and it is loving its new abode.

DSC_0773
My favorite garden picture…my then 3 year-old son, Daniel, chasing butterflies amidst the flowers- Russian Sage in the back.

In spite of the heat, or maybe even because of it, my little Russian Sage looks like it may make it after all:) In the first hour after it was transported away from its buddies, it looked very sad and wilted indeed. I watered it, of course, but then because of the intense heat, upper 90’s to be exact, I watered it two more times that day and three times a day since.

DSC_0777

Little sage is much perkier now with all the extra, tender-loving care, and its bounce back, despite my initial offense, reminds me of a particular verse…love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Happy Gardening!

∼ Jen

PS….I have a new temptation in the form of a wayward Autumn Sedum. I am desperately trying to resist, but the promise of rain in the coming days may lure me towards my shovel yet!  😉

 

Morning Time – June

“No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.”
–  James Russell Lowell, The Vision of Sir Launfal

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 2.12.13 PM
Early morning drink

Dust from the fireworks has settled, Princess survived yet another year of booms and bangs, sure “they” were after her, and once again, like every year, I wonder how it’s possible that so much of summer has already gone by.

As I enjoyed looking back on my morning pictures from May once June arrived, I have done the same for my morning times in June. I love looking back at photos taken and relive some of the moments and memories of my early, quiet times on the porch and beyond.

DSC_0540
Comfy seating upon a lily pad
DSC_0636
June daylilies greet the morning sun

The turtles were out in full force this month. I like them a little more when they stay in the creek, if they happen to be snapping turtles that is. I have not seen our pond visitor again up close as I did in May, but I spotted it’s relative sunning on this log with a friend….DSC_0595

and another duo with the same idea further out…DSC_0765

I always love the way the early morning sun highlights the ferns and glistens on the waterfall…and the moss on the rocks, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.DSC_0964

The American bullfrog in our pond that we have dubbed “cave-frog” still occupies his cave and was seen peeking out beyond the water grass one morning between croaks.

DSC_0539
“cave-frog”

He is loud, but I had no idea just how loud till my neighbor across the street told me she could hear him! She is a nature enthusiast herself, so it was an appreciation not a complaint:)

As for flying creatures, our little hummingbirds have been enjoying their new feeders……..

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.35.53 AM

DSC_0901
Ruby-throated hummingbird

DSC_0693

And “Harold” was observed on several breakfast hunts…

DSC_0377

DSC_0921

Upon arising one morning I was greeted with our first hydrangea bloom of the summer, and by evening the same bush boasted several more blooms.

DSC_0930

Replenishing my morning cup of coffee on another morning, I heard scratching on our porch, screen door. I looked to see a real cutie, who upon seeing me quickly ran off.  I captured him resting his very visibly pounding heart before ascending the tree. The poor guy was beyond shaken.

DSC_0963
Eastern gray squirrel

I have no idea why he was intent on entering the house….I would say he was drawn by the aroma of coffee, but it was more likely that he was running from our cat, “Gladiator Gabby.”

DSC_0728

The large trees in our back yard are a wonderful habitat for birds, especially the woodpeckers, but it was the sunlight streaming through the hole in the above tree that caught my eye on this particular morning.

DSC_0864
Blooming Fuchsia, a hummingbird favorite

Leaving a hotel one morning after a weekend trip, my son pointed out some adorable ducklings enjoying a morning swim.  It was the mother with one of the ducklings near a blooming lily, that, of course, captured my attention the most…

DSC_0515DSC_0519

And lastly, I have  Princess to thank for the following picture taken at the end of June.  Her morning vigil by the front door resulted in a sight I am ever so glad to have seen…

DSC_0558
White-Tailed deer 

and kudos to the deer for allowing me to photograph her in front of such a lovely, blooming backdrop. She seemed to enjoy her morning stroll through the neighborhood, so I may see her again in the future.

Until next time!

DSC_0521

∼ Jen

Beauty Comes in Many Forms on the Cycling Path of Life

 

screen-shot-2017-06-29-at-11-47-13-am.pngIn another lifetime, long-ago college days to be exact, I was one of those cycling enthusiasts-logging 20-30 miles a day anywhere I could fit it into my college schedule. I have to admit I arrived late to more than a few classes while training with a college classmate for the upcoming Seagull Century-fun times! I had all the gear a poor college kid could afford: the all-important, padded cycling shorts, and trust me, they are important; cycling shirts with strategically placed pockets for all those bananas; and the snazziest helmet I could afford!

img_0881.jpg

Fast forward more years than I will say, and I still long for mild days when I can hop on my bike, getting, as my husband says, “absolutely frantic” when winter looms, threatening the end of my cycling season.  My purpose in cycling has changed drastically you might say, one of the beauties of getting older I guess.  These days it’s all about enjoying the fresh air, exercise, and more importantly the view along the way. Sometimes I do pack my camera to capture it, but mostly I just enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature and the serenity it brings.

DSC_0420
Marsh with WWII observation tower in the background and ocean beyond

I do also enjoy the fellow cyclers and walkers on the path, all ages and abilities are out enjoying the fresh air and nature views. From the casual cycler to the spandex-clad, outta-my-way racers going by, you see all types. The joggers take their place, too, along the path and are not in the least inclined to engage in any way as they log their miles. It’s all business with them and that’s ok, to each their own-I admire their stamina! I can’t help but wonder, however, in my very biased opinion, if they wouldn’t be happier on a bike:)

img_3670-e1498754783323.jpg

Yesterday was one of those picture-perfect days.  When I saw the mild, perfectly-suited-for-cycling temperatures heading our way, I made plans with one of my dearest friends-a friendship that dates back to elementary school-and fellow nature enthusiast to ride some trails at one of our favorite spots.  This place ranks as one of the best because the paths are not only well-maintained, but very diverse in scenery. We rode wooded trails as well as marsh trails with views of the ocean in the distance, inhaling deeply the fragrance of pine and marsh scents simultaneously as we pedaled along. Ahhh, it doesn’t get much better.

DSC_0453
Beautiful wildflowers that grow in front of the marsh grass
DSC_0466
Marsh grass surrounding the brackish pond
DSC_0430
The pine trees adding their evergreen beauty

The above pictures show a bit of the diversity we enjoyed, but more beautiful than the scenery, had to be the kindness of strangers at the most opportune time! As we were riding along, basking in the perfect temperature and the peacefulness of it all, a loud pop like a gunshot went off.  In 25+ years of cycling, I’ve never had so much as a flat, but it didn’t take me more than a second to realize that loud pop was my tire, and I was probably in for a nice walk now instead of cycling.

DSC_0406
Lone seabird

I no sooner had gotten off my bike than a nice couple, who had recently retired in the area, stopped and were assessing my situation. In less than 10 minutes, the very kind and very able gentleman had pulled out one of his spare tubes and had me up and going again….long walk averted, whew!  What was also so wonderful was that almost every other cycler going by, and there were many, asked if any extra help was needed as well.

The kindness of strangers is indeed one of the most beautiful things in life.

img_3719.jpg
Diverse views along the trail

My takeaway from the day: if you want to find a little kindness in the world, coupled with beauty, look no further than your nearest cycling path!

img_4622.jpg

Happy Trails!

∼ Jen