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!

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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.

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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:)

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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.

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Beautiful wildflowers that grow in front of the marsh grass
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Marsh grass surrounding the brackish pond
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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.

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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.

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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!

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Happy Trails!

∼ Jen

Mornings Memories…May

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Blue jay beside fading azalea bush

May and October are without a doubt my two favorite months of the year.  Of course, each month has its share of beauty, but this spring and fall month, in my opinion (and my hemisphere), outshine them all. So, while we are now in the first week of June (already!), looking back on some of my special morning sightings in May helps me hold on to that spectacular month just a little bit longer!

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American Goldfinch taking an early morning sip

I’m not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, when we first married, my husband actually thought I must be ill because of how late I would sleep…no, I’m not divulging the hour!  I don’t sleep anywhere near that late now, but I am quite groggy for a while after rising and really don’t know what I’d do without my morning coffee.

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Mourning Doves getting a morning drink

These coffee times, as I sit and stare, and then stare some more, have proven to be some of the best times to observe much of the first stirrings of nature and the beauty of the sun’s early rays on foliage and flowers.  With my camera ever at my side, it’s rare that I ever get down a cup of coffee before it cools off, but I’m able to capture some special moments, so sometimes warm coffee will just have to do!

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Eastern gray squirrel enjoying fallen sunflower seeds

I never tire of seeing my beautiful cardinals…this was a rare picture of them together in the tree. I have only observed them together when at the feeder or ground-feeding.

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Spring is a very active time for the creek…ducks, eagles, geese, and even spawning fish keep the area very busy and very noisy if you add frogs to the mix!

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Mallard duck couple out for a morning swim

 

I had to chuckle to myself as I watched this male and female goose swim by.  Though not obvious in the picture, the assumed male is much ahead as the female followed slowly behind, seemingly taking in all of the delightful sights as she swam happily along, while hubby up ahead was clearly on a mission.

For whatever reason, all I could think about was how this was a great representation of what my husband and I look like when we go to the mall together!

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Finally able to get a decent picture of “cave frog,” one of our resident American bullfrogs

On the day our pond was emptied and cleaned in early May, I was able to see and count almost forty bullfrog tadpoles. I had never seen a bullfrog tadpole and was thrilled to have the opportunity to see them up close.  The pictures are a little blurry through the water, but back legs and even front stubs are visible.

 

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Koi, goldfish, tadpoles, and snails

Most of the sights I am able to photograph from my porch, but once the coffee kicks in, I sometimes go for a stroll to check out the latest blooms.

 

First blooming roses

I was never able to really grow azaleas out our old house due to lack of shade, here, they are abundant, and I eagerly look forward to their show every spring!

 

Columbines are another flower new to me at this home, a spring beauty for sure.

 

My Uncle Harry gave me my first Coral Bell plant, a favorite in my old garden for hummingbirds.  They transplanted nicely here and I also added a few more.  I have always admired their delicate beauty.

 

My favorite blooms, however, have to be the Bleeding hearts….these were the flowers, more than any other, that my boys liked to pick when young with their chubby little fingers to give to me.  They were as intrigued by their shape as I was and still am…I have more than one pressed from my sweet little boys from too many years ago, sigh. I tried to bring some from our old garden when we moved, but the transplant didn’t take. I quickly bought some at the local nursery and will always have a place for them in my garden.

 

Finally, a few last views of the creek and pond-one a real surprise that I just happened to notice crawling out of the pond as I glanced out the back window:

 

Yeah, he, or she was a shocker for sure!! We’re not certain who will now be sticking their hands in to clean the pond filter, but what an amazing sight! This is my first snapping turtle up close and personal…I was most thankful for a zoom lens!

I round out this beautiful month in pictures with my favorite pond inhabitant ever. He got in right under the wire, the last day of May, which also happens to be my birthday. I hadn’t seen him for at least a month, so I’m sure he and his lovely lady were just swimming by to give me a friendly birthday greeting!  They started my day off in a special way for sure!

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Male Wood Duck

                            I hope that you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane for May.  June is only four mornings old, and already is showing off its splendor, so I look forward to sharing some of my moments for this month and every month to come!

           Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8

 

∼ Jen

Rainy Day in May

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American male bullfrog swimming among the drops

There is not much I enjoy more than a rainy day with nowhere to go.  Sometimes I love a good thunderstorm, and sometimes just a gently falling shower-when I can sit on the porch and enjoy the sounds and even the sweet smell that often accompanies a spring rain.

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Drops of rain on Azalea leaf

When my sons were young, we used to gather in the living room where we could watch the lightning-show through the French doors and count the seconds till the thunder boomed….it was my way of getting them to focus on the beauty and awesomeness of a storm and hopefully prevent them from becoming fearful of them. Our dogs, however, were another story-one even had to be sedated during storms….a large shepherd no less!

After enjoying the serenity of a peaceful shower recently from my porch rocker, I decided to venture out with my camera and capture a few rainy-day moments.  Join me and let’s soak in the beauty of a lovely May shower together….

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Last of the spring-blooming azaleas
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Coral Bells peeking up among the Daylily foliage
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Vibrant pink columbine
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Delicate fern fronds unfurling against a rain-soaked oak
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Bright orange hanging begonia

And lastly, the first daylily bloom of spring…..

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I hope you enjoyed our brief but peaceful nature-walk in the rain and hope you’ll join me on another, as spring slips gently into summer.

∼ Jen

Taking Time to Smell the “Roses”…

and the rest of life’s little pleasures.

 

 

This little fellow has the right idea. He is also the inspiration behind this post.  When I photographed him, I loved that he had a flower stuck on the end of his nose!  Then I thought, wow, he really is taking that “take time to smell the roses” thing literally!!  Since photographing him several weeks ago, I think of him every time I stop, pull over, or just pause to soak in the unexpected beauty that sometimes just hits us out of the blue.

I’d love to share a few of my spontaneous photos….unexpected moments of beauty…

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This was taken when the Dogwood trees were in full bloom a few weeks ago.  I was leaving the grocery store by a different route, and at the end of the road, there they were in all their glory! I was so glad no one was behind me so I could quickly snap a picture with my phone.  I just loved how the white intertwined with the pink!

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I took this last night as my mom and I were leaving a Mother-Daughter dinner in honor of Mother’s Day.  We walked out of the church hall, rounded the corner to my car, and were met with this gorgeous view!  I was captured by the golden hues of the sunset and grasses surrounding the rustic looking barn. This scene may warrant a special trip back another evening with a real camera!

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Minutes later on our drive home, we spotted these families taking a sunset stroll. Without hesitation we decided to take a U-turn.   They did not enjoy the intrusion as evidenced by them abruptly turning their backs on us and waddling off in the opposite direction.

We, however, loved the sight of all the “families” congregating together, so they just had to deal with us.

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Lastly, today running errands, I rounded the corner and spotted this lonesome fellow sitting on a log. The picture is so horrible I really shouldn’t show it….but I HAVE to!  Why? Because, doing yet another U-turn to snap this picture, I was almost hit by another vehicle I did not see in my blind spot….oops!  He was not happy, and I was more relieved than I can say at his quick reflexes. Somehow I don’t think he would have understood my explanation that I simply had to turn around to go take a picture of a Heron! Don’t tell my husband.

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So, so bad, I know! This picture proves that I am simply shameful in which photos I share! It also convinces me, more than ever, that I should never again leave the house without a real camera on the passenger seat.  I can only imagine-and that’s what it takes here-what a great photo this would have been. Right now though, think of it as a form of “Where’s Waldo.”

So, there you have it. My pictures obtained by taking the time to stop and enjoy the daily and sometimes unexpected beauties of life… all inspired by my flower-nosed frog!

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∼ Jen

Spring Spectacular!

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
–  Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant 

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Every year it’s the same thing.  Winter slowly dies, sometimes more slowly than others, splashes of color peak from here and there, buzzing bees emerge, birds get more chatty, a lone butterfly dances by, frogs croak,  bunnies hop….then one day you awaken, and BOOM, there it is, in all it’s dazzling glory…..SPRING!!!

<And just like every year, it never ceases to amaze me>

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“That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ.
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.”
–  Winifred Mary Letts

 

∼ Jen

The Bold and Beautiful

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Last week my husband and I were sitting on the couch in the ‘nature room’….yes, that’s what I call our family room, but that’s another story…and, as usual, I was drinking coffee and staring out the window taking it all in.  Suddenly, something white caught my eye sitting on one of the larger logs on the other side of the creek. It was low tide, so the fallen logs in the creek were quite visible, and evidently, perch-worthy.

There is a large, white cat that stalks our pond for fish, entertaining our indoor cat, and terrorizing our outside cat – who, I have to say, I really thought was tougher than that.  I started wondering how on earth she was able get across the creek and onto that log. I’ve yet to see her take a dip in our pond, so I was sure, like any cat, she wasn’t about to cross that creek, though sometimes I kinda wish she would.  DSC_0086

My curiosity was piqued! I quickly grabbed my camera to zoom in on this white thing, and as soon as I did, began snapping as quickly as my finger would allow!

 

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Yes, very blurry indeed:(  But, no problem, I would just go out quietly on the back porch, walk down a little closer to the creek, zoom in, and have an incredible picture!!  I couldn’t believe he was just perched right there for the snapping!  I had seen bald eagles fly up and down the creek on occasion, especially during the spring, but never have I had a photographic opportunity present itself like this, with the bold beauty himself!

I was wrong…on both counts. The better picture was not to be, and the eagle was anything but bold!! The second I very quietly opened the porch door and dared put one foot outside, this fierce, “bold” beauty darted for the skies! Are you kidding me??!!?? I just knew my presence that far away would go totally unnoticed. What threat did this big guy think I could possibly pose?  Oh well, back to the couch, and my coffee, muttering my utter disbelief as I went.

Weeks later, spring is in full bloom, and I discover who the really bold and beautiful ones are:)

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Black Swallowtail Butterfly
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

These delicate, winged beauties happily floated from flower to flower, seemingly oblivious to my hovering intrusion.  Now that’s bold, and oh so beautiful!

Happy spring!

∼Jen

Oh, not to despair, I soon got another chance at that big, bold rascal!

Birds, Blooms and all things Beautiful

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 Welcome! I am so excited to finally be the “owner” of a blog dedicated to the beauty of nature God so wondrously and artistically crafted. After moving into our present home, which I call a nature-lovers paradise, my husband and I quickly realized it would be negligent, maybe even criminal, not to upgrade to a camera that does not also make phone calls.  Since purchasing the camera, I have loaded down my computer with literally thousands of photos, (not all postworthy!) so a blog seemed the perfect place to share these pictures and write about my love of nature.

I hope you’ll join me and together we can leave the business of life behind for a while and just enjoy the wonders and beauty that daily surrounds us!

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♥Jen