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!
Life is full of beautiful gifts, and yesterday morning brought that truth to light in a very special way…
It was the birthday of my neighbor across the street, a neighbor I have become very close to in the last several months. It was also her first birthday since the death of her husband in early April. When we walked the day before yesterday she told me “…it’s just another day…” but to me, a birthday is to be celebrated-new life is always a blessing to be celebrated. Knowing it was the first birthday since her husband’s passing, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged it in a special way before she met with her family later to celebrate with them.
In the morning I texted to see if she wanted to take our neighborhood walk, then quickly stuck some breakfast cookies in the oven to take over with a card. Three minutes before the cookies were due to come out of the oven, I got a text from her: ” A Monarch butterfly has just emerged from its chrysalis, come see!” Funny, just the day before I noticed all the milkweed in her garden and meant to ask if she had ever seen the Monarchs hatch.
The cookies couldn’t come out fast enough, as I was sure the newly emerged butterfly would take flight before I could cross the street! As it was, I arrived in plenty of time to see the newly transformed Monarch since it was at least another hour or so from taking flight. My oldest son was off that day so was also able to come enjoy the scene with us, reminding me of the time we watched a newly emerged butterfly take flight when he was young.
As we talked and marvelled at the beauty of nature, I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful gift of new life she had been given on her birthday. She said she had never witnessed a butterfly emerge till that morning… a touching reminder that life does indeed bring renewed joy after pain.
My neighbor sent me off yesterday with Milkweed seedlings to plant in my own yard, and today while gardening I had a little visitor of my own, keeping me company as I worked…
Until next time, may you experience renewed joy and wonder in your life as well.
…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning Psalm 30:5
Well, I certainly never thought I would do a part two on a blog post having to do with weeds, but here goes! This post has to do with my statement about my intense dislike of Round-Up, and I have been asked to explain why I hold that opinion by fellow blogger Michelle at one of my favorite blogs, https://rabbitpatchdiary.com. I’ll add some pretty pictures to hopefully charm it up a bit!
The material out there is vast, but I will do my best to sum it up in as brief a post as possible. I will post links at the end of this post so you can do your own follow-up studies and draw your own conclusions. Hopefully for the sake of the environment and ultimately your health and those you love, you will reach the same conculusion as I have come to, and look for alternative methods to control weeds. When I am not pulling, this recipe is a simple one to use and it works!
One of my main sources for health news is Dr. Mercola, and I have read many articles relating to the dangers of Round-Up on his website alone. I will use other sources for this post, however, to give a broader analysis of the topic. According to the Dr. Mercola article, Monsanto is Inside Everything. this so called crop-saver is showing up in urine samples, breast-milk, blood samples, water supplies, and in the very air we breathe.
A study reported by The Detox Project reported that glyphosate, the active main ingredient in Round-Up, was found in women’s breast milk at 760-1600 times higher than the level allowed by the EU in drinking water. So the purest form of food for the tiniest among us is now contaminated by man-made killer chemicals! Further studies showed glyphosate crosses the placental barrier with 15% reaching the fetal compartment.
To quote Angelika Hilbeck, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich:
This is reckless and irresponsible conduct in a democratic society, which still has a living memory of previous reckless chemical contaminations, such as DDT.”
Blood samples and urine samples in Canadian and US women respectively were found to be at maximum levels for urine and levels similar to the concentration found to have endocrine-disrupting effects in vitro in the blood samples.
While on the topic of embryonic health, the inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, in Round-Up was actually found to be more deadly than the active ingredient, glyphosate, according to the article in the Scientific American Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells. In this article, evidence is shown that just because an ingredient is listed as inert-Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,”-doesn’t mean they aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless. “This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen.“Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.
So what if you don’t use Round-Up… why should you care…doesn’t it simply disappear after it kills the weeds, isn’t it “biodegradable” like we are told in most places that sell it.
In 2009, a French court found Monsanto guilty of lying; falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly” and claiming it “left the soil clean.”
So what exactly is Round-up ready and GMO crops? Simply put, they are crops from seeds altered to withstand the effects of Round-up while the weeds around them die. It is argued that GMO crops increase food supply thereby helping to curb world hunger. There is no evidence to prove that this is the case according to the New Soil Association in 2008. In fact not only does it not increase yield, it leads to terminator seeds-seeds that are grown for a second generation that are sterile…leading to just the opposite of increased yield. In addition to less yield, GMO corn is shown to have 18 times the safe level of glyphosate set by the EPA…I would argue there is no safe level, period. About 75 percent of the food available at the grocery store contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), grown from Roundup Ready crops, in particular alfalfa, corn and soy. (https://draxe.com/monsanto-roundup/)
To help yourself and your family, look for organics and foods labeled non-GM0 whenever possible; shop at local organic farm markets if available and if you eat meat buy only organic, 100% grass-fed or non-gmo food fed animals, ideally from a local farmer you can get to know; on-line sites such as Vita-cost sells organic non-perishables, and they offer great sales from time to time. Shop around, your health is worth it! A list of the top pesticide ridden foods and ones you can get by with not being organic can be found here: http://borntogrow.net/dangerous-pesticide-ridden-foods/ Also, soaking veggies and fruit in baking soda for 15 minutes can remove some of the pesticides, depending on the food, but even that labeled organic should be soaked.
So what are some of the other affects on our health from this ignorantly loved chemical…autism, breast cancer, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, inflammatory bowel conditions, obesity, cardiovascular disease, infertility, ALS, multiple sclerosis, infertility, allergies, cancer and much more…
A very interesting chart, one that would be very hard to argue with, shows the instances of autism rates with the rise of glyphosate usage, please use the following link to see the astonishing chart as well as watch a very informative interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), revealing how glyphosate wrecks havoc on human health.
I am going to stop here, but trust me, this only scratches the surface! There is so much more that can be said and explained, but this post is very long as is!! And please note, though this post is about Round-Up, pesticide use in general should be thoroughly looked into. Please see the links below, and especially read ways to avoid consuming this chemical, and many others, even if you are against using as I am. I may add a third post for nutritional ways to combat toxins and another on the beauty and nutrition of certain weeds, inspired by Barry.
I will say in closing, it is a shame that those of us who try to protect the earth we have been entrusted to take care of are sometimes dismissed as hippies, crazies or over-zealous earth-worshippers. I don’t worship the earth, though my “About” picture certainly portrays me as a tree-hugger 😉 I do, however, worship the God who gave me this beautiful place to live and I believe as a Christian I am responsible even more to show gratitude for what He made and gave as a gift…this incredible creation, including ourselves, that we are to treasure and take care of.
Until next time, please let’s all do our part…the adorable subjects in the pictures, and those in the future will be glad you did!
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus
How does a landscape go from beautiful to spectacularly beautiful…..it gets clothed in the magnificent colors of that breathtaking season we call fall.
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!
Trails were marked with a kaleidoscope of colors and leaves decorated fern, moss and rocks like nature’s confetti.
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.
The countryside was decked out in all its splendor…
while fields of gold nourished the lingering butterflies.
Dolly Sods was a mosaic of colors resembling nature’s quilt on one side…
while showing off its grandeur, tinged in autumnal hues, on the mountainside.
The many waterfalls and creeks in this state are only that much more scenic when fall is in the air…
Mountains, valleys, creeks and rolling pastures, Autumn in West Virginia is simply spectacular!
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!!
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.
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.
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.
Like other bloggers I enjoy the creativity having a blog 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.
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 my life in many ways.
Though I will most likely never meet any of them, I am grateful for their presence…
They have enlightened me, inspired me, entertained me, and like the nature I am surrounded by, have added beauty to my life.
For that, I am grateful.
Until next time,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8
Younger than the mountains, Blowin’ like the breeze.”
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.
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.
Although Blackwater Falls (pictured above) is probably the biggest attraction, we preferred the idyllic views of:
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.
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:
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.
summer before senior year
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!
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.
Queen Annes Lace
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.
After a hike at dusk one evening, we saw this adorable woodland creature…
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.
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!
“We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.”
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.
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
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!
” 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
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
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
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.”
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
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)
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[a] and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
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.
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.
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.
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
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! 😉
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 creek-dweller. 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!
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