Tree-top Lunch

DSC_0157

Saturday was a beautiful, perfect-cycling-weather kind of day.  I was mindlessly pedaling along, smiling peacefully, taking in all the natural serenity surrounding me on one of the first gorgeous days of fall.

DSC_0104

Not far up ahead a group was pulled off to the side, looking up into a tree-top.  Oh, wow, was I ever glad I made a vow to never cycle without my camera again!  I pulled over to join them, and as quietly and quickly as I could, pulled the camera out with record speed.  I was so concerned he was going to fly before I could focus, and equally concerned I would send him flying with my movements.

DSC_0107

My concerns were unfounded as he was happily enjoying a feast fit for an eagle…no movement of mine or any other new-comers were apt to disturb him from finishing his lunch.

DSC_0150

I did get pictures of him eating, but I’ve spared you those, just sharing his post-lunch poses.

DSC_0122
Using tree branch as napkin after lunch

DSC_0119

We were able to enjoy him for at least five minutes. After he cleaned his beak and looked down at us a few times as if to ask, “Haven’t you guys ever seen an eagle eating before?” he took to the skies, leaving us all with a profound sense of awe and gratitude for the incredible display of nature we had just shared.

DSC_0161

Until next time, look up occasionally, you never know what spectacle may be perched above your head!

DSC_0124

∼ 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

 

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