Morning Time…October-November

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

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

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Red-bellied woodpecker

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

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

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

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Taking a break from gymnastics….

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

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

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Downy Woodpecker 

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

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Tufted Titmouse

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

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

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

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

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Morning sunlight on the creek

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

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

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

∼Jen

A Grateful Heart

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Until next time

∼ Jen

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

 

Autumnal Frog Contemplations

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Frog Autumn

Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother.
The insects are scant, skinny.
In these palustral homes we only
Croak and wither.
Mornings dissipate in somnolence.
The sun brightens tardily
Among the pithless reeds.
 Flies fail us.
he fen sickens.
Frost drops even the spider.
 Clearly
The genius of  plenitude
Houses himself elsewhere
 Our folk thin
Lamentably.


 I came upon this poem while reading some fall poems earlier. It reminded me of a recent picture I took of a frog by our pond surrounded by fallen leaves and acorns. I can only imagine his thoughts may be something close to what the poet penned.

∼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

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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.

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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.

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Praying Mantis I discovered one morning because of kitty’s growls:)
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Another morning frog, I believe the Southern Leopard frog
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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?

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Mother cardinal bringing sunflower seed to young
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Juvenile female cardinal
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…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.

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Ferns getting their fall color
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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.

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Autumn Sedum

 

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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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…

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

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

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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…

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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.

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Chickadee
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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.

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Male cardinal
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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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

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Annual Honesty (Lunaria annua)

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

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Forgotten swing covered in honeysuckle, photo by Anson

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

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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.

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

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

 

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

 Until next time!

∼ Jen

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

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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.

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Comfy seating upon a lily pad
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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.

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“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……..

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Ruby-throated hummingbird

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And “Harold” was observed on several breakfast hunts…

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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!

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∼ Jen

Mornings in 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