Unexpected Treats

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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.

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“Rivendell”

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.

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beaver dam

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.

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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.

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osprey

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magnolia tree gracing the creek bank

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!

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Preening

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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!

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beaver

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.

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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!

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∼Jen

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∗ A very informative link on Great blue herons

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

By William Wordsworth

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I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

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To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

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Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

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The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

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The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

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If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

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Until next time,

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∼Jen

A Mother’s Heart…

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
—Tenneva Jordan


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This is a repost from last year for technical reasons I have been dealing with and have finally fixed!  The above quote is so like my mother that I had to add it.  Happy Mother’s Day to all who are actual mothers, and all that are not but love as if they are !!!

Last night we were under torrential downpours with lightening strikes all around us and a tornado watch in effect.  Both our sons had not yet returned home for the night, but my husband and I went to bed, saying prayers for their safe return while keeping one ear open, as all parents do, when awaiting their kid’s return.

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Mother and fawn taken in Colorado Rockies

I think of my own mother, how on earth she survived raising five children, and how many nights she and my father must have prayed as they waited for their children to return home each night.

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My mom was not only a terrific mom, she was also my confidant and friend….sticking with me through thick and thin….cheering me on, encouraging me when down, and always believing in me no matter what.

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Mother northern cardinal feeding young

She was and still is a source of inspiration to myself and so many.  One of her greatest accomplishments, which still amazes me, was earning her nursing degree while raising five children.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye sitting at the table doing her homework after we finished dinner, which she had also prepared.

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Mother wood duck leading her young about the creek

Now that I have raised two sons myself, I am even more amazed at her accomplishments and am not sure which is more amazing, earning the degree or raising five children….probably the latter!

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Spectacled bear with cub, part of an effort to prevent their extinction

Eventually our first son came in with a few friends in tow, an hour later our oldest son safely returned home as well.  Both stopped in to give us big hugs before heading off to their own beds, and my mother’s heart could rest peacefully knowing my beloved treasures were back safe and sound, and all was right in my little world.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow mothers!

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 Until next time,

∼ Jen

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

Fantastical Frogs!

 

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If I could have only one backyard accessory, decoration, whatever name you want to give it, hands down, it would have to be a pond!  Add little boys into the mix, and there is nothing more fun, delightful and entertaining as a pond.  Why?  Frogs, of course!

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One Mother’s Day weekend we were wandering around Lowes, and when I spotted a small pond I requested it be my Mother’s Day gift.  I had an idea of the fun it would be for the boys, but just how much fun I really could never have imagined!

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 It was definitely  the gift that kept on giving for many years, and hopefully is now delighting the new owners of our home and their small children as well.

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I still remember the time I was applying make-up in my bathroom years ago when my oldest son, the main frog-lover of the house, appeared with a monster-size bullfrog in his hands…

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oldest son with “Bowser”

My sons named that particular bullfrog “Bowser.”  There was also “Lazy Leo,” a leopard frog my son got permission to take from a farm we visited to deposit into our own pond.  Leo earned his name because he would put his front little feet onto a small stick and allow the kids to give him “rides” around the pond.

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southern leopard frog

Even though my little boys are all grown up, I still enjoy the many noises, and there are many, that frogs fill the air with.  Some sound like the banjo we are used to hearing, then there are the burps, squawks, and that other weird noise that can’t even be described.

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resident bullfrog nicknamed “cave frog”

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Living in a mostly wooded area, sticks/branches are always in abundance for an evening fire pit. This spring while enjoying such an evening relaxing by the fire next to our pond, I was treated to the first “croak” of spring!

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I had heard the first of the spring peepers heralding the beginning of spring the previous week, but with the addition of full-fledged frog croaking, spring in my mind was officially here!

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I probably have almost as many frog pictures as I do birds and flowers. They are quite the entertainers and posers, allowing you to get right into their personal space for just the right shot.

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flower petal on nose

Some may even accuse them of being outright exhibitionists, and I would have to agree!

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poor image quality, but still love his statuesque appearance

I can’t imagine a world without frogs and would not have many of the fun memories my sons and I share of their childhood years without these cute little creatures!

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caught in the act of “idol worship!”

I hope this spring, if you have frogs in your area, you too are entertained by their fun antics and enjoy their original tunes, which are sure to put a smile on your face!

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And, if you are looking for a fun, unique Mother’s Day gift, look no further than a small pond.  It is well worth the effort and is sure to provide much entertainment and joy for generations to come!

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∼Jen

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First Kayak Ride of Spring

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Heaven reached down to kiss me yesterday with the convergence of my schedule, my son’s schedule, the tide schedule, and a gorgeous, mild-temperature spring day….all perfect for a mid-afternoon kayak outing.

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The sky was a cloudless blue, the perfect backdrop for the emergence of new leaves budding out next to the evergreens, which brave the winter months gracing us with their beauty  year round…

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My son wanted to head for the nearest little island in the creek, which he and his older brother have enjoyed exploring since we first moved here.  It is a perfect nesting spot for  geese, and evidence was spotted of that before we even disembarked….

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We were fortunate enough to spot the first egg of the clutch, and hopefully not the last.  We’ll come back to check the progress next week and maybe catch mama laying on them as we did a few years back.  The female goose lays eggs about 36 hours apart, and can lay anywhere from two-ten eggs per breeding season.  The incubation period is 28-30 days, so we should certainly get a glimpse of mama at some point during that time.

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The little island is carpeted with luscious, emerald moss decorated with newly fallen red maple buds-mama goose certainly has good taste in homes…

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On our return trip we were treated to “Harold” or perhaps “Henrietta.” Either way, it is always a surprising delight when he or she appears from nowhere, squawking its displeasure at us for daring to enter its domain.

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The houseboat, which appeared at Thanksgiving time two years ago, is still gracing the creek with its presence …

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I would love to get a peek inside this home, and can only imagine how peaceful it must be to live literally on the water.  I am blessed enough, though, to be able to live next to it and am always thankful to be a witness to the wonders of nature the creek brings in all of its seasons.

Until next time, happy spring to those of you in this hemisphere!

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∼Jen

 

A Seaside Winter Walk

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New Year’s Day promised to be a beautiful 60 degrees outside, so my husband, younger son and I decided to head to the beach for a winter’s walk.  We began at our favorite little cafe in Lewis, Olive and Oats, then fortified with a delicious lunch, which included the obligatory black-eyed peas, we headed to the Cape.

 

Below is the beautiful boardwalk towards the beginning of the trail…

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leading to the spectacular scenery just beyond and along the path.

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colorful marsh
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egrets
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gulls and egrets with WWII lookout tower in background

All along the path were the subdued and peaceful colors of winter, and many other friendly New Year’s Day walkers/cyclists as well.

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escaping the crowd

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Before exiting the park, we happened upon the white-tailed deer, always very plentiful here…

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white-tailed deer fawn
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grazing in playing field

One last look at the sea, then back home to a cozy fire and the promise of more winter walks ahead.

Until next time,

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∼ Jen

Thrill of Hope

 

DSC_0953Normally I am not a fan of the fall season changing-of-the-clocks. It messes with my sleep pattern for what seems like months, and really, who wants darkness in the winter before 5 p.m.?  This year’s “fall-back,” though, has brought a welcome surprise.  I am actually now waking before sunrise on most days…well rested and able to enjoy the peaceful hours of pre-dawn and observe the first glorious rays of the sun as it peeks through the trees and reflects on the creek below.

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reflections on the creek

Today was no exception, and on this morning as I was treated to the first rays of pink and gold, the line from my favorite Christmas carol came to mind so clearly:

…a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn….

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As I reflected on the familiar Christmas story, I was reminded that it is the hope behind the story that brings the greatest joy.

I love that God didn’t send his only son to be raised by earthly royalty, but… to a blue-collar worker-a carpenter, who by trade takes blank pieces of wood and crafts them into beautiful works for art or service.  As for his mother, a soon to be common housewife, who humbly and lovingly spends her days looking to the needs of her family.

 I love that His birth wasn’t in the cold, sterile, marble halls of a palace, but in a stable, where the sweet smell of warm hay mingled with the less desirable smells of nature …bringing him into the world as close to the common earth as it gets.

I love that in his earthly lineage, as recorded in His genealogy by Matthew, is not only nobility but a reformed pagan, Ruth, as well as a prostitute, (gasp!) Rahabforeshadowing the redemptive power of God’s love to even the most looked-down-upon among us.

…long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth…

And finally,  I love that his birth was first announced to common shepherds and not aristocrats ….that a star broke through the darkness signalling not only His birth but the greatest hope into hopelessness the world had ever seen.

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Until next time, may His hope eternal bring you and yours the peace and joy found in this blessed birth.

∼Jen

Tree-top Lunch

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Using tree branch as napkin after lunch

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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.

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

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∼ Jen

Life’s Precious Moments…

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Life is full of beautiful gifts, and yesterday morning brought that truth to light in a very special way…

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Wings still very much wet after emerging

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.

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Wings a bit dryer….not much longer now!

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.

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Good view of chrysalis

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.

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Picked up by neighbor after failed first attempt at flight

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.

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Resting on milkweed leaf before attempting flight again

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…

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Until next time, may you experience renewed joy and wonder in your life as well.

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∼ Jen

…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning  Psalm 30:5

 

Link about butterflies emerging, scientific term: eclosion https://www.reimangardens.com/butterfly/butterfliesmoths-spread-wings-emerging/

Monarch Factshttps://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-butterflies-facts.html

Book Review: What Birds Teach Us

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One of my absolute favorite things to do with my children when they were young was read aloud to them.  I collected many nature books, both fiction and non, to teach my sons about the beautiful world around us, and the book What Birds Teach Us by Ashley Hewson is one I truly would love to have had in my collection. The below description of his book is taken from his site:

The author and his wife are both avid ‘recreational birders’ This interest integrated with  the author’s family counseling studies, fulfills his desire to encourage and build into the lives of our youth, so that they can make healthy life choices and do life well. 

The book is a collection of the author’s observations and photographs from his beautiful country of Australia.  I have enjoyed his blog for the past year, so I was looking forward to having a collection of his pictures and words of wisdom in book form.  The book surely did not disappoint, and in fact, exceeded my expectations in the amount of content it contained.

It is a collection of very positive words of wisdom and advice based on the traits observed by the author and his wife of the various birds they have watched in the wild.  In short, it compares the traits and habits of the various birds to different character traits we humans, both young and old, would be wise to incorporate into our own personal lives.  In fact, there are so many more character traits than the ones that would first come to a person’s mind, and that is where it truly exceeded my expectations.

My one son has pointed out to me repeatedly how much he hated Aesop’s Fables as a kid. I read it aloud to he and his brother many times and had no idea of its traumatizing effects…I guess I should have known that turtles smashed on rocks due to their pride may have been a bit too much!  I wish I had a book such as this one, to teach those positive character traits, and many more, in a much more gentle way!  Not to mention, the photographs are simply beautiful.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. It would be a wonderful gift for any child in your life, starting as early as age four or five and upwards. Honestly, there are even a few good reminders for adults as well-my personal favorite is the chapter on creativity. It truly is a gift that will keep on giving!!

Until next time,

∼ Jen