Kayaking at Dusk… Carpe Diem!

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The part of the creek I refer to as “Rivendell”… no elf sightings yet though:)

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”
― Jane Austen, Emma

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Finding pathways through the lily pads…

It was 7:30 at night, the after-dinner mess was mostly cleaned up, and I was joining my younger son on the porch for conversation and relaxation.  After that, my big plans for the night were pajamas and maybe an HGTV recording.  Then, out of the blue he asks, “Want to go for a kayak ride?”

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My son with his river companion “creekdog”

That was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth, and truthfully one of the last things I wanted to do.  It had been a busy day, and my pajamas were calling my name!  I could think of other reasons as well….like dusk was smorgasbord time for mosquitos and, well, I had just downed about 10 ounces of vegetable juice, enough said.

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It took me all of about three seconds, though, to dismiss those thoughts and head for the paddles!  Many of my fondest memories have been spur-of-the-moment ideas with those I love…so many memories I would have missed had I reacted “logically” or dismissed because of not wanting to leave my momentary comfort.

With that in mind, I rounded up Princess-who does love a good paddleboard ride-grabbed the camera, fortified the mosquito spray with extra cedarwood and lavender, and off we went!

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Pure Bliss.

As someone once said, “Spontaneity is the best kind of adventure,” and I, for one, wholeheartedly agree!

∼ Jen

Where the Wild Ponies Roam

Nobody could capture the Phantom. She was the wildest mare on Assateague Island. They said she was like the wind, that the white “map” on her shoulders was her mark of freedom.  

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

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Saturday was a wonderful day here on the Delmarva Peninsula to escape the 90+ degree heat and head to one of our glorious beaches.  The escape was real…I was actually cool with my beach chair pulled just close enough to the ocean for my feet to catch the refreshing waves.  The ponies evidently had the same idea and provided the show most tourists come to see and one I never get bored with.

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There are two theories about how the wild horses came to be on Assateague Island, which spans 48,000 acres of Virginia and Maryland’s eastern shore. One theory is that they arrived with the early colonial settlers and the other is that they swam to shore after escaping a Spanish galleon cargo shipwreck, of which they were the cargo. I think the latter is a much more exciting theory, and with the discovery of a sunken Spanish ship off the coast in 1997, it is the more credible one as well.

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Sweet family picture…a young foal nursing, stallion in background.

The ponies, officially named “Chincoteague Ponies” for the nearby island off of Assateague, VA, survive eating the wild grasses, bayberry twigs, rosehips and persimmons.  They drink fresh or brackish water found in the lower lying areas of the island. They became famous largely because of the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.

 Though there are signs posted everywhere to stay at least 100 ft. away from the ponies, the ponies, and most people, don’t quite adhere to that warning.  They have been known to bite and kick, so I have a respectful fear of them as I do the ocean.  Apparently, they have also been fed “people” food over the years, also despite the signs, and have developed quite the taste for it. It is common to see them come up to the belongings of beachgoers and rummage through their bags in search of tasty treats…we have been among those beachgoers! They have become quite adept at stomping bags of chips to get to the forbidden contents inside.

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As the afternoon grew late, the ponies started heading down the beach…

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Fires began to be built….

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And by nightfall the campfires burned all around, illuminating the fun gatherings of families and friends, while the ponies slept nearby under the spectacular starry sky.

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∼ Jen

 

‹My apologies to the ponies, as cell phone pictures don’t do their beauty  justice.›

Confessions from the Garden

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Russian sage in front of Black-eyed Susan

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.

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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.

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My favorite garden picture…my then 3 year-old son, Daniel, chasing butterflies amidst the flowers- Russian Sage in the back.

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.

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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

Happy Gardening!

∼ Jen

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!  😉

 

Morning Memories…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

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

Beach Days

“I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought. ”     Helen Keller

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The above quote could very well be mine…..there is never enough time spent on the beach. I usually leave the shore most reluctantly, the last to ever want to start packing up to go, as if, somehow, I’ll never be back again.  There simply is nothing quite like the feeling one gets on the beach or the myriad of memories to be made there!

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Brothers making beachy memories

Not having to keep an eye on little ones of my own anymore on beach outings, I find my eye is drawn to the antics of other children on the beach. The two boys in the foreground of the above picture were so much fun to watch. They were about the same age difference apart as my own two sons, and brought back so many wonderful memories of our own beach days, gone too quickly by.

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“wave-jumping”

The larger group of boys in the picture were having the absolute time of their life! The squeals from them jumping the waves together as they came rolling in one after another quickly caught my attention and provided amusement to anyone watching.

I love the freedom and joy kids have to just be kids on a beach….laughing, squealing, jumping, running, playing, splashing….the sand and waves make for the most wonderful playground of all!

Add a bucket or a giant hole in the sand and what kid could ask for anything more!

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Taking a walk down the beach we came upon this royal work of art. I can only imagine the fun had building this sand castle…I do hope they got pictures of their wonderful masterpiece!

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Drip castle building on Jekyll Island, Georgia

My favorite sandcastle picture of all-time, however, is this picture taken years ago of my own two boys creating their ever favorite “drip castles.” There is a beautiful story behind this picture, but I will simply say, it is a tangible reminder to me of the love and care the very Creator of the waves and sand Himself  has for me, and indeed, each of us.

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Brown Pelican

I don’t remember seeing Brown pelicans on the beaches around here growing up, only seagulls. Perhaps I was too busy building my own sand castles to notice back then, but either way, I enjoy watching them now as an adult.

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Bottom brown pelican with fish in its pouch

I can tell you pelicans don’t sneak in and steal your fries from under your nose when you least expect like the rascals below have been known to do! And as more than a few members of my family will attest to, they also have habits a little more annoying and messy than simply stealing your fries! Still, the beach would not be the same without the sounds of gulls in the background.

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“Laughing Gull”
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remnants of a beautiful day at the beach

By far, the best way to end any beach day is sitting around a bon-fire with family and friends…a true highlight of any summertime memory.

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I wish you and yours many wonderful summer moments, beachside or not:)

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∼ Jen

Beauty Comes in Many Forms on the Cycling Path of Life

 

screen-shot-2017-06-29-at-11-47-13-am.pngIn another lifetime, long-ago college days to be exact, I was one of those cycling enthusiasts-logging 20-30 miles a day anywhere I could fit it into my college schedule. I have to admit I arrived late to more than a few classes while training with a college classmate for the upcoming Seagull Century-fun times! I had all the gear a poor college kid could afford: the all-important, padded cycling shorts, and trust me, they are important; cycling shirts with strategically placed pockets for all those bananas; and the snazziest helmet I could afford!

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Fast forward more years than I will say, and I still long for mild days when I can hop on my bike, getting, as my husband says, “absolutely frantic” when winter looms, threatening the end of my cycling season.  My purpose in cycling has changed drastically you might say, one of the beauties of getting older I guess.  These days it’s all about enjoying the fresh air, exercise, and more importantly the view along the way. Sometimes I do pack my camera to capture it, but mostly I just enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature and the serenity it brings.

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Marsh with WWII observation tower in the background and ocean beyond

I do also enjoy the fellow cyclers and walkers on the path, all ages and abilities are out enjoying the fresh air and nature views. From the casual cycler to the spandex-clad, outta-my-way racers going by, you see all types. The joggers take their place, too, along the path and are not in the least inclined to engage in any way as they log their miles. It’s all business with them and that’s ok, to each their own-I admire their stamina! I can’t help but wonder, however, in my very biased opinion, if they wouldn’t be happier on a bike:)

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Yesterday was one of those picture-perfect days.  When I saw the mild, perfectly-suited-for-cycling temperatures heading our way, I made plans with one of my dearest friends-a friendship that dates back to elementary school-and fellow nature enthusiast to ride some trails at one of our favorite spots.  This place ranks as one of the best because the paths are not only well-maintained, but very diverse in scenery. We rode wooded trails as well as marsh trails with views of the ocean in the distance, inhaling deeply the fragrance of pine and marsh scents simultaneously as we pedaled along. Ahhh, it doesn’t get much better.

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Beautiful wildflowers that grow in front of the marsh grass
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Marsh grass surrounding the brackish pond
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The pine trees adding their evergreen beauty

The above pictures show a bit of the diversity we enjoyed, but more beautiful than the scenery, had to be the kindness of strangers at the most opportune time! As we were riding along, basking in the perfect temperature and the peacefulness of it all, a loud pop like a gunshot went off.  In 25+ years of cycling, I’ve never had so much as a flat, but it didn’t take me more than a second to realize that loud pop was my tire, and I was probably in for a nice walk now instead of cycling.

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Lone seabird

I no sooner had gotten off my bike than a nice couple, who had recently retired in the area, stopped and were assessing my situation. In less than 10 minutes, the very kind and very able gentleman had pulled out one of his spare tubes and had me up and going again….long walk averted, whew!  What was also so wonderful was that almost every other cycler going by, and there were many, asked if any extra help was needed as well.

The kindness of strangers is indeed one of the most beautiful things in life.

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Diverse views along the trail

My takeaway from the day: if you want to find a little kindness in the world, coupled with beauty, look no further than your nearest cycling path!

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Happy Trails!

∼ Jen

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

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First, I have to thank my younger son for sharing this picture of the dock and for taking a film class in a building with such a gorgeous view:) 

Usually when I visit one of the nearby beach towns this time of year, I’m either sitting on the beach or riding one of the cycling paths nearby. It’s rare that I have the opportunity to just sit on a dock and enjoy the bayside beauty and rarer still to find such a peaceful, quiet dock in the month of June. When my husband and I dropped our son off for his first film class, I wasted no time in grabbing my camera and settling in by the bay to capture some salty-air scenery.

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A lone gull flying over the marsh grasses

The Phragmites pictured above and below, while beautiful, can be very invasive, unfortunately, choking out other native grasses or taking over too much shoreline. It has many positive uses, though, besides being very scenic; it provides a wonderful habitat for several species of birds, it is used to make a musical instrument similar to the clarinet,  its stem and seeds atop the stem are edible, the reeds can be woven into baskets, or used in thatch roofs-these are just some of its many uses in various parts of the world.

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It apparently also makes wonderful nesting material, as this house sparrow proved…

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This black bird, I believe a Grackle, was also a fun little guy to watch as he went flitting through the reeds…

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Now, since I was on the dock of the bay, I did get a few underwater creatures, for instance, the famous Maryland Blue crab:

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A little hard to see through the bay water, but the pretty blue markings are still visible. A few were getting close to the crab trap (below), and I wished I could send a warning down to them to back away!! I must admit, though, I don’t feel so kindly towards them when they pinch my feet in the ocean!

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The last bay inhabitant I took a picture of is the horseshoe crab.  Sadly, I usually only see these washed up on the beaches, so it was nice to see them swimming around, making designs on the sandy bottom with their dragging tails.  I learned many interesting facts about them at the link above… from their blue blood being used in the medical field to their link to the survival of the long distance migratory bird, the red knot. For an interesting video of the horseshoe crab click here.

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While a fascinating creature, it does not make for the prettiest picture with the barnacles on its back, so I’ll end the post with another pretty topical view of the bay.

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Next stop, the beach.  See you there!

A little music for your listening pleasure, the inspiration for this post title, enjoy!

∼Jen