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

 

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!

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 8.46.19 AMUntil next time,

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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

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

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

 

Bambi Invasion!

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When I look back on my childhood, there is one movie that will always stick out in my mind as a favorite….Bambi!  Somehow I think I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Lately in our neighborhood I believe we could film our own version of Bamb in real-life form. The below picure is one I took after our growling cat (I used to think only dogs growled) alerted me to something just outside the window on a recent morning…

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I was able to shoot a few more pictures before it ran off to the more heavily wooded area.  All the pictures in this post, with the exception of one, are shot through the window and some at a distance, so they won’t always be the clearest.

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A few mornings later my husband and I were enjoying coffee on the porch when we spotted our early visitor…

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After I greeted her with a “good morning,” she took off.  Apparently she likes eating our flowers in solitude, or maybe her guilty concious got the best of her. Either way, we would have enjoyed having her company a little longer.

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Our flowers were not the only ones the deer enjoyed as evidenced when I peered across the street to my neighbor’s yard. In the above picture, the smorgasboard had just begun.  They casually made their way all across her lawn, munching as they went. Knowing she doesn’t bother to shoo them away anymore than we do,  I captured all the pictures I could to share with her later.  She had told me previously that she has counted up to eight at one time in her back yard at dusk and is captivated by their visits as much as we are.

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shamelessly munching

Who needs flowers anyway!?!

When driving by another neighbors late one afternoon we stopped to talk to him and he pointed out his visitors to us-what I have come to call the elusive twin fawns:

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One of the fawns is on the far right, the other on the left, very heavily camouflaged.

The picture is the best I could get with only a cellphone, and though I have walked back several more times to try to capture them with a real camera, they have unfortunately proven to be camera-shy.  We saw them a few more times when driving by, but my neighbor has informed me that they haven’t been around for the last several days.  In his words “they have eaten all the flowers we had, so they took off.” Neither he nor any of our neighbors seem to care that their flowers have been digested by Bambi and friends, and that is one of the reasons I love living here!

 I end this post with what is still my favorite picture of our neighborhood deer…

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She was just casually strolling along for her morning walk like the rest of the neighbors when my sweet Princess alerted me to her.

I hope you have enjoyed my version of Bambi, Until next time!

 

∼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

The Beauty of Stillness

dsc_0112.jpgIt is a quiet Sunday morning as I write this.  The air is cool enough to leave the door cracked just slightly, allowing the sounds of nature to flow inside.  The birds are singing their morning songs as they flit around in their busy springtime activities.  A tufted titmouse pair are continuing their gathering of nest-building material for the box just outside my window, while a hummingbird stops to sip at the nectar feeder just below the future titmouse abode.

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Tufted titmouse gathering nesting material

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Gabby cat is enjoying an early morning walk around, simultaneously keeping a lookout  for possible adventure with one eye and the approach of our neighbor’s dogs with the other…

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Gabby amid the jewel weed

 A squirrel enjoyed an early breakfast of sunflower seeds scattered beneath the feeders before attacking the feeders directly. In due time he was joined by two other squirrels that soon gave him chase before they all raced up a tree, resembling a reverse playing of firemen sliding down a pole.

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The male cardinal is visiting another feeder closer to our pond, and the sounds of the waterfall flowing fills the air with its soothing sounds, in perfect harmony to the music of the wildlife surrounding it.

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The creek is at high-tide and is still and deceptively quiet under a misty haze and overcast sky. In the surrounding trees, the birds and squirrels make up for its silence aided by honking geese in the distance, while cinnamon ferns, jewel-weed, and iris decorate its banks as they continue to spring more to life with each passing day.  Somewhere nearby a wood duck couple are certain to be enjoying its serenity, while playful otters and busy beavers are certain to be disturbing it.

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Wood duck pair 

 At any given moment an eagle is likely to do a fly-by low along the creek, or perch in one of the nearby trees watching for fish and other small creatures to fill its stomach and feed its young.

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Harold, our resident blue heron, has yet to my knowledge made his daily appearance, but that too could happen at any given moment and may even include a sighting of  Henrietta, seen accompanying him of late…tis the season!

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“Harold”

Peaches, the cat of unknown origins, who has unfortunately decided to adopt us, draws my eye away from the creek again as he takes up one of his favorite spots beside the pond…much to the dismay of Gabby, and Bitty as well, who is perched beside me now glaring at him from her window seat.

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The cardinal seen earlier is now perched closer to my window, almost hidden in the lush leaves, until roused by a blue-jay who was earlier hopping up and down on a branch above him and making a general ruckus.  For whatever reason, Mr. Jay felt the need to antagonize the cardinal until deciding to fly off towards the creek with the cardinal giving chase.

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In a break from nest-building duties, Mr. Titmouse flies over to give his wife a morsel on a nearby branch, and the lone squirrel is back posing for a picture.

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Our door is now shut and the fireplace is lit to chase off the chill-enticing kitty with its warmth-as my husband and I enjoy the quiet of early morning.  The wood ducks paddle into view, and all seems right with the world.

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I purposefully laid aside my camera for the most part this morning-deciding to add in older pictures later-and purposed instead to just sit still and enjoy all the sights and sounds outside the lens…

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…because sometimes in our single “focused-ness’ of life we miss the peripheral beauty going on around us, and that is a lesson in and of itself.

Until next time,

∼Jen

 Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God…”

Who Knew!

Everyone knows that birds love bird-feeders….

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Those of us with squirrels also know that they REALLY love bird feeders…

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This weekend my family and I discovered another animal that apparently also loves bird feeders…

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Who Knew!

I could not make the “white” eyes disappear on our raccoon friend, but he’s too cute not to share.  🙂

Happy Weekend!

∼Jen