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

They’re Back….

Well, today was the day, finally! Each spring I wonder exactly when they will appear and try to have the feeder filled and waiting for them.  Occasionally they have beat me to it, but this year it was up and waiting for them at least three weeks ahead of their arrival.  I had just looked at the feeder late afternoon, and wondered why they hadn’t yet arrived, moments later I looked back, and there they were:

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Ruby-throated hummingbirds

The first time I ever saw a hummingbird was not till my mid-twenties while on vacation in Colorado.  I could not believe the beauty of these tiny, hovering birds.  When I was older and married and moved into our first home, a hummingbird feeder was put in place the first spring and I have enjoyed them every spring since.

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I have sweet memories of the first time our sons noticed hummingbirds….we had a feeder hanging in view of our breakfast nook so we could enjoy their comings and goings throughout the day.  We first noticed them one evening around dinner-time, a male and female.  The boys quickly named them “Kiwi” and “Cherry” since the female is an olive green with iridescent touches and the male has pinkish-red iridescent markings around its throat. This worked out great since my younger son loved the color  green and my older son loved red-they each had their own personal hummingbird:) We could almost always count on them for our dinner-time show, and loved watching their quick stops in for a drink before buzzing off again.

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  For small birds, they can be very feisty towards others wanting a quick slurp of nectar, so it wasn’t long before I realized we probably needed at least one more feeder. They also know how to communicate their needs, which astounds me…. I was very surprised one day to see one hovering and peeking in my glass doors to “let me know” the nectar had run dry! For a  really great article on their behavior and other fun facts, visit this site.

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Fuschia-a hummingbird favorite

If you have not yet welcomed these beauties into your yard, consider putting up some feeders or plants that will attract them-you will be greatly rewarded, I guarantee! Though it’s easier to buy pre-mixed “nectar” at the store, the red food coloring in these is not recommended….try the recipe found here instead. Happy watching!!

∼ Jen

 

Little Flying Thieves!

It was early morning, time to make that all important decision: where would I drink that first cup of  morning joe? Finally nice weather-wise, I contemplate the porch, then realize I’m still waaay too tired to sit up straight on a porch chair, so, off to my comfy, pink couch I go, ahh….

Turns out, that decision was a good one. I could keep an eye on my little chickadee nest from there and watch for any action…and action there was!

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This, however, was not the action I was looking for!! This little guy/gal was definitely not Mr. or Mrs. Chickadee…..and what was that in it’s tiny little beak?!!!  This little rascal was not only breaking and entering, it was taking the moss that rightfully belonged there and tossing it out in a total take-over, the little home-wrecker!!

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The last time I had seen the sweet little chickadee couple, the gentleman was bringing his little lady tasty treats as she sat on a branch nearby the nest – now they were nowhere to be found as this little land shark dismantled their tiny abode!

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Don’t let the innocent look fool you, this little cutie is a thief through and through!

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It obviously prefers sticks to moss, not much for comfort or manners!

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Blurry, but wanted to show size of some sticks it tried to get in hole before finally dropping them!

So, sadly it  appears my little black-capped cuties have been evicted by this little house-wrecker, I mean,  house  wren.  I was looking forward to watching their offspring, as I have never observed a nesting pair of chickadees before.  However, I have never observed a nesting pair of house wrens either, so I guess this is the year! They really are adorable, and I do love their cheerful little song:)

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I hope my little chickadee couple, wherever they may be, find other happy, comfy lodging. Though I doubt it will be anywhere near as cheerful as this colorful gourd, here’s hoping!

∼ Jen

Black-capped Cuties Update…

So, as promised, I have an update on our little chickadee family that is building it’s nest in the colorful gourd house just outside our bedroom window.  I am able to observe them nicely from inside, and usually during my morning coffee time. I’m starting to think I should have named this blog “coffee with the birds.”

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On this particular morning, I didn’t observe either bird going into the nest, only the female sitting on a branch just off to the right of the house.

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 I knew this was the female, because it was not long before the male brought it a morsel, which is what the male chickadee would normally do.

Ah, the chivalry of it all.

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Handing off a tasty treat

I am assuming the nest is complete, and quite possibly there are eggs already being incubated.  The female simply covers the eggs when she leaves the nest, and the male brings food to her during this incubation period.

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After eating what looked like a green caterpillar, mama flew off-I guess she just needed some fresh air!

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I can’t wait to see the little fledglings appear, no doubt it will be while I’m sipping my morning coffee! Stay tuned!!

∼ Jen

 

“Wild” Night!

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Well, I can tell you, we had close encounters of the wild kind last night that were just a little too close for comfort for me, and for the rest of my household.

There will be no critter pictures in this blog-for one thing I don’t photograph this particular member of the wild, and also, I don’t generally sleep with my camera.

I went to bed around nine with a nasty head cold.  It was too early to sleep, but I thought I’d listen to my i-pod and just rest.  Not too long afterward, I heard quite the commotion, and the sound of agitated voices told me something was amiss.

Somehow, I knew…..probably because of my distrust, dislike, distaste, ok, total hatred of these critters…. exactly what was amiss!

I had heard of these things getting into homes before, so it was always tucked away in the back of my mind. We all have them, those things you hear about happening to others, but you just pray you never have to encounter yourself.

It wasn’t long before my younger son, who discovered the intruder, came to confirm what my worst thoughts had already surmised….we had been invaded by, none other than, a snake. There, I “said” it-I don’t even like to type the word.

You have to understand, I do love nature, I really do, but these things are in a class all by themselves.  I’ve heard all the arguments….”They eat mice, and moles… we need them to keep the rodent population down” and, my favorite, “Black snakes eat copperheads.” Ok, I’m not sure of the truth behind that one, but just in case, the black ones may remain. So far, however, the only populations my eyes have witnessed them trying to control have been frogs, fish, chicken eggs and birds. My outside cat does a wonderful job of keeping down the rodent population, and she doesn’t slither.

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“Gladiator Gabby”

Ok, back to the story, and why on earth there is a sword leaning against my pink couch.  After two hours of trying to find this snake, my husband and sons finally call it a night and decide to give it another go in the morning. As for me, my groggy head overcame my fear of snakes, and I was just ready for some sleep.  This is where the sword comes in.

My younger son, who we can always depend on for high security, informed us he was sleeping on the couch in our bedroom, yes the pink one, and is prepared to battle the foe should it get past the rug he insisted on stuffing under our bedroom door. Funny thing is, well, actually not so funny, he had had awful thoughts of a snake attacking me in my bedroom before this event, so he was foregoing sleeping in a bed to protect his “snakeophobic” (ophidiophobic -for you proper folks) mother. Trying to hurry things along, I told him there was no need for a rug under our door….boy am I glad he didn’t believe me.

After collecting Miss Priss-and all her creature comforts-to sleep safely in our bedroom as well, he stuffed the rug under our bedroom door-thank God-and we all got some sleep, well, a little anyway.

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I awoke to the sound of thumps in the hallway….right outside of our bedroom door.  My husband, who as he says-and I’m so glad it’s true-has the “reflexes of a cat” was stomping the thing into submission (in his slippers) after throwing the rug, yes that rug, over him to keep him from escaping!

Well, there you have it, the story of our wild night that I lived to tell about…because, as everyone around here knows, there is no innocent until proven guilty, all brown snakes  are copperheads. It could have very well ended up in our bed, which would have very well been the end of me. So, I have much to be thankful for on this lovely spring day- though I am keeping a very wary eye out for movement!!

∼ Jen

 

Black-Capped Cuties

Wanting to blog for a while, my final surge of inspiration came when I spotted this little cutie while drinking my morning coffee, staring out the window, and waiting for consciousness to kick in.  I noticed this little lady pulling moss off a rock by our pond and knew she was gathering nesting material. When I watched her fly towards this newly hung house, I could not have been more excited!

 

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Is she adorable or what??!! The picture is a little blurred through the window, but her cuteness still shines through!  I bought this painted gourd at a local farmers market several weeks ago.  Though I had hoped it would attract inhabitants, I assumed it would be like the last pretty birdhouse I bought…only a decoration swinging about in the breeze.  This little chickadee  seems not to be swayed by the breeze, however, and she and her spouse are busily nest-building and unknowingly entertaining me, and now hopefully you!

 

I will definitely keep you posted on this little family as spring marches on in all its beauty:)

♥Jen

Harold’s Joined a Gang…

or at the very least he’s double dating!!

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This, this is how I see Harold 99% of the time. The other one percent has been in the spring, when, to borrow a word from Thumper on Bambi, he’s “twitterpated.”  Yes, like all animals this time of year, Harold, too, goes searching for true love.  He has found it in none other than Henrietta, of course. Unfortunately, it is so rare, and he only does a quick fly-by…..kind of like a person trying to avoid nosy neighbors…that I have yet to get a picture of them together.

Imagine my surprise, when sipping coffee on my porch this week, (coffee and bird sightings seem to go hand in hand) I looked up to see Harold, and three other Blue Herons flying overhead! My mouth dropped open in shock and I said to my son, “Harold’s joined a gang!” Harold is usually such a loner, except for the rare sightings of him with Henrietta, that I had to get to the bottom of this.

After some googling, don’t I love google,  I found out that Herons nest in colonies called a herony, also less specifically called a rookerywhich may contains more than one species of colonizing birds.  The birds build nests usually up in the tree-tops, but will also nest on the ground or low lying structures close to their food source. The colonies can be small or large, depending on the area; Harold’s “gang” is obviously quite small.

Unlike geese, heron usually choose new mates each year….poor Henrietta.  The males arrive at the nest first and “woo” passing female herons.  After quite the elaborate courtship ritual, the male may then present the female with a stick with which to add to or begin the new nest.

Well, there you have it! The mystery of Harold’s gang is solved, and I’ve learned a few more interesting facts about my wonderful, grouchy, lovable neighbor!

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Harold across the creek with fish in mouth

∼ 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

The Bold and Beautiful

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Last week my husband and I were sitting on the couch in the ‘nature room’….yes, that’s what I call our family room, but that’s another story…and, as usual, I was drinking coffee and staring out the window taking it all in.  Suddenly, something white caught my eye sitting on one of the larger logs on the other side of the creek. It was low tide, so the fallen logs in the creek were quite visible, and evidently, perch-worthy.

There is a large, white cat that stalks our pond for fish, entertaining our indoor cat, and terrorizing our outside cat – who, I have to say, I really thought was tougher than that.  I started wondering how on earth she was able get across the creek and onto that log. I’ve yet to see her take a dip in our pond, so I was sure, like any cat, she wasn’t about to cross that creek, though sometimes I kinda wish she would.  DSC_0086

My curiosity was piqued! I quickly grabbed my camera to zoom in on this white thing, and as soon as I did, began snapping as quickly as my finger would allow!

 

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Yes, very blurry indeed:(  But, no problem, I would just go out quietly on the back porch, walk down a little closer to the creek, zoom in, and have an incredible picture!!  I couldn’t believe he was just perched right there for the snapping!  I had seen bald eagles fly up and down the creek on occasion, especially during the spring, but never have I had a photographic opportunity present itself like this, with the bold beauty himself!

I was wrong…on both counts. The better picture was not to be, and the eagle was anything but bold!! The second I very quietly opened the porch door and dared put one foot outside, this fierce, “bold” beauty darted for the skies! Are you kidding me??!!?? I just knew my presence that far away would go totally unnoticed. What threat did this big guy think I could possibly pose?  Oh well, back to the couch, and my coffee, muttering my utter disbelief as I went.

Weeks later, spring is in full bloom, and I discover who the really bold and beautiful ones are:)

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Black Swallowtail Butterfly
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

These delicate, winged beauties happily floated from flower to flower, seemingly oblivious to my hovering intrusion.  Now that’s bold, and oh so beautiful!

Happy spring!

∼Jen

Oh, not to despair, I soon got another chance at that big, bold rascal!