BLUE HERON

One must stand…

Before one walks…

And, one cannot fly until one stands…

This episode begins with a swift flight from one side of a small lake to the opposite side. From a football field away something grabbed Miss Heron’s attention which resulted in a sudden dash…from watching to flying to stalking to fishing.

Intentional, natural, instinctive, graceful, and deadly !

I was reminded once again that no matter how beautiful and inspiring nature is, she can also be lethal. Just ask the frog. I certainly don’t want to tangle with this bird.

Herein lies the purpose of the telephoto lens: to capture something up-close, but by doing so from a distance. Safer that way.

Gone Fishin’

“Gone fishin’, instead of just a wishin’ ”

This was the tagline / theme song to The Fisherman’s Friend, a local television show which aired from 1953 to 1974. Harold Ensley was the originator and main character of this production. He was a Kansas native, a minister, an avid fisherman and an astute businessman. His show was broadcast live from each venue and often with notable quests.

As a child I would occasionally tune-in to Gone Fishin’, as the show was affectionately called. I remember being confounded when I watched his show. On the one hand it was like “watching paint dry”, and on the other hand it was informational and relaxing. Fishing didn’t grab me like it did Harold and a host of his dedicated followers. Perhaps my lack of success affected my enthusiasm. However, I was pretty good at snagging underwater brush.

Yesterday, as I watched the sun rise above the east treeline, I caught a glimpse of a couple fishermen. This fellow had just set-up on a small dock while the other fellow trolled the lake in his boat…he had a four-legged companion with him. I spoke with this man for a few minutes. We talked of the fantastic, unseasonably cool weather that encompassed our geography (men usually talk about weather). We also spoke of seizing opportunities such as the beautiful morning, a freshwater lake, and having the availability required to fish. We didn’t talk about CV19, politics, BLM or finances. Refreshing!

You will not find an epiphany in this post nor a judgement of any kind. Instead, I have chosen to share a mundane moment in time and place…with the under-current of exceptional. To rest in the midst of nature, commune with the Creator, and enjoy a brief interaction with another individual is sublime. Prior to this moment I spent an hour with a good friend, talking over coffee as the sun warmed our faces. I am blessed and take nothing for granted.

A Cardinal Moment

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Much can be said about the beauty of our feathered friends. The variety of shapes and sizes. The tail feathers. The varied beaks. Wing spans. The chirps and the songs. Their flight patterns and eating habits. Nest building and mating. Food choices.

The more colorful, the more timid (at least in our neighborhood). Cardinals are one such bird. They are a delight to witness when they choose to appear. Cardinals always seem to be in pairs. As in many of natures species, the male is the brighter of the two, but certainly no more important.

 

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It is unusual to find a Cardinal perched on a feeder. They normally forage on the ground or in trees and shrubs. For this male, the temptation must have been too great to be relegated to bottom feeding. As for the female, she chose to dine with company !

 

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Photograph disclaimer: These two were shot through a glass door and with zero-time to prepare which translates to not-so-vivid images. We enjoyed them anyway. Always a blessing to see God’s handiwork in action.

 

May you find color in life today.

Social Distancing Nature’s Way

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Does it seem ironic that much of the world is experiencing this viral pandemic during the Spring season? At the very least most people can step outdoors and inhale fresh air, take a walk and enjoy the beauty of God’s colorful creation. Contemplate the advent of this virus in December and carried on through the winter months. I submit to all that that scenario would create much greater stress than the present. Don’t misunderstand, I do not minimize the current situation, but it could be worsened by the season.

Nature hasn’t seemed to be affected by COVID-19; grass grows, flowers sprout, squirrels play, birds build nests and lay eggs. In more remote areas, lions still roar, monkeys swing in trees, whales traverse the ocean depths and reptiles catch their prey. This lone morning dove has chosen to do what comes natural every year…lay eggs and hatch them. Social distancing is a natural thing for much of the Animal Kingdom.

To be totally honest, I am a bit tired of all the overused buzz words we hear a multitude of times each week. Words and phrases like: new normal; N95 masks; six foot rule; zoom meetings; essential services; sanitize; hoarding; scamming; isolating; etc. All apply, but to what degree? Job loss is real. Businesses will fail, millions will be unemployed in the future, just as they are now. Yet, I see so many folks treat this pandemic like a holiday. I work in an essential service industry and DIY projects are the “thing” right now, but this will pass as the virus continues to reek havoc in our world. People will really suffer if this pandemic continues for many more months.

On a more positive note, I am encouraged by the sense of unity, cooperation, sacrifice, ingenuity, beauty and positive social change which is taking shape around the world. We truly have become a global community. Wouldn’t that be grand if this dynamic continued after this germ is eradicated? Until then, look to nature for inspiration. My dove has distanced herself far enough to be kept from harm, but close enough to be seen and heard. May we learn from her.

 

 

Four Seasons

Much has been written about the four seasons of our lives and of nature. Hence, even the calendar is based upon the stars and seasons: Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox & Summer Solstice. I list these as they come at this time, and since summer is officially over (at least in the northern hemisphere) we enter the season of Autumn or Fall. Our lives correlate to nature’s seasons rather well.

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Actually, all life begins in the spring season when we are conceived, born and we begin our early years of development. I realize that some creatures begin their lives in different seasons, but I am basing my dialog on human beings. At this stage of the cycle of life we are filled with wonderment and often joy. I know, there are so many children whose lives appear to be anything but joyful. However, I have seen children in slums who find joy in the most dire circumstances. They inspire me.

Then comes Summer which welcomes the developing years of one’s life. This season is filled with activity, learning, and blessings. The later part of Summer involves adolescence and the challenges and excitement which accompany this season of life. Funny, how so many of us reflect upon this season most fondly as we grow older. Based on experience, please enjoy, but be careful as risks are often taken without any thought of danger…I am a living example!

Autumn comes next as these are the middle-aged years of one’s life. I now have two grandchildren who “knock my socks off” when I get to spend time with them. This is a joy-filled, and a reflective season, and is usually accompanied by many memories of raising our children. I believe it to be my most favored season …especially because I relate to nature so closely and the change of this season is so dramatic.

Winter follows and we experience the cleansing of new fallen snow and arctic blasts of air which cleanse the mind and spirit. It is also when we realize that this is the last season and we best make the most of it. Family and friends are most important during this time. Far too often we succumb to physical and mental illnesses which cause alarm among all who care. However, we were never promised an eternal life while enveloped in these bodies of flesh and bones.

This photograph was taken a few days ago and reflects nature’s changing personality during the season from Summer to Fall. I captured this image with my cell phone camera and admit it is nothing spectacular. Yet, I like it because it reveals an authentic representation of our reality, and of our seasons. So, whatever season of life you find yourself in, I encourage you to stop and enjoy it. As is so often stated, “Time flies”. There are no do-overs in life, only restarts!

Last Hurrah

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Sometimes photographs don’t need much, if any, commentary. I am fortunate that I follow many talented photographers who provide excellent images and equally titillating commentary. I don’t know if this image even comes close, but I like it (if that counts).

These blossoms may be this year’s last salute to a pleasant summer for us in the Midwestern United States. These Geraniums have bloomed several times, but I think this will be their last until Spring. Hence, the hurrah!

I think sometimes we, as people, reflect the natural environment around us…or could it be the other way around? Either way, I pray Texans will see such beauty again and soon after the flood waters recede.

To Everything There is a Season

To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn

And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant, and a time to reap

A time to kill, and a time to heal

A time to laugh, and a time to weep

To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn

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Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons; amongst the greatest is the change in tree and shrub foliage. I love greens all summer long, and hate to see them turn to browns and greys in the winter, but before this occurs we are treated with a spectacle of color painted by nature herself. Consider the variety of vegetation coupled with an inexhaustible array of colors that man can mimic, but never duplicate in such exquisite beauty.

The words above are from a song made famous by a rock group called The Byrds in 1965. The lyrics are from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Pete Seeger, a singer-songwriter took these words and crafted this song which became an anti-Vietnam War song. The last verse says that peace is never too late.

It becomes obvious to me that these words are timeless in their meaning and interpretations according to the era they are read and pondered. We know not what is in store for any of us…only One has such knowledge. We can plan and prepare, discuss and implement, but we never really control most of the outcomes of our lives. Some will disagree, of course, and that’s okay. Each of us views life from different lenses. My perspective comes from several sources: my own experiences and seeing those of others, plus my reference point concerning all things-God.

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Change starts one leaf at a time, and before you know it, the whole tree is ablaze in color! May this season of your life be full of growth, peace and an abundance of blessings.

Morning Glory !

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Among the dried stocks with ears of hardened feed corn climbs a lone Morning Glory vine with a single flower ready to bloom.

The living among the dead. A splash of color against the drabness of the crunchy husks.

The good earth and just enough rain to produce new life while the planted crop ceases to grow further.

The cycle of planting, growing and reaping will repeat itself only if the farmer performs his job of sowing every year. The growth is up to nature’s benevolence.

And, yet, as I gaze upon this Morning Glory inching its way up the stalk, there was no planting by man; this occurs only by nature as God has ordained.

Perhaps this vibrant flower and dying corn reveal the paradox we call life. From cradle to grave life is lived, and the cycle repeats.

When we thrive during the time allotted to each of us, bringing color into other’s lives, we  all benefit abundantly.

 

Please excuse the quality of this image as it was taken with my cell phone in bright daylight”

 

 

Emergence

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This Iris represents emergence…new life about to unfurl. Yes, this photo was taken in cooler days before the shadow of the sun reached its Solstice. Obviously, I live in the northern hemisphere and summer is well on her way.

I like nature…a lot. The beauty which surrounds me often overwhelms me. And, when I gaze upon my fellow bloggers sites and view wonderful posts, and look at photos my family or friends have taken at places I have yet to venture to, I am amazed. I find beauty whether I am in my backyard, at a city park, in the desert, among wheat fields, and especially near mountainous regions with crystal clear streams and glistening lakes.

Funny thing, but this post isn’t so much about nature. Actually, it is more about how it makes me feel. I would have enjoyed meeting John Muir and Ansel Adams. Oh, how they drank in their surroundings as they completely immersed themselves in their chosen environments. They were driven by a force I appreciate, and which continues to develop within me. Although I have not physically uprooted myself and journeyed to the wilderness for lengthy periods of time, my soul has.

When I step out onto my deck in the early morning hours-before the sun has risen-I feel a sense of wonder that can only be satisfied by absorbing my surroundings through all of my senses. Then, when the first rays of sunlight filter through the trees, I marvel at the sparkling dew-laden grass, and feel the warmth of the rays touching my skin. I hear the song of robins and watch squirrels chase one another. I feel the breeze wisp through leaf laden branches and witness ants traversing the deck railings down to their home. Carson sniffs where a rabbit had laid and a hawk circles above looking for him.

I return inside to prepare for what awaits me at work or whatever I need to do this particular morning. I am not the same, though. Inhaling nature’s grandeur-even in my backyard-fills me with appreciation and gladness, and a sense of peace comes over me. Then, I thank God.