31 entries categorized "nature"

In the Middle

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When I flew from Chicago to our home on the coast last week, there was an amazing sunset in the sky over Atlanta, complete with the brightest of stars, the planet Venus, I think. 

I've been mulling over this photo for the past week, along with a vertical one taken out of my airplane window a few minutes before...

image from www.flickr.com

...and I've been trying to come up with a brilliantly written post.

Sunsets like that should be accompanied by words about beginnings or endings or final days or some such, but.

We're just in the middle.

In the middle of our marriage.

In the middle of childrearing.

In the middle of our lives.

In the middle of making our million. 

...wait, no, actually, we're not even close to that.  Not a fraction of close to that.  I meant,we're..

In the middle of our dreams for the future.

In the middle of maturity.

So a sunset over Atlanta means, to me, that it's simply the middle of my journey from Chicago to Florida. 

There's nothing spectacular about the middle. 

It's not a fresh beginning.

It's not a satisfying ending.

The days can be ho-hum.

A moment is often the same as the last.

There aren't awards for being in the middle.

There aren't ribbons to cut.

But it's where we are. 

I like it here, in the middle.

It feels just right, for now.

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If Once You Have Slept On An Island

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"If once you have slept on an island

You'll never be quite the same;

You may look as you looked the day before

And go by the same old name.

You may bustle about the street or shop;

You may sit at home and sew,

But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls

Wherever your feet may go."

~ Rachel Fields, as quoted by Cynthia

(in this book)


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Her First Dawn

She wakes when Daddy wakes this morning, at 5am, when not only do I not want to get up, but the sun does not want to get up, either.  She's an entire-day-and-night person, who finds sleep a Great Inconvenience.  But her sleep-requiring body hasn't let her see a dawn in the seven years since she was a wee baby who didn't know 5am from 5pm, much to my unrest.

"Daddy goes to work in the middle of the night?!" are her first words today.  I'm not at the speaking stage of waking yet, but take her to an East-facing window where the teeniest bit of light can be seen in the otherwise black night.


After handing Daddy a homemade Egg McMuffin, a handful of grapes, and a cold water bottle, I suggest we go back to bed.  She can cozy up with me in our bed, if she wants.

The window is too much of a temptation.  She is fascinated by dawn, observing it from the window, until I take her by the hand to see the Morning Star (or is that Saturn?).  She likes the star/planet, but the eerie sounds of breaking dawn frighten her indoors.

We crack the door just a tiny bit to hear.  This is a lot less scary than standing outside in it.

Through the door's crack, we hear a coyote howl.  The door shuts.


Soon, I suggest that since it's becoming more light, the coyote might have gone to bed now.  She cracks the door open again.  An owl hoots, roosters crow, a turkey makes whatever sound turkeys make.  The cricket and frog sounds are fading.

Our world is brightening.

Soon, she tiptoes onto the veranda again.  It's safe now; the birds are singing.  A hummingbird buzzes to our nearby feeder.  The mosquitoes, alas, come to us for breakfast.

The river, the lowest point of our back yard, is still black, so she is still "just a little scared" of it.  "When it's not black," she says, "then it will be morning."

A few minutes later, I say, "It's morning, see, the river isn't dark anymore...you can see the leaves floating downstream.  But it's still early.  Let's go back to bed now."

"Oh, no we can't," she says, "It's morning now.  It's time for people to get up!"


It's 5pm now, and I'm tired.  5am is very early.

But I did so enjoy introducing our little gal to her first dawn.

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Worth Saving

Fort Morgan Alabama

Late April, I sat on this beach (which is really pure white, but curiously looks dirty in this photo -- I think shadows are causing that)....as I said, I sat on this beach at 5:30am in my bed clothes: a tank top, yoga pants and barefeet (I didn't know I was going to walk out on the beach --  my feet took me there before my eyes were quite awake). 

...I sat on this beach at 5:30am with -- you'll not believe this -- a sun rising in the East and a full moon setting in the West.  It was a scene so utterly beautiful that it bordered on surreal. 

The birds weren't quite up yet, at first.  Neither was the sun.  The sand was swept clear of footprints during the night, so that the only prints were those of coyotes, hermit crabs, and ...me.  When I first arrived, the moon and a single star were the most visible features in the sky.  They were surrounded by a white haze, then, as the sun rose, the star and moon faded into a blue-grey haze and finally tucked beneath the Earth.

Before the moon set, and while the sun was rising, colouring the Eastern horizon, pelicans arrived.  Pelicans always look like Jurassic birds to me, dinosaur-like.  They never fail to make me smile.  They flew in a line, one leading six or so across the sea in front of me. 

The seagulls arrived a bit later (they are apparently more lazy than the pelicans).  What the seagulls lack in early rising, they make up for in worship.  Gathered together by the hundreds, a large group met on an tidal island out in the Gulf a ways, while another group gathered on shore, not far from me.  They cackled and cawed and made such a ruckus that I'm sure they were having a worshipful songfest to start their day off right. 

Just when I thought all was perfect -- just when I was about to join the seagull's prayer meeting -- three dolphins swam across the horizon.  Really.  "If this was a movie, we'd roll our eyes at this point," I thought.  A sunrise on my left, a full setting moon and stars on my right, waves crashing, seagulls worshipping, pelicans flying, and... dolphins?  It was a little over-the-top, but in a perfect sort of way.

Just then a dolphin leaped out of the water.  (That was definitely over-the-top)

I couldn't be silent any longer.  With a quick glance at the beach houses behind me, to be sure I was still alone, I joined the seagulls in worship, singing quite loudly the song that came to mind first, which fittingly begins with these words:

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?

And who told the ocean you can only come this far?

And who showed the moon where to hide til evening?

Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives.

If I didn't know my Redeemer lives before the dawn of April 29th, 2010, I'd have realized it right then, right there on that Alabama beach. 

And that is why the Gulf Coast is worth saving from the oil spill. 

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Finally, finally, finally!  We've never waited so long for Spring, in all the years I can remember. 

image from www.flickr.com 
There is something about Spring that brings out the Spring Cleaning in me, even though we don't have a Northern-type Winter here on the Gulf Coast.  Today, I defrosted and cleaned out the deep freezer.  Who'd have ever guessed I'd wake up wanting to do that task?! 

Spring has a way of energizing me.  

Then again, Spring has a way of making me lazy.  I'm spending bucketloads of  time daydreaming and photographing flowers and watching birds lately. 

Has your Spring (and your "spring!") come yet? 

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A Baby Shark

All babies are cute, right?

Baby shark 1

Or maybe not.

image from www.flickr.com

This baby was so brave and fearsome in his teeny tiny sharky sort of way.  After our children pet it and pretended to be afraid of it (no longer pretending, I think, when it turned quickly with an open jaw), our friend set the baby shark loose into the Gulf of Mexico to grow larger and live to scare another day.

I hope to never see it when it grows larger, especially if it remembers one humiliating day when humans pet it and cooed, "Awwwww, you're soooo cute!"

Beauty in Winter

Winter here is a beautiful thing.  The air quality is pure so the sunlight shines through with a brilliance.  Oh, my, the light! The children hear me talk about it nearly every day.  Look at that dappled light!, I say, Look at the light rippling up in that tree, reflecting off the river!  They've caught the bug, too.  Yesterday our little guy ran for me, telling me to come quickly, there's a sun rain that you'll love!  I came too slowly for that, but he was still happy to show me that although it was raining steadily, our back yard was glowing.

Winter is pretty,  too, for the blooming camellias that make up for the many bare trees.  And colorful buds are forming on those bare trees, if we look closely enough. 

But to me, Winter is the most beautiful for the many visiting birds who use our area to go from North to South and South to North again.   Here is a fellow visitor:

He's a male robin, if I'm reading my bird book right.  He's eating the little fruits on our front yard Bradford Pear tree.  The children saw him first as they piled into the van to go to a ballet lesson and the library.  They were intrigued at his fearlessness, so when I arrived, keys in hand, they encouraged me to go back indoors to get my camera.  Sure enough, the little robin was happy to pose.

The bird book also says that we have some robins who stay here year-round, but that we get a large number of them in the winter.  As a Gulf Coast nearly-native, I say that we don't have any stay year-round, but only see them in the winter.  I wish I saw this fella every day of the year!  He's welcome to stay, but I know he must go...

...to you, maybe?

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Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

Last week, we spent some time searching for the perfect Christmas tree at a local tree farm ....

image from www.flickr.com

Christmas Tree Farm

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

What a tough decision!  We ended up choosing a live tree, as in, one growing in a bucket instead of in the ground (aren't they both "live," though?).  On December 26th, my man will plant it in the backyard alongside Christmas Tree 2008, which is currently adorned in red lights. 

This year, we bought a golden cypress, somewhat like the solo tree above.  Last year, we got a Caroline Sapphire, like those in the top photo.  Our plan is to keep buying live Christmas trees - a different variety each time - to put in our flower garden so that when the flowers die back, at least something is still pretty.  Eventually, we'll have a wee forest of Christmas trees to light up (hopefully not with red lights - that was absolutely not my decision).

The thing is, to make our plans work, I cannot forget to water the tree while it's in the house.  Right.  As if that's easy to remember in the busy holiday season. 

Did you get your tree already?