Saturday, October 31, 2009

Perceptions in the Dark

Years ago, my momma had eye surgery that left her eyes patched for a time. Her other senses were greatly heightened with her vision shut off from the light. She tells how noisy the hospital ward was at night & of the nearly silent padding of the nurses' rubber-soled feet as they made their rounds.*
Once, the beaver slapped a warning as he overheard the night-time whispers I shared with my brother, high atop the ridge. I have been venturing forth to the lake by moonlight, or no light, this past week. Traversing the path, my feet & pants are already soaked by the time I reach the water's edge. I have noticed how the eye is drawn to any light it can find while in the dark. In drawing, I have been teaching of the use of value. "The brain perceives light as close & that darker shades recede." As I stare motionlessly at the lake, I must be intentional to keep my eye focused on the mirror-like surface. It takes all of my resolve to keep my eye from passing car & train lights, or from traveling to the dam's pale, reflection.
The late change to daylight savings' time has led me to the lake too early to witness much beaver activity. Though out of my view, I have had some wonderful sightings as they work to cover the entrances to their tunnels for hibernation. Sitting on the landing, with but a small clump of brush between us, I can now discern many of their sounds. There are different & distinct blurps as air bubbles break the surface upon their entry or exit from their burrow. The gentle dragging of branches into place is nearly inaudible. There are both grinding & scraping sounds. All are very slow & deliberate. It is amazing, & a little unsettling, knowing they are so close & sharing the bank with me. The sound of small trees being felled across the water is done in such a way as to be nearly silent. Beavers truly do live up to their reputation of being "shy & reclusive". I love the challenge of watching them & feel honored when I am blessed to do so.

I can only make this image out when it is sized to full screen & I am sitting in a darkened room. I sized it larger than usual in hopes of sharing with you some of night's beauty on the lake. (It would be amazing if printed to it's original size of 38"x 50.33"!) To my surprise, this post-dusk image appears to have captured a beaver! Holding the camera steady, propped between my knees, took much of my attention... but, what looks like a beaver appears in only once in a series of 18. Perhaps he broke the surface, & upon seeing me, slipped silently back under, undetected as my eye was drawn to a shimmering silver wake farther out. This is the 2nd to last photo & the only one with the darkened silhouette. The shot that follows has a shadowed wake. Though unseen by my eye, my camera seems to have captured him !

* (Please keep her in prayer as she faces life-changing eye surgery on Monday.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Impressionist Watch

Sunday evening, as the sun began it's descent in the west, I headed east. I stood in the open air, away from the forest, watching the sky. It was absolutely a glorious show !!! I stood in the middle of the street, transfixed. So many passed by with barely a glance...but I saved a wee taste for you.

As the colors receded to the west, I headed that direction. The lake was positively rich in hue !!!! I shot the sky as it lit up orange & pink behind the autumn foliage, & still on long after the trees were but silhouettes. Years of checking my loathed watch have paid off. I headed to the landing at just the right moment. I sat but 5 minutes in rapt awe of the changing sky & water, when the beaver silently swam out before me !!!! Awesome end to a fantabulous weekend !!!!

Weekend of Wonders

When I finally arrived home Friday, it was dusk. I climbed out of my car & headed for the trash can. The recycle bin stood between & directly before me. Without warning, a black shadow leapt up, literally causing me to cry out in alarm. He had been completely hidden inside the bin as he licked at the empty cans of soup. Young, hungry & alone, he slept in our carport that night. Little did we know, he had finally found his home. Investigation with neighbors concluded that he was dumped off up on the highway. Long story, short: brother Wesley has a new puppy! How hilariously joyful it is to watch this one bound around & make friends !...So uplifting !!! A new, next-door neighbor !

We said farewell to soccer season & basketball season began. The sky was rich, "Carolina Blue" & dappled with large, cummula-cirrus clouds. Above shows the backdrop for the first practice. Needless top say, I had a difficult time watching my son play...Bit, I did some hawk watching, while below & out of this shot, geese & ducks honked away!!!

I went to my first pig-picking. A woman clad in prison tattoos & I watched the sun & clouds as they changed colors. Many people may have avoided her because of her looks, but she witnessed to me. We gazed out over the pond, watching the "long light" of evening play on the leaves. As I pointed out the changing hues she repeatedly pointed to the clouds & dreamily said, "THAT ! Is a little piece of what heaven's going to be like". Hallelujah!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autumn Mist

Leaving for home on Friday, I started my van, then paused...the sky was overcast and the evening light was a great setting for the near-fluorescent maples that were bursting with joyful praise. One of my favorite songs, "Drowned" by Chasen, was playing on the radio. I cranked it up, grabbed my camera & headed across the parking lot on foot. I shot a hundred or so images in the fading light, before heading home. It was awesome !
The autumn color is just truly, coming in & I stopped 2 more times on the 3 1/2 mile ride home. As I approached my turn into the neighborhood, the lake view stopped me. I pulled onto the side of the bridge. Keeping an eye in the rear-view mirror, I slowly coasted back towards the middle of the span. Heels or not, I waited for a break in traffic, grabbed the Olympus & ran across towards the dam. As I shot, cars & even trucks traveling over 50 m.p.h. rumbled & shook the pavement beneath me. It was absolutely exhilarating ! The middle school & maple shots took their toll. I captured very few images before my batteries gave out. For some reason, traffic was picking up & I felt a little too vulnerable to stay for replacement batteries in the rapidly fading light. The river view behind me also had a beautiful mist rising amongst yellow foliage. It was awesome, inspiring, scary-in-a-good-way & uplifting !!!! but, in all honesty...the real reason I stopped, was to share this with you.

[To get your bearings, my home is to the far right out of these shots. The landing & little cove where I typically "watch" are to the right as well. The second shot shows the far tip of Beaver Point & this is the view up river of the lake.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Wednesday is not my favorite day of the week. Yesterday was to be a particularly long one. As you know, the day began with uplifting star-gazing. I didn't want to lose the positive momentum as I faced classes all day, a staff meeting followed by mountains of homework. At the end of my first class, I called out, "Have a great weekend!" The kids replied in unison, "But, it's only Wednesday!"...."Yeah, but let's pretend it's Friday. Doesn't that make you feel better?" After a pause they replied in one voice, "Have a great weekend!". They left with big smiles on their faces...I carried that out throughout all of my classes with the same reaction. One more day to go until we have "home days"...HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More On Stars

I have been told there was a meteor shower last night. This explains something of what I saw this morning, but I still did not understand the flashes that I saw. This evening, London & I sat out on the porch swing & watched in hope of seeing some debris from the previous night's shower. London expressed concern over a meteor hitting the earth. (side-effect of too many sci-fi movies). My daddy was an engineer for NASA for many years, so I called & asked him about the odd flashes that I had seen. He described them to me before I could do so to him. He said they are when a meteor hits the atmosphere & burns up. I was able to turn to London & further allay his fears as, "even grandaddy says so." (God's timing never eases to amaze me!)
My day ended as it had begun...with a brilliant blue-white streak shooting across the autumnal, night sky ! London, too, had his first-ever shooting star sighting !! It's ALL good !!!

Pre-Dawn Sky

It was a crystal clear morning & the stars shone brightly above the silhouetted forest. Orion stood watch overhead, the pleides were visible & stars all around were arrayed in varying hues. Suddenly, the western sky lit up as though a flash of lightening. The dark forest was silhouetted against the light & fully 40% of the sky lit up...twice!! I waited for the report, but no sound followed. I simply heard the sound of distant dog to the west & the splashing of the waterfall.An opossum or raccoon made his way through a nearby tree. I checked the time: 6:02. There was no point in looking further. Something like that wouldn't repeat. My eyes adjusted to the dark once more & to my amazement a shooting star darted across thew sky, directly overhead! What a blessed way to start my day !!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Energizing Light

Tom & I arranged things so that I could come home to an empty house. I needed some time for reflection. After a 10 hour day I wanted to nap...but I mustered my energy & began to wander...& wander some more, until I found myself sitting on the dock after the sun had dropped. My beloved Juliette & I cuddled while we watched the evening show.
I saw some "pinwheels" in the water. They are made by front & back ends of a fish in motion. Sometimes they become 2 vortexes rather than a pinwheel. A male cardinal shrieked an alarm & the pair took off in the amber light. I noticed the steep ridge up to my home was aglow in golden light. The lake was mirror smooth, save for the occasional rings of fish nibbling & jumping. I watched as different groups of geese & ducks made their way across the skies, literally heading south. A lone duck made one last loop around the cove & headed back up-river. The bats came out, swooping so low that I could hear the flap of their wings. They looked rosy when the light caught them just right. I watched as a bat made several swipes across the lake, leaving a wake...taking a drink? I suppose they have to get liquid somewhere. The birds grew silent, the last squirrel scurried up to his nest above me, & the insects began their night song.
I returned home past dark & found myself rejuvenated & awake. I also discovered a spray of flowers, a gift & a card from my beloved husband...on the occasion of our 18th anniversary. The best gift of all, however was the gift of some time on the mirrored lake.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Change or Control?

As you know, I've been wrestling with a lot of change in recent months. New neighbors put up boundaries towards the lake which drove me back to the pond. Others have razed wildlife habitats I once reveled in watching at the pond. Places of worship & praise have become unutterably altered or out of reach. This morning, I decided to feed Megan's final descendant. Closing my eyes to the vinyl siding, I headed down. Hawks symbolize comfort & hope for me, but when buzzards are here they are no where to be found. A buzzard flew just above me, lower than I have ever witnessed.Just then, the door opened to the nearby letting my aging "puppy" & I know that she is no longer welcome where she once laughed happily, chasing the ducks back into the water....

As I walked her home, my mind went back to a conversation I had the other night. I shared with a young woman about a past, & very, deep hurt. "For years", I told her, "I hated the color orange until I put it together with the past incident. Now it has become very symbolic in my art." I confided to her that, " I am a 'survivor' but it really is an issue about control. Though it happened decades ago, control issues can bring up old scars."

BAM ! It hit me ! My brother recently pointed out how I *DO* jump in to new things & it isn't accurate to say that I don't like change. Perhaps what I am wrestling with is more of a lack of control than it is change. Perhaps I am falling back into the habit of being a victim rather than a survivor.....TIME TO TAKE BACK CONTROL ! First step, pray & LISTEN more for His Holy guidance !

Peace Turned Upside-Down

Some time after we moved in the little girl who lived on the pond brought home a few ducklings. Her favorite was the beautiful, white one she called, "Megan". Gray & silver foxes, hawks, & even an occasional visit from a coyote kept the population under control. My own eyes have witnessed Great Blue Herons & large fish pick off ducklings as they swam in line behind their momma. The little girl was very protective, as well as creative & successfully kept away as many daytime predators as possible. This resulted in a run away population. 2 years ago, our highest, confirmed & accurate count was 38 muscovies & 2 mallards: far too many for the 2+ acre lake. It was difficult to fish with the muscovies there, but we so enjoyed feeding the gentle creatures by hand. We came to know many of their individual personalities & we named them. We knew the shy ones & the sneaky ones, the bold & the gentle. As we gained their trust some would climb on our laps to eat from our hand.
Fearful people moved in next to the pond & we lived a nightmare for many months. The mallards took flight & the near-flightless muscovies were easy targets. Children were held captive in their homes as rifles fired pellets through our once peaceful corner of the world. Soon, others joined in the slaughter. Even when presented with a copy of the law, the police simply passed us along from one department to another. Ducks were found beaten & kicked to death leaving bloody trails. We feared what sort of person could do this. We shared Bible studies with the little girl, her family & other neighbors. We sought God's guidance on what to do with bullies & how He could bring us out of this. We wrestled with the difference between righteous & unwarranted anger. We prayed communally for the neighborhood & for God's presence here. Over 30 ducks were killed before the terror stopped. Weeks later, the last to be killed, were shot while roosting in the locust tree that once draped in & out of the water. The gentlest of all, they would climb on our laps to be fed. It was late at night & no one knew I heard them killed as a party game. Another neighbor & I retrieved the bodies long before sun-up on Easter morning, before the little girl would find them.
God provides creative solutions & often with great humor. After the terror ceased, a pair of mallards (unquestionably protected by law) joined Megan's 3 remaining descendants. The mallards now number 7, though the muscovy population has dwindled to 3. Nancy, Poppa & Sister roosted on the grated drain, safely away from natural predators. They became a part of my predawn prayer time. Poppa & Nancy have been missing now for several weeks & there remains one final hint of Megan's white touch upon the life of the neighborhood....a little girl's first experience at mothering.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


The fields & forests are full of whites & golds. The trees are beginning to show God's autumnal painting hues & it's the season to pet bumblebees. I was so happy that my son remembered that.

I have written before of the "troop movements" of the blackbirds. I was able to share one such moment with my brother the other day. The image doesn't do any sort of justice. We stood on my deck & the trees were literally filled with them...constant motion...hundreds chittering & calling as they came in droves, from tree to tree. This one lasted 20 minutes & we stayed for the entire show.

The geese are beginning to travel in groups across the skies. I caught this one at a soccer game. For years a pair of Canadians have over-wintered at the pond around the corner. They make daily trips across the skies to a small lake next to our church. We know it is the same pair & I think that is awesome! Every year they show up & stay just a bit too long. There is always a time when I begin to wonder if they will stay on...and a shortly after, they take off. So many changes have occurred so quickly at the little pond, I wonder if they will return. This last year, they had offspring for the first time. Perhaps that has changed their habits. It occurs to me, that just as I always wonder if they will stay, I always wonder if they will I will keep watching & listening for the " kids'" return...

Friday, October 16, 2009

When God Has Other Plans

We had guests this past week & all wanted to go on a watch. I wasn't sure how this would go over with the beavers, who are shy & elusive, but 6 of us headed down at just the right time. As we sat on the landing, I drifted immediately into the amazement of the mirrored evening. I was in "the zone", talking with my Lord & aware of every subtle change in the reflection of the evening sky. If we were quiet enough the first beaver would glide across right before our eyes. I prayed fervently for God to grant them this blessing.
I realized that I can discern between the rings left by different parts or different movements of fish under the water. I saw 3 "pinwheels" but inches from the shore. This has left me all the more perplexed as to what, or who is making them.
As folks grew restless I wondered if we had been too late. The dawn had been dark & the beavers may well have slept in this evening. Instinct told me that the sound of many feet so close above their burrow had given us away. How does sound travel underground? 15 minutes...they wait 15 minutes after a warning or alarm. As the darkness settled, 4 of our troupe headed back. It would be another 15 minutes....or would the beavers think we had all gone? YES ! Within moments, the young man who had remained with me spied their wakes. Both beavers had traveled a different route & now swam out in open water. I had wanted everyone to have the memory of a beaver swimming right across in front of them, or even a distant glimpse, but God had other plans.
Sometimes sharing silence can create a greater bond than the deepest of conversations. This young man, the last hold-out on the evening watch, has a heavy burden & faces difficult choices. In the silent watching we shared, God forged a connection for him to later unburden his heart. We sat up well past my early morning rising time as he shared with me the wrestlings of his spirit.
I firmly believe that when someone goes to another "for advice" they really have their own answers. People usually just need someone to reflect back what they share. That will guide them to what they already know. Choices that we face that are heavily laden with emotion are the most difficult for us to find our way through. Jesus himself said not to rely on our feelings, for the adversary uses them so well against us. We need the quiet of others to help us return to our path. God has written His word upon our hearts & grants us discernment when we ask...and often, shared silences to help us find our way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stress Relief

I had absolutely given up shooting roses. They've been done so much & I just can never seem to get some new that excites me. Last week, I cam out of a particularly stressful meeting & was greeted by a small rose garden with some fun colored ones. I shot away my anxiety & was shocked when I returned home to find some really, really sweet ones. I have a good dozen that I really like...but my husband helped me choose this one.
Around the time I started blogging, Tom rediscovered some long, lost friends at a funeral...much to my surprise, this woman in Maryland (whom I had ever met) new my blog..from someone in Vermont (that I also didn't know). I had only been posting for about 10 days. What a wonderful treat that they are able to stay with us this week !!! Tonight, we all went down to the landing to try to spy the beaver....6 of us in all. They were onto us. Moments after 4 headed back to the house, their son & I saw the pair of beavers sneak way across the mirror surface of the near darkened lake. It was neat, but I really want them to see them closer up. In any case, Stephanie agreed with me on the soft-focus one, so I am including it for your enjoyment. I think it captures more than a flower. It shares a moment...a feeling...another place & way of seeing. I hope you like it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deck Watching

Last night, London & I were in relaxing after a long day. Tom shouted in the back door for us to hurry outside. God was painting & He put on a spectacular show !!!! We all stopped what we were doing, sat out on the deck & watched together. It was AWESOME!
I had knowingly walked passed my camera & it was only later that I retrieved it for theswe images. They just do not do justice to what God had for us ! Just as our life here is nothing compared to the Glory we will one day share with Him.

This evening, both beavers made their way up into our cove & were spied from our deck. It is getting to be that time of year again.

Breaking the Surface

Decades ago, my grandmother was resuscitated after a massive heart attack & was, "never the same afterward". She would smile a look of absolute peace & say, "I've seen the pearly gates & I never want to come back here again." Some months or years later, she put on one of her finest dresses, complete with matching shoes, purse & hat. Leaving the door to her apartment ajar, she laid down on the couch & finally went Home.
It is early morning & I see the flash of a small fish shoot across the surface of the water.Chased by a predator called Death, he catches a brief glimpse of another world. Though full of fear, I imagine his delight & awe at the many colors he has never seen before. Fish continue to break the surface all across the lake. I can't help but see the analogy in this as I reflect on the preview my grandmother had of another world.

How do people who don't know Christ cope with death? They see it as a permanent loss not only for themselves, but for the person who has died, & even for the world. For those who know Christ, it is but a temporary loss, but full of hope knowing our loved one is in a place of absolute joy, with no more tears, nor pain, nor suffering. One day, people may believe that I was stolen by Death, but I will have just begun my real life...I won't be simply, "at peace". I will be "in joy!." Selah !

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unexpected Journey

How many times in my life have I turned away from something in denial? Closed my thoughts to some impending fate that I have the power to change, but "not time" or energy? Some pain that I just "can't handle right now"....and more often than not, something I just don't want to accept..."Perhaps it will go away if I don't give it any energy"...If I don't accept it, it isn't real.....
Then the phone rings & the doctor gives you 24-48 hours. In a whirlwind, you find yourself rushing down 95, driving all through the night. Did the doctor say that dad has but that short a time, or that those are the critical times for him to pull through? It all happened so fast & suddenly, I am on a car ride that leads me to a place where I cannot know the outcome....I want to wake up & find this is a dream...I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to close down & close off....& still the car drones on.
My thoughts & prayers are with you, my dear, friend. Selah!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Storm Watching

We have been in drought for around 10 years. This past spring, we had a wonderful cycle of thunderstorms ! I love them. I stand in the sliding door, or go out on the deck & watch with building excitement as they ride in from the west....will they bypass us & blow north, as they so often do? I can usually tell from a long distance, if they will come our way. As the thunder & lightening crashes all around our forest home, I rush out to the carport to watch & listen. My daddy & big brothers modeled this for me throughout my life. I am still filled with excitement & energy as the storm crashes all around. Our home is on a ridge, level with the uppermost parts of much of the back forest. It is truly amazing to watch the trees whip & thrash, yet hold firm. What a metaphor!

Once this summer, I watched as the dense, front-line moved past, revealing a crystal clear view of the stars. I studied the beautiful shades of gray in the clouds & the light of the storm front. I have always heard that lightening strikes more frequently off the edge of a storm. Counting it to be 3 miles past, I headed in. Before I made the door, a flash, boom & crackle sent my hairs on their very ends! From the safety of the carport, I discovered a sumac had been hit, just off the edge of our home. The uppermost twig gleamed blue & white, before changing to glowing shades of amber. 11:30 p.m. No going to sleep anytime soon after that surge of energy. I retrieved the binoculars & watched for ages as the finger sized twig turned from light to ember to char. It took me days to find that burnt twig, but I hunted it down. I am still hunting for one Tom heard a couple of weeks ago. I do things like that.

One afternoon, I was home alone & a particularly violent storm blew in. I stood in the carport shooting images of the forest.I continued shooting through mist, then rain & finally marble sized hail. I had to back up as the waters encroached. I had backed nearly half way through the carport, when I felt the same coming from behind. Wind-carried rain coming from 2 directions would send most running for cover. I will say, this was a rare moment of exhilarating fear of a storm for me. A massive crack & I watched as the top half of a massive pine snapped off. (The above image is what remained).It stood upright for the longest moment, just next to where it once was. It then crashed across the forest taking out several smaller trees in it's descent. (I think this image gives an idea of how large it was).That in itself was amazing, but the scary part was that at the same time, 3 smaller pines broke off & fell the opposite direction !!! It was a micro-burst & I stood but 50 yards away, watching. AWESOME!!!

Much of late summer was void of thunderstorms. The last few rain showers, however were accompanied by pouring sunshine. I just don't know how folks can rush by without stopping to marvel at such miracles !

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beaver Watch

A dense cloud cover muted nearly all light from the rapidly waning moon as I quickly pulled on jeans & a sweatshirt. I grabbed my camera, binoculars, & carry-along seat cushion that would protect me from the morning dew. Once clear of the forest's shadows, I comfortably made my way through the tall grasses with just enough light to discern the concrete landing as I approached it. I was just beyond where this shot was taken some months ago. (Concealed in the shadows to my left, was the scene I posted Sept. 29, "Why Get Up So Early?"). I have rushed up before & startled the beaver from the nearby bank. This time I paused in the grass before stealthily creeping across the landing to the water's edge & squatting down. While "watching", it is best to make only necessary movements & to make them in small increments.
I kept my eyes steadily on the area of the lake that shown with the reflection of the predawn sky. Before I could shift to sit, a v-shaped glint flashed across JUST the other side of the duck house. The water level was such that the beaver was a mere 20 feet from me!! & nearly at eye level!! He swam back & forth 3 times, scouting for hidden dangers. My presence went undiscovered & he sounded no alarm. The head & wake of his mate soon followed & headed directly across the lake. They were out for one last, relaxing swim before tucking themselves in their burrow for the hours of light. He remained, making short laps, back & forth, JUST before me !!!! Several times, he turned to face me, but the slight breeze was in my face & I made no move. Had he seen me, he would have sounded an alarm to his mate & disappeared under the surface. Knowing this, it was exhilarating, rather than chilling to have him so close & coming towards me. After upwards of 15 laps across a small part of my vision, he headed off to my left.
I knew they would be gone for some time, so I settled down, silently with my hot cup of coffee & my time alone with my Lord. I never took my eyes from the mirror-like surface of the lake. Not ten minutes later, he returned to swim in front of me another dozen-plus, laps. Once, rolled over revealing lighter colored fur under his chin. I have never heard this about beavers, but I can say with certainty that I have clearly seen it. After a few more laps, he abruptly stopped & stared directly at me. I was no longer concealed by darkness. I braced myself for the impending slap of the water from his tail, a signal to his mate to stay away. It is quite like someone has dropped a bowling ball from a great height & is even more amazing so close. I sat for some 15 minutes, before I saw one of them make their way to the far end of the wooded point. After some time, I heard the bubbles as one, or both, descended into the tunnels of their burrow. What an awesome way to start my day!!!!!
After a very long & full day, I headed out to regather my peace & watch the final rays of the set sun light up the uppermost clouds. I had hardly made it to the lake's edge when the she-beaver made her way across to the big forest. The male always heads out first, in a particular path to check for danger. When it is clear, she follows along a diagonal line towards the forest. This is the only way I can tell one from another. I felt so very, very blessed to end my day as it had begun...blessed by the furry, little nose & shimmering wake of one my neighbors, the beavers.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Forest Bling at the Springs (for Randy)

Insect life is a wonder to watch. Here are some images I captured while we were in Florida. We saw several of these beautiful, jewel-like beetles, that are over an inch long. There are dragon & damsel flies of all colors & sizes. There are gorgeous butterflies & moths arrayed in an amazing variety of textures & tones. Multi-colored banana spiders harmlessly adorn the forest with their beautiful webs.

I was able to capture images of both male & female cow-killers. Here is a male. They are hard to shoot as they are so fast.

Bubbles in the Mist

I awoke convinced that I had slept in & dawn's first light was already aglow. It was however, the harvest moon shrouded in fog. Do you remember "Moment of Glory" on March 20th? The sun's first rays lit up every droplet of water in the forest air. Early this morning, before the world of man was awake, the harvest moon shone brightly, amplified in it's radiance by the moisture in the air. I sat listening to the sounds of the forest. The insects had not yet begun their song & all was quiet. An owl hooted now & again, from various place. From the forest floor & aloft in the trees, I heard the occasional rustle of leaves & snapping of twigs. I wondered who was working or hunting. Beaver or fox? Raccoon or opossum? Perhaps the coyote had made his way down, or the deer were back. I heard a small tree or branch crack & fall from far off near the beaver's burrow.
When the moon was fully engulfed by the cloud, I brought out a ceramic tray of candles & wrote in my journal. The night was so silent that I could hear the sounds of an animal scratching himself. I heard nibbles upon ripened walnuts & periodic thuds as the nuts crashed to the ground. From far across the lake, I heard the rooster's call. Coming from the same place, it is a new voice this year, though I always hear one during the colder months of the year. The insect chorus began their predawn praise & when dawn's light finally began to turn the sky a faint blue, I headed to the lake.

Once on the dock, I sat patiently, watching as leaves & all manner of things slowly drifted past me into the cove. The mallards flew through piercing the silence with their chatter & rush of wings. A slight breeze caught water droplets releasing them from the foliage. The water tensions was such that the droplets momentarily held as large bubbles before bursting into widening ripples. I stalked the bubbles for ages, peering through the lens & praying to get some balanced shots of them poised atop the water. As I waited, I listened to the calls of the heron, the kingfisher & various woodpeckers. The mallards passed through again, before heading upstream. Upon later investigation, I found evidence that the beaver had, in fact been hard at work, shoring up his home for his winter rest.

Introducing Spot

I used to keep upwards of 5 aquariums of fish. Over the years, that has dwindled to one 50 gallon tank & I recently gave that away. It has been replaced by the gift of a 29 tall, which is better suited for us. We made a big occasion of our outing, but at last the day came. We returned home with 3, tiny, angel fish, 1 pleco & mommy's old favorite, a deep, blue beta which we added to our remaining pims.

The (hideously ugly) albino frogs, P.J. & D.J., have passed on & we also returned with Spot, a fire-bellied toad. London filled out his first official, triplicate paperwork & as the cashier rang us up, Spot could be seen in his container, trying to climb up. Dallying around in her purse, the woman ahead of us asked if he should have hands. I looked at London, then to the cashier, who picked up the phone as she cast me a panicked look. The swat team from the fish department arrived promptly, retrieved Spot & disappeared in a whirlwind. They returned with the manager who apologetically told us that we could not buy Spot, as he was considered, "damaged"...We could however, adopt him for free. In a pleading tone, London cried out, "We just have to adopt him! Who else would take a toad without hands?!?!!!" Spot now resides in the last of our "guest tanks". Jumping & climbing with great ease, he remains unaware that he is "damaged". We love watching him leap on unsuspecting crickets, who vanish before our eyes. Great fun!