Goodbye Summer, we hardly knew ya’

Summer was like a shy stranger, here in the Virginia highlands: she sometimes waved from the distance but never really joined the dance. And now it appears she took the fast train South, leaving behind her blooming meadows which thrived despite her benign neglect.

Field of wildflowers

Field of wildflowers

Can you believe she just up and left?

Goldenrod behind the fence

Goldenrod behind the fence

How could she leave all of this behind?

Late summer wildflowers

Late summer wildflowers

Her pink and white dresses strewn across the field, recklessly:

Pink grasses and fleabane

Pink grasses and fleabane

And so much yellow, her favorite color – probably because she really adores Sunshine, her elder sister:

Yellow wildflowers

Yellow wildflowers

I wished you’d stayed a bit longer….I had my patio table set up and kept watermelon juice with mint leaves in the fridge, in case you came over for a visit.

At least say hello to my Australian friends when you see them.

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Migration

A few days ago, I noticed a large flock of birds, high up in the tree tops. Their chatter was very different from what I had been hearing all summer – a delightful, high-spirited zee. They flitted back and forth between the branches unable to sit still for very long. A small group flew to the next tree, followed by another little group. They were in constant motion. Before long, they were all gone.

birds in the tree tops

I did not know who these winged visitors were until I uploaded the photos and zoomed in on them. The pictures may be a bit blurry but I was delighted to recognize them as Cedar Waxwings. You can see the yellow band at the tip of the tail and the red (“waxy”) tips on their wing feathers. The juveniles are softly streaked.

Apparently, they were resting a bit during their long flight from Canada to Central America and maybe catching a few insects or leftover wild cherries for a quick snack.

May their journey be swift and may they all reach their winter destination together. Thank you for the delightful afternoon entertainment.

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Humanity at Play

I have always been fascinated by play. As a mental health professional, I was trained to assess how a child’s play reflected his developmental level and contained clues to her ability to connect, be creative, express traumatic experiences, neurological issues, and more. Nowadays, though, I enjoy just watching children immersed in play – the way they give themselves to an activity tuning out everything else.

But play is not just for children. As adults, we must continue to play. We have many reasons for playing: stress control, pure fun, staying in shape, expressing our creativity, connecting with other people, to be entertained, seeing and experiencing new places and cultures, expressing a ceremonial aspect of our own culture – all of these are forms of adult play.

Some of us draw a distinct line between work and play; the two don’t mix. Play only happens after work, on vacation, or weekends. For others, work and play blend together. They love their work so much that it feels like play, or their play turns into an activity or product that then can be marketed.

Animals always seem to invite us to play and be in the moment with them.

Many of us are drawn to water and we can play in and with water in a myriad of ways:

Sometimes, we “play” by strolling around, hanging out together, resting on a park bench, or reading:

Sometimes we play by crafting a painting, a birdhouse, a shed, or tinkering and fixing things:

We play by physically exerting ourselves, either alone or in groups:

We either entertain others or we are being entertained:

Another important form of play that transmits cultural and religious identities are the various celebrations and rituals we engage in, special foods we may cook, festivals we attend, holiday customs we observe:

My favorite ways to play are taking photographs, writing, hiking, and traveling.

What are yours?

You can find more posts featuring images of humanity on the Weekly Photo Challenge.

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What’s that yellow, hairy thing on my porch?

I never know what I’ll find on my porch – possums, raccoons, a chipmunk hiding inside a shoe, bird feathers, cat vomit, hornets nest, ants drowned in the hummingbird feeder, a dead mouse on the doormat. The cats rule the porch except when other animals come to steal their food, then they act as if they never cared for the food in the first place.

Today, I found this fuzzy, lemon-colored creature crawling along the handle of a basket.

American dagger moth caterpillar

American dagger moth caterpillar

It looks like you could touch it and stroke its fluffy “fur.” But these American Dagger Moth caterpillars (Acronicta americana) are best left alone. Handling them might cause an allergic reaction. Despite their brilliant yellow color in their caterpillar incarnation, they do not turn into some fancy butterfly – just a big brown moth.

But while they are caterpillars, they do flaunt their beauty, don’t they?!

American dagger moth caterpillar upside down

Posted in Animals and Critters, Appalachia | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Forest Adventure

When the world becomes too noisy and cluttered, I visit a place so green and cool and quiet.

path into the woods

You only hear the wind wispering high above, in the tree tops, and sometimes a squirrel rustling through the leaves.

green spruce trees

Trees are silent companions:

dense spruce forest

Even your foot steps are muted, cushioned by soft moss.

magic of light on moss

When your neck starts aching a bit from looking up into the tall, tall trees,

you start to look down and notice the large, moss-covered boulders

path between rocks

Trees seem to grow from the rocks, roots gripping firmly

roots over rocks

so firmly that even after the giants fall, they won’t let go:

huge old rootball

Beyond the rocks, your eyes focus on even smaller details on the forest floor: mushrooms and fungi thrive in moist places

Wildflowers favor clearings and wood’s edge:

And where light filters through the dense canopy, it sparkles the path alive

path speckled with light and leaves

Your eyes feast on the lush, soul-nourishing green as if your life depended on it (and, of course, it does):

sunlight falling on mossy floor

Posted in Adventure, Appalachia, Flora, Healing Ourselves and the Planet, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments