Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Into the Hills

The mountains have pulled on my heart-strings all Summer long.  I guess when the end of August approached, I felt an urgency to go into the hills, and so I did.

The Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blueride Parkway in North Carolina

The Devil’s Garden

Click on above image for a closer view of The Devil’s Garden Overlook

We first arrived at Stone Mountain state park in North Carolina without a reservation.  The trout-laden creek makes the area especially desirable to fisher-people (most of whom are men and boys).  The park ranger instructed us to keep driving north, which I didn’t mind too much.  The higher up we went, the cooler the weather became, and we found a nice little spot to camp. 

I’m not sure that the area we were in is specifically what the Cherokee called, Shoconage, meaning, “The Land of Blue Smoke,” but we did see the blue hue over the mountains and the clouds did look a bit like blue smoke.

My son and I went on our first mountain camping trip when he was only five years old.  I was pretty young myself.  We had joined a friend who was always saying that I should give camping a try.  He was right.

Oddly, after more than twenty years and many outdoor adventures later, I find myself longing for and returning to that same area of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, Doughton Park Recreation Area, where my son and I first camped with our friend. 

The rolling green hills and awesome views always make me feel like I’m in the right place.  Happily, my son still enjoys coming along with me to camp.

“What do you think would make you feel better?” my son had asked, several days before I decided to pack my gear and go camping.

“I’d like to sleep under the stars and wake up when the sun rises,” I told him.  “I want to feel the rhythm of nature.”

Little did I know that only a few days later, my wishes would come true.

We could only camp for a few nights.  Neither of us wanted to leave, but I hadn’t packed well enough to stay longer and was tired of driving to the store, which was twenty-some miles away.  Twenty mountain miles make for a pretty ride, but feel like fifty when you’re tired.

My favorite part of the trip was on the second day when my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk.  He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him in a long time.  We both remarked on the good night’s sleep we had each experienced.

There’s something about sleeping outdoors, feeling the wind blow, listening to the sound of nature without background noise and tuning into the rhythm of nature that brings clarity to the mind.  Perhaps Mother Nature unfolds a veil.

My next favorite part of our short trip was sitting by the fire, which was the night I removed the rain-fly from our tent, providing me with my second wish the following morning; an awesome view of the sun rising above the mountain. 

On our way home, we drove down to the creek at Stone Mountain State Park, where we spent the day by, “the small falls.”  We enjoyed local sour apples and tart blueberries.  My son and our dog rested on the flat rocks.  I chased a pretty little black and blue butterfly.

Water Energy is a Green Healing

The Small Falls

Butterfly Beautiful

Two children, a girl and an older boy, came to play and of course, they loved our dog, sweet little Ruthie Mae.  Everybody loves Ruthie. 

They were mountain people.  The boy looked about eleven years old. 

“You want me to take her down to the water for you?” he asked. 

Ruthie Mae feels my stress and one way she shows this is by pulling on her leash when we walk, which she’s been doing off and on for a couple of months.

“Sure,” I said to the boy. 

I trusted him right away with my dog, which is unusual.

“C’mon girl,” he said in a lovely Carolina mountain accent.  “C’mon now.  We’re gonna go right down here.  Okay?  There ya go.”

His way with her made me feel good.  I love seeing her happy and she was smiling.

I could tell he had been to those falls many times.  He had a sure foot and the younger girl with him did as well.  I liked him and so did Ruthie.

Ruthie’s enthusiastic walking didn’t seem to affect him.  He continued talking to her in his kind voice and down the craggy path they went toward a sandy spot by the water. 

“You’re really good with her,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I been ’round dogs all my life.  I can tell she’s a good one.” 

For a moment, I could imagine him being a grown man and what he would be like.  I imagined a gentle man in the making.

He and Ruthie Mae didn’t get to play together for long because his mother’s cell phone wouldn’t work.  I liked that mine didn’t work.  I figured the woman had to be available for some important reason. 

After the boy and his family left, Ruthie joined my son for a nap on one of the big flat rocks by the water.  He made a soft place for her and she cuddled up next to him.  I occupied myself chasing the pretty black and blue butterfly that liked the sand.

I wanted to stay.  I mean, I really wanted to stay and I almost did, but I had responsibilities waiting and not enough money to do whatever I wanted.  I wish I could go back and stay for the rest of Summer.

(You can click on any photo in the gallery to view a slide show)

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Green Healing ~ Tiny Light

A pretty little yellow bloomI am a tiny yellow flower!  I bloom now and again.  I live in a small clay pot and have two close neighbors.  They also live in clay.  One is a miniature rosebush.  She blooms tiny yellow flowers like me!

My other neighbor hasn’t bloomed yet.  We don’t know the plant’s family origin, but it has interesting rounded leaves that offer me a bit of shade.

We are a nice little community on the west side of a plant-lover’s deck.  We like our home and the clay that holds our roots together.

Our caretaker loves each of us, but I suspect she has a soft spot for me.  Her mother told her that I was, “just a weed,” and suggested that she, “pull me up.”  Obviously, this advice wasn’t taken and she let me grow.

Well, one day, I bloomed!  Our plant-loving caretaker was so surprised that she called her mother to tell of my appearance.

“Oh, Mother!” I heard her say.  “You should see how beautiful the little flower is!  It’s a lovely soft yellow and only last one day!”

I was proud to be talked about in such a grand way!  I started blooming more and more.  I love being a flower so appreciated and enjoyed.  My caretaker says I’m part of a Green Healing journey she’s on in life.  That makes me very special to her.

My name is unknown to me and my plant-loving caretaker, but that doesn’t matter.  I am an awesome tiny light; a soft bright spot on the west side of a lively deck!

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

Stately Winged in Carolina

The Stately and Lovely Northern Cardinal

In the first weeks of Spring, a female Cardinal started visiting my backyard.  She liked the fallen seeds below our bird feeder.  

Within days of her arrival, she had two bright and very handsome red suitors.

I watched for weeks as the two male Cardinals chased her through the edge of the woods, swooping from branch to branch, stopping momentarily to show off their plumage or grab the best perching seat.

The female Cardinal appeared to enjoy the chase.  From where I stood, her future looked pretty good.

I don’t know which of the two males finally got her attention, but on Mother’s Day, I was delighted when just before Dusk, I walked outside to catch the last of daylight and heard a symphony of unfamiliar sounds.  

I thought at first the frenzy was normal dinner-time excitement in the backyard.  I soon suspected something more special was going on out there.  And it was!

A female Cardinal was feeding a fledgling!  I could barely make out the color of the little bird, but I sure heard it, and siblings too! 

I felt a surge of delight.

Slowly, I walked a little closer to a nearby briar patch where the loud and persistent cries were coming from.  I hoped for a photograph.

A bright male Cardinal flew across the yard, landing clear on the other side.  I’m pretty sure he was asking me not to get one step closer to his family.  I returned to the view from my deck.

The cries of the young birds moved me.  Although, the fledglings made lots of noise, I had a feeling their tweets were more a communication of location and confident awaiting, rather than ones of unmet needs.  

The mother was surely capable of providing and proving as much to her new children!  She looked well-fed and strong, yet when she bent over to offer her little one a bit of food, it was with an amazing gentleness. 

My heart was struck with love.

I returned inside to give the beautiful family peace and privacy.  I watched from my kitchen window until dark.

What a terrific gift for Mother’s Day!

I’ve seen many beautiful birds so far this Spring, but I must say, like my Winter resident, the American Robin, the Northern Cardinal has captured my heart.

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

A Backporch View

Little Red One (LRO)!

small red winged

“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird . . . So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
Richard P. Feynman

LRO!

“You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…  ~Walt Whitman, Specimen Days, “Birds – And a Caution”

PHOTOS by Michelle for dogkisses, the blog.

QUOTES:

  All Great Quotes

  The Quote Garden

A Green Healing Backyard Beauty



Wishing you beautiful days in Nature!

 

Green Healing ~ The Feeder

I think I’ve said this before in my blog, but I can’t believe the beauty that one bird feeder has brought into my daily life!  It is a blessing, for sure.

Life has been hard lately.  Pain has been nearly constant and my level of fatigue has been off the scales.  I am truly, exhausted. 

Honestly, I don’t feel much like talking (or writing) about my level of pain these days.  It is rather depressing, but when things get better, I look forward to saying, I made it! 

Now, about the feeder and the beautiful wild fliers that have come to visit.  (See the photo gallery at the end of this post).

I’ve started to recognize the sounds of a few birds, particularly the Red-bellied Woodpecker.  I love seeing that bird!  I think I may have seen some little ones today and they were mighty cute little birds, but I’m too exhausted to identify my beautiful feathered friends.

The finches are easily recognized and lots of fun.  They are the least afraid and let me get pretty close to take photos.  They look at me too, which is pretty cool. 

The one bird I can’t get a good photo of is the Cardinal.  They fly away as soon as my hand goes for the camera.  There are two males having much fun chasing two females.  Their red wings are magical when they swiftly breeze by into the wooded areas.

There are so many birds around here that I can’t begin to name each one.  I’ve practiced watching them, without trying to get a photo.  This was hard at first, because of their beauty and my wish to share it with the world, but there is something to be said for the act of being still and observing.

The Mourning Doves are also not hip on me and my little Canon.  They’re also always the same color of nature, which makes getting a sharp photo a challenge.  I love to hear their soft call and the two of them are quite the pair.  One is always looking out for the other.

Aside from watching the pretty birds in my yard, being outside more often means spending more time with my sweet dog, Ruthie.  She is very happy about this.  She’s had some sad days since our Tiny boy passed on, but today she was happy. 

I took her to the dog food store recently.  She met a boy dog she liked, got a true dogkiss, and moved on to choose a Bully stick to chew on.  The store obviously puts them on the low shelves so the dogs can smell around, choosing the one they want.  I love letting her choose a chew.

She smiled so big at the excitement, which of course included a pet from a few humans.  Oh, I was glad to see her happy, but in a way, I also felt sad because I realized that she hadn’t been smiling much lately. 

Ruthie knows I’ve been sick, and my son has struggled too, so of course, being such a sensitive dog, she has also felt the pain.

Ruthie is like an angel.  She helps people.  She knows when people are in pain or sad and she goes right to those people.  She wants to help.  It is simply her nature.  Ruthie is a blessing, which I’ve also probably said before.

Sitting on my favorite bench, surrounded by trees and bright green moss, watching the beautiful birds, listening to their warm weather excitement and seeing sweet Ruthie smile, all made for a good Easter holiday and, a Green Healing experience. 

I’d like to share a few photos of my backyard beauties!  I hope you enjoy the virtual view.

Thank you for visiting DogKisses!  Please feel free to leave a comment.

Peace and Blessings.

Winter Birds ~ Residents in Flight

Observing a Rhythm in Nature

Rufous-sided Towhee

I love it when the simple things in life bring me joy and our new bird feeder is doing just that!

My adult son is responsible for keeping the feeders clean and full.  The look on his face when he watches the many colorful birds eating the seeds is most delightful.

I think we both benefit from the birds and our cool squirrel-busting feeder in several ways.  Being still and observing the natural world has an immediate calming effect on my mind and body.

I’ve become familiar with the feathered Winter regulars in our wooded yard.  We have a full-time resident Robin and a gorgeous Red-bellied Woodpecker, both of which have terrific personalities and are challenging to photograph.

Interacting with nature is a fine way to pass time.

Sometimes, I am sure that without a spirit-renewing connection in nature, my personal survival would be threatened.  I wouldn’t be able to take all the pain or sadness. 

Like the resident Robin and the bright-eyed pretty little Towhees, a heavy heart has been a regular Winter visitor of mine.  Spring will bring different birds and hopefully, my heart will be a little lighter.

Life is challenging.  I need ways to get away from sadness and grief.  I need to feel other emotions and think about things like what the Robin is doing or ‘who’ is nesting on the ground under a very neat and Hobbit-like house made from leaves, sticks and twigs.

Nature is amazing.  An early morning sunlight shines brightly on the bark of the bare trees.  I am aware that each one will soon grow green leaves again.  Morning songbirds eat Sunflower seeds and the Crows come calling like they own the place. 

There’s a rhythm to it all.  It makes sense.