Wildlife Wednesday: Great Blue Heron

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“Here is your country.
Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources,
cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage,
for your children and your children’s children.
Do not let selfish men or greedy interests
skin your country of its beauty,
its riches or its romance.”
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Theodore Roosevelt
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“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
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Gary Snyder
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“The wild is where you find it,
not in some distant world relegated to a nostalgic past
or an idealized future;
its presence is not black or white, bad or good,
corrupted or innocent…
We are of that nature, not apart from it.
We survive because of it, not instead of it.”
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Renee Askins

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“The boundary between tame and wild
exists only in the imperfections
of the human mind.”
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Aldo Leopold


Sunday Dinner: Vision

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“While there is perhaps a province
in which the photograph can tell us nothing more
than what we see with our own eyes,
there is another in which it proves to us
how little our eyes permit us to see.”
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Dorothea Lange

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“How you look at it
is pretty much how you’ll see it”
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Rasheed Ogunlaru

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“The power to concentrate was the most important thing.
Living without this power
would be like opening one’s eyes
without seeing anything.”
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Haruki Murakami

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“The more boundless your vision,
the more real you are.”
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Deepak Chopra

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“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear to man as it is –
infinite.”
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William Blake

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“Your heart is able to see things
that your eyes aren’t able to.”
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Kholoud Yasser

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“I await your sentence
with less fear than you pass it.
The time will come
when all will see what I see.”
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Giordano Bruno

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“At the moment of vision,
the eyes see nothing.”
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William Golding 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2019

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“You get what you focus on.”
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Chris Hutchinson

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“After all, … your eyes only see
what your mind lets you believe.”
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Paul Jenkins

 

Three Herons

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We drove to Jamestown this weekend, and were quite delighted to spot more herons than usual along the way.  Their plumage blends quite subtly, this time of year, with the marshes they frequent; and so it takes a sharp eye, sometimes, to even notice them.

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Oftentimes we simply point them out to one another.  We don’t break the flow of our journey for a photo-stop.

And we are always pleased to see these most Zen-like birds.  Their calm and detachment belie a deep self-confidence, perhaps, that they will remain master of their circumstance.

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Where we find herons, we assume the water is fairly pure.  That is often said of rivers where Eagles nest.  They only live where the environment can support them in good health.

Eagles, herons, geese and ducks all make the James River and its James City County creeks their home.

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Sandy Bay, where all of this series of photos was taken. The distant bank, along the causeway to Jamestown Island, is where I stood to take the first several photos. An Osprey Eagle nest fils

Sandy Bay, where all of this series of photos was taken. The distant bank, along the causeway to Jamestown Island, is where I stood to take the first several photos. An Osprey Eagle nest fills the top of the Cypress tree on the far left.

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The herons remain alert.  They live in the moment, sensing all unfolding around them.  They always respond as I move closer to them with my clicking, flashing camera and not so light step.  And although they may wade further from shore, they rarely take flight at my approach.

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We admire these regal birds, and watch for them along the creeks and marshes near our home.

Finding them in abundance, as we did on Sunday afternoon, lends a certain luster to a late winter afternoon.

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Woodland Gnome 2017

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WPC: Edge

Sandy Bay, which frames one end of Jamestown Island, provides a home for many species of birds in its shallow waters. Bald cypress trees grow along its banks.

Sandy Bay, which frames one end of Jamestown Island, provides a home for many species of birds in its shallow waters. Bald cypress trees grow along its banks.

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Edges and borders;

Boundaries or invitations

To enter elsewhere?

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Alight from the known,

Venture into

What is not.

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Borders frame,

But cannot contain

Curious awareness.

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Where is happiness?

What waits

Beyond the edges?

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Edge

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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WPC: Landscape

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“Love makes you see a place differently,

just as you hold differently an object

that belongs to someone you love.

If you know one landscape well,

you will look at all other landscapes differently.

And if you learn to love one place,

sometimes you can also learn to love another.”

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Anne Michaels

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“Where you come from is gone,

where you thought you were going to was never there,

and where you are is no good

unless you can get away from it.

Where is there a place for you to be?

No place… Nothing outside you can give you any place…

In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.”

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Flannery O’Connor

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For the Daily Post’s

One Word Photo Challenge: Landscape

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Sandy Bay, Jamestown Virginia

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“When the image is new, the world is new.”

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Gaston Bachelard

 

Sunday Dinner: The Mystery

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“The most beautiful experience we can have

is the mysterious.

It is the fundamental emotion

that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

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Albert Einstein

 

Robin, at Breezes at Dawn, has been participating in the Three Day Quote Challenge.  She was invited by our mutual friend, Eliza.   Both have  issued a general invitation for any of their followers to join in.

The rules are simple:  Post an inspirational, uplifting quote for three consecutive days, and invite three other bloggers to join you.  If you are reading this, please consider yourself invited.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Sunday Dinner: Community

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“Everybody is a story.

When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables

and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore.

Sitting around the table telling stories

is not just a way of passing time.

It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.

The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”


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Rachel Naomi Remen

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“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters

to create many ripples.”


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Mother Teresa

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“One of the marvelous things about community

is that it enables us to welcome and help people

in a way we couldn’t as individuals.

When we pool our strength

and share the work and responsibility,

we can welcome many people,

even those in deep distress,

and perhaps help them find

self-confidence and inner healing.”


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Jean Vanier

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“The world is so empty if one thinks only

of mountains, rivers & cities;

but to know someone who thinks & feels with us,

and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit,

this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Keeping Company

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Keeping company just makes it feel warmer, sometimes.  Sitting close, holding hands; flocking together. 

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We took off together this afternoon, with the world slowly melting around us back towards its normal self.  We wanted to see the familiar landscape of the Colonial Parkway under snow.

Silly us thought we’d have the place to ourselves.

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But no, lots of others had the same idea today; flocking together along the snow-narrowed roads between frozen “guard rails” of snow pushed up by the plows.

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Save for the sky, it was a “black and white” world of bare trees and pristine snow.  And birds.  Flocks of birds blown up the James from the coast filled the shallows of Sandy Bay, keeping one another company, and hoping for a bit of warmth from the sun.

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Snow still covers the sandy beach along the James River, but two sunny days in a row have melted much of the ice cover off of the waterways.  Sheets of ice still cling along shaded north facing banks and snow still covers the push ups in the marsh.

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Can you imagine snuggling up with your mate in a winter home of frozen mud?  I shiver just thinking of it, knowing that each of these snow-covered push-ups houses a sleeping family of muskrats waiting out the weather.

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Saturday’s sunshine brought us out of our hibernation for a few hours.

It was enough to feel a little warmth against the still frozen winds whipping off of the river. The urge to get out and move again is intense, and we were only a little surprised to share the road with bicyclists in thermal suits today.  Their happiness in the sunny day was contagious.

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Longer days send their own signals to the trees, and many show swelling and opening buds despite the snow.  We’re nearly at the spring equinox, coming very soon in the third week of March.  Daylight Savings Time starts again next weekend, believe it or not.

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Each passing day brings us a little more light; a little more solar warmth  in spite of the wintery weather map.

But wintery it is, still.  Snow melting off of our roof refreezes into hanging icicles.

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The waterways will be solid ice again by morning, and the roads will be icy, too.  Probably a good day to stay at home, and keep one another company.

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

Thanksgiving : Converge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

In response to The Daily Post’s WPC: “Converge.”

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“Do not spoil what you have

by desiring what you have not;

remember that what you now have

was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus

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Early yesterday morning, when it was still barely light outside, I began this post.  I had found the quotations and begun working with photos when I realized my allotted time had elapsed.

It was time to slice the roasted sweet potatoes and layer them with fresh orange juice and maple syrup, sprinkle them with spice, and assemble all of the bits and pieces we planned to take with us to Thanksgiving dinner across the state.

And that is how yesterday’s post landed in my “drafts”  file, photo-less and unfinished.  And Thanksgiving day slipped into “Black Friday.” 

I enjoy the irony of  how only in America the nationally declared “Day of Thanksgiving” shifted; in my lifetime, may I add; to the national weekend of greed.

Our Thanksgiving Day passes more in contemplation of what wonderful deals we’ll score on Friday than it does in appreciation for the blessings we already enjoy.

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“True happiness is to enjoy the present,

without anxious dependence upon the future,

not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears

but to rest satisfied with what we have,

which is sufficient,

for he that is so wants nothing.

The greatest blessings of mankind

are within us and within our reach.

A wise man is content with his lot,

whatever it may be,

without wishing for what he has not.”

Seneca

There was a time, when my daughter was little, when I headed out before dawn each Friday after Thanksgiving with a list and a plan. 

It was honestly the best way to make the Christmas budget stretch to cover all of those extended family members I wanted to remember, and also have a beautiful stack of gifts for my own daughter and husband at the same time.

These were the days before online shopping was so accessible; Amazon wasn’t an option and I still shopped the tool sales at our local Sears store.

I’ve watched the “wave” of shopping mania swell, crest, and perhaps begin to subside a bit.

Many of us wait now for “Cyber-Monday.”  And even more of us have noticed that desperate retailers continue to offer deals and specials right up through Christmas Eve.

Some of the urgency has dissipated to grab the “Door-Busters.”  Wiser shoppers watch and wait… like a skilled hunter… knowing a better shot will come at that important purchase.

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But stepping back a bit for the wider view, we’re still in the mind-set of acquisition rather than appreciation. 

Our environment has conditioned us to participate in an all-out shopping extravaganza in December.  And at some point we’ll purchase most anything, even a ridiculous bit of merchandise at an insane price just to have a splashy “gift” for someone.  (Yes, I’ve been reading those catalogs again.  The photos of $30 cheese logs and $50 holiday cakes are horribly fascinating for some unknown reason.)

And that is how we came to find ourselves on the Colonial Parkway this morning enjoying the sunshine and taking photos rather than shopping.  That’s right.  I didn’t even shop my favorite spots online this morning.  It was a matter of principle for me today.

“Piglet noticed that even though

he had a Very Small Heart,

it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

― A.A. Milne

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We wanted to appreciate the gorgeous day, the gift of health and well being, and the joy of spending time together this morning.  We dressed warmly and set out before breakfast, while the world remained ice-clad.

It is our intention to simplify the gifting aspect of Christmas this year.   We believe the spirit of giving is a year-round endeavor; not to be saved for holidays only.

We’ve also realistically realized that our family members are more in need of time and attention at the moment than merchandise.

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Yet shopping is a hard habit to break.  I’ve dipped into several online retailers today.  And promptly clicked out without purchase from all but one.

And to be honest with you, the purchases I made at that bookstore, with their coupon, were mostly for us.  Yes, I took advantage of the deals today to get a CD of Pete Seeger singing folk songs for my infant granddaughter, but that is the only “gift” so far today.

What about you?  Are you shopping today?  And if you are, were your purchases gifts for yourself, or for others?

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Powhatan Creek empties into Sandy Bay here.  The heron stands off to the right.

Powhatan Creek empties into Sandy Bay here.  The heron stands off to the right.

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I’ve longed suspected that a lot of the shopping done in December is personal shopping.  The car commercials are the most brazen in admitting this, by far.  But I suspect that many of us wait for the deals of December to get the things we’ve wanted for ourselves for a while.

Which brings us back to Thanksgiving; and the holiday’s roots in appreciation for simple survival through life-threatening hardships.

We’ve come a stretch as a nation since those early settlement days.  And we’ve come a long way as a culture from idealism to consumerism.

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Looking back at the same trees from the other side of Sandy Bay.

Looking back at the same trees from the other side of Sandy Bay.

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful

for every good thing that comes to you,

and to give thanks continuously.

 

And because all things

have contributed to your advancement,

you should include all things

in your gratitude.”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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My daughter, who works in retail at the moment, just called to tell me her store more than doubled its sales goal last night.  It was their first year to open in the afternoon on Thanksgiving.

They sold more yesterday evening than I made in my first two years of teaching combined. 

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A loon, and proud of it....

A loon, and proud of it….

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I have noticed that I feel far more peace and happiness when I’m enjoying those things already in my life than when I’m on the hunt for something new.

And that may be the best reason I can offer for spending today still  focused on gratitude and Thanksgiving.

We may go buy our Christmas tree tomorrow.  But we plan to simply enjoy the moment today.

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WPC:  Converge

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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