Flying Jewels

Hummingbirds have been active in my yard for the last few weeks and several are coming to the flower pots on my front porch.

They can beat their wings thousands of times per minute so it’s no wonder I failed to get a clear picture of this little guy before he zoomed off. While it’s not a good picture, I kind of like the sense of motion.

They were nicknamed “flying jewels” by Spanish explorers visiting the Americas for the first time. This is the best possible name I can imagine for these tiny but majestic creatures.

Hummingbirds actually prefer to get their nectar from flowers instead of feeders. If you do feed them, be sure to clean their feeders daily and never use dyes. It’s a myth that the red attracts them better. What they crave is the sweetness.

Better yet, plant some flowers and shrubs that will also feed butterflies and bees. I read once that hummingbirds can visit around a thousand flowers a day so I’m sure they will appreciate whatever contribution you can make!

They are a migratory bird so they’ll be departing soon but I’ll enjoy them while they’re still here.

Self Care At Its Finest

Monday, 9:06 p.m.

My workday is complete, dinner dishes are washed and I’m lounging in a hammock on the screened porch. My parents gave me this hammock, a long ago Fathers Day gift that my dad never used.

It was in their way but it now holds a prominent position on my back porch. I just set it up over the Independence Day weekend and it has quickly become my new favorite hangout. From here, I can see trees and a slice of sky. From here, the birds and crickets, katydids and frogs are my only companions during many hours of the day.

After work tonight, I braved the heat to relax and read a magazine until I drifted off to sleep. It was hot but something about this hammock relaxes me and alleviates muscle pain. A short nap was exactly what I needed on this very long Monday.

That break was necessary and nice but not nearly as pleasant as this midsummer evening.

The air has cooled and the humidity has dissipated, almost like magic. A light breeze causes the treetops to sway and produces a gentle sound amongst the leaves. The shorts and tank top that were appropriate just minutes ago suddenly seem inadequate.

At 9:15 pm on July 11, it’s still light out but not light enough to continue reading my book. I do have white twinkle lights hung along the ceiling but getting up to turn them on would ruin the mood. Besides, the lightning bugs are just gearing up for their evening show and I hate to detract from their efforts.

I sit now in near darkness, except of course, for the light of my phone. An opossum just silently scurried past the porch. He paid me no mind but I wished him well. They eat ticks, small rodents and even prey on snakes. They are so ugly they’re cute and I welcome this night shift worker into my yard to help maintain my peaceful little habitat.

The birds are mostly quiet now, replaced by the gentle hum of locusts and occasional call of a distant Great Horned Owl. In the darkness, I can better appreciate the aromas of pine and soil and some kind of decaying wood.

Yes. This is my happy place and I am grateful for it.

As long as I’m expressing gratitude, I am grateful that these simple pleasures are even more luxurious to me than a day at the spa. This, my friends, is self care at its finest.

Metahqua Nature Preserve

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t do justice to this incredible scene in my new happy place. It’s called Metahqua Nature Preserve and it’s part of the Ross County Park District near Chillicothe, Ohio.

At more than 230 acres of hardwood, wetland and tall grass fields in the flood plain of Little Walnut Creek, it is peaceful and beautiful. A century old one room schoolhouse has been smartly converted to a quaint caretaker’s residence.

The happy place that I refer to is a pond high atop a hill. It’s surrounded by trees which, I’m told, provide a breathtaking setting in the fall. Dusk was approaching but those trees reflected into the water a scene so serene that it was almost mesmerizing. The call of frogs and various birds made it even better.

I was there with a kindred spirit, the man responsible for a sandstone patio with two benches to sit and enjoy the view. He said that if he accomplishes nothing else in his lifetime, knowing that this place exists, because he made it happen, is enough.

I felt that to my soul as I sat there absorbed in my surroundings and enjoying the beauty of that waning day. My heart rate went down and my mind was completely calm.

I was at peace.

Spending time in nature is good for your health. Getting outdoors and moving is good for your body but sometimes I think the mental health benefits are far greater. There’s nothing better than fresh air, bird song and the peace that comes from simply existing amongst beauty.

I hope to return another time and especially would love to see that fall foliage someday. Want to learn more? Visit their website to learn the Shawnee meaning of Metahqua, learn about the wildlife, find directions and more.

Encapsulated In Ice

Southern Ohio was on the receiving end of a nasty ice storm this week. I like a good snowfall but ice is treacherous and heavy, causing tree damage and it downed power lines across a huge swath of the state.

As a remote worker I was fortunate to keep power and still do my job. I also tried to keep my outdoor friends fed and went out after work last night to get a closer look at the ice.

The images above are from my outdoor expedition. The ones below I grabbed from my office window of some creatures that come to Scout’s bird feeder.

He’s not a bird but he’s hungry and Scout is fascinated by squirrels so we are happy to feed him and several others.

And here’s one of an actual bird!

It’s times like these that I’m especially grateful for my cozy home, my house panther and for the fact my remote work status alleviates the worry of travel most days. I’m also grateful for electricity and central heat!

Be careful today if you’re out running around!!

Photographing Birds

Birds are a fun challenge to photograph because they’re little and tend to move around a lot. Some might call them flighty. I know… the pun….

This particular series of photos was kind of neat on the camera and disappointing when I pulled them up on the computer.

They’re soft and a little blurry.

Look at that judgmental little face. I’m always amazed at how expressive birds are.

Luckily, out of the ten shots in this sequence there are two that are sharp including this one.

Plus, you can really appreciate that tuft of hair on his head.

Not all was lost!

Snow Day

We received a decent snowfall Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

I went down to the mailbox before work and got to enjoy the sunrise.

There were lots of tracks in the snow to enjoy along the way.

On a break from work, my dad gave me a lift to see this nearby covered bridge in the snow.

It was nice in the sun but frigid in the shade and when the wind blew. It’s nice to stay in and be cozy on a snowy winter day. That tea cup contains baked banana in case you wondered.

The birds ate hungrily from the feeder and the ground around it so Scout had an exhausting day keeping tabs on them through the window.

He hardly even had time for a nap!

A snowy day feels different to me. Quieter. Cozier. It makes me extra grateful for my warm home, pantry full of supplies and a desk by the window.

Tomorrow I’ll show you more pictures of the bridge.