Eagle Watch

Last week, I took my parents out to a bird watching place I like to go to every now and then to get away from it all and to get back to myself. I knew that January 10 was going to be a terrifically sad day for all of us and I wanted to take my parents, both avid bird watchers and nature lovers, to the place that takes me away from the distresses of life.

Thursday was overcast and cold, but we bundled up and drove the 45 minutes it takes to get to Eagle Watch, my mom and I chatting in the front while my dad daydreamed in the backseat of my car. When we arrived, the lake was quiet and we had the place to ourselves. We didn’t see any eagles, just a few great grey herons and little birds. We moved from the first bird watching pavilion over to a second one that had a picnic table so we could eat our sandwiches and for Mom to sit and rest her knee, a knee that she had replacement surgery on just a few weeks ago. As we were eating our food, we at last saw our bald eagle that we were so hoping to see that day. He swooped in on giant silent wings, perching on a tree on the far side of the lake. As we watched, something spooked him (perhaps the fishermen quietly fishing in their John boat off in the distance) and he took off, flying over the water with his talons outstretched like he accidentally dropped his own lunch. He made a circle over the lake and then glided back over the tree line away from us and sailed off into the overcast skies.

We finished up our food quietly, each of us lost in our thoughts, cleaned up our trash and drove back home, sure that it was my sister that sent that magnificent bald eagle to let us know she was there with us, too.

 
 
 



Lightning Storm

Last Friday night, we had a huge storm move in over northwest Arkansas and central Arkansas. It brought high winds and heavy rain, even a few tornadoes touched down in central Arkansas. We made it through unscathed, not even losing power. Some neighbors down the street lost a few tree limbs, and I saw more branches scattered about yards as I left for my run this morning.

But wow! What a lightning show we were treated to before all hell broke loose. I had stepped outside for something after dinner and the bolts of light that were being thrown around the sky made me run back inside to grab my camera to try and snag a few photos. David came out to watch and suggested that we try to do a time lapse. I’d never done one before, so he helped me set it up, showing me how to set the intervals and the amount of time I wanted the camera to record. I set up my tripod, fastened the camera onto it and then sat back in the patio chair with David next to me, letting my D5 do all the work while I enjoyed the show.

I’m not exactly sure of the settings I was using. I want to say I had the camera set to ISO 640, f/8, 1/6 sec. . . . but I could totally be off base. The images below I pulled from the video, and apparently Lightroom doesn’t save the EXIF data for videos, so thus the guess as to my settings.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at time lapse, thinking it would be cool to try it out with a blooming flower. I think Dave and I are going to try it out on a busy street corner when he gets back from his upcoming trip to India next week.

Time lapse . . . just one more thing to teach myself about, but isn’t that the fun of learning?

 
 
 



East & West

Today’s sunrise, looking east.

But then I turned around and saw this happening in the west.

 
 
 

birds & bees

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,—
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
— Dorothy Frances Gurney
 
 
 

a morning walk

We could hear the red tailed hawk calling out from the top of the sycamore tree, but never spotted him. I thought I caught a glimpse of his red-brown-white chest, but wasn't sure if it was him or dead leaves clustered on the branch. I love hearing him call out, such a lonely, yet imperious, call.

The cicadas were singing their hearts out, hiding as they do deep in the underbrush and bushes. I love their song, but the kids never did so they re-named the insects "Momma Bugs" when they were small in honor of me. Fireflies and Momma Bugs are my favorite summer time creepy crawlies. They make me think back to eating watermelon on the back porch after suppers and spitting the seeds as far as I could, trying to out spit Dad and Stephen. Sometimes I could, most times I couldn't. And then I'd watch the lightning bugs flicker their lanterns on and off accompanied by the peaceful drone of cicadas. If I could capture the sound of summer in a jar, it would be that sound.

The trail was alive with sound this morning. The incessant hammering of a Downy Woodpecker jackhammering away on the dead tree trunk next to the creek, the multi-lingual mockingbirds welcoming the morning light, the cheerful (yet bossy) chirps of the robins as they strutted about alongside the trail, the "whit-cheer! whit-cheer!" of the cardinals as they flew from bush to bush, always just a step ahead of me and the beautiful song of the little Carolina Wren.

I listend to all the songs in the woods and my mind was filled with quiet.

 
 
 

in the garden

We've had just a handful of sunny days this month, most of the days being dreary and grey and filled with rain. It's been more like late winter than mid-Spring. 

On a rare sun-shiney day last week, I found a ladybug sunning herself on a leaf of a chrysanthemum in my little flower garden just off our back porch. 

She readily agreed to pose for me and I spent the next 20 minutes happily crawling around in the dirt and enjoying the warm sunshine on my own back.

A Walk In The Woods

We've had such a very rainy, very cold spring so far this year. Normally, the dogwoods would've bloomed out by now, my windows would be open every afternoon and the mountains surrounding Fayetteville would be covered in the heavy green lace of fresh green leaves covering tree branches.

This morning, we woke to a light dusting of snow and temperatures in the low 20's.

Sigh . . . .

But, on those rare occasions when Spring does make her appearance, it has been beautiful. Last Thursday, my brother and sister-in-law were in town for a whirlwind, day long visit to see my parents. It's not often that Stephen and Ute get to be Stateside since my brother lives in the United Kingdom, but when they are over here, my parents and I drop everything we're doing to be with them and make the most of their time here. 

My brother loves hiking and backpacking and exploring, so Mom and I decided to take all of us out to Mt. Kessler Thursday, a large sports complex/park just south of town. I sometimes run the trails out there as well as hike and explore with Langley (who absolutely loves the place). And Thursday was one of those rare spring days where the skies were bluebird blue and the air was warm and you could trick yourself into believing that winter had finally left the building for good.

Langley romped and ran to her heart's content, not knowing the term, "Pace yourself!" (and she woke up Friday morning stiff and feeling sorry for herself. She got lots of treats and belly rubs to help make her feel better).

Dad, Mom and I tried to identify all the little wildflowers that we came across.

Stephen and Ute walked ahead of us, holding hands and stopping to take pictures every now and again.

We hiked and explored and got dirty and ate a picnic lunch until it was time for me to head home to greet Joe after school. 

Just a taste of spring, just enough to get us through this last little blast of winter.

That was all we needed.

 

 

After the Rains

We had afternoon rains yesterday, but right around supper time, the sun came out and the world lit up.

*****

All shot with David's camera, a Nikon D500 with my 35mm lens. I used a prism on the very last one for a bit of a creative flare. I'm out of practice with it, but spring and the longer evenings will make for some beautiful practice sessions.