201: Learning experiences

(A bug’s eye view of the tiny white flowers dotting our lawn.)

M and I have been talking about taking a walking tour vacation.  Someday.  We’ve done a little research and thought about different places.  Places we’ve considered include (but are not limited to) the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the U.K., and Nova Scotia in Canada.  (Note:  I’ve provided links to give you an idea of what I’m going on about, not as a recommendation for any particular tour.  I googled, these came up, and I picked them as examples.  We haven’t gone so far as to pick a touring company.)

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69: Capturing sunlight

(Sunlight in the grass.)

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.

~ Aaron Rose

I love the light this time of year.  The days may not be as long but the light we do get can be amazing.  It’s almost as if we get extra “golden hours” to make up for the shorter amount of daylight.

(Tangled with sunlight.)

Obviously I can’t go around pointing my camera directly at the sun.  Well, I could (and I have) but it’s not a good idea.  Most of the time it doesn’t work.  The flares that result from all that bright light can be interesting although usually what comes out is a terribly bright, terribly washed-out-by-the-light halo effect.

(The high light.)

During yesterday’s walk my eyes were drawn towards the grasses and dried flowers, the lines of sunlight and shadows, and the sparkles on the water.  It was a fortuitous time of day.  The light was almost perfect.

(Long shadows in the woods.)

The area pictured above is where my dule of doves reside.  They finally located the log with the grooves in it.  The one where I’ve been putting out bird seed.  It is probably my imagination but the doves didn’t seem to go as far away when they flew off yesterday.  One even came back just after I poured more bird seed into my makeshift feeder.

(Illuminated.)

Today’s walk wasn’t as brilliant.  It is warm, windy, and wet outside so it was another under-the-umbrella walk for me.

(Lit up in the wildflower meadow.)

I did take a few photos today.  I’ll get to those in a minute.  Yesterday was so pretty that I’m not ready to leave it yet and switch to the gray, rainy day.

(Sparkles at the back of the pond.)

(The sun, just out of sight.)

Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

‘You owe me.’
Look what happens
with a love like that —
it lights the whole
world.

~ Hafiz

Today’s Walk (the official version)

It’s close to 60 degrees here in the Bogs today.  I gotta tell ya, it’s one of those days when “Bogs” suits the area well.  We must have had a lot of rain overnight.  According to one place I looked, we’ve had 3.19 inches for the month of November.  All that precipitation is not helping with the pond draw down.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

I found Winter’s footprint while I was out and about.  I’ll show it to you in just a second.  First I should warn you that it involves death.  I’ve been pondering the depiction of death on my blog as part of my year-long journey/commitment.  Should I show it?  Or not?

Since the start of my commitment I have encountered death four times on my daily walks.  The deer (which I did show), an oppossum (which I didn’t show), and today there were two field mice who look to be some sort of casualties of drowning or last night’s gusty winds blowing over the pedal boat.

Death is part of the cycle, especially this time of year.  None of us seem to mind looking at the leaves on the trees as they go out in a blaze of glory.  Maybe that’s because it is only a shedding of leaves and not the death of the tree.  But I don’t believe many of us want to see the body of a dead animal.

So.  You’ve been disclaimered.  I cropped out as much of the field mouse as I could and still retain the impression of a footprint.  The ice was in this shape when I found it.

(Perhaps you would never have noticed the mouse if I hadn’t mentioned it?)


58: Deep breaths

(Simplicity)

San Diego was great.  The sunshine, the warm temps, the ocean views, the fresh seafood and fab Mexican food, and all the long walks on the beach were wonderful.  Certainly worth the anxiety of flying.

But…

The moment I stepped outside today for my daily outdoor commitment walk and took a full, deep breath — the kind that goes all the way to the toes — I felt more than thought:   Home.  The hour of yoga practice just before going outside didn’t relax and loosen me up the way that first breath of outside air did.  The combination of the two was pretty powerful stuff.  Joyfully, happily powerful.

(A glimpse of the pond from the meadow)

My meditation prompt today was:  Look for joy.  While walking around the pond I thought, “I don’t need to look for joy.  I’ve already found it.  It’s right here, right now.”

(A spot of red marks the X.)

How lucky is that, to live where one truly feels at home?  The smell of the air, the colors, the sounds, and the feel of the land are all, for me, just right.   The modern version of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears popped into my head with that last sentence.  The mind works in mysterious ways.

(Meadow grasses and dried flower arrangements)

Or perhaps not so mysterious.  I remember reading somewhere that the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears can be interpreted as finding the middle path, the place that’s just right, rather than choosing from one extreme or another.  Balance, centering, moderation, that sort of thing.

(Mourning dove welcomes me home.)

Our trip home yesterday was long (about 15 hours, door to door) and uneventful.  The planes did not crash.  The two flights (the first to Chicago, the second to Akron) were relatively smooth.  I had a brief moment of panic boarding the second plane.  It was one of those small, commuter jets.  Why that should bother me more than a large plane is beyond me.  Walking out on the tarmac and then up the stairs was more nerve wracking than the usual walk through the jetway/airbridge that connects the airport terminal gate to the plane.

I am extremely grateful for and to the woman who sat across the aisle from me on our second flight.  When M and I boarded the small jet it was immediately apparent that we were not seated together.  It was one of those planes that have a row of single seats and a row of double seating.  While I’m sure I would have survived sitting by myself, the woman that would have been seated with M or with me was kind enough to switch and take the single seat across the aisle.  I explained to her that I have a fear of flying, although the explanation wasn’t necessary as she was willing to move as soon as we asked.  But that’s not all she did.

My fear of flying is worse during take-offs and landings.  The descent through the clouds (and there usually are clouds, especially when coming back to the Bogs) when we land are the worst moments for me.  Just after the pilot announced we’d be descending and landing soon, the woman across the aisle reached over, patted my hand, and asked, “How are you doing?”  It was a simple, sincere question.  I told her I was okay so far.  Still breathing (rather than holding my breath in panic).  She jokingly remarked that at least I wasn’t screaming or trying to escape from the plane.  I don’t know why that relaxed me, but it did.  We talked for a little while and before I knew it, the plane was touching down and we were on the ground.  I never even noticed the bumps and thumps of moving through the turbulence in the clouds (and yes, there were clouds as it was overcast when we arrived).

(Sunset in Mission Beach on the evening before coming home.)

After the anxiety of flying, a 2am wake-up call to make our flight, and a lack of sleep two nights in a row, I had no trouble at all getting to sleep last night.  Or staying that way.  In fact, I slept in until 10am, having woken up once (at 6am) and decided I’d sleep for as long as I needed to.

As for my outdoor commitment, I was worried I might not be able to fit in the minimum 30 minutes of outside time with the long day of travel yesterday.  United Airlines provided me with the opportunity.  With many conventioneers (there were approximately 30,000 people attending the same conference/convention as M) leaving San Diego yesterday morning, they had to line us all up outside.  The line stretched and looped a long way.  We stood outside for at least 30-40 minutes.  While it’s not the nature walk I’m used to taking, it was outdoor time.  Because the winds were from the west (off the ocean), the fog was fairly thick.  There was a bit of a breeze and it felt a little chilly.

Today, here in the Bogs, it was brisk (45 degrees and breezy) and mostly sunny with the occasional puffy cloud adding white spots of interest to the sky.  I was greeted by a crow, a mourning dove, and a red-tailed hawk.

It’s good to be home, in both the wide view…

… and in the close-up, smaller view.


49: For the birds

(A pair of doves.)

I went on a cleaning frenzy yesterday, cleaning pretty much the entire house from top to bottom.  I don’t usually try to clean the whole house in one day but I’ve been slackmongering lately.  Maybe not so much slacking as occupying myself with activities other than housework.

(A black bird against a blue sky.)

The reason I needed to get the house whipped into shape is because our house-sitter will be settling in tonight.  M and I will be winging our way to southern California very early tomorrow morning.  The next time you hear from me, I’ll have had my freshly pedicured toes sunk in the sands of Mission Beach.

Today’s Walk:  Brrrr!

Holly over at Photo By Holly has been having a weekly Caption This challenge.  I am notoriously bad at captions, titles, and naming things.  I could exaggerate a little and tell you that I wanted to stretch myself by taking up the challenge but the fact of the matter is this week’s challenge, Brrrr!, is all too easy for me.

(Brrrr!)

(Frost on the asparagus ferns.)

Because I have a lot to do today, I took my walk early.  It was frosty, foggy, and in the 20’s.  Brrrr!!  I had originally planned to go out for a few minutes and make up the rest of the time later in the day.  However, once I was out there, it was hard not to follow the fog, the frost, and what stood out most of all:  the spider webs.

Almost everything was draped in spider webs.  I suppose that’s true many days.  Spider webs can be difficult to see unless they’re covered in dew or, as was the case this morning, in frost and dew.  My best guess is that yesterday’s warm weather brought out the spiders who draped everything with their webs which were then caught in the frost.

I hope the spiders didn’t get caught in the frost, too.

Mother Nature is over a week late in decorating for Halloween but she sure did a fine job of it.

The edges of the pond were crusted with ice.  It’s the first time this season I’ve seen ice on the pond.  In another month or two, it will probably be frozen solid.  I’m sure M is hoping for that.  He loves to ice skate.

I’ll leave you with a few more shots from this morning while I get back to packing for our trip.  Don’t forget that you can see the larger versions of the photos by clicking on them.

(Draped.)

(Oak tree and webs.)

(Frosty leaves with webs.)

(See what I mean about captioning things?)


40: Leftovers

(Looking below the surface in the woods.)

It’s day 40 of my commitment to get outside every day.  During the past 40 days I’ve collected a few photos that I couldn’t seem to fit into a post.  Before I move them to a back-up hard drive, I thought I’d go ahead and share a few of them.

(Fungus in the wood pile.)

Today is also the first day of NaBloPoMo and of course I was crazy enough to sign up.  It’s fun, I get to meet new bloggers, and it is always a challenge because every year November turns out to be a busy month for me.  It’s no different this year.  M and I will be engaged in plenty of activities.

(Ready for winter.)

It was below 30 degrees when I rolled out of bed this morning.  The frost is hanging around longer in the mornings.  I wore my winter coat for the first time on Saturday.  Hat, gloves, and winter coat:  the holy trinity of winter around here.  Or it could be frost, ice, and snow.  Depends on how you look at it.

(A tangle of cattails.)

(A mushroom tower hiding in the grasses.)

Today’s walk

I bundled up and went out around noon today.  I like morning walks but may have to start taking them later in the day when it’s warmer.  For today, though, noon was good.  It’s breezy but the sun is shining and providing just enough heat to keep it from being too nippy.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

The pond was providing nice reflections while the birds and wind produced a lovely autumn soundtrack to go with my walk.  I heard and then spotted a bird I’ve never seen before.  I think it was a small hawk of some kind.  I haven’t had much luck in identifying it (so far).  The photos I took are too dark and blurry to be of much help.

(Swoon.)

There is a dule of doves living in the woods near an old apple tree.  I pass them on my way through the cattails.  Poor things are frightened into flight each time I come by.  A few weeks ago, during my first pass by them after they’d settled there, the flurry of feathers was such a panic that two of the birds flew into each other.  They are not quite used to me yet, but at least they are a little calmer about moving from the ground to the trees when I come by now.

(A dove in the distance.)

As I sit here typing this, a recording of John Glenn is being recorded on my answering machine.  He’s yammering away about how I should get out and vote tomorrow.  I am flattered that a man who was an astronaut (first American to orbit the earth) and U.S. senator thinks my vote is that important.  Not too flattered, though, since it’s only a recording and only going out to probably every phone number in the state of Ohio.

(The neighbor’s pony.)

The Republicans and Tea Party folks want me to vote, too.  The phone has been a source of much yammering and nagging about politics lately.  It’s worse today.

Not to worry, all you politicos.  I’ll be voting, in spite of having fallen into the enthusiasm gap.  Or maybe because of it.  Whatever the case, I’ll be there with my lack of enthusiasm, unenthusiastically (but without whining about it) voting for the lesser of the evils.  I am old enough to know better than to expect change overnight.  Still, I’m disappointed.  That said, I don’t want to go back to the way things were either.  So, I’ll vote.  I’ll vote.  I really will.  No need to keep nagging me about it.

(Light and leaves drifting.)