Awe in the Ordinary

The front yard flowers are bursting into bloom and the butterflies are beginning to make an appearance.

This female Swallowtail stopped by the other day and spent a good bit of time sipping sweetness from the aptly named Butterfly Bush.

Tiger Swallowtails often bear vibrant yellow and black markings, but the females also come in a black-morph (or dark-morph) variety – like this lovely lady.

She leisurely flitted from one blossom to another, with no competition for the nectar save for a couple of bees.

There is something so wonderful – dare I say worshipful – about standing outside and witnessing such beauty. It reminds me of a quote I read just this morning which said, “A wonder-filled life is grateful attentiveness to the awe in our ordinary.” (Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy) I find both that sentence and that sentiment worth savoring!

Seriously though – just pause for a moment and really take in how magnificent she is. It makes me wonder – if the creation is this glorious, how much more glorious must the Creator be?!

Eventually, this beauty departed, probably off to sample from flowers in another yard…

…and I headed back inside with a happy heart, grateful for the stillness and the chance to nourish my soul.

 

 

 

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Sneak-a-Snack

I was outside filling the feeders with my two Lab assistants when “my” Red-headed Woodpecker dropped in for a visit.

First he looked for peanuts in the Dogwood nook, since it was a safe distance from the dogs, but found it empty.

His next stop was one of the higher branches that I have strapped to the deck, where he could make sure the mutts were ignoring him while he spied out the peanuts tucked away in the “peanut pole.”

Maneuvering to the opposite side of the branch, he spent a moment looking at the peanuts…

…then looking at the dogs…

…then looking at the peanuts…

…then looking at the dogs.

Once he realized the dynamic duo was on chipmunk patrol and oblivious to his presence, he flew over and helped himself to a peanut or two.

Then he flew back to his favorite perch and jammed the nuts into a notch in the wood so that he could peck them into smaller pieces. It’s so fascinating to watch him at work!

After round one was finished off, he got set to sneak a second snack. He made sure the coast was clear…

…and then headed back for another portion of Planters.

Meanwhile, the dogs kept watch on the yard below and remained unaware of his activity.

I think they are more lovable than alert!

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From Birds to Brides

Normally, I post pictures of birds, butterflies, or bounding Labs…but my daughter got married this past weekend, so I thought I’d share a photo of the lovely bride.

This first one is of the two of us, just before the ceremony, when I was helping her change into her dress.

This next is my first official photo of my girlie with a new last name…taken with the man God so clearly designed just for her.

What a beautiful, blessed event. I am feeling oh so grateful!

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Worthy of the Name

Often times, when one sees a Red-bellied Woodpecker, there is little, if any, red on the belly…as in the case of this fellow who stopped in the other day.

But every once in awhile, one comes along that is worthy of the name…like this handsome male who dropped in for a visit to the Bark Butter branch.

His belly is one of the reddest I have seen before in this type of Woodpecker.

He must have given off an “I’m a force to be reckoned with” kind of aura, because this Red-headed Woodpecker (who is normally more aggressive) watched and waited until this fellow had his fill before flying in for his turn.

Whether they be Red-bellied or Red-headed, I am happy to have these guys adding beauty to the backyard.

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Butterfly Bait

Several months ago, hubby and I (And I am using the word “I” very loosely!) planted a zinnia garden with the hopes of luring more butterflies to the front yard.

Today, the first bait-taker arrived.

A beautiful male Tiger Swallowtail showed up and flitted from flower to flower, gathering both nectar for nourishment and a coating of pollen on his legs.

This fellow must have been fairly fresh from the cocoon, judging from his bright coloring and his un-nipped tails.

And now, I am hoping he flies off and tells all of his butterfly friends of this wonderful place to feast.

I love taking pictures of these beauties, and then I love looking at the pictures and seeing the details that you might otherwise miss due to the distance and the constant motion.

Stay tuned…butterfly season has begun!

 

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Puddling Like Prell

While on our “Mutts to the Mountains” get-away, we were delighted to see an abundance of beautiful butterflies fluttering about. Instead of hovering over flowers (which aren’t fully blooming yet) many of them were “puddling” – which is when they land on a wet area near a puddle and drink up mineral water. Since mostly males do this, it is thought that it helps them get ready for mating.

At one point we pulled over to the side of the road and I hopped out with my camera to see if I could get some shots. Now, at the risk of dating myself, I have to say that it felt like an old Prell shampoo commercial. First there was one butterfly – a Pipevine Swallowtail…

…and then he told two friends…another Pipevine and a Spicebush Swallowtail…

…and then they told two friends…a couple more Spicebushes and a Tiger Swallowtail…

and before long there was quite a butterfly bonanza.

All the flitting and fluttering made for a bit of a blur, but it was fascinating to watch.

I love how their patterns blend together.

It’s definitely prettier to take their pictures on flowers, but it was fun to watch them in this unusual behavior. I think the picture below could make for a pretty challenging jigsaw puzzle.

Hopefully soon our Zinnias will be blossoming and my front yard will have butterflies perched and ready to pose.

 

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Mutts to the Mountains!

This past week, hubby and I loaded up the canines and headed to a cabin in the North Carolina mountains for several days. We chose the lodging because it was situated right next to a stream, but the recent rainfall made the current too swift for the dogs to safely romp in, so we opted for playing in the front yard field instead.

Now, when it comes to chasing after toys, Tucker can be fiercely focused on the mission at hand…

…although his facial expressions are often anything but fierce!

He LOVES to leap into the air to catch balls, and always seems so pleased with himself when he is successful.

I must say though, trying to get a picture of the beast in action can be a wee bit harrowing. I am pretty sure Lab-action photography should be considered a contact sport.

And by the way, objects in the lens are closer than they appear!

Chaco also enjoys racing about with toys…

…and occasionally gets the “zoomies” (a phenomenon most dog owners are familiar with!) and runs in high speed circles around the perimeter of the property…

…but mostly she enjoys chasing Tucker or luring him into chasing her. She is jealous of anything that takes his attention away from her!

Being super social, Chaco sometimes lost her off-leash freedom, especially when she was determined to befriend a stray feline (who was interested in food and not friendship!)…

…or a horse that happened to be nearby when we were out exploring.

Watching these two bound about with joyful abandon is such a delight…

…one of those simple pleasures that makes my heart happy.

 

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