Small Blessings

Header Image: Halloween Pennant – (Celithemis eponina)

Our daily human existence is boring, busy, chaotic, emotional and all things in between. We have jobs, chores and responsibilities. Our precisely organized schedules are interrupted by unforeseen circumstances. Loved ones need our attention. We need the attention of our loved ones. Bills must be paid. Politics are ignored but nevertheless intrude rudely into our lives. We plan for the future and the future of our children and the future of our grandchildren and for the future of the planet.

No wonder we are overcome with fatigue.

Each of us must find a way to cope with life. Gini and I have been so fortunate to have each other to turn to, to lean upon, to be there no matter what. We learned over the years the importance of having an escape valve for times when the pressures of life build to critical levels. As often happens, our “escape valve” became a habit. A change of venue worked wonders for all sorts of issues. Visiting a Natural Place invigorated our souls and allowed us to reclaim an inner peace.

A trip to “visit nature” doesn’t need to involve a huge amount of planning and preparation. Those would be called “vacations”, which are definitely nice, but may not be practical to achieve with any frequency. We are fortunate to have several spots nearby and all we need do is get in the car and go. Granted, we typically take along some binoculars, camera and water. But we often only spend an hour or two away from the house. For us – it is enough.

Sometimes we see something new and different. Most of the time, we see the same things. But those same things bring us incredible pleasure and we are still able to marvel at Nature’s diversity. Small blessings make our lives better.

Today’s impromptu trip was to the Bridgewater Tract of Tenoroc Fish Management Area, 4.25 miles from our front door. The sky was blue, the temperature was mild and two hours later we were back home.

A poem.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

 e.e. cummings

Our constant companion, it seems, no matter where we visit, is the White-eyed Vireo. Now, in spring, constantly singing and lurking low in the understory.

Somewhat rare for our area, a small clear sandy-bottomed creek offers a slightly different habitat than is typical. The difference is enough to attract a dark damselfly, the Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata).

A Snowy Egret patiently tip-toes through the shallow water hoping to locate a breakfast minnow among the weeds.

Large lily pads holding a bit of water make a nice perch for a male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) to await a passing snack.

New growth each spring at the end of pine tree branches is sometimes referred to as “candles”. On some species, this new growth can take the shape of a cross. Since this growth occurs in early spring, legends are told about how the pine trees know when it’s Easter.

Bright color and extensive wing markings make it easy to identify the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina).

There’s nothing like an expansive patch of bright blue in a field of brown grass to remind us Spring really is here! The color of the Bluejacket, or Ohio Spiderwort, (Tradescantia ohiensis) really is impressive.

Sporting a yellow thorax with dark racing stipes, blue eyes and a white face, this female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is ready to launch and pursue anything which flies nearby.

Yet another reminder that this is the season of renewal, a large tangle of Sawtooth Blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus) offers tempting ripe fruit for those brave enough to work through the mass of thorns. Also, these were growing along the bank of a lake and offer perfect hiding spots for our Water Moccasins. Yes, the ones with the short temper and venomous bite. But, the berries are SO SWEET! Risk management ……

We always find something to enjoy when we visit a Natural Place. The bird checklist may be forgotten, the planning may be minimal, the effort may be small – but small blessings are still blessings. We cherish each one no matter the size.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

27 Comments on “Small Blessings

  1. How I so agree with your sentiments Wally. Life doesn’t get any easier as we grow old but I think our generation have had the best years and I’m afraid for my children and grandchildren. Fortunately and like you and Gini, Sue and I we have escape valves in the natural world and in our close relationships.

    We enjoyed every second of our time in Greece and now it’s time to catch up with friends near and far.
    I enjoyed you photos and words today. We bought our first strawberries of the year today when we returned to the joys of shopping for other than souvenirs.

    Take care of each other.


    • Welcome home!

      We hope your trip was terrific and restful. (Can it be both?)

      Looking forward to your catching up with the local birds as we know they missed you.


  2. Oh, I so agree! Yesterday I took off by myself to a preserve just a few miles from our house…just to enjoy nature. One car was there when I got there and it was gone when I left. I don’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of the preserves around here….but then if it was crowded I guess I would complain about that! lol I picked my first blackberries this week and they were super sweet. Love your dragonflies…hope they eat all the buggies up! Enjoy your week! Diane


    • Thank you, Diane.

      I’ve forgotten about the blackberries and can’t get your dolphins and mullet off my plate — I mean, off my mind. 🙂


  3. Every one of these shots was a pleasure to view, Wally, as I am sure they were a pleasure to experience as you and Gini walked your walk. I am fortunate also having many natural areas locally and within short drives. Time spent in nature is the best escape from all that constantly bombards us with negative declaration. So is time spent reading and viewing your log. Thanks for your positivity.


  4. More than anything, I envy your easy access to close-to-home nature areas. My own roaming will have to be limited now, thanks to the price of gas. A couple of planned long weekends have been put on hold, and impulsive trips to the refuges are out of the picture for the time being. On the other hand, looking around may yield some smaller spots that are just as enjoyable. I really am going to have to do some searching for some new natural places — it’s time to take your invitation to do that more seriously!

    I was quite taken with your pine. It must be some species other than the Longleaf Pine I’ve seen in east Texas. It also grows as a ‘candle’ when young, but the tips are quite different: not cross-shaped. And those blackberries look delicious; they seem fatter and juicier than our dewberries.

    Despite not being the world’s greatest fan of e.e. cummings, I’ve always liked that passage you quoted. It’s got a bit of a spring bounce to it — just the ticket for these complicated times!


    • We try hard to not take our local patches of paradise for granted, but it’s hard.

      I empathize with the pump pain!

      I’ll try to do some digging on the pine “crosses”, but I think Longleaf is definitely one which has that display for a couple of weeks in April. (More to follow …)

      I, too, have never been able to cozy up to mr cummings’ work, but really liked that bit.

      Have a great weekend, even if it might be closer to home base than usual!

      Liked by 1 person

    • We all need a bit of “sanctuary” time. The size and location isn’t important.

      Hope your weekend is all you want it to be, David.


  5. Your opening five paragraphs rang so true with me, Wally, but I could never express such matters with the eloquence that you have seemingly effortlessly executed here.

    Your spectacular odonates have, as always, filled me with pangs of jealousy, but at least I have now seen my first of the year – and they emerged from my garden mini-pond!

    The biggest smile, however, was created by your short piece on the Sawtooth Blackberry !

    My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard


    • Thank you, Richard. If only I could live up to your high praise!

      Each trip out now is becoming a challenge on which dragons to chase. They seem to suddenly be everywhere!

      Gini makes a very toothsome Sawtooth Blackberry cobbler!


  6. Your opening dialogue strikes a chord, just a shame Mrs H isn’t a bit more like Gini, more often than not I’m out alone, hey ho.
    Loving the dragons, our season is finally getting under way.


  7. You certainly had a blessing filled encounter with one of your natural places. It made me think that small blessings in great numbers may be as good as a large blessing — although harder to count!


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