It Is Our Nature To Be Happy
Header Image: White-tailed Deer
“What a really nice morning!” This was the second time Gini had made that statement since we left the state park. As we pulled into the Bar-B-Que restaurant, she observed that we always seem to say that no matter where we have been. She is right.
This particular morning had not been particularly unusual. We saw a few birds, a few insects, enjoyed nice scenery and we talked about the kids, the coming week, ate some fruit while small birds chipped around us. A “normal” day. We again marveled at how blessed we are to have bits of nature so close at hand for us to explore. It makes us happy.
I started thinking, what is it about these trips that make us “happy“? Analyzing the ingredients resulted in an epiphany. Turns out, it isn’t the things we see or the places we go which make us “happy“. It is – us.
We are content staying at home, visiting a park, driving across the country, dining out, being with our children and grandchildren. Weird but true. We actually like each other’s company! There it is – the secret formula which makes us “happy“. That guy Frank sung that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. Turns out he was right.
Happiness can be enhanced. Here’s some of the things we saw this morning which didn’t hurt our happiness quotient at all.
Running head-first down a tree trunk, a small Black-and-White Warbler gives the impression of a nuthatch.
Dragonflies today were skittish and didn’t offer many opportunities for photographs. This Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) perched for a moment then took off for parts unknown.
As fall migration proceeds, we will see fewer of many small species of songbirds such as the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
It’s always surprising how many species of insects visit the small and extremely common Beggarticks, or Romerillo (Bidens alba). The little flower doesn’t seem like it would offer much in the way of nectar, but visitors like this Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes) prove that it must.
A unique wing pattern helps identify this fairly large dragonfly as a Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena).
Florida has five species of “black” swallowtail butterflies. This is an Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) showing once again the Beggarticks flower has tasty nectar. Photobombed! The first image has a small Crab Spider (Thomisidae spp.) hiding under the flower. The second image shows a beetle, possibly one of the Leaf beetles (Polyphaga spp.).
The eyes have it. And the White-eyed Vireo has some special eyes!
When one thinks “wasp” the word “sting” often comes to mind. In this case, “handsome” might apply. A Gold-marked Thread-waisted Wasp (Eremnophila aureonotata) visits a Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata) and gets dusted with a bit of pollen.
By now, this flower should be familiar. Another visitor, a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus), loves the flavor of that Beggarticks bloom.
While admiring a group of tall, gangly yellow blooms, Gini said, “that flower looks weird, like it has a sort of shadow on it”. She insisted I hike around and look at the back of the blossom. She is so smart. A Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) on a Florida False Sunflower (Phoebanthus grandiflorus) had captured a bee for brunch. This particular plant is a member of the Aster family and is endemic to Florida.
We really did have a nice morning. My post-trip analysis of why we seem happy no matter our situation was informative. Although, I’m pretty sure the smart one of the partnership has known it all along.
“If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
From Morning Poem, by Mary Oliver
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
Not everyone has achieved the gift of true love and happiness. It is indeed a gift. Of course not everyone needs a human relationship to feel the love and Nature is the gift that keeps on giving for so many of us. You and Gini are lucky to find happiness in both sources and are able to share so much of your time enjoying the bounty of Nature together…and with those of us fortunate enough to follow your blog. And as your images make clear, Nature does provide much to be happy about.
As winter approaches here in the soon to be frigid northeast, I and many others I am sure are looking forward to all that sunny Florida has to offer. No dragonflies, butterflies, or flowers will be seen for months but vicarious pleasures will abound. 🙂
Bad news for the bee but better a lynx spider dines than Roundup destroys. The header image has two of the oddest looking whitetail deer I’ve ever seen. Must be the result of some interspecies mating hijinx.
We are very fortunate and try hard not take it for granted.
Now you’ve put the pressure on so we’ll try to follow through with amazing tales and images of Florida in the throes of winter.
Until you said something, I did not realize that when I changed the header picture it would be the header image for any past posts! Common sense is not my specialty.
Now I’ll have to work on a solution.
You make me realize how much I missed on my daily walks in the local Florida patch. In truth, the diversity of habitats and sepcies was much lower there– usually only a few butterflies and limited number of species. No going back, though. Here in Connecticut I was surprised at how few butterflies were present. Also, I read an interesting factoid about Bidens alba. It is said to be the major native producer of nectar in Florida, second only cultivated citrus.
Having lived in a few different states and countries, it has always been a pleasure to explore new environments. Our native Florida is special to us, naturally.
It’s been fun keeping up with your adventures in your new “patch”!
Don’t worry about missing us too much. Another day, another tropical storm!
I love your header, it’s such a treat to see a deer here in Florida. I never get tired of seeing them in the forest. And I love the bird peeking around the branch. I am a happy person. But I notice that I get a little ‘moody’ when I have to stay inside for more than 2 days in a row! lol I love being out in the woods or at the preserve and it definitely enhances my happiness. I always say I can’t have a bad day on my hiking days. Enjoy your week. Happy hugs to you both, Diane
I think we were visiting each other at the same time! Great minds…and all of that! lol Enjoy your day!
I am seldom accused of having a great mind, so Thank You!
Thank you so much, Diane!
Yep, having to be indoors for too long can definitely affect one’s mood! A “nature fix” is exactly the right prescription.
Keep a weather eye out the next couple of days. May see a bit of rain.
A wonderful celebration of happiness! Looking at your photos, I said “wow” so often it sounded like a continuous chorus 🙂 I especially liked the green spider and his brunch – didn’t realize those big bees had predators in the insect world.
Thank you, Sam. We said “wow” a lot, too!
That bee apparently didn’t think he needed to worry about that pretty green bug either. Wrong!
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Thank goodness those of us who lack love, marriage, horses, and a carriage have nature, or we might be very morose, indeed! I jest, of course — your larger point that happiness isn’t determined by external forces or circumstance is true as true can be. Learning how to develop the ‘happy nature’ that Oliver speaks of is the trick. I’ve always found the old programmers’ slogan to be a useful reminder: garbage in, garbage out. Give me a choice between an afternoon in nature and an afternoon spent doom-scrolling through social media and websites, and there’s no question which I’ll choose.
No doom-scrolling here. One look at the White-eyed Vireo or the Green Lynx spider and I’m all smiles. Even that wasp is pretty darned snazzy — not to mention being a good pollinator. I’m always amazed by the number of insects that visit the tiny flowers, even though they often seem to bounce around a good bit in their attempt to get enough nectar to satisfy their appetites.
Now, swerving in a completely different direction, have you heard of the Happy-Happy Man of the San Francisco Bay area? I actually met him once. He was a fixture in the Berkeley/Oakland/SF areas since the 1970s. As far as I know, he’s still active, and still urging people to be “Happy, happy, happy!
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I’m afraid my posts get into the weeds of my personal relationship with Gini once in a while. Occupational hazard. I truly hope it never comes across as offensive in any way.
You are so right about choices. Just being in nature can also help us make better decisions in all sorts of matters. (I was going to mention talking to the trees, but I’m sure no one but me does such a thing.)
I love that link to the Happy-Happy Man! Who can argue with such a simple and uplifting message? Perhaps if we all did that a few times a week the human race would benefit immensely.
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You’ve never been offensive, in any way. I laughed at your mention of tree-talking. It reminded me of that classic Smothers Brothers “I talk to the Trees” bit from decades ago. Of course, there are other times when talking to nature seems appropriate. Every time I see an unfortunate squirrel smooshed in the middle of the street, I apologize to it. I can’t help myself — although I try to do it silently if there are others around.
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I agree with Ginny – I always think ‘What a nice morning’ after a visit out in nature. And I agree with you too – about the horse and carriage thought.
Great photos once again Wally! Well done – especially the header image!
It’s almost eerie how Gini can say aloud what I’m thinking. Our kids can tell you about her uncanny “Mom Radar System”. Poor things never got away with anything!
Thanks for dropping by our side of the state for a bit, Ed! We MUST get to MINWR soon!
I always find myself being amazed by the shape of, and markings on, the wings of your saddlebag dragonflies, Wally. The markings on the wings of the Bar-winged Skimmer are pretty spectacular too, but knocked into a cocked-hat by the wings of that Eastern Black Swallowtail. The connection between thorax and abdomen of some wasp species looks extremely fragile and I find myself wondering if they get broken. That Thread-waisted Wasp is a prime example of su of this feature.
The Green Lynx Spider would appear to have caught more than a brunch – more like a feast for the whole family!
Thank you for spreading your happiness to cover us all.
With my very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard
Good morning, Richard and Lindsay!
You pointed out all the same things that amaze us, too! Nature is like a huge buffet. We wander along and point at what we like and it’s usually “everything”.
“Happiness Ambassadors”. That’s us.
I will quote that ‘horse and carriage’ business to my husband. 😄 Thanks for sharing these beautiful critters. My favourite are the butterflies.
Find the song “Love and Marriage” on YouTube.
Thank you for the nice comments.
We love it when those butterflies pose for a moment!
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