Monday, December 31, 2012


If you are given snow, make lemonade ... or something like that.

Weather forecasters, who had provided dire predictions of a green Christmas, were proven human after all. On top of the 25cm/10" we received just before Christmas, we were 'blessed' with another 30cm/12" the day after, and yesterday's forecast of 'flurries' added another 10cm/4". I consider my request for a good dump of snow during our time up north to be fully satisfied.

And as with so many situations in life, we can accept if not entirely embrace what befalls us, or we can cry foul and bemoan our fate. Life can be viewed as being a cup half full or half empty. I have a great admiration for Job's faith, although I would not want to see mine tested like his was.

May you see beauty in God's good creation each day in the New Year. And put your trust in Him.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter's arrival

As we left home late last week to celebrate Christmas with family that lived some distance away, we also left behind a worsening winter storm - exactly on time for the official start to winter. Fortunately, along the way the weather turned from wet snow to rain and then even that ceased - perfect winter travel weather. We returned last night in the darkness, but even so we could see that winter had settled in.

This morning the pale sun did its best to brighten the day, and I had to go out - after acclimatizing the camera and lenses (and myself) to the -15C/5F temperature - to record the beautiful winter landscape. Everything was frozen under a thick blanket of snow.

And as I'm writing this, the wind is swirling around the house ushering in the next thick layer.

The winter sun ...

Quietly awaiting the warmth of spring ...

Sasha in her element ...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Looking both ways

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

2012 is rapidly drawing to a close. That dawned on me as I was looking back on my blog and realized that my 3rd blogging anniversary had flown right on by. What started off as an 'experiment' back in Dec. 2009 is now in its 4th year (and I realize that it's still in its infancy compared to some stalwarts). I'm no longer posting at the torrid pace of 2010 (a Project 365 year), but God's wonderful creation continues to inspire.

It's good to look back also to see where God's hand has guided, and conversely where we have decided we knew the way better. Looking back provides a good perspective on life if we have eyes to see. I'm reminded of these words:

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

And 'time' for each of us is different - some are given much, others relatively little (think of last week's event in Newtown, CT). Relative to eternity our time here is barely a dream, and who among us will be well-remembered in a couple of generations ?

And yet we may look forward with confidence:

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

Since we will be celebrating Christmas with family over the next week, it's unlikely I'll post during that time. [I'm still slowly visiting your blogs as our internet connection permits]. Thank you each and every one for your visits and kind words over this past year.

I wish all of you a Blessed Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One last look

Before we head back up to colder climes, I thought I'd share a last glimpse of the wildlife we've encountered down south. On our way to a friend's home recently we had to stop as a group of 4 sandhill cranes strolled nonchalantly across the street. Against my better judgement, I was dissuaded from grabbing the camera to get some shots.

Later that day as I toured the neighbourhood in our friend's golf cart, I was rewarded for my earlier contribution to marital harmony by spotting another couple of cranes. These are frequent visitors to the golf course and are quite accustomed to people. I have read, however, that they can be aggressive if they feel threatened (and especially if defending their young) - they can stab with their sizeable beak and kick with their feet. No problem this day - they were focused on eating and I was focused on them.

[I will again be MIA for several days as we brave the increasingly cold elements on our trek north. I hope to catch up with y'all again next week]

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Harbour

[after the shock - to some - of the subject of the last post, I was asked if I would post something a little more pleasant. Alright then ...]

I went down to The Harbour (yes, that's the spelling of the name of this place even though it's in Florida) to catch a sunset. We shall soon be saying a temporary goodbye to places like this for a long, but brief, trip up north to celebrate Christmas with family.

Given the late hour I'll share just a few shots with you - will post the sunset in a few days.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly ...
(Lucy In the Sky ... The Beatles)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

They lurk among us

We're approaching a cumulative couple of years of living in the sub-tropics. During that time we've become acquainted with some of its wildlife, and I've been fortunate to be able to capture some of it. As a northerner I find the variety of living things here fascinating and I try not to miss an opportunity to capture and find out more about them.

Another such opportunity presented itself this week as I was preparing to do battle against a relatively new strain (to Florida) of whitefly that fancies ficus plants (I'll let you know the outcome in a few weeks). I spotted this beastie on the driveway as it looked primed to invade our home. After deciding it might wait a few more moments, I ran and grabbed the camera, got prone on the driveway, faced the alien and made a few photos of it. Turns out that this nasty and destructive bug is a mole cricket. It's normally nocturnal, and those 'paddles' you can clearly see are for digging (hence 'mole'). Sometimes it's better not to know what's crawling around out there in the dark !

Since my bug philosophy is to dispatch first and get information later, he was quickly consigned to bug purgatory. Somehow the song 'All things bright and beautiful' didn't come to mind as I later saw the photos on the screen. Judge for yourself.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birds of a feather ... IV

I first saw one of these odd-looking (to a northerner) birds from an airboat in the Everglades a couple of years ago [note - an airboat is not the best way to get close to wildlife, unless the wildlife is quite deaf]. But a couple of weeks ago patience paid dividends as I was able to approach a mixed flock of some 70 - 80 birds of different species precariously perched in a lone pine tree.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, let me introduce to you the obviously-named roseate spoonbill. A little research revealed that the ones I saw were juveniles (either they haven't learned to fear humans yet, or my stealth skills were exceptional). They almost became extinct as they were hunted for their plumage, but in Florida there are now an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs.

I don't know what startled them, but after an hour of creeping up and getting my shots, the birds decided they'd posed enough and flew off in unison. I then turned my attention to a nearby slough where there was bound to be some action, but that's fodder for another day.

I hope all my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving; we did as we were invited to share it with our wonderful neighbors and their family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birds of a feather ... III

Hope you haven't tired of our feathered friends quite yet. While the more gregarious ones were gathered on the pine tree, I noticed a few less sociable, or perhaps ostracized, birds nearby. Careful not to disturb the group just above me, I swung my lens around to capture a great blue heron and a turkey vulture.

Today's interesting fact: vultures often appear to have white legs because they squirt feces onto their legs and feet to cool themselves. Who says reading blogs can't be educational ? Keep that one in mind for your next trivia quiz. And a bonus fact: vultures are related to storks.

Note: I will be MIA for the next number of days as we welcome company. I expect to come visit you in about a week (although I might sneak a peek at comments you leave here ... shhh).

I don't think this spot was very conducive to fishing ...

 and it seems he agrees

 a member of the clean up crew arrives

Monday, November 12, 2012

Birds of a feather ... II

I have seen these beauties (well, it's said that beauty IS in the eye of the beholder, and these have a face I'm sure only a mother could love) before in Florida - the wood stork. But I'd never been able to get within twenty feet of them before. Apparently they are the only stork that breeds in North America. If you're interested, Wikipedia has some more interesting information on them.

Curiously, the storks seemed to be the only ones who took an interest in me creeping up towards the gathering.

Here he's with his friend Pinocchio

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Birds of a feather ...

I developed a habit while completing a Project 365 during 2010 of making mental notes of places to visit, or re-visit, where I thought there were photographic opportunities. [editorial note: a better practice is to carry a notebook to jot down the info since, if your memory is anything like mine - good but short - you greatly increase your chances of finding the place again].

While on an expedition recently to get another check mark on our Christmas gift list, I saw a spot along a highway where a large number of birds were gathered. Mentally noted. Three fortunate things then happened - 1) I remembered by the time we got home; 2) I had the opportunity the next day to go back there; 3) the birds were waiting for me.

There was a bit of a logistical problem, however. The birds had congregated in a lone pine in the middle of a field. There would be little cover to allow me to get close. I parked a hundred yards or so away and assumed my best nonchalant stealth shuffle. I paused every so many feet to get a few shots in case I lost the whole flock suddenly. All went well until I got a sand spur (those of you living in Florida know what those are) lodged between my sole and the sole of my sandal. I managed not to do a crazed pain dance as I balanced on one foot, removed the sandal and sand spur, and continued my advance. Amazingly I managed to get within about twenty feet of the tree. Now and then a bird would depart but another would come in to take over the vacated spot, while most of the others just stared curiously at the slow-moving creature below them.

I'm no bird expert but I think most or all the ones I spotted in the pine tree are known as wading birds. Maybe they just appreciate a change of view. I'll show you them over the next few posts.

The first one is an ibis which I affectionately call a pinocchio bird.

Here's a partial shot of the tree, and an incoming ...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ravages of Time

Most time is wasted, not in hours, but in minutes. A bucket with a small hole in the bottom gets just as empty as a bucket that is deliberately kicked over. [Paul J. Meyer]

God has given me this day to use it as I will. I can waste it - or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it ! [Heartsill Wilson]

If you have the time, click on the link below the photos, kick back, and listen for a few minutes ... 

(I will be 'out of the office' for a few days as we travel south - I hope to catch up with y'all by the end of the week)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yes, How Indeed

This song came to mind as I went out recently to revel in how our Creator has clothed his creation. (if you'd like to hear it too, just click on the link below the photos)


My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Above the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

Oh though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
Oh though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble with fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
How can I keep from singing?

Lord, how can I keep from singing?
Oh, how can I keep from singing?

From the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what He made. As a result, people have no excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Somewhere ......

[some of you may be familiar with Eva Cassidy - if so, you undoubtedly are very familiar with the song below; if you aren't, you owe it to yourself to have a listen - I promise you won't regret it - click the link below the photos]

Today started off well enough, crisp but with sunshine. By early afternoon the weather had degenerated into a wind-whipped rainstorm. It had stopped by dinner time so we could take Sasha out for a walk (or maybe she takes us ?), although the sky still looked threatening. We made it back just before the low grey masses of clouds opened up again. But we could see some clearing on the western horizon.

Sure enough, as the clouds were being swept to the east, the sun peeked below the western edge of the clouds and shone through the rain, capping the day off with a magnificent rainbow. I wouldn't have traded this moment for a pot of gold.

Monday, October 8, 2012

October's Party

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
     [George Cooper, October's Party]

I trust you're not tired of autumn quite yet. Why not take a moment out of your day (since you're here anyway) and listen to one of my favourite singers (click on the link below the photos). Then walk along these country roads with me and marvel at the Creator's handiwork.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Emblems of Autumn

An Autumn Thought
  by: Albert Laighton (1829-1887)
They're speeding on--the weary winter hours;
These are thy emblems, thou departing year:
The falling leaves, the fading of the flowers

Laid by fond Autumn on the Summer's bier.

Soon will the song of lingering birds be still,
The streamlets lose the music of their tone;
For hid with pallid brow behind the hill,
stern Winter waits to mount his glittering throne.

Well, let the flowers decay, the dead leaves fall;
Hushed be the birds, and stilled the streamlet's flow;
Let hoary Winter cast a blight o'er all,
And bind his withered brow with wreaths of snow.

We know that May will come, and glad rills play,
And flowers along their emerald borders bloom;
Though our next spring-time may lie far away
In some fair clime of light beyond the tomb.

Autumn is creeping in, we've had frost several times, and the wood stove has banished the chill from our home. temporarily. Here's what autumn is starting to look like in our neck of the woods.