Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Turtle Crossing

After the natural highs we received during our mountain trips last week, we decided to do something out in nature this past weekend.  There's a fairly large nature preserve not too far from home that we'd never been to so we decided to go check it out.  There was plenty of nature to be found....


That lizard peeking out of a hole in the tree?  Amazeballs.

After being there for a while, I realized it wasn't working for me.  Too manufactured.  And way too hot. (At Big Meadows, the temps never reached above 60 degrees. MY kind of weather!) While I appreciate the effort and the fact that this park is there at all, it just could NOT compare to what we saw and experienced last week.  Not even close. I didn't want to see a bridge with traffic off in the distance (as in Alain's photo above). I didn't want to see McMansions across the water (isn't that exactly what I was trying to get away from!!!?). For me, relaxation isn't having a motor boat or jetski go by every ten minutes.So we decided to head back home. Frankly I like my backyard better than this park.

Oh, but on the way out (!!!!!).......this little guy decided to cross the road right before we drove by.  

I don't think the car had come to a complete stop before I was jumping out with my camera.  

Oh sweet love.  I followed this guy all the way across the road to make sure he got there safely.  

A turtle bum photo?  Quite possibly the best idea I've had in a while.

He may have just made my day!!!!

AND, now that I know there are turtles creeping around, I may just have to go on back and take another look around!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Big Meadows

I could write about this place all day.  But I don't have enough free time.  So I will only tell you that this is truly one of my favorite places I've EVER been.  It's so magical.  


Okay, just a little bit.
Oh, the fawns.  The fawns.  I'm going next summer just to see the fawns again.  You could look into the forest while you were driving on the road and see them (like the third picture from the top). I told Alain that we have to go back when I can go to the meadow at dawn and at dusk.  Mainly for better photo lighting but also because the animals might be around.  The girls and I saw plenty of deer beds (15th photo down is an example ~ I showed Sophie & Clara the first one and then they found plenty on their own) but the actual deer weren't around in the middle of the day. While we didn't see any bears, we spoke to a park ranger who said he's seen eight so far this season. Sophie wants to camp there so maybe that's a possibility when Clara gets a little older (at the moment, she still doesn't sleep when she's away from home!).  I am also now obsessed with wildflowers ~ I'm sure you didn't notice. I'm researching books (thinking about this one) and considering attending Wildflower Weekend next year. To say that I was inspired by my visit to Big Meadows would be a drastic understatement. The natural beauty was overwhelming in a very good way!

I hope you can go one day too!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Winged Visitors!

When the girls and I arrived at my parent's house last Sunday afternoon, one of the first things we noticed was a little butterfly garden that my parents have beside their back fence.  It had multiple visitors when we arrived.  After our hellos, I ran to get my camera.

Before I even made it the butterflies, my Dad pointed out the hummingbird visiting their feeder.

They're fast and don't stay long but I was pretty thrilled with these two pictures. I was also thrilled that I got to see the hummingbirds a few more times during our visit. Why we don't have a hummingbird feeder at home is totally beyond me!

(Speaking of hummingbirds, did you guys see the tiny hummingbird nest?????? Oh my heart.)

Okay, on to the butterflies....

And this picture.....whew, I can't get over it.

What in the world is this flower/plant?  My parents said it came with the house! I would LOVE to have one in our yard.  Please let me know if you can help me ID it!  I am not lying.....every single time I looked out the window or passed by this plant, there were multiple butterflies hanging out!  I believe they were all Swallowtails....the ones you see here and mostly the yellow variety.

And I do love the Black-Eyed Susans too!!! We had some beautiful ones in our front yard years ago and I accidentally killed them.  It has to be one of the easiest plants in the world to have and I killed them! I did tell you I wasn't good at growing flowers!!!

Tell me, do you guys have a favorite butterfly plant/bush/flower?  I would really love to plant one in Hubbell's garden!!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Open to Nature

I think a lot about nature, clearly.  I think the world needs more nature.  It makes me sad that we humans do such a shoddy job taking care of nature and we seem so ambitious to take it all away. Maybe it sounds cliche but I do think children are our future (as well as our present!) and I work hard to introduce my girls to as much nature as possible.  During our trip to Virginia this week, I took Sophie and Clara to the mountains twice....once to the Peaks of Otter and another day to Big Meadows.  I hadn't been to Big Meadows since I was a child and Ginny's posts on her blog made me want to go again.  Wow.  You just cannot imagine the beauty that exists in this place.  My breath was taken away!  I can't remember the last time I could say that.  I will post pictures of our visit very soon, but a few things happened during our time in the meadow that made me desire to send out this post first. 

When we got out of the car to walk through the meadow, the air was slightly chilly and the wind was blowing gently.  The sun was shining and the clouds were white, fluffy, and simply divine.  I don't know how anyone could go to this place and not feel a stirring in their very soul.  We crossed over a small hill and stepped into the grass.  Sophie was leading the way, I was walking in the middle and Clara was bringing up the rear.  Suddenly I realized I didn't hear Clara's footsteps behind me.  I turned around and found this.....

Clara was standing still, her head tilted upwards, and you could tell that the breeze was caressing her sweet cheeks.  Her arms were WIDE open.  Her eyes were closed.  The wind was flirting with her little curls.  She stayed like this for quite some time.  At some point, I remembered to pull up my camera.  I'm so glad I did. This will be one of those parenting moments that I will always remember and cherish.

Clara was open to nature.

When do we lose this?  I want to know.  I didn't see any adults that day with arms wide open embracing the warmth and fresh air and gentle breeze.  Not to say that they weren't enjoying it......I'm an adult and I enjoyed it immensely.  Yet, why wasn't I throwing my arms out to embrace this perfection? Why didn't I close my eyes to savor the freshness and chill?  I think we have to all agree that, at some point, we become self-conscious.  Could someone be watching us?  What would they think? Or do we just become preoccupied and fail to notice the miraculous beauty that surrounds us? I had just passed by a shopping center on my way to the mountains that was PACKED with people.  Yet I thought Skyline Drive was quite empty.  Why?  How come people aren't lined up to visit a place this magical?

These thoughts were immediately taken over by the realization that I had given my children an amazing gift on this glorious, glorious day.

As the three of us started down one of the trails, I think we were overwhelmed by the variety and beauty of the wildflowers. 

As I watched I noticed that Clara was gravitating to the wildflower that I believe is Queen Anne's Lace.

She kept touching the flowers of the plant.  Very gently.  Which is unusual for Clara.

What amazed me though is the way she would take a bloom in both of her hands and pull it gently to her chest.  It looked like she was caressing the flowers.  She would then let it go without doing any damage at all. I tried my best to capture this in the photo above.

There's no question that Clara was fascinated by the flowers.

Before Sophie was born, Alain and I sat down and each wrote a list of five things that we wanted to impart to our children.  I'm sure you're not surprised to know that Nature was on my list.  On this beautiful day, I felt happy to know that I was succeeding in helping our children fall in love with Nature. I know I'm right because, on the drive home, Sophie kept thanking me for taking her to Big Meadows....that it was so amazing.....that she really loved it. I hope she (and Clara) keep that with them always!

Sophie & Clara, our day at Big Meadows was such a perfect day.  I'm so glad I spent it with you!
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