Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Bees Are Back

Yesterday afternoon Sophie came to tell me that the Bradford Pear tree out front was filled with "thousands of bees".   "You should hear the sound, Mommy", she said.  And she was right.  

I was never a big fan of the Bradford Pear tree.  Especially right now when it's at its stinkiest!  After yesterday afternoon, these photos and knowing this tree is loved by my beloved honey bees, I will probably be that tree's biggest defender!  And who knew that the blooms were this beautiful up close???  Not me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


After my Bird Walk in February, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the next one.  Much to my delight, March's scheduled walk turned out to be a Frog Walk.  I knew that this one was kid-friendly so I immediately signed up for Sophie and myself.  Well, we had more fun than either of us had imagined!  

The walk is led by a naturalist who helps identify species, point out things we wouldn't see on our own and help explain things to us.  For example, I probably would've seen this print on my own but I'm not sure I'd have known it was a raccoon print. 

There were these beautiful pods of yellow wildflowers all over the Greenway.  They were some of the only color.

Someone walking behind us got Sophie's attention and pointed out this sweet little chipmunk.

Yep, the beaver is still around.  There are signs of the beaver everywhere.  They stay very busy!

At some point, the naturalist dipped his net down in the murky water below the boardwalk and came up with this painter turtle.  Sophie's eyes were as wide as saucers!


She was so happy to be able to reach out and touch it!  She also made sure to direct me to take a picture.  My pleasure, Sophie!

The next net caught a crayfish (crawfish, crawdad....what do you call it?  Have you taken the dialect quiz yet?).

Please note these are not my hands.  :-) 

Aaahhh, our first frog sighting.  SO ADORABLE.

Yep, hello there, Mr. Frog.  You are about to get yanked out of the water, I tried to warn him.

He didn't listen.  We watched as the naturalist turned the frog on his back and proceeded to rub his belly.  Apparently, this hypnotizes the frog!  (Who says you don't learn something new every day?)  I think I must have been mesmerized myself because I forgot to take a photo of his little legs splayed out, with his spotted belly all visible.

Then the kids had an opportunity to hold him.  This was all fine and dandy until his spell wore off and he tried to escape. He jumped right onto one of the young teenage girls.  Ha!  You've never seen someone jump like that!

Seriously, how cute is he?

The weather was divine.  We started out at 6:00 PM and the walk lasted 2 1/2 hours so we also enjoyed a most gorgeous sunset.

Of course you feel so proud when you find something yourself that you can share with the group. This guy was my first find.  A VERY LARGE bullfrog.  The largest we saw on the walk.  The picture is blurry but I just wanted to share.  So proud!

So the naturalist told us this was a beaver print.  WHAT?  It looked like BIGFOOT.  I mean it was massive.  I didn't believe him.

Next we found a musk turtle.  Well, unlike the painter turtle, he was mad as hell.  He sprayed his stinky musk and his jaws were all agape....ready to strike at any moment.  Poor guy.

Can you see his mouth wide open?

Sophie could not get enough.  She's walked the Greenway many, many times and I think she was surprised to learn just how many different animals are all around at any given moment.  That girl spent most of the walk walking right up front beside the naturalist.  As I've mentioned, I'm the dreamer/caboose always pulling up the rear.  She and I are so different.  And I love it!

A Nature Group from another elementary school was there....all girls.....and I could tell Sophie was really happy to have other kids to hang out with and talk to about the animals.  It was REALLY NICE to be around other children who think nature is cool and don't stand around screaming....OOOH, GROSSSS.  Yuck, bugs.  Trees are boring!  (Her classmate told me that last one after I read The Lorax in her class.  Sophie replied, "WHAT?  You don't know what you're talking about.  Trees are AMAZING!")

Clearly, Sophie was not intimidated by the turtle's musk smell or the gaping jaws!

I don't know how to take a nice photo of the sun setting over the cattail marsh so you'll have to take my word that it was beautiful!

The darker it became, the more frogs we saw.  It was fun to find them.

AND THEN........

The highlight of all highlights......THE BEAVERS MADE AN APPEARANCE!

And I almost passed out when I saw how big this beaver was.  I had no idea. That print really did belong to a beaver!!!!

Adults and kids alike were ecstatic.  Seriously, our mouths were all hanging wide open.  Even the naturalist couldn't believe our luck!  He kept telling us how lucky we were as if we needed reminding!  The girls ran down the boardwalk following the beaver as she swam along.  The rest of us laughed and joked that they were like paparazzi.

Even now, as I sit in the bookshop writing this post, I still cannot believe we saw one of the beavers. 

Lastly, since it was pitch dark by this time, we saw the tiny little Spring Peepers.  Sophie was an expert at finding them.  This teeny tiny little soul makes the loudest, most adorable, high-pitched peep.  I just stood there and listened with my eyes closed.  We were surrounded by a symphony of peeping and it was the sweetest sound.

At some point during the walk, Sophie stopped me, gave me a huge hug, and told me that I'm the best Mom ever for bringing her on this walk.  Well, my heart melted.  I felt/feel so grateful for this amazing, interesting, fun child who just happens to share my interests and enjoys and appreciates nature as much as I do!  

She's already asked me several times, "Mom, when is the next walk?".  "Not soon enough", I tell her....and we both smile.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Marching for Goldens

On Saturday we took part in Charlotte's St. Patrick's Day Parade.  We marched with the Golden Rescue......the same group that I volunteer for and the same people that rescued my Hubbell.  This was the first time that the whole family walked the entire parade together.  

And it was SO MUCH FUN!  Sophie even cried at the end because she didn't want it to be over.  

The parade was always Hubbell's favorite event so I made a sign for Clara's wagon.  

{Please ignore the ghetto masking tape I used to tape the sign to the wagon!}

In years past, Hubbs would always want to walk right at the edge of the parade.....where all the people sitting on the sidelines could rub him and give him attention.  Oh he LOVED the attention.  At times I'd try to pull him into the middle for a break and he'd pull me right back to the side.  For this reason, we'd often call him The Mayor.  He was the perfect representative for the group.....and it didn't hurt that he was the most gorgeous Golden ever.

What made me the most happy on Saturday?  It was quite serendipitous that "Hubbell's Angel" was at the parade.  I hadn't seen her in a decade.  She didn't even see me but noticed the sign on the wagon and immediately combed the crowd to find me.  Oh, I was so happy to see her! Her name is Linda and she was the person who drove all the way to Gaffney, SC, to pick Hubbell (formerly Stewart) up from a bank parking lot where he'd been hanging out for several weeks. (Can you imagine?) She rescued him and, because of that, I consider her to be my angel as well. Doesn't she look like one?  

So the weather was really ideal for a parade.  (We'll just thank our lucky stars and ignore the fact that it's been rainy, cold and miserable ever since then.)  Lots of people were out and everyone seemed so happy.  I love parades because they are such happy events!  Anyway, here's the view we had while walking.....

Sophie made sure to walk right up front with the sign.......

.....while Clara kicked back in the wagon and ate snack after snack after snack after snack.  So happy I thought to bring a HUGE cooler FULL of snacks.  I'd often look down and she'd have her feet propped up on the side of the wagon chowing down on something.

Every once in a while a big Golden would poke his/her head down in the wagon.  They really wanted some of those snacks.  And Clara was D-E-L-I-G-H-T-E-D each time she got a face full of big furry Golden Retriever!

Clara was also enthralled with the sign and wanted to tell everyone that this dog was her Hubbell.

{Oh, my heart!}

We had a fantastic turnout and almost everyone had on their various Golden shirts from over the years...

And the dogs came all decked out for St. Patty's as well.....

{my God-Dog, Champ}

{The girls begged me to take a photo of the dog with the tutu!}

I felt so thankful that we had such a fun, beautiful way to honor Hubbell's memory, while supporting other Goldens. I was super emotional when the parade started and felt so thankful I had big, dark sunglasses on to hide my tears.  I felt Hubbell's spirit marching right alongside me.  To look around and see several faces who also knew and loved my boy brought me comfort. And being surrounded by Hubbell's fellow Goldens always brings a lot of joy and overwhelming love to my heart!

I can't wait until next year!!!!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Provide For Yourself Without Diminishing The World

Oh, the joys of Spring.  They're here.  Each day I notice at least one new sign of Spring.  And it brings joy to my heart.  

{My daylilies are working hard to bust up out of the ground!}

{The peach tree is sending out its first blooms.}

{The violas came alive again.  The colors went from a little dull to totally vibrant overnight.}

{All the birds are active.  And this bluebird visits every day now.}

Still, here in Charlotte, we're riding the roller coaster that is our current weather pattern.  75 degrees one day and 42 the next.  You just never know what you'll wake up to.  Forrest Gump might say that our weather pattern is like a box of chocolates.  On those days that the sun shines down on us and keeps us warm, we're outside every spare moment, SOAKING IT UP!

{I laughed when the "littles" got tired of taking turns in the Jeep and piled in on top of one another!}

{And Soph, the little girl who always looked exactly like Dad to me, seems to look more and more like me every day.  Some days I look at her and I'm stunned. It's like looking at myself.}

And the sidewalk drawings just keep getting better!

{When I told Soph she couldn't have a lemonade stand, she drew one.}

{I was a little sad when the rain washed the mermaid away!}

{The little faces peering out of the rocket ship windows just kill me!}

Alain and I were riding in the car on Tuesday and the DJ on the radio said, "I hope Mother Nature decides to be nice and give us some warm weather today."  I don't really know why but that comment made me angry. I said out loud, "Really, what have you done for Mother Nature lately?".  Alain, who knows me so well, knew I was talking to the DJ and only grunted in agreement with me.  No other words were necessary.  One of only many reasons why I love this guy so.  But seriously, it did make me upset. Too many of us expect so much of Mother Nature yet we give next to nothing in return.  It's a relationship of take, take, take.  So I was pleased, no....more than pleased, to come across this article by Michael Pollan today (via Rhonda's awesome blog).  I hope you might take a few minutes to read it too. (My post title came from the closing of the article.) I wasn't looking for inspiration or motivation to do more but I was still happy to find it.
During Dr. Seuss week at school, I was a Mystery Reader in Soph's class.  I had to read my favorite Seuss book.  Well, it should be pretty clear what my favorite is.  The Lorax.  And as I read to all those eager faces, I was particularly moved by my favorite line:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better.  It's not."

Amen to that.  That Dr. Seuss....he was pretty brilliant, no?
(And can I just say that the kids thought it the coolest thing ever that my name is Audrey, the same as the treehugger teen in The Lorax movie? They used to call me "Sophie's Mom" but now they all call me Audrey.  I love that!)

Hope you're all well and enjoying a beautiful week!
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