Saturday, December 18, 2010

Raptors in the Hood

My sister took these great pictures of a young Cooper's Hawk in her backyard!  You can tell he's immature by his yellow eyes and the streaking on his breast.  Notice how his feathers are all fluffed up?  It's been very cold here, only 19 degrees this morning when I woke up.  He's gorgeous, isn't he?

I'm without a camera right now but had to post these for all of you.  I hope to get a new camera after tax season, but unfortunately Uncle Sam comes first.  

Finished my home made ornaments today.  I'll have some photos after Christmas.  I think they turned out great.  Happy holidays, everyone!  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unwelcome Change

The field where I saw the buck a few weeks ago is due to be leveled to make way for new townhomes.  Do we really need new townhomes when folks can barely afford to pay the homes they have and there are so many foreclosures and short sales on the market here?  It makes me sad to think of the wildlife that will lose their habitat, small as it is now.  There's a young hawk that I see almost daily sitting on the brush waiting for prey.  Where will the deer go?  

When I drove by the beautiful field today, they had it "taped off" to show where the buildings will be.  There will be no field left, no wildflowers blooming on the side of the road, no more homes for groundhogs, deer, and hawks.  Instead it will all be replaced with concrete, homes with no yards, more traffic, and impatient people.  I'm so sad.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Gift of the Old One

(This story exists in different forms.  Snopes states that original author is Reverand David L. Griffith who penned the story in 1998 or 1999 when he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Utica, Oklahoma.  It was part of a series of sermons he presented on the value of keeping old things.  I think we should cherish the old things too.  I am reprinting this story here because I love it.  For me, it represents Christmas and what I think about as part of this special time of year).


The young couple had made their usual hurried pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small heard of goats.  The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm becuase of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife and a landmark in the countryside.   
The old folks no longer showed their goats for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk and a few kids each year.  And the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.  

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young people confronted the old folks:  "Why do you not at least dispose of the Old One?  She is no longer of use to you.  It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her.  You should cut corners and save where you can.  Why do you keep her anyway? "  The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears.  He replied softly, "We keep her because of love.  Only because of love."   Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. 

So it was that because of the leave taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn.  None saw the first spark fall, none but the Old one.  In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames  were licking at the loft full of hay.   With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved goats.  But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back.  He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left -- and the old man and his wife.  They thanked those who had come to their aid.  And the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.  Brokenly, he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas.  Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair.  We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."

And so he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand.  As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.  Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine.  And it was aglow with heavenly candles, and poised on its topmost bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass.  Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.  Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of  wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward.  There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift.

Bedded down about the Old One,  close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.  At the first hint of smoke, she  had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it.  Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow.  The kids were frightened and dashed about.  The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames and hoped like rabbits.  The milkers pressed uneasily against the Old One as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine.  And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved.  Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift -- because of love.   Only because of love.

(And so, my friends, I hope you all experience many blessings  as we all get ready for the holidays)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Exquisiteness of Being

Yesterday, NPR did a story that delighted me and made me laugh out loud.  I'm not sure that I would ever want to try Jumping Fences with Bees (A New Extreme Sport).  But from what I've read a lot of bee keepers get very attached to their bees!  One quote from this piece that I just loved is:  

"Sometimes people who pay exquisite attention see exquisite things." 

PS.   Hope you all love this as much as I did, especially my bee-keeping friends!


Fall is only a recent memory.  The official Christmas countdown has begun, along with Hannukah and Advent.  I love these early days of winter.  The trees have lost all of their leaves, and the sky is beginning take on a somber hue on my drive home from work.  But I get to see the start of sunset and amazing views of the sky.  On my way home today, The sky was covered in clouds with a few spaces in between.  There were shades of violet and blue and alizarin dancing in the skys.  Then I saw golden rays escaping from between the clouds.  It was so beautiful, it made me catch my breath.  

Traffic hummed along at a steady pace, and on my left, I could see just a hint of gold coming into view at the very bottom of a cloud.  As the sun started to slip into view, the gold split into streams of light at the top and bottom.  It was gorgeous.  I actually called my sister to ask her if she could see the view from her house.  I don't know how to describe the contentment and joy that wells inside me when I see things like this.  I don't know why, but it makes feel like I just caught a glimpse of heaven.