The river glowed when the dogs and I arrived this fine morning shortly after sunrise:

All sunrises are beautiful.

The canals behind the islands are shady and secluded and enchanting.

Formerly served as a dock for "The Pirate Ship of Pony Pasture".

Mornings like this, even the dirt is beautiful. I mean, look at this. The texture and color are warm and soft and pleasing. To me, anyway:

Even the dirt is beautiful.

I planted tomatoes from seeds in my windowsill in February. I transplanted them outdoors mid-April. Now they’re taller than my waist and growing fast!


I started this basil at the same time. Alex contributed some too. We’ll have no shortage of basil and tomatoes.

Basil is adding flavor and color

In another few weeks the tomatoes will ripen. I’ll get some big pieces of fresh mozzarella and slice it up. And pick the tomatoes and basil and bring them indoors and rinse the dust off while they’re still warm. And put them in a bowl with that cold mozzarella and pour balsamic vinegar over it. And each forkful I put in my mouth I’ll be thankful I live in a place hot and humid and sticky enough to grow treasures like these. I can hardly wait!

If basil makes your mouth water and you live in Richmond, treat yourself to something new. A friend and I visited Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream last week. Their slogan – on their website: “Keeping the oral tradition alive through social intercourse”. Anyway. They get their ice cream from Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream here in Richmond. 2911 West Cary St. (804) 204-2387. The point is – they had basil ice cream! It was divine. Just the palest shade of green, flecked with basil. It clearly had just four ingredients: basil, sugar, cream, eggs. It was unmistakably basil ice cream. Pleasant and unmistakable basil flavor, sweet, light, sublime. It’s late spring and basil won’t be fresh much longer. Try this as soon as possible. They’re open until 10:00 tonight – sooner is better. You will wonder how you went so long without it.

These ducks, astonishingly, have learned to walk on water. An evolutionary adaptation not seen in just over 2,000 years. And never in ducks, to my knowledge.

Ducks of Faith

Mackey and Max and Roux, by the way, are doing great. I’ll put in small pictures; click on them and see them larger if you like. If Max and Roux notice Ivory’s absence, they give no sign. But Mackey is very sensitive and more than a little neurotic. He was very, very clingy and needy for some time. He liked having a strong, steady presence like Ivory around. For that matter, so did I. But he’s calming down. He and Max and I take long, fast walks to the pet cemetery at the end of our street every night now. We did that for years when Ivory was younger but over the last year or so he just got too slow. Mackey’s feeling better. We all are:



Roux (isn't she just gorgeous?

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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13 Responses to Growth

  1. Namaste, Jay – What the heck is the “Pirate Ship of Pony Pasture?” Great pictures! Oh…and if you have extra tomatoes and basil, let me know and I will grudgingly take some off your hands, lol! 🙂 Christine and I had to cancel our plans, but we’ll get together soon and identify a good day for us all to meet for brunch, OK? Take care!

    • Namaste Patti,
      I’ll have to get you a picture of the Pirate Ship of Pony Pasture. A friend of mine christened it that way. It was a stick sculpture of a shipwreck. It was down there for close to six months before it finally washed away. I’ll let you know when the tomatoes and basil start to roll in. But Alex and I will be gobbling the tomatoes up as fast as they turn red. I’m ready for lunch! We’ll talk soon,


  2. The photos are gorgeous! The pups are as well. It looks like a great morning…always good to find the beauty in things…even mud! : )

    • Hi! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. You’ve got some nice looking pups too! The dogs always show me all the beautiful stuff at the river. They can’t get enough and neither can I.

      Thanks and have a great day,


  3. Grace says:

    The sunrise photo is simply amazing (if amazing can be simple?). So glad you did a blog post–I have been thinking of you this week and wondering how you and the dogs are doing; now I know.

    • Hi Grace,
      Glad you liked it – I really enjoyed the way that sunrise photo came out. The river had some nice looks this morning. Also, perhaps amazing can only be simple. I’ve had a busy week. I missed an opportunity to put up a nice blog post last weekend. Perhaps I’ll use the pictures for another post soon. We’re all getting back in balance. Talk with you soon,


  4. Evelyn says:

    The sunrise photo is certainly lovely and I really like the soil too. Of course, the dogs are always charming. What kind of basil is that? If I get home and Bev’s is out of basil ice cream, I may cry.

    • Hi Evelyn,
      The river really was extra nice this morning. I woke up early and we got down there quite early. It was stiil and calm and peaceful and a nice place to be. I’m not sure what kind of basil it is – it just says “sweet basil” on the seed packet. And Alex planted some Thai basil. It all tastes and smells delectable. Hopefully there will still be basil ice cream at Crossroads or Bev’s! Talk with you soon,


  5. Eileen says:

    I love this , Jay! All the happiness and blessings of life! So positive and wonderful to cherish!

    • Hi Eileen,
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was another fun post to put up. Hiking with dogs at the river is a great way to start any day – I know that’s easy to see!

      Have a great day,


  6. Clare M says:

    Great pictures! It’s all really wonderful. Our garden is in bloom as well. You should the potatoes Dad dug up! 🙂
    All the dogs are just gorgeous! They all look very pleased with their morning hike as well. 🙂

  7. Hi Clare,
    I’m glad you liked the pictures. It was a beautiful morning. I saw your garden a week ago and it was really beginning to take off. I’ll be it’s putting out lots of great food.

    You’re right about the dogs being very pleased with their morning hike. I’m never sure who likes it more – me or them. As soon as we get home they all wait politely for their post-hike treats. The minute they gobble them down, they all fall asleep. It’s a great way to begin any day.

    Talk with you soon,



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