Bliss

12 March, 2013        Bliss

I don’t have a specific topic. But after an extended non-blogging interval I of course have a large pile of pictures. A large digital pile. Spring will be popping any day now – really it already is – so I will have tons of pictures. And how hard can it be to write about bliss.

I’ve put off blogging until I got some unpleasant (non-blissful) accounting business out-of-the-way. Fortunately I have a pleasant accountant! It was just boring stuff that I don’t excel at and avoid. So I told myself I couldn’t blog (a favorite activity) until I got it all done. One night while lying awake thinking about why I was avoiding this simple activity, I was thinking about mindfulness. Thinking about mindfulness is not being mindful, by the way. Anyway, I was thinking of the expression “ignorance is bliss” and realized mindfulness – the opposite of ignorance – is also bliss.

Fortunately or unfortunately I fell asleep. Fortunately – at least from my point of view – I now have an opportunity to post a few of the pictures I’ve enjoyed taking. And I’ll post again soon.

Also vaguely on this subject, I’ve just hit the two-year mark since my first blog post. An anniversary meaningless to all except me, but I’m glad I’ve kept the blog up and it’s as much fun as when I began. My first post was March 2, 2011, “Rivers are always different and always perfect.” No pictures! I think that won’t happen again.

My last post was on February 2! Over a month ago! It’s great to be back.

I’ve gotten two neat pictures of the moon. One in daylight when I was with my friend at Bryan Park. This was on Monday, February 18 at 4:15 PM. At that point it was “waxing gibbous”, about eight days old, about ⅔ illuminated. Here’s the picture:

Waxing gibbous moon, February 18, 2013, Bryan Park, Richmond, VA

Waxing gibbous moon, February 18, 2013, Bryan Park, Richmond, VA

Precisely seven days later I walked out on my front stoop in the evening just as the full moon was rising:

Full moon, from my front porch (Richmond, VA), February 25, 2013

Full moon, February 25, 2013, from my front porch (Richmond, VA),

Fun pictures to take – I’ve never taken a picture of the moon before.

I got a pretty picture of the sun last month too. Evie was leaving early for a trip so I got up too and went down to the river early like I used to. Just after sunrise I took this picture at Pony Pasture:

Pony Pasture sunrise - hard to beat.

Pony Pasture sunrise – hard to beat.

I was at the river later and it was that beautiful, or maybe more. I ran into a friend who asked if I’d been to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Virginia Museum. I said no – is it more beautiful than this? I may be a Philistine (some would say there’s no question about it) but I don’t tire of the river.

Only a day or two later – still in February – I took this picture of a daffodil at Pony Pasture. Spring is springing:

February daffodil at Pony Pasture

February daffodil at Pony Pasture

I suspect there will be lots of baby mallards soon. I saw this little six-pack in a canal at PP last week. Later I saw a ten pack, but didn’t get a picture! Five pair of mallards! Wikipedia says each female lays between 8 and 13 eggs, so I’m guessing there will be a whole lot of babies down there soon. Unless there’s a massive flood or a hungry fox takes up residence, but that river is just loaded with all types of waterfowl right now.

Six pack of mallards (soon to become a couple of cases)

Six pack of mallards (soon to become a couple of cases)

When we got out of the car at PP that morning I saw my favorite (and central VA’s most ubiquitous) weed on the edge of the parking lot. I understand why people want to get rid of these and I am even unfond of them in my own yard (where they grow like… weeds) but they’re so beautiful:

Beautiful

Beautiful

I saw a grebe (perhaps a cormorant) that morning at PP as well. I took some reasonable pictures, but the light and the water were unattractive and made an already somewhat homely bird look even homelier. It’s possible I’ll still get a picture of one in better light and put it up.

I get decent bird pictures around my house from time to time, mainly on my feeders. I am unfond of taking pictures of birds on the feeder because it’s a little unnatural, but the birds are pretty. And I bought the feeders and seed with a little of the money dad left me, since he loved to feed birds. It always reminds me of him. Dad’s favorite songbird (by far) was the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). I see them at the river and on bike rides but I haven’t gotten a picture – yet. When I do, it will go up here. Dad and mom also both love Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus). They’re quite common and I’ve even managed to get a picture of one in the wild at PP. Mom and dad have wreaths on the front door of their house and wrens build nests in the wreaths and even lay eggs! This one was on my back feeder:

Carolina wren

Carolina wren

In my yard I also have Juncos (a few), nuthatches (occasionally), tufted titmice (many), and chickadees (I’m almost overrun). Of course I have crows and cardinals and robins and mockingbirds and blue jays but I enjoy the little songbirds most. I’ve also recently seen at my feeder for the first time a rufous-sided towhee, but I was too slow to photograph it. Maybe in a future post. These little ones were all birds that figured prominently in my youth, especially chickadees and especially at the cabin.

Forgive me if I repeat myself – it’s possible I’ve told this story in a previous blog post. But we spent so many great winters at the cabin. It was in the mountains and would snow like mad. My mom just gave me some old pictures; I’ll put them up soon. But we had a front porch that spanned the 24 foot width of the cabin and extended eight feet in front. Two huge sliding glass doors opened out onto it and woods came right up to it. In the snow – and at all other times – we’d put out lots of bird seed. We could stand inside in our shorts and t-shirts by the blazing woodstove and look out at the birds eating a foot from our faces. I hunted a lot and had lots of warm clothes. Once I got bundled up and put bird seed in my gloved hand and went out there and stood in snow with my arm extended. I’d hardly begun to get cold when a bold and hungry chickadee landed on my glove and began gobbling sunflower seeds. I’ll put up a chickadee picture soon. It’s been harder than I thought to photograph them at the river but they’re a dime a dozen at my bird feeders. Ever since that one literally ate out of my hand I’ve had a soft spot for them. I have a beautiful picture of one hanging on my wall that my friend Lynda Richardson took.

The seed in my yard attracts a lot of white-throated sparrows:

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Meanwhile (perhaps inevitably) back at Pony Pasture, I saw a new (to me) duck last week. It was a ring neck duck, a very handsome little guy:

Ring-necked duck

Ring-necked duck

Pony Pasture, to my great delight, is left for the most part in its natural state. But there’s a neat plaque on a bench there:

A sentiment I enjoy

A sentiment I enjoy

As a general rule I enjoy freshwater more than salt water, and I enjoy flowing water (rivers and creeks) more than I enjoy still water (ponds and lakes). But I like being near any body of water, and my friend Ethan and I hike at Bryan Park regularly. A nice creek flows through it and it has some beautiful ponds. Yesterday we took a long hike through the park and just as we got to the car we spotted a great blue heron wading around in the mud. We sat on a bench and it stood still while we practiced taking a few pictures. It certainly appears to be paying close attention:

Heron eye. And head and partial beak.

Heron eye. And head and partial beak.

Anyway. I hope your early spring (and final week of winter) is enjoyable. Have a great day,

Jay

Wait – this just in – I was going through other pictures and found a chickadee photograph I took at Pony Pasture. It’s a non-traditional chickadee picture. They’re at their most distinctive from the side, where their black and white heads stand out clearly. And there are branches in the way here – the bane of wildlife photographers, I’m learning. But it’s still cute. And I like the blue-sky background:

Chickadee from below

Chickadee from below

Also (why not) I have yet another bufflehead picture. I took one at Bryan Park yesterday, but this little flock was bobbing on the river last week. I thought they’d have headed for their summer grounds by now but they’re still out in large numbers:

More buffleheads at Pony Pasture

More buffleheads at Pony Pasture

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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8 Responses to Bliss

  1. evzakyoga says:

    You know I love the photos, particularly the spectacular surprise shots of the moon! I didn’t realize that this year will be your 10th Ironman in Wilmington. Last year was such fun, I look forward to celebrating this milestone with you!

    • Hi Evelyn,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. And yes, those moon pictures came out much better than I expected. Last year (2012) was my 10th Ironman. It was a blast having you join me last year and I look forward to having you along in Wilmington again this October! Have a great day,

      Jay

  2. Clare says:

    great photography Jay – especially the little feathered friends. have to tell you, i was recently down @ PP with Zoe and as we were leaving I saw an elderly gentleman bent over, digging in the dirt along the road near the park – he was a friend of mine planting bulbs – he had recently retired from a wonderful job and wanted to continue to have an impact on the area along the river. like easter morning, i’m looking forward to seeing the hidden “surprises” in full bloom and his hard work and love for the park system come to life again (another chapter) – so smile if you see some fleurs, or even one, peeking out from underneath the leaves and say “Good Work Ralph”. He would like that.

    • Hi Clare! Glad you enjoyed the pictures. The birds have been very obliging about having their pictures taken. It’s no wonder, they’re all so beautiful! Hmm… an elderly gentleman. I know a retired gentleman but he’s not elderly. He works harder than a lot of youngsters I know! I too am looking forward to seeing everything bloom. I know it’s going to be soon, but there are still Buffleheads on the river, so maybe not until they leave. There are lots of daffodils blooming down there. The redbuds I hope will be popping out any day now. Then honeysuckle, multiflora roses, it will be a flower riot. It will smell so great I’ll never want to exhale. Have a great day and I look forward to seeing you at the river soon,

      Jay

  3. pat ryan says:

    The moon picture is incredible. More people need to look up, including me!

  4. Pingback: Flowers and dogs and birds, oh my | NEWFAZE

  5. Pingback: “Well that’s a blessing!” | NEWFAZE

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