“The most beautiful place on earth.”

5 April, 2015 “The most beautiful place on earth.”

“This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places.” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

There are many such places in central Virginia in April. Pony Pasture is certainly one of them.

At Pony Pasture this week, there were a lot of couples getting ready for Easter Eggs: 

A pair of mourning doves:

A pair of mourning doves:

A pair of mallards

A pair of mallards

But there’s always a Serpent in the Garden:

Tiny Northern Water Snake

Tiny Northern Water Snake

That’s a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) – entirely harmless. Will grow up to eat lots of mice and keep vermin under control. A couple of wise guys suggested it was trying to steal my car. I said that is impossible – my car is a stick shift. There’s just no way that snake could hold the clutch down while it turned the key. My other car is an automatic, though. I’ll have to keep the keys to that car away from the snake. 

Other reptiles are sunning themselves at the river:

Basking

Basking

I apologize I have not yet identified these turtles. I’ve been disorganized. I just got Special Publication Number 4 from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, A Guide to the Turtles of Virginia. Next week I’ll know more. There will be abundant turtles every day at the river between now and about Halloween. 

Much to my delight this week I discovered a new (to me) flower in the woods at Pony Pasture. This is a Trout lily (Erythronium americanum). Thanks for the ID Betsy!: 

Trout lily - isn't that a beauty?

Trout lily – isn’t that a beauty?

Here’s another for perspective:

Trout lily from a different angle

Trout lily from a different angle

Right in the middle of the forest!

Another female Downy Woodpecker in the bright Spring sun. This shows a peculiarity of my shoot-from-the-hip style of outdoor photography. Have you ever taken a picture of someone or had your picture taken when you blinked? I am reasonably certain she blinked just as I pressed the shutter:

Striking:

Striking:

I have not yet seen a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius ) at Pony Pasture. Or possibly I’ve seen one and mistaken it for something else. But rings of holes in trees like this are caused by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. This tree is on the edge of the river bank about halfway between the big parking lot and the golf course: 

Calling card of a Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Calling card of a Yellow-bellied sapsucker

A chickadee worked for a long time on the same bush near Charlie’s Bridge this week. It was so involved I just stood there and took pictures. This picture is not flawless, but it’s a pose you don’t see every day. It looks like a little avian trapeze artist:

Avian trapeze artist

Avian trapeze artist (never uses a net) 

There are a lot of ways to announce the arrival of Spring. There is a precise official meteorological date and time. There has to be. But I know it’s Spring when I see my first redbuds of the year. I used to always see them on the Appalachian Trail. Now I see them at Pony Pasture. They’re edible. So another way Spring begins is when I taste the first redbud bloom of the year. These still haven’t even opened up, but they are delicious and the taste of Spring:

Redbud

Redbud

One great thing about my ongoing Every living thing project is how much new stuff I’m noticing. And learning about. It’s possible I would have lived my whole life and not known about Trout Lilies. And now I do. Learn something new every day, hopefully. Even the title of this blog post came from research for that project. I first began reading a book about trees (Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo) and it led me to another book about trees (Teaching the Trees by Joan Maloof). Ms. Maloof’s book led me to another great book – and that was Desert Solitaire, which led me to the title of this blog post. I gave away my television about a year ago so I have to have a constant supply of great books. And this project led me to three in a row – an unexpected benefit.

So, brief post today. I drove up to Maryland this morning and had Easter Brunch with my older sister and her husband and my two oldest nieces plus her husband’s family. Edward Abbey would refer to it as another of the most beautiful places on earth. But there’s no place like home! Have a great week,

Jay

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.
This entry was posted in Birds, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s