Credit where credit is due

10 July, 2016            Credit where credit is due

[I added a segment to the end of this post that strays a bit from my normal content. It’s worth your attention.]

My friend Ethan gets the credit for finding the subject for this first picture. He’s the best wildlife spotter I’ve ever hiked with, and he pointed out this Barred Owl hiding in the shadows at Pony Pasture Tuesday afternoon long before I could figure out where it was:

Ethan's sharp eyes picked this one out of the canopy - it wasn't making a peep!

Ethan’s sharp eyes picked this one out of the canopy – it wasn’t making a peep!

Evelyn gets the credit for growing and photographing this gardenia in our backyard – the first one ever to bloom there. All of our gardenias thus far have been from our east-facing front garden. There was no bloom on this bush when we went to sleep last night, but it emerged not long after sunrise this morning. There are dozens more about to burst into fragrant and graceful bloom. And it’s the middle of July!:

Ev's photograph of the fresh gardenia she coaxed into bloom behind our house this morning:

Ev’s photograph of the fresh gardenia she coaxed into bloom behind our house this morning:

Here’s a plant I’ve more often seen in mid-July. It doesn’t smell as good as a gardenia (nothing smells as good as a gardenia). But look at the sun shining through these pawpaw leaves at Pony Pasture earlier today:

Somebody forgot to turn the light switch off.

Somebody forgot to turn the light switch off.

This is the fruit from a pawpaw. These are early and they’re small. If you’d touched them they would have had the consistency of an unripe peach, unyielding. I’ve never bitten into an unripe pawpaw but I’m sure you’d spit it out right away. Probably around this time next month – maybe mid-August – they will grow to the size of Idaho potatoes. I just read from a credible source that the pawpaw is “…the largest edible native fruit of North America.” And they will be so sweet and delicious I guarantee they will rival any fruit you have ever tasted. The “sweet spot” for a pawpaw is brief – it’s fully ripe when it falls from the branch. And bruising begins when it thuds on the forest floor. But nearly every creature in Pony Pasture will be eating them either just before they fall or just after they hit the ground – if you take a bite of one, you’ll find out why:

Immature pawpaw fruit.

Immature pawpaw fruit.

Yuki (white) and Mackey (black) and Turner love (you’re aware) hiking at the river whatever is growing or not growing there. I’ve never seen how they respond to pawpaws. But I know all three of them well, and it’s a safe bet only Turner will like eating them – he is an omnivore in the fullest sense of the word: 

Yuki (white) Mackey (black) Turner (none of the above)

Yuki (white) Mackey (black) Turner (none of the above)

Photography during the week has been fun too – good light. I was at a friend’s house in Bon Air Wednesday and saw this:

Fungus are everywhere.

Fungus are everywhere (that’s an iPhone 6+).

Moments later I drove north across the Willey Bridge and saw ospreys on both sides of the James River and on both sides of the Chippenham Parkway (State Route 150). 2016 is a huge year for ospreys in Richmond. This is an adult “talking” loudly at the edge of a nest on a power line just west of the parkway near the West End Assembly of God (WEAG):

"Personality goes a long way." - Jules, Pulp Fiction, 1994

“Personality goes a long way.” – Jules, Pulp Fiction, 1994

Not long ago youngest brother Shane was a Virginia Tech Scholar of the week. In their write-up they said Shane has been involved in “driving safety research for more than 15 years.” If Shane has a mantra for safe driving, it’s “don’t look down.” As a mildly obsessive raptor watcher I spend a lot of time looking up because, to paraphrase the late Willie Sutton, “that’s where the raptors are.” I’ve been driving past Patterson Avenue Family Practice at 9600 Patterson Avenue since long before it had that name (it was a Ukrop’s in the 1980’s and I shopped there every week) and never seen a hawk there. Until yesterday when I was driving home from a bike ride and looked up and saw this:

Red-tail on a weathervane

Red-tail on a weathervane

Enough! But keep reading! And come back a week from today!

All best,



I hope this won’t be interpreted as straying from my policy of “NO POLITICS, NO ADVERTISING, NO RELIGION.” But the news I consume is sometimes referred to as “the liberal media,” which in my case means The New York Times and NPR. A man named  Nicholas Kristof is my favorite NYTimes writer and I follow him on social media as well. He is often reflective of my own sentiment. I looked on his Facebook page just before I put up this post and this was his opening sentence: At a time of national pain, nature helps to soothe and provide perspective. I feel better after I take a walk at the river – 100% of the time. No matter how I feel when I drive into that parking lot, I feel better when I drive back out. Nobody who has been killed by a police officer will be less dead. No police officer who has been killed by a murderer will be less dead. No political campaign will be less shrill. But my head will be clearer and my thoughts less agitated and my mind more open. And my life will continue from a better place than it was an hour earlier. I’ll be convinced the world is getting better, slowly but surely, because it is. It’s happened nearly every Sunday for the past twenty-five years. You should try it – yours will too.

Have a great week,



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, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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