4 December, 2016 AKA “Butterfly McPeace”
My friend and mentor for many years was the late, great Butterfly McPeace. She passed away a couple of years ago. I keep a roll of these stickers to remind me of her role in my life today. More at the bottom of this post.
I apologize for missing last week’s post. Next time I’m going to miss a week I’ll post a picture and a note – I always have at least one picture.
Meanwhile, the usual drivel and a few pictures of our local fauna and a few other outdoorsy items. Our recent national news was tumultuous to me – more than I care for. I don’t even own a television because it’s too overwhelming. But you can’t live in the world and avoid the news and it was loud and incessant. I read an interview with a conservative NYT columnist (conservative by NYT standards) and he said, in the aftermath of the presidential election, “My dog will still chase squirrels.” And the river will still flow:
Speaking of the river flowing, here’s a quick and pretty video I took on Thursday:
The river doesn’t do “shrill.”
Also reassuring, on the same day, and in the spirit of “my dog will still chase squirrels,” the deer at Pony Pasture have begun wandering into their winter browsing/feeding/bedding grounds. It’s predictable. They occupy different areas of the park at different times of year. In the winter they reliably appear around mid-day in a protected area (old fence in the woods) just south of Charlie’s Bridge. I think there were only two on Thursday. When they sit still they’re practically invisible. Perhaps there were more. I believe this is a mother (longer ears) and a youngster:
Her offspring – I suspect:
I nearly forgot – I took an eight second video of the mother deer chewing her cud. It came out pretty well. I will always be intrigued by this sort of thing. By actually being able to stand there and watch this happen. No matter what is on the news. You should check this out – it’s fascinating:
The same day – rapids, deer, all that fun stuff – a Bald Eagle circled over our heads as we were hiking back to the car. We were in sight of the parking lot when I looked up and saw this. It’s not a brilliant image but I’ve never photographed a flying Bald Eagle before. My dog will still chase squirrels:
“My dog will still chase squirrels” is shorthand for the fact that that most of what happens is unaffected by who is in the White House. Or even by the fact that there is a White House. I took this seven second video this morning at Pony Pasture; it’s a wren in full song. If you’re not smiling right now – even if you are – watch this video:
Of course it wouldn’t be a Jay McLaughlin blog post if it didn’t have a picture (or more) of a Red-tailed hawk. On Wednesday I photographed an unprecedented (for me) three separate Red-tails on the same day. Some images were okay but none were beautiful. Part of the reason I “got” three – forgive me for getting into my geek persona – was the cloud cover was very low all day. They couldn’t go up and soar (couldn’t see the ground) so they all perched. That low cloud cover can also make drab, gray pictures. Yesterday, however, there was a lot of Red-tail activity here in the Freeman HS vicinity. I saw this male warming up in the morning sun. When I came back half an hour later he was just leaving:
I headed across town and pulled into the parking lot at Pleasant’s so I could photograph this sky:
When I went home half an hour later the hawk hadn’t moved! But that’s how Red-tails hunt. That evening I was in my front yard and looked across the street and one was perched above my neighbor’s bird feeder. Red-tails don’t normally get birds, and that’s not what this one was there for. Lots of seed falls on the ground, and squirrels and chipmunks (and probably mice and possibly rats) pick it up. That’s what this Red-tail was waiting for:
I had the great good fortune to take the big version of “my” pack to Pony Pasture this morning. It’s never easy to get them all in the viewfinder at once, but I squeezed them all together for an instant:
I hope you took a moment to watch that video of the wren singing – it is in every way cheerful. Moments after I took the picture of the dogs together, we rounded a bend and this wren was singing at the top of its lungs:
Here’s the video again if you missed it – it will brighten your day even if it’s already bright:
As an aside, the 2017 Highland County Maple Festival is just over three months away. March 11 – 12 and March 18 – 19. If you are able to visit, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Some contingent of my nieces and I have visited every year since 2007 and we’re headed back up again in 2017. This blog has only been around since 2011; here is our post from that year: Highland Maple Festival – March 12, 2011. If you look at the picture on that post of me sitting on the couch with my nieces – two of them drive now! And that was our fourth Maple Festival! I’m looking forward to the 2017 version.
I put real Virginia maple syrup in my oatmeal every morning, and now I order it online straight from Highland County, Virginia! So I can have a year-round supply. I alternate orders between Sugar Tree Country Store in McDowell, VA and Back Creek Farms west of Monterey, VA, almost in West Virginia. They are both delicious beyond my poor ability to describe; I would be forced to flip a coin rather than declare one more delicious than the other. Try them both yourself and see if you like one better! Better yet, go to the Maple Festival and visit my favorite – Fair Lawn Farm (look them up on Facebook) a few miles southwest of Monterey. They’re a small, old-fashioned, hands on operation, and my favorite part of the Maple Festival.
I’ll be back next week! Have a great week,
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AKA “Butterfly McPeace
My friend and mentor Butterfly McPeace (Barbara) died peacefully but much too early two years ago. She was an important mentor to me, and always reminded me to be nice even if I didn’t want to be. See that picture at the top of this post? They were giving those stickers out – they were also giving out red clown noses – at her memorial service in 2014. I remembered during my internship if I’d make a bad choice or tell her something that showed questionable judgment she’d say “Jay… ” and just let me think about it for a minute. She never told me what to say or think. She knew I had good judgment. She’d just help me put on the brakes. So I’m at her memorial service and I’m looking around that somber gathering of bereaved mourners wearing butterfly stickers and red clown noses and I knew I couldn’t let that lesson go away.
So after I got home I went on Amazon and bought a roll of butterfly stickers. And I put them on stuff to remind me of Barbara saying, “Jay… .” She just wanted me to think before I spoke. Speaking before I think is what gets me in trouble even today, but it happens less frequently, in large part due to Barbara’s a.k.a Butterfly’s steadying influence.
Those two pictures are from her obit in the November 26th, 2014 Richmond Times Dispatch. She wrote her own obit, and I’m going to put a link to it here – it’s worth your time and attention. Here’s a great line from the obit: “…Barbara’s final contribution to society was ‘going to medical school’ through the donation of her body to the Commonwealth of Virginia, State Anatomical Program.” Here’s her obituary:
I also found a 2009 article about her in the Richmond Times Dispatch. You can read it here (and see a color picture of her) at Clowns plan to shine during their special week. Here’s a clip from that article “Barbara Mann has been a clown for less than five years. Her alter ego, ‘Butterfly McPeace,’ was born when Mann finished her clown class in 2006. By day, she is a licensed social worker who specializes in working with people who have suffered brain injuries.”
“‘I’m dealing with very serious issues with my clients, and I find that clowning is a wonderful balance for me in my life,’ Mann said.”
Barbara helped me learn to connect. Although she loved to be in costume, she would engage you on a personal level from the moment you came in contact with her. Barbara was one of those 100% brilliant/100% unassuming people that are hiding, I have reason to believe, in plain sight.
Nothing reminded me of Barbara this week. But I left my iPad at a place where I now work – with people with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). My iPad has that Butterfly McPeace sticker on it and I had to call someone and ask if they’d hold it for me. Haven’t stopped thinking about Barbara ever since. Hopefully I’ll continue to recall her wise influence! Have a great week.
Addendum – Evelyn and I ordered Chinese last night from Yum Yum Good here in Richmond. Outstanding Chinese food from the nicest people you will meet in any setting. This was in my fortune cookie: