“A calming reminder”

27 June, 2021 “A calming reminder”

“The lives of many animals are constrained by the schemes of men, but the determination in these lives, their traditional pattern of movement, are a calming reminder of a more fundamental order.” – Barry Lopez – as quoted in Karsten Heuer’s Walking the Big Wild: From Yellowstone to the Yukon on the Grizzly Bear’s Trail 

Woodland Box Turtle crossing the trail at Pony Pasture this morning

I photographed that shiny Woodland Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) just after a brief early summer rain at Pony Pasture this morning. I never saw its eyes but it was healthy and energetic and I put it on the other side of the trail (in the direction it was facing) and it scuttled off into the undergrowth. 

Fern in the sun

Ferns often hide in the shade but this one had its “moment in the sun” when I was passing this week and I caught that  snapshot. 

I was in the same patch of woods a few moments later when this lovely butterfly drifted past and settled obligingly on a nearby leaf. Is it “cheating” to use Google Lens to identify butterflies? “Cheating” is a strong word. According to Google Lens, this is a “Red-spotted Purple” (Limenitis arthemis), sometimes a.ka. “White admiral”: 

Red-spotted purple butterfly

Mackey’s old bones protest when we go for long walks, so I let him stay here in the A/C  while Turner and I went to the river. Even the protests of Mackey’s old bones are “a calming reminder of a more fundamental order,” although a reminder I admit I am not fond of. But it is what it is. Here are Mackey and Turner enjoying the A/C and one another’s company in my office a few minutes ago: 

Mackey and Turner holding things down at the office just now

When it comes to a “calming reminder of a more fundamental order,” you can’t improve on a flowing river. That river’s been doing the same thing the same way since before the great-grandparents of anyone you’ve ever known were born, and it’ll keep doing it when no one will remember any of us. That is calming for me. If Turner thinks about any of this meaningless drivel while we’re hiking (or any other time), he doesn’t dwell on it. He was just happy to be there. So was I! 

Turner is nobody’s idea of a “calming reminder,” but the river is

I just realized I had a slightly (only slightly) more vigorous picture of Mackey. He’s on his bed (he likes it there) but he’s more engaged:

“Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as our mother was fond of saying

Turner and I saw a skink near the water’s edge this morning. The tails on five-lined skinks are selected by evolution to detach if a predator grabs it. The rest of the skink goes on its merry way, ideally to pass its genes on to more skinks with detachable tails. This one lost its tail somewhere along the line: 

A skink that lost its tail but escaped with its life

I went on the back porch a few minutes ago (it’s Sunday afternoon) to ask Evelyn a question and she said there was a bunny in the backyard. I took a few shots trying to get (as always) that one that was just right. The search continues. But if you look closely you can see the clover in its mouth: 

Cottontail rabbit with a mouthful of clover

Speaking of brown mammals – not Turner and not that rabbit – Turner and I spent some quality time near this big doe at the river this morning. She knew we were there but kept grazing on the side of the trail. The deer in the park are wise to the ways of hikers and dogs. They’re probably wise to the ways of coyotes too, or the ones passing along their genes are. If you look closely you can see her left front leg is raised; she’s either moving or preparing to move. But she was calm and deliberate the entire time we were in the vicinity: 

Deer about to cross the trail at Pony Pasture this morning

There is irony in the fact that my last blog post was called Two weeks is too long – and that was three weeks ago! I’ve gotten a few pictures I enjoyed during that three week period. I parked my car under a Red-tailed hawk a few weeks ago. I opened my sunroof and took this picture: 

Red-tailed hawk on a branch just above my sunroof

I was hiking in another local park sometime in the past three weeks and there were lots of bluebirds fledging. Here’s a youngster blending into the bark on a hickory tree: 

Recently fledged bluebird clinging to hickory bark

Also, here’s another bird that’s blue – but it’s a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias): 

Great blue heron wading (and waiting) for its breakfast

I think I’m going to wrap it up for this day and this week and this month. I also think I’m going to put up a blog post next week. We’ll see. A week from today is July 4th, Independence Day 2021. I’m not a “theme” person, but a good theme for Fourth of July 2021 is “Remember the ‘U’ in ‘USA’.” 

Wait! This just in! Equal time for Dash. He just jumped up on the back of the chair. Dash is 17 and he’s skinny and when the A/C is on, all the cold air drops to the floor. So Dash likes to “be above it all”:

Dash watching the world

Have a great week! And a great Fourth! All best, 


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, box turtle, broad-headed skink, cats, Dogs, Emerson, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, Insects, James River, love, newfaze, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, simplify, skink, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), thoreau, Turtles, walden, whitetail deer, Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “A calming reminder”

  1. Liz Adams says:

    Always a pleasure to read your posts and see your photos and think of your mom and dad.

    • Thank you Liz! It’s always a pleasure to take the photos and write the words (and watch the subjects) on my blog posts. It always makes me think of mom and dad! I know they’d enjoy every post. Thank you again! And have a great day,


  2. Rob Martin says:

    Your furry and feathered friends are appreciated!

    • Thank you Rob! I appreciate the opportunity to see and interact with all of them. The ones in the woods and the ones in our living room! Thanks again and have a great day,


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