Sushi before it’s sushi

11 July, 2021 Sushi before it’s sushi   

Sushi before it’s sushi

I was at Deep Run recently and this hungry Great Blue Heron snagged a large fish. The heron was juggling it around trying to get it down its throat. This may be a catfish. I used to catch them years ago. They have sharp, stiff bony spikes they can extend just in front of their gills. I now see the survival value of those spikes. I didn’t stay around long enough to see if the heron swallowed the fish, but I’m sure it did. 

Switching from wild birds and fish to domestic flowers, these are a few of the roses Evelyn nurtures in our yard. I think of this line often but only learned (Sunday afternoon around 4:15) its origin. A poet named John Keats wrote a poem in 1818 called Endymion. The first line is “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever”: 

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” – John Keats

I’ve been at this house more than fifteen years; those roses were old when I moved in. Thank goodness Evelyn keeps them up! There were no zinnias when I arrived – I didn’t even know what a zinnia was. True story – I just got up from my computer and walked in the other room to ask Evelyn what kind of flowers they are. These are a combination of the miracle of photosynthesis and Evelyn’s miraculous ability to brighten our yard: 

One of Evelyn’s myriad zinnias. That color would have made my dad swoon.

I laid out an outline for this post before I wrote it, but it’s rearranging itself on the fly. This  sunset isn’t precisely zinnia colored, but you can see why I thought of it while I looked at zinnia pictures. This is from the parking lot of Kroger on Ridge Road! I normally refer to these sunsets (you can take this picture any evening there’s not a solid overcast) unimaginatively as “Kroger sunsets.” Now I need to call them the much more pleasant  “zinnia sunsets”: 

“Kroger” or “zinnia” sunset. This would have made both my parents swoon.

Okay – let me get a few more animals in here. I swam earlier this week and when I went back to my car (Tuckahoe YMCA, 9211 Patterson Ave., Henrico, VA 23229) this rabbit was casually nibbling clover. It wasn’t sweltering that day – good for relaxing in the grass while dining:

Cottontail rabbit at the Tuckahoe YMCA

Speaking of the YMCA. I recently (within the past thirty days) became aware of a book called A Sporting Chance: How Paralympics Founder Ludwig Guttmann Saved Lives with Sports by Lori Alexander. It is inconceivable how I’ve experienced my decades of life, education and career and never heard the name “Ludwig Guttman” until this month. It’s sort of a teenage/young adult book, but it’s terrific. I learned a lot! Here’s a picture of the cover: 

“A Sporting Chance” by Lori Alexander

Ms. Alexander opened the book with a quotation that resonated with me: “Anyone who lives a sedentary life and does not exercise… even if he eats good foods and takes care of himself according to proper medical principles – all his days will be painful ones and his strength will wane. – Maimonides, Jewish philosopher and physician (1135 – 1204)

I still can’t get over the fact that I’ve never heard of Ludwig Guttman. These sorts of digressions turn short blog posts into long ones. I’d heard of Maimonides before, but could have told you precisely zero about him. The digressions get long because I start reading up on new subjects. But I learn a lot. I skimmed the wikipedia entry about Maimonides. As much as I enjoyed the quotation in the book, I found one I enjoyed as much or more. I think astrology is a scam. There’s a section in his wikipedia entry called “Skepticism of astrology.” A man asked him about astrology and Maimonides responded (according to wikipedia) “…that man should believe only what can be supported either by rational proof, by the evidence of the senses, or by trustworthy authority. He affirms that he had studied astrology, and that it does not deserve to be described as a science. He ridicules the concept that the fate of a man could be dependent upon the constellations; he argues that such a theory would rob life of purpose, and would make man a slave of destiny.” Brilliant. No wonder I liked him. 

I haven’t put a Redtail on my blog recently. This one was on the cell phone tower next to the Westbury Apothecary: 

Red (tail), White (cloud) and Blue (sky)

One more animal, then some flowers. I hiked a Pony Pasture yesterday (left Mackey and Turner at home 😦 ) but I did glimpse a handful of deer. It’s dark in there (and shady and cool) with the trees all leafed out so it’s hard (for me) to get good pictures. But this fawn’s mother crossed the path in front of me. I got my camera up and my lens cap off in time to photograph this youngster. I learned that these spots stay visible until they’re around three or four months old. They’re born in Spring so (from what I read) they lose their spots around October. Learn something new every day, or hopefully anyway.                                            

Fawn following its mother at Pony Pasture this week

Rose of Sharon grows in our yard and in our area. It’s invasive; they don’t belong in central Virginia. Many of these invasive plants were originally introduced for their showy blooms and easy cultivation. Rose of Sharon is a type of hibiscus and it’s possible we could root it out and replace it with a native hibiscus. But all home landscapers have priority lists, and replacing this doesn’t rank very high. This year (yesterday!) was the first time I’ve ever photographed a quad bloom on a Rose of Sharon: 

Rose of Sharon – a pretty invasive

Our birds – probably encouraged by our chipmunks – planted this cheerful sunflower directly under our front bird feeder. These are short – it’s not even as tall as my waist. I’m growing one on the other side of the front walk that is already at eye level on me. It may get up as high as the gutter on our house. But it doesn’t yet have (possibly never will) a bloom. It’s my first sunflower experiment. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll be as successful as our birds:

It’s difficult to look at this and not smile

 Okay, once again, let me assure you I am not making this up. So I’m editing that picture – which I took on the Fourth of July – and I look out my window, grab my camera and snap this picture:

Goldfinch eating a seed from a sunflower it might have planted

Okay, I’m not even kidding. There’s a very high percentage chance that sunflower was “planted” by a bird – possibly a goldfinch, possibly this goldfinch. And now the goldfinch is here, eating the seeds! Maybe this is how human beings got the idea for agriculture! Things are suddenly becoming clear.

Earlier this week I was visiting a friend who lives nearby. The lawns and the trees are larger in their neighborhood. But I was still surprised as I raised my hand to knock on their door to look to my left and see this creature scoping out their bird feeder: 

Fox looking at me while I look at it. Bird feeder is between us. Took this with my phone.

This is what I get for skipping my blog post last week – I have “too many” pictures, although that’s not a real thing. But I was hiking at Bryan Park two weeks ago and saw these two  Purple Martins on one of the three houses: 

I think the one on the left is the purple martin equivalent of a hungry teenager

I have a picture of Dash that I describe in my notes as “Too cute not to use.” You may or may not concur: 

Dash squeezed himself into a cardboard box that held 4 bags of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Organic Oatmeal

No use overdoing it by a little bit – I might as well overdo it by a lot. I see squirrels ~365 days a year. But I almost never see them doing this. This one was sunning itself at Deep Run: 

I thought I’d disturbed its rest. Until it turned around to get “done” on the other side.

Evelyn and I were commenting over breakfast – again, not making this up – that we hadn’t seen many butterflies this year. I was typing this blog post (daydreaming while I typed) and looked out my office window and saw this:

First monarch I’ve seen on our property in 2021

What a perfect way to wrap up a blog post that really needs wrapping up!

Have an excellent week! 

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, Bryan Park, cats, Dogs, Emerson, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, Insects, James River, koans, love, newfaze, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), squirrels, sunsets, thoreau, walden, whitetail deer, Wildlife Book Club and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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