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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

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Beautiful fern fronds uncurling

 

For those of us in the North East, it felt like Spring would never get here.  Just as we would have a glimmer of warmth, we would get another cold snap or a snowfall.  I, for one, was VERY anxious for Spring to arrive and I’m ecstatic that it is finally here. I’m downright giddy with excitement.

 

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Gorgeous PJM blossom

 

I think the arrival of Spring had an even more powerful impact on me this year because of the long wait.  I must have said “This is so exciting!!!” about 20 times as I walked around and saw all of the things that were waking up after the long winter.  I felt like the whole world was breathing and coming alive.

 

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Phlox in its glory

 

We were able to go to our cottage for a quick ovenight get-away and it was refreshing to simply be able to sit on the porch in my rocking chair and enjoy the warm weather.  All winter I’ve been looking out the window and wishing it was warm enough to be out there.

 

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My happy place…in my rocking chair with my feet up on the railing

 

I enjoyed every second of the evening.  First I was treated to many different birds coming to my feeders and was thrilled to see the return of the hummingbirds.  I could hear the sound of the ‘peepers’ from nearby Laurel Lake.  If you don’t know what peepers sound like, listen to this: Peepers   I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds of the woods as night fell.  (except for the buzzing of a few mosquitoes)

 

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Best place to enjoy the morning

 

I fell asleep listing to the night sounds through the open windows and the chirping of birds was the first thing I heard in the morning.  I went right out to the porch and assumed my favorite possition.  It’s the perfect place to watch the birds and hummingbirds as they come for their breakfast.  I even saw a bird I’d never seen before…a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  (pictured below)

 

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak…gorgeous!!!

 

I experienced so many things that I hadn’t been able to do during the LONG winter. I soaked it in and was thankful for every second.  I was also able to experience another spring delight–my husband opened up his out-door kitchen and made me bacon and eggs.  I LOVE Spring!!!

 

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A man enjoying his outdoor kitchen AND making me a scrumptious breakfast.  🙂  

 

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Birdhouse

Cute, little birdhouse on our front porch

 

That first significant snow of the year is always exciting.   For us it was even more wonderful since were able to get away to our little cottage in the woods.  We arrived just as the snow stopped falling.  It was so beautiful to pull in the drive and see everything covered in a blanket of beautiful, white snow.  

 

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First snowfall of the year at Fern Gully

 

As soon as we got unpacked and had a bite of lunch, we headed out for a walk in the woods.  Our dog, Denver, was THRILLED.

 

Denver in the snow

Happy Denver

 

We passed several neighboring cabins along they way and they all looked warm and inviting nestled in their new covering of snow, although they were probably all freezing inside since many of the cabins do not have heat.   I couldn’t resist pulling my phone out to snap a few pictures.

 

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Cabin in the woods

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Don’t you just want to drive down that lane?

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Beautiful cabin surrounded by pines

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Osaga Lodge

 

After passing several cabins we took a trail through the woods.  There is nothing like walking through virgin snow in the forest.  (Michaux State Forest)

 

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Into the woods

 

I’m sure that by February I won’t be quite as thrilled by the snow, but for today it was absolutely breathtaking and I enjoyed it thoroughly!  🙂  It’s a beautiful day in the Michaux State Forest.

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It’s the practice of many churches to have a sunrise service on Easter morning.  There is something symbolic and meaningful to see the dawning of a new day and know that it is the day we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

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The sun is just rising above the trees.

This year I had a different type of sunrise service.  It was held on the back porch of our cottage and instead of sitting in a pew I was sitting in a rocking chair.  Instead of being all dressed up I was in my pajamas.  🙂 The porch faces South-East and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the sun coming up through the trees.

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It’s now daylight.

I sat quietly listening to the birds singing for a while and then decided to listen to a song that seemed appropriate,  Allegri Misere.   I played it on my laptop so I could see the pictures and the words.  It is sung in Latin, but this particular video shows the words in English as well.

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Getting Brighter

For me there are two things which touch my soul and cause me to worship the Creator  –  the sounds of nature and certain music.  As I listened to this worshipful song which was accompanied by the chirping birds I realized that I was hearing two beautiful things which can help my heart and soul to worship God at the same time.

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My Cathedral in the Forest

There are also two places that I feel closest to the creator–in the woods and in a Cathedral.  ( I know, they are vastly different, but they both have a profound affect on me. ) As I was watching the words on the video and the stunning pictures of cathedrals, I realized I was also seeing two things that bring me into a worshipful place.  I literally had my Cathedral in the middle of a forest.

I may not have gone to any ‘official’ sunrise service, but I was able to worship the risen King in a very real way  –  possibly more than if I’d been in an organized service.

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Can’t you FEEL the emotion on her face?

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Leaf Trail (aptly named) 

 

Often in life our plans change due to unforeseen circumstances.  It can be difficult to adjust to the new directions we are forced to follow, but once in a while Plan “B” isn’t a bad direction at all.  This past weekend we finally had a spring-like day and my husband and I were anxious to spend time on our mountain bikes on a local trail.  There are a TON of trails near our cottage and we are just beginning to explore them.  While I still prefer road biking, I’m quickly developing a love for riding through the mountain trails.  For me it combines two great loves – hiking and biking.  It’s like hiking on wheels.

 

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Ready to hit the trail

 

 

We rode up a big hill just to get to the trail head and we excitedly started down the trail.  Some of the trail was a very smooth mountain path and other sections were more technical.  (I tend to walk the more difficult sections. – yes, I’m a wimp.  )  We were riding for about 10 minutes and we suddenly found ourselves faced with needing a plan “B”  While going over a large group of rocks my husband’s derailleur completely snapped in half and the bike could no longer be ridden.

 

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The derailleur is the piece that shifts the chain between gears.  (this one is not broken)

 

We then had a decision to make—just walk the bikes back to the cottage or park them by a tree and continue on the path by foot.  We, of course, chose the latter option.  Since we love to hike it was a great alternative.

 

White I was disappointed that our original plans got derailed, (pun intended 🙂 )I realized as I walked that I was able to see things from a totally different perspective on foot than on the bike.  On the bike most of my concentration goes to avoiding obstacles – trees, rocks, roots…..  Much of the surrounding beauty is overlooked due to the necessity of needing to watch the trail directly in front of you.

 

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Ready to enjoy Plan “B”

 

I began to take pictures of things I would have missed if I was still on my bike.  The first was a moss-covered rock.  The bright green just jumped out at me.  With spring just now beginning here in South-Central PA nature is just now starting to sprout green around us.

 

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Gorgeous shad of green

 

At one point I stopped and looked up at the sky.  It was so beautiful to see the sky surrounded by various tree tops.  This was something I definitely couldn’t have done on a bike.  (Try looking up at the sky while riding a bike – not a good idea)

 

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Beautiful spring sky as seen through tree tops

 

We hiked to the end of the trail and began the trek back to pick up our bikes and head to the cottage.  I had passed by this tree going the first direction, but it was an entirely different view from this side.

 

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One funky tree 

 

We eventually reached the spot where our bikes were leaning against a tree and began the process of walking them back.  While it was definitely not fun walking a heavy mountain bike over all of the obstacles on the trail I wouldn’t have given up the chance to simply be out in nature.  All in all it was a wonderful day.

 

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Bikes are a lot more fun to ride than to walk. 😦 

 

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Quite often in life, I get so focused on where I’m going that I forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.  I become so absorbed with finishing everything on my to-do list that I miss the special moments that occur along the way.

 

Earlier this week I had to make a trip to our cottage for a small task that needed to be done.  I awoke thinking of all the things I needed do as I’m preparing for my Holiday Home Show and had a ton of tasks on my to-do list.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking 1 1/2 hours out of my already busy day to drive the whole way there and back for an errand that would take only 5 minutes to accomplish.

 

That morning as I took my dog out for his morning ‘constitutional’ I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous morning sky. As I stood looking at it I was reminded that even when life is harried that there are gifts of beauty along the way that are easily overlooked.

 

morning-sky

 

As I  drove up the mountain to the cottage I began to notice just how beautiful the scenery was along way.  It’s late-Autumn here in central PA and the leaves are turning amazing colors.  Both sides of the road are lined with trees and it seemed as though each time I drove around a curve in the road the colors were more amazing than the the last.

 

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One section is lined by pine trees.  Even though the bright colors of the deciduous trees are extremely beautiful, the line of green pines has it’s own charm.

 

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As I turned onto a gravel road the scenery changed, but still had a special kind of beauty.

 

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Entering the driveway I felt a sense of peace (as I often do).  This time of year when it’s completely covered by pine needles and leaves even the car was quiet.

 

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Even though the cottage is nothing fancy, to me it’s a beautiful sight.  It’s my ‘piece of heaven on earth’ – a place I can relax and experience a sense of peace that I don’t always feel at our home.  On this day, as I got out of the car and headed to the door, this is what I saw:

 

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My Happy Place 🙂 

 

I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined the sound effect you hear in movies when something has a bright light shining on it – like an angelic chorus. (Click here to hear the sound I heard in my head)  I know that may sound a bit dramatic and a little silly, but in a real way, this little place has been a heavenly gift to me.  It’s where I can slow down enough to focus on the truly important things in life and be able to appreciate all of the beauty that is around me.  On this day, even though I wasn’t able to spend much time there, I did take time to notice the beauty on drive.  I wish I could always have the mind-set to be more aware of special moments along this journey called ‘life’.  I hate to think that I am missing any heavenly gifts along the way.

 

I can’t remember if I finished everything on my list that day, but I do remember feeling grateful for all the beauty around me.

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Lately I’ve been learning how to enjoy things in nature that I have taken for granted most of my life. Believe it or not, I’m now a bird-watcher.  The one I enjoy the most flies through the air at incredibly fast speeds and only weighs as much as a dime.  They are a gorgeous shade of green with a brilliant red neck.  Yep, I’ve learned to enjoy watching hummingbirds, specifically Ruby Throated  Hummingbirds.

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we’ve recently purchased a cottage in the woods and there is a wide variety of wildlife to enjoy and the hummingbird is one of the smallest, yet one of the most fascinating.  When we first began to spend time up here we saw a few hummingbirds darting around and decided to put up some feeders.  What started with 1 feeder has now turned into 8 and I’ve also planted many various flowers that attract Hummingbirds.  When I get in to something I REALLY get in to it. 🙂

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It’s so exciting to be sitting quietly on the porch and suddenly hear that familiar hum.  A hummingbird seems to appear out of nowhere and is sipping nectar from one of the feeders.  It is fascinating to watch them continually dip their slender beak into the feeder and then quickly dart to another feeder.  At times it can be like watching an action-packed movie.  Hummingbirds can be quite territorial about their feeders and they often turn into miniature fighter jets as they dive-bomb each other and chase each other through the trees.

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The colors on the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird are truly breath-taking.  The back of the male is a bright, iridescent green and when he turns his head certain ways his neck almost lights up with the brightest red you can imagine.  The females are also a pretty green, but  as with most other birds, the male steals the show as far as looks.

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We recently put 2 feeders up right on the porch railing so roughly 3-4 feet in front of us.  I LOVE when they come and feed right in front of me.  To watch their little wings beating and see them dipping into the flowers at such close range is a thrill.  I’m hoping to work up to the point where they eat out of a feeder in my hand.

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I know I sound like an old lady, but trust me, you should take time to appreciate the beauty of this tiny bird.  There is so much joy and beauty in the world that you can enjoy if you just take the time to notice it.  I’m totally content with the status of ‘old-lady’ if it means I can appreciate more and more things in my life no matter how small.

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Never Say “Never”

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I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said I would NEVER do something only to wind up doing exactly what I said I’d “never” do.  

  • I said I’d never live in a white house–I now live in a house with white siding.  
  • I said I’d never ride a bike–I now LOVE riding bicycle.  
  • I said I’d never like eating wings because it was ‘barbaric’.  Well, I now thoroughly enjoy sitting down to a heaping plateful of messy wings and tearing into them like a ravenous dog.
  • plus MANY more……..

 

One thing I said I’d never do was to have any kind of vacation place.  My husband had been talking about it for years and I’ve always said that was something I’d never do.  Well………yep, you guessed it, we now own a cottage in a nearby state forest.  As my husband kept showing me picture after picture of cabins, cottages and homes in the woods I continued to adamantly tell him that it wasn’t something I wanted.  Then, one evening he showed me a picture of a cottage that had recently been listed.  To call it ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement, but for some reason my attitude changed and I could immediately see our family spending time at this little cottage in the woods.  Knowing how much our kids loved camping in this area when they were young, I knew they would want to spend time at this little place.  We went to see it with family members and it was unanimous—everyone loved it.  We became happy owners of a little cottage in the woods.

 

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“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)

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Even though I loved the place and expected to enjoy it, I had no idea how much I was going to NEED it.  Just the time we began to spend time there things began to happen within our family.  

  • My daughter delivered our granddaughter 4 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
  • My father, who had been ill, passed away suddenly.
  • Other things happened within the family that brought sorrow.

 

As all of this was happening, I found that spending time at our peaceful, little cottage enabled me to process some of my emotions.  Many nights were spent sitting on the porch praying and crying while coming to terms with some of the grief and fear.  Sitting on that little porch in the woods, listening to the sounds of the forest as nightfall came filled me with a sense of calm.  My soul began to heal as I rocked, cried, prayed and yes, sipped wine

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The “Special” Porch

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This cottage has been something our entire family needed.  We have had several wonderful weekends at the cottage with the kids/grandkids enjoying many things as a family.  

  • sitting around the fire
  • enjoying dinner together
  • falling asleep under the same roof and then waking up together
  • seeing our first bear
  • working on projects together
  • hiking
  • canoeing
  • etc……

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Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.

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One of our hikes

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When I first looked at the pictures of the cottage, I knew it would be a fun place for our family, but I had no idea how healing it would be.  Even though I didn’t know all those things were about to happen-God did.  He gave me something I needed before the need was even there.   I can’t help but wonder how often God does this and we don’t even realize it.  I hope I can become more and more aware of all the ways I’m cared for by my loving God.  

 

I encourage you to never say ‘never’.  You might be saying no to a special gift that God wants to give to you.  It might be something you never wanted, but turn out being exactly what you need.

 

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A Gift from Above

 

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