Quiet Moments

_DSC0018-2The Lens-Artist Photo Challenge this week is to illustrate how we find a quiet moment as we are staying home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I had to give this some thought because with just two people in our home my days are very quiet. I don’t need quiet, as in the lack of noise; what I need is quiet in the sense of gentle colors and order. What makes for a quiet moment is a focus on where I am in the moment while blocking out all thoughts of chaos, death, sickness, meanness, killing, corruption, hate, and destruction.

_DSC0039I have been mostly staying home and not in the mood for photography. My friend, Julie, and I used to go on weekly photo shoots down dirt road within a 50 mile radius of where we live – until she moved 120 miles away. My heart aches from missing these hours of being quiet and apart, together with a good friend. I miss making time to see, really see what is before me and explore the simple, looking for how to capture its greatest beauty.

_DSC0029I have been going through old photography files, sometimes just to remember, sometimes to find pleasure in photos I love, and occasionally to find the perfect photo for a post. Sometimes I even clean out photos that I am confident I will never use and tag the keepers so I can find them again. This activity brings me pleasure when I need order within our social disorder.

_DSC0021These photos were taken at an Audubon Sanctuary on a foggy August morning in 2018. As I meandered my way through the file I knew these were the perfect photos to illustrate what I need in my quiet moments during these times of fear and rage.

_DSC0040I hope you will join me as I walk the wildflower-edged paths once again, looking for beauty during our quiet moments. I promise not to make any noise to distract you from whatever you are focused on. And I’ll save my words about change and social injustice for another post.

Please take good care of yourself and practice appropriate safety measure when you are in contact with others.

Sunday Surprise

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We rolled out of bed a little before 7 this morning so we could do our grocery shopping early to avoid a lot of people. As I was dressing, Jim took the bird feeders out, the ones we take in because deer will empty them overnight. We built our house 11 years ago on a lot in a small suburban neighborhood that is well established, most of the house were built 40 years ago or so. We learned from neighbors and experience that this lot has been a long establish deer run, to the vacant lot across the road and farm fields just beyond a  hedge row.

What Jim found was a new-born fawn in the middle of our small back yard. We watched as he slept in what a assume is a fetal position, with his ears twitching at each new bird sound. It was a chilly, rainy morning so we waited inside the three-season room to see if mom would return soon. She didn’t, so we went to the store.

The first thing Jim did when we got home was to check on the fawn and he was still there. He was still in the same spot, still asleep. I put away groceries and poured a cup of coffee to sit a spell looking out the window at the sleeping fawn. Watching him breath in and out and watching his ears twitch were so relaxing. When Jim stood over my shoulder to watch he said the same thing. There was something healing about this new life amidst the sickness and death of COVID-19.

I fixed a nice hot breakfast of french toast, turkey bacon, coffee and orange juice and when we were done, he was still there. It was raining hard and Jim wished I could take a blanket out to cover him. My sewing area is in that corner of three-season room, in front of the window over where he was sleeping. I kept an eye on him as occasionally he would pick his head up and lick his leg. Just after 11:00 he started to stand up and that is when I realized he really had come into this world, into our back yard, sometime in the night. He had some trouble figuring out how to stand on his legs and how to get them to move his body forward. A couple of times I thought he was going to take a topple.

He knew where he wanted to go. Without looking around he headed towards the row of lilac and rose of sharon bushes between us and our neighbor. He seemed to be after the tender, new buds and young leaves. He spent a bit of time nibbling here and then there, wobbling through the thinly growing bushes to reach the best. After a while his legs gave out and he laid down for a rest.

About an hour later I looked and he was gone. I don’t think he wandered away from the protective shelter of the hedge so I assume his mom came and got him. I learned last year that a new fawn has no scent to attract predators so is safer just after birth if the mother leaves it. There are coyotes in the neighborhood and the mother wouldn’t be able to defend her newborn against a family of them.

I’ve been thinking of the fawn all afternoon, hoping that he is well with his mom. I guess I became attached in that short span of half a day. I appreciate that my nurturing and compassionate nature is still well and working in the midst of the news I’m hearing of people who are more interested in their freedom to do what they want, when the want to, instead of thinking of the greater good. It is so refreshing, even rejuvenating to experience new life.

Butterfly Days

There have been a lot of butterflies around our home here in southern Florida – but very hard to photograph. They tend to disappear in the time it takes me to move my camera up to my eye. There have been even more in the Naples Botanical Garden.

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I think this is a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebus Sennae) – what drew me in was how well camouflaged it is among the leaves. I found it funny that the spots on the wings look just like spots I have removed from leaves with Lightroom’s spot remover. How clever nature is.

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In the Brazilian Garden, I had a chat with one of the volunteers who pointed out an orchid that was growing in a tree behind the pavilion, down toward the lake. I headed down to take a look…

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but was distracted by this little beauty, an Atala.

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What my camera (or Lightroom) couldn’t capture to its fullest is the iridescent turquoise spots. My eye was drawn to the orange spot on the wing, down close to the body. And he posed for me – maybe enjoying the heat of the sun in contrast to the cool morning air.

My goal that morning was to enjoy the quiet and tranquility of early mornings in the garden, so I continued down the path along the lake toward the bench down the way. Little did I know I would be entertained by an osprey nesting on the other side of the lake.

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There were probably eggs in the nest because, after this stance to ward off the attacker, she spread her wings down low to shield the eggs. As I sat watching her I heard some people behind me commenting on a daisy tree. So I followed my curiosity a few feet behind me…

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and it was – a Daisy Tree, with lots of butterflies fluttering mostly around its 15-20 foot canopy. But a couple fluttered lower – within camera range.

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Notice how the orange spot on the wing is the same color as its body. I wonder if this spot confuses attackers so they hit the spot instead of the more vulnerable body. Any butterfly experts out there who knows the facts?

This is a new one for me – a Gulf Fritillary and I think it rises to the top of my list of beautiful butterflies. Even with its damaged wing.

Jade Flower

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I am very familiar with the house plant varieties under the species of Crassula, and also know that house plants grow outdoors here in southern Florida. But this is a vine that is grown in two different locations in the Naples Botanical Garden, one with full sun and one that seems to be more shaded, and doesn’t seem to resemble the jade plants I’m familiar with.

What I do know is that it is very unique. What is pictured above is a mature blossom – new blossoms are a fairly uniform color of aqua that doesn’t seem natural to me.

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The first photo was taken on the boardwalk entrance, I had walked past it several time in January – each time marveling at its unique color. This week it was a “wow.” I lingered a long time taking photos from different perspectives and making sure the color in the view finder was true to the plant.

This seems to be a wonder of nature. Please let us know in the comments if you know where else it grows and other information. I’ll see if I can find someone at the garden who can give me more information.