The (Almost) Perfect Proposal in Point Loma

The stunning coastline in Point Loma, California would be an amazing setting for a marriage proposal. That was the plan. Engagement ring in his pocket, our future son-in-law was poised to pop the question to our daughter as we took a morning walk along the coast, admiring the cliffs and the surf. It was pretty special that he waited until we, her parents, could be there to share the joy of the moment. Only problem was that we innocently messed up the plan.

I was busy taking photos. Well, that’s what I do when you take me for a walk in a beautiful natural setting like this with my Sony camera around my neck. My husband was concerned the restaurant would give away our table, and turned around to wait for our table at the Little Lion Cafe. We didn’t know about the plan!

But not to worry, Cameron had a back-up plan, and before the sun set that day, our daughter Erin had a diamond ring on her finger and a smile as big as the sun in Southern California.

Point Loma near San Diego features some amazing cliffs along its Pacific coastline, seen here in the morning light, May 18, 2019.

Born White, Turning Blue

The Little Blue Heron is born as a stark white bird, and it gradually develops those vibrant slate blue feathers as it matures. If you were not aware of that color change, you might wonder about the identity of this unique bird when you see it in the Everglades.

This juvenile Little Blue Heron shows some blue feathers coming in around the neck. The bill is taking on its blue hue as well. The white branches underline its ghostly visage in the swamp. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

Standing on one leg, the heron rests the other while silently watching the water for fish. “Little” is a relative term, as it can grow to 29″ and have a wingspan of 41 inches. It is only “little” when compared to the tall “Great Blue Heron,” that can stand 4.5 feet high.

Is Blue Your Color?

The Great Blue Heron stands out in the marsh with its blue feathers, long and sharp beak and distinct yellow eyes. I love to bike in the Everglades to get a close look at these elegant birds.

Examine the delicate neck feathers of this Great Blue Heron. The yellow eye and beak stand out with their complimentary color. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

This Great Blue Heron (below) shows his breeding plumage. The male bird wears the eye catching “dress” to attract a mate.

In profile, this Great Blue Heron shows his crown feather and delicate neck plumage. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

Green Heron, Turn Around

Want to know a fun fact about the Green Heron?

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, and feathers, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish. (Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)
The Green Heron is a short stocky bird, compared to other herons. I found this one at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at the water’s edge.
As I watched silently, the Green Heron turned around for another view in the sunlight. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida.

French Formal Gardens, outside France.

The French may have designed the first formal gardens in the 17 century, but many garden designers around the world emulate the style today. Visit the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh for the Spring Flower Show to enjoy the symmetry of the flower beds, bursting with colorful tulips.

Order, rationality, grandeur and symmetry of the 17 century French garden: find it at Phipps, 2019.
Circular tulip bed at Phipps Conservatory, seen through a fish-eye lens, 2017.

Who started this trend? Andre Le Notre designed the formal gardens at the Palace of Versailles from 1662 to 1700. I’m sure you have visited many beautiful formal gardens in your home town or in your world travels. I would love to hear about your favorites.

Anhinga and the Bottle Brush

Just like every good movie has a great actor and strong supporting actor, every great Nature photo reads the same way. This female anhinga is a regal and fascinating bird with striking feathers and an unusual ability (for a bird) to swim underwater. But this contrasting and colorful setting, the bottlebrush tree makes this image sing.

Female anhinga perches in the Bottle Brush tree, lakeside, in Naples, Florida.

As I adjusted my ISO to 1250 and focused on the bird, my friend Cecil said quietly to me, “That’s the money shot.” Thank you, Cecil.

Gargoyles, “les guardiens” of the churches of Paris

From the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one can see many other beautiful churches in the skyline. Nearby, also on Ile de la Cite is another Gothic style church with exquisite 13 c. stained glass windows, Sainte Chapelle. It was consecrated in 1248 and was part of the royal family residence until the 14th century. This church was also restored in the 19 century.

This pensive gargoyle on the tower of Notre Dame, seems to watch over Sainte Chapelle in this photograph. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

On a distant hilltop to the north, stands Sacre Coeur Basilica, a magnificent 20th-century Roman Catholic Church decorated with mosaics inside. Sacre Coeur and its quaint neighborhood Montmartre are also must-do destinations for any visit to Paris. I recommend climbing to the tower of Sacre Coeur as well for a fantastic view.

Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral frames the distant view of Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.