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.

From Florida to Pennsylvania…

I’m delighted to spot the Red-Winged Blackbird. I learned about this beautiful bird on early morning bird tours on the Royal Poinciana Golf Club. Then, I recognized the same beautiful species in flight three times this month in Western Pennsylvania.

This red-winged blackbird sings a morning song in Naples, Florida. I have also spotted this distinctive bird near Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Bird watching in Pennsylvania is especially challenging when the leaves are out on the trees. In the morning, you can hear numerous birds singing, but when you look for them, all you can see are hundreds of leaves in the trees.

I’m not complaining, for all this greenery is gorgeous! With the April and May showers, the lawns are as green as the west coast of Ireland and the trees are bushy with fresh green leaves. As I write today, the azaleas are in full bloom, and the rhododendron are up next. Happy Spring!

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.

Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is coming up on May 12, and it’s time for all of us to think of a special kindness for a mother, grandmother or special lady in our lives. My aunt who never married was a special person in my life, so she deserved and well appreciated some TLC on Mother’s Day.

Fresh flowers are a wonderful gift especially in Spring, when perennial plants are just starting to bloom again, awakening our own senses and inspiring us to linger outdoors. So are the gifts that preserve the delicate beauty of nature, such as photographs.

I won’t be braving the unpredictable Spring weather at Sewickley’s May Mart this year, but I am happy to fill requests for notecards, tiles and prints of my varied portfolio of tulips, butterflies and other nature photographs. Just drop me an email to share with me your ideas. Let’s make something beautiful and share the love!

Orange tulips in the foreground are emphasized in this image with a shallow depth of field. Can you reach out and touch them? Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA, 2019.