Gratitude in the Garden

Sitting on the ground beside the garden wall, I noticed some purple plants reaching upwards and the pink ones reaching out. In the gap, I noticed the short garden wall. What I had was a squirrel’s eye view.

Taking a moment to look at the garden from a squirrel’s height, I found an intimate spot and a moment for reflection.

While admiring the  flowers’ vibrant colors, I thought about gratitude.

Gratitude for this quiet, peaceful moment,

For my eyesight and my health

For my camera and my photography practice

For nature’s freshness and vitality

For summer.

Dawn’s Early Light

While we are staying “safer at home,” I’m looking through the images I captured in February and uncovering a few hidden gems. I have found new examples of why it really pays off to wake up in the dark and get on location as the sun rises. The reflections on the lake makes this egret look regal.

#greategret, #reflection, #lake, #light, #morninglight, #earlybird, #fishing, #color, #dawn, #florida, #naplesflorida
Great White Egret catches a tiny fish while dawn’s early lights paints the lake with color.

This image is similar to one I blogged about in February, but it’s different with the fish in the egret’s bill. Here is another frame from moments later.

#greategret, #ripples, #lake, #water, #fishing, #reflection, #color, #dawn, #morninglight, #florida, #birds, #egret, #wildlife
Walking about in the shallows and dunking its head, this Great Egret makes circular ripples in the lake.

A Virtual Visit to England

Today is one of those days when I feel like taking a walk in a beautiful faraway place. Maybe it’s just because I can’t! The Stay-home directive resulting from the current Coronavirus crisis is hard on a lot of us with wanderlust. Are you like me — dreaming about your next trip?

In the meantime, we can look back on past trips when we could wander along a path in the middle of a summer’s day and explore the evolving view. On July 4, 2018 I was walking alone along the River Wear in Durham, England. I would have preferred to have a friend along, but my husband was working that day.

I came to this spot along the river where the afternoon sun lit Durham Cathedral up on the bluff as well as what appeared to be the mill house, which reflected in the river. The leafy trees near me even framed my image, and the clouds fell right into place as well. Today, nearly two years later, in May 2020, I’m channeling the peace and beauty of this day.

#durham, #durhamuk, #durhamcathedral, #wearriver, #wear, #view, #riverbank, #riverwalk, #landscape, #architecture, #bluesky, #clouds, #england, #storybook, #afternoonlight, #nikon
Midsummer’s greenery cushion the stately Durham Cathedral along the banks of the Wear River in England. How fortunate I was in this moment to enjoy the afternoon sunlight, a clear day and the foreground trees to frame my view of this historic architecture. I feel like I’m part of a storybook as I walk along the shady path.

A Sturdy Shelter

“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. “
Book of Sirach, The Bible

Those words defined my father, and they were invoked at his funeral Mass. My father was a sturdy shelter to me and many others.

#pier, #naplespier, #friend, #faithfulfriend, #bible, #bookofsirach, #sirach, #inspiration, #shelter, #sturdyshelter, #foundation, #storm, #treasure, #sunset, #pelican, #nature, #reflection, #meditate, #history,#faithful, #support, #worth
Sunset at Naples Pier with Brown Pelican in flight, February 3, 2020 before the site was closed to stop the spread of the virus.

When I reflected on the sturdy foundation of this pier, the reference to sturdy shelter came to mind. This sturdy pier brought the first settlers to Old Naples, Florida many years ago. In this millennium, it withstands the hurricanes and tropical storms and supports hundreds of individuals who enjoy it.

In these trying times of the Coronavirus pandemic, a faithful friend is a treasure, showing his greatest value in supporting those around him. As the hectic pace of life slows to a pause, meditate on your faithful friends.

“A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.”
(Book of Sirach)

American Black Duck Ballet

Since professional ballerinas are usually strikingly tall and thin, it’s funny to see the rounded figure of a duck extending a leg back into a graceful arabesque.

#mallard, #ducks, #mallardduck, #pose, #leg, #female, #pair, #morninglight, #reflection, #lake, #florida, #naples, #nikon, #tamron, #wildlife, #birds
These American Black Ducks were active at dawn, swimming and mating and hanging out on the lake in Naples, Florida February 2020.

Both ducks are mottled with purple accent feathers on their wings. The male duck with the yellow beak swims on the left below. The female bill is mottled. Smart ducks, they winter near the coast. Their population has fallen, but they are found in the Eastern United States.

#mallard, #ducks, #lake, #color, #swimming, #pair, #female
The same two American Black Ducks in synchronized swimming. Naples FL February 2020.

Narcissus: Beauty on the Surface

This Great Egret is no Narcissist. He’s just foraging for fish on a Tuesday morning. But his clear reflection in the lake reminded me of the Greek Myth about Narcissus, the character who fell in love with his reflection. This moment frozen in time in a still image gives the impression that the egret may have stared at his reflection for a few minutes. Of course, this moment passed in an instant.

This morning the colors reflected in the water and the ripples surrounding our Great Egret gave this image a unique ethereal quality. The smooth white egret and its reflection contrast with the color and texture of the water, bringing our eye to rest on the bird and its mirror image.

#egret, #greategret, #mirror, #reflection, #colors, #ripples, #symmetry, #narcissus, #greekmythology, #naplesflorida, #naples, #naturephotography, #morninglight, #texture
Great Egret looks beneath the water for fish, while I quietly capture the reflections and ripples on the surface. Naples, FL 2020.

Mirror, Mirror

I don’t think this Great Egret gives a hoot about his reflection, but I do! I was pleased with the detail in the reflection — which is equal if not better than the detail in the egret himself.

#greategret #egret, #birdphotography, #nikon, #pelicanbayflorida, #naples, #florida, #reflection, #mirror
One of those times that I realize the Nikon 70-200mm lens was worth every penny. Great Egret seen in Pelican Bay, Naples, Florida.

I will upload the full size (63MB) image to my website, if you want to make a print. The detail in those white feathers would really show off in a large print!

The Puddle Challenge

Here is a challenge to all of you photographers out there. Yes, this includes all of you with an iphone camera! After the next big rain storm, take a walk and look for reflections in the puddles. Maybe you will see your surroundings in a whole new light!

Cathedral Rock of Sedona reflected in a puddle I discovered while hiking Red Rock Crossing.

Coconino sandstone does not absorb water quickly. The bad news is you need to be wary of a flash flood while hiking a low lying canyon. The good news, is the rain will erode the soft sandstone over time and in the short term leave some puddles for your visual enjoyment.

Rewards of West Fork Trail

Sedona’s West Fork Trail is described in the guide books as iconic with towering cliffs and 13 stream crossings as you follow Oak Creek for 6.4 miles round trip. The elevation change is moderate (245 ft.), so I considered it doable with camera equipment on my back.

It took us 3.5 hours to reach the end point, as I stopped for photos so often, but the exertion was well worth it. You know you have reached the end when you can’t go further without getting wet, and in November it’s too cold for that!

A mirror-like reflection was the reward at the end point of the West Fork Trail. Sunny conditions were perfect for the hike, as rain can create dangerous flash floods, and snow would make the hike too slippery.

The cave like erosion you can see along the left side of the creek reminded me of “the subway” in Zion National Park created by the Virgin River. I had to explain myself to my husband after exclaiming, “there is the subway!”

I find myself fascinated by the power of moving water that erodes rock over time. Are you?

Sedona: Cathedral Rock

A good photograph of Cathedral Rock reflected in Oak Creek was the “money shot” for me during a recent visit to Sedona. I had to select a day with good weather, find the location, get there close to sunset, carry the tripod and convince my husband this was a good idea. I’m not sure which part was the hardest, but I got several different shots, which I am pleased to share with you.

#cathedralrock, #redrock, #sedona, #reflection, #redrockcrossing, #oakcreek
I found this location to view Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing just before it closed at 5pm.