Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hunting Timber Tigers with a Wild Cat



I had a stalker!




At the end of last week I took a sunny afternoon walk in the woods, and the next day I took a rainy afternoon walk in the woods.  Amazingly, I didn't see the same thing twice!  It is incredible how a water soaked forest looks completely different from a dry forest beaming with sunlight.

I had a surprise visitor join me on the sunny afternoon.  I don't mind a photo assistant, but to venture into the woods with my kitty pretty much guarantees I will see no critters of any kind!  Or so I thought.  My kitty is sweet, loving, and all she wants to do is cuddle....that is with her people.  When they are not around....she turns into a bloody huntress.  Her favorite pastime is leaving her half mutilated critter corpses on the porch steps.  But she is just doing her job as an outdoor kitty....so I love the gentle little girl...but the area critters hear her little bell and they RUN!

She crept up on me stealthy as I began my walk.  I could hardly move an inch because she was cuddling my legs and feet and I kept almost stepping on her.  Finally we tap danced our way to the back of the trail and I stood around looking for something, anything interesting.  The crunchy, leafy bed of the forest floor was making a lot of noise under my feet and I thought there was no way I would see any birds or animals.  Then I noticed my kitty....perched quietly on a rock.  Huh.  Good idea!  So I found a big rock and had a seat.  Twenty minutes and a lot of kitty cuddles later....some chipmunks started scurrying around.  I grabbed some shots but I thought that it would never last....they would detect my kitty and scram.  But her love for her people won out, and she stayed put on her rock....although she would perk up now and then and get that huntress look in her eyes.  Soon the birds returned to that spot in the woods and I grabbed a bunch of shots of a female woodpecker.  (As seen in my previous blog post this week.)  Well here is part 2 of 4 posts related to my dual day wanderings in the woods.  Enjoy these shots of the "timber tigers."





Portrait of a Huntress





















Hymn:  The Seasons are Fixed by Wisdom Divine
(Paraphrase of  Psalm 104)

The seasons are fixed by wisdom divine,
The slow-changing moon show forth God’s design;
The sun in his circuit his maker obeys,
And running his journey hastes not nor delays.

The Lord makes the night, when, leaving their lair,
The lions creep forth, God’s bounty to share;
The Lord makes the morning, when beasts steal away
And men are beginning the work of the day.

How many and wise Thy works are, O Lord!
The earth with the wealth of wisdom is stored;
The sea bears in safety the ships to and fro,
And creatures unnumbered it shelters below.

 

Thy creatures all look to Thee for their food;
Thy hands open wide, they gather the good;
Thy face Thou concealest, in anguish they yearn;
Their breath Thou withholdest, to dust they return.

Thy Spirit, O Lord, makes life to abound,
The earth is renewed, and fruitful the ground;
To God ascribe glory and wisdom and might,
Let God in His creatures forever delight.




 

Fall Forest Colors


 Before the Lord’s might earth trembles and quakes,
The mountains are rent, and smoke from them breaks;
The Lord I will worship through all of my days,
Yea, while I have being my God I will praise.




Rejoicing in God, my thought shall be sweet,
While sinners depart in ruin complete;
My soul, bless Jehovah, His name be adored,
Come, praise Him, ye people, and worship the Lord.


 





It was nice spending an hour in the woods "hunting" with my kitty.  Funny how the Lord's creatures can teach us a lot about the meanings of important Biblical ideas...like patience!  You never know what patience is until you are sitting on a cold rock in the woods for an hour, trying to be still, quiet, doing nothing but waiting!  Even though I was cold and sore at the end of it, the patience paid off.     So, I am grateful that my kitty came along and taught be a hunting lesson, and reminded me of an important lesson from the Bible too about the big "P" word.  Patience!





Romans 8:25
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.









Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Peck, peck, peck




Anything in there?

At the end of last week I took time to take a walk in the woods next to our house.   The weather was a little chilly but it was clear and sunny and the fall colors were too enticing.  I actually have a pretty interesting story about this walk but I was eager to share this series of photos of a female red-bellied woodpecker.   I was shooting into the sinking sun so the back lighting is kind of rough on a few shots but I hope you will see the interesting foraging and feasting of this busy bird.


 It was lots of fun to watch, and try to get a great photograph.  At one point she landed so close to me I started muttering in a whisper to myself, "Oh gosh, oh gosh."  I sounded a little like the cartoon octopus Oswald!  Well enjoy these shots, and some fun evolution defying facts about woodpeckers!


Success!!!






Who loves red-heads?





See the gray face shows this is a female


Every once in a while I prefer a little scientific info to help praise the Lord for His creation.  I knew instead of a written devotion for this post, I just had to share this short 5 minute video of Dr. Jobe Martin explaining how the woodpecker defies evolution.  Watch and see how God is truly magnificent in showing His handiwork through even a little bird! 




Monday, October 24, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now....



November is coming early?  This past Friday morning


Does anyone else know that oldies tune with the line, "I can see clearly now the rain is gone"?   Not to suggest that music lyrics make no sense sometimes (because we all know that is just a preposterous suggestion!) but sometimes things are not as visible when everything is all sunshine and blue sky.  Those vibrant colors above were not half so noticeable until they were soaked in rain with dark clouds overhead! 

Well to illustrate this point I am pairing some recent photos with some old photos to go with an awesome excerpt from Spurgeon.   Sometimes you see things more clearly in the drear, and you always see light better in darkness.  But although I may not agree with those old song lyrics, I will play the DJ and send this one out to a few of my peeps who I think could use some encouragement on a bleak October day.  Ya'll know who you are! ;-)


Starry night 2 weeks ago


By C.H. Spurgeon:

Night seems to be the great friend of the stars: they must be all unseen by eyes of men, were they not set in the foil of darkness. It is even so with winter. We might feel sad, that all the flowers of summer must die, and all the fruits of autumn must be gathered into their store-house, that every tree must be stripped. and that all the fields must lose their fair flowers. 









 

But were it not for winter we should never see the glistening crystals of the snow; we should never behold the beauteous festoons of the icicles that hang from the eaves. Much of God's marvellous miracles of hoar frost must have been hidden from us, if it had not been for the cold chill of winter, which, when it robs us of one beauty, gives us another,—when it takes away the emerald of verdure, it gives us the diamond of ice—when it casts from us the bright rubies of the flowers, it gives us the fair white ermine of snow.



 

We do not love nights, but we do love stars; we do not love weakness, but we do bless God for the promise that is to sustain us in our weakness, we do not admire winter, but we do admire the glittering snow; we must shudder at our own trembling weakness, but we still do bless God that we are weak because it makes room for the display of his own invincible strength in fulfilling such a promise as this.



A cardinal is always seen best in a dreary landscape!











And anyone not convinced that at the end of every storm there is a smile....please know that behind that snow covered scarf that boy is grinning from ear to ear!
 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Urban Adventures!





This week I was sent on assignment for my day job to photograph a recent project featuring a new product sold by the company.  I was happy to be paid to drive along country hills and farms for a couple hours on a beautiful autumn day to reach the hamlet where the project was sold.  But very near to this off the beaten path town is the state capital.

So I extended my journey by an hour and spent my Saturday on a photo challenge.  Can I find nature photographs of God's creation in an urban setting?  The blog motto is  "Stay behind the lens" and with the intent of this blog being to encourage people, no matter where they are, to see God's creation around them, I thought it was high time this country mouse exchanged places with my city mouse readers.   To all urban dwellers it may seem all too easy to find beautiful photos when living buried amongst trees, covered by blankets of green grass, and living alongside wild critters. 

 




So, below are the results of a couple hour stroll through the German village of Columbus.  This old section of town abuts the downtown and highway ramps and all that is paved, mortared, and welded. 

I shot these using a 50mm fixed lens, which was another challenge I decided to take on....as I typically use a behemoth 28-300mm zoom lens.  But this did result in a couple missed opportunities with sparrows flitting around a garden, or a friendly dog down the street.  It is not deer or turkeys but in my book a charming four legged friend on a leash and a "plain" house sparrow are more than adequate to show God's magnificence in the animal kingdom!







From J.R. Miller (1910)

Mrs. Browning, referring to this singular incident says:

"Earth 's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees—takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries!"

The poet's thought is that the glory of God is in everything, in every tree, in every flower, in every lowly bush, and that almost nobody sees the glory! Most people see only the bush or the plant. Only now and then—one sees the flame, the splendor of God, and takes off his shoes!




 
To many people, life is all a dreary commonplace. Some see nothing beautiful in nature. They will walk through the loveliest gardens—and see nothing to admire. They will move among Christian people—and never observe in them, any glimpses of immortality, any revealings of the divine nature. 

They will go through all the years and never see God in anything! It would give us a radiant world in nature—if our eyes were opened to see the splendor that is in every tree, plant, and flower!









 
By J.R. Miller, 1912:

“…Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.”  John 12:28-29

Our eyes are alike—and yet no two people see the same picture on the canvas.  We have an illustration of this in the story of Christ… It was the same sound; the difference was in those who heard it. The state of their heart—gave tone to the voice.

"Two men looked out from their prison bars—
 One saw the mud, the other saw the stars!"

This same difference is seen in the way life's experiences appear to different people. 

….everywhere they [the optimistic class] find something beautiful and good. Emerson puts it well:

    Let me go where'er I will,
    I hear a sky-born music still;
    It sounds from all things old,
    It sounds from all things young;
    From all that's fair, from all that's foul,
    Peals out a cheerful song!

    'Tis not only in the rose,
    'Tis not only in the bird,
    Not only where the rainbow glows,
    Nor in the song of woman heard,
    But in the darkest, meanest things
    There always, always something sings!

    'Tis not in the high stars alone,
    Nor in the cups of budding flowers,
    Nor in the redbreast's mellow tone,
    Nor in the bow that smiles in the showers,
    But in the mud and scum of things
    There always, always something sings!











All will admit that the man with the optimistic spirit—gets far more out of life, and makes far more of life, than his pessimistic neighbor. It is a great deal better to see blue sky and stars—than only dull, dreary clouds.




















Figuring the best angle for my next shot



Found it!

 It was a perfect day for photographing...except for the wind!  It was brisk in the shade, but warm in the sun, and although the sun presented some obstacles with shadows and glares, which result in the much dreaded under or over exposure....it was still a great photo adventure, and I walked till I was too sore to continue. 








I liked this challenge and really enjoyed the readings I was able to find to pair with the photos for this post.  I have often thought I could never have lived in a city and become a nature photographer.  But the truth is there is plenty of God's creation to see no matter where you are.




Whether in a sitting in a groomed park or strolling through the city zoo...hanging one bird feeder out your suburban window, or just walking a dog from your high rise apartment....there is plenty to see if you are looking!

If you are totally surrounded by concrete and you think a clear sky, a flying bird, or a green tree is the last thing you will find....you are likely surrounded by God's crowning achievement in His creation....man! The one creature made in His image!
















So, find a baby to kiss, a friend to smile with, or enjoy watching a nice older couple holding hands as they walk along....all a part of God's creation!  


"But in the mud and scum of things
    There always, always something sings!"















Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Strange Weather





A second impromptu blog post today?!  That is unusual for me....but even more unusual were the clouds that rolled by my window at quitting time at work.  I started getting calls from friends and family telling me to go outside with my camera.  And when you see these strange clouds that blew by you will see why I had to share another post today!




I really don't think I did these clouds justice, but I tried to get a variety of shots to show the texture and many formations we observed.  My Dad said that a few looked like ribbons of gray marshmallows being swirled around.  Some we thought looked like waves of the ocean. 


 
By C.H. Spurgeon, 1855:

“…the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3

What great things clouds are to us! There we see them sweeping along the skies! Then they rapidly increase until the whole sky gathers blackness and a dark shadow is cast upon the world; we foresee the coming storm, and we tremble at the mountains of cloud, for they are great. Great things are they? No! they are only the dust of God’s feet! The greatest cloud that ever swept the face of the sky, was but one single particle of dust, stirred up by the feet of the Almighty Jehovah. When clouds roll over clouds and the storm is very dreadful—it is but the chariot of God, as it speeds along the heavens, raising a little dust around him! "The clouds are the dust of his feet." Oh! could you grasp this idea my friends, or had I words in which to put it into your souls, I am sure you would sit down in solemn awe of that great God who is our Father, or who will be our Judge!

Consider, that the greatest things with man, are little things with God. We call the mountains great, but what are they? They are but "the small dust of the balance."
Surfs Up???



Looking out my window now you would have no idea that a brief display of God's amazing creative power drifted past in a matter of minutes....but happily I had a heads up and a camera handy.  So please enjoy these snapshots....and stay tuned as I promise to get back on track tomorrow with my post from my urban assignment weekend!


I fiddled with the contrast on this image to really let you see the clouds textures.  Awesome!

A Special Post for My Brother-In-Law!



Upon marrying my brother-in-law, my baby sister dubbed him, "The friend of all creatures."  He catches moths and spiders in the house and "releases them back into the wild" as opposed to doing what most of us do...removing our shoe and squishing them.  He sighs when he passes little furry creatures that met with an ill fate on a country road.  (He brakes for animals!)

Apparently my recent posts featuring local park ducks has struck a chord with him. (As you might have seen from his humorous comment on my post Preen and Clean)   A few years back my brother-in-law, who owns adjoining property, got his children a couple pet ducklings to swim around on my Dad's fishing pond.  He cleaned them under the warming lights in his basement and garage until they were old enough to go out on the lake.  He then built them a spacious duck house, and has kept them fed and safe through several harsh winters.  And as he says, "They deserve respect."

Well, as a matter of fact, I do have photos of my neighbor ducks.  So I thought I would make a special, unscheduled post, to show the proper respect to these domestic critters.  (Although I must say they maintain their distance from people for the most part, so my brother-in-law  has not ruined their wild duck instincts!)

Thanks for the subject matter Big J!  You quack me up!