2016 found us in our woods almost constantly. We were healing and growing as a family as nature's creatures thrived and grew under the glorious late spring sun. Life continued on, and it was glorious!
Caleb with a fellow woodlander:
We rejoiced over our first frog encounter of the year:
followed quickly by the first toad:
It was hard to hear the usual melody of birds, crickets, and frogs. A buzzing sort of hum echoed forth. The gang all started guessing.
A wood chipper?
A farmer on a tractor?
It seemed strangely familiar to me. Memories of engine-powered gliders hovering over the Mississippi bubbled out from my stash of long-forgotten memories. Still, I was a bit surprised when that recall proved correct.
On a family news note: Caleb acquired his first vehicle. Might be high in miles and a bit up in years, but it gets the lad from point A to B. Sweet freedom!
I found myself oft alone in my wandering endeavors. The kiddos all had their reasons, and I accepted the fact that not all enjoyed the miracles of the forest on the same level as I. (Cue the slideshow!)
Yep... just me alone.... or was I??!?
If only trees could take selfies.
I tend to shun (okay, outright mock) the whole selfie movement, but on rare occasion I feel the urge to take one. Usually when I find myself on unsteady ground (or treetop) and find it practical in the event that loved ones wonder about my final moments.
Oh, the arrow? No idea. I found it in my wanders on what seemed to be old gravel pits. Found these cool beings as well.
On days off I still enjoy baking treats for the kiddos. Saw this cake in a food magazine and had to give it a try.
A day off? Stay home??!?
Anna and one or two of her sisters sometimes tagged along. The wildlife seemed to put on quite the show when they were in tow...
Ella even found an egg right on the path one jaunt.
Birds: marvelous maestros of magnificent masterpieces, they themselves foremost.
Even the little guys are well decked out in spring.
No bird show is complete without the "graceful" pelican. (If you have ever seen one in flight you'll be laughing along with us right now.)
The owl family brought our family a sense of joy like that of youngsters playing a good game of hide-and-seek. Even the boys got in on "the hunt," which occasionally rewarded one or two of us with a fleeting glimpse of a large white bird flying away. But I wouldn't be satisfied until we caught one on film.
Then one evening, after months chasing after the source of owl calls, we finally caught a curious barred owl on camera.
Even the 'shrooms got in on the bird-theme.
Ella was captivated by these "flying" inchworms.
Rosa and Nora brought their cameras from time to time. Here's a shot Rosa took of one of the many many red-wing black birds.
Even the trees can't help but gawk at their winged compadres.
Although the forest has a unmatched beauty all its own...
down to the minutest detail...
never say the sky's the limit when it comes to an artistic masterpiece...
The best way to make Anna's day: a wabbit sighting!
Not that we always had to go far to see wildlife. Our friendly raven family's fledglings put on quite the show upon leaving the nest. This youngster landed in our lilac bush, and must have decided he or she rather liked it there.
Those haunting blue eyes were quite the sight.
Rosa got quite a dramatic haircut. Here she is posing among fellow roses at our local Arboretum:
This sign warms the cockles of my heart. Hope it brings a smile to you as well.
Here's just some of the eye-candy we saw there:
Meanwhile, deep in the forest, secret lovers share a tender kiss....
These little guys deserve a better name than their given one: fall webworms.
Nature beats all those fashion designers any day. Just look at that stylish garb!
Another cool example of artistic design: mushrooms.
This one looks like a gaping mouth:
I must admit, I have a total mushroom fetish. They are just so cool!
We recently found a nice dog-friendly walking path at a local park. Here's Lizzy with Rosa and Bubba with Anna checking it out.
Rosa and Lizzy share a special bond.
Here's Bubba sharing a talent only some appreciate:
A classy profile shot of the Bubbanator:
Nora would often accompany us on our jaunts, but tended to meander about on her own, with camera. Here is an stealthy shot she took of us:
One nice side effect of the selfie movement: we have nice shots of our otherwise camera-shy teens.
Even her shoes get their moment to shine:
She takes wonderful pictures of nature's nuances as well.
We explored Big Lake's Lions Park with Grandpa. What a treat! (Silly side note: If you look up that park on Google, a picture Corbin took of Caleb comes up, much to our amusement and Caleb's dismay...)
There was lots to see amongst the oak trees and meadows...
I think these are mouse ear chickweed flowers:
Numerous butterflies fluttered about...
Ella posing by one of the many majestic oaks:
There is just something so peaceful about a hardwood forest. A voice seems to whisper in the breeze, welcome home...
I acquired a most useful guidebook to help me cultivate my mushroom fetish. So I can somewhat confidently inform you these are lovely Turkey Tail Mushrooms:
I am such a novice, however, that some still bamboozle me. This one looks like about five different ones in the guidebook! Oh well...
This tree just has so much going for it. So many faces! Such a split personality!
We took in the serene scene down at the Elk River. Saw a birdboy perching in a tree...
What's this? A swinging monkey?
Na... it's just Anna monkeying around!
Isn't this a cool looking beetle? It's got so much going for it... stripes, polka-dots, texture, sheen...
Upon identifying it, I discovered it's known as the Colorado Potato Beetle; a major pest of gardeners and farmers. Sigh. Well, I still think it's awesome!
"Take my picture!" occasionally broke the tranquil ambience, natch.
We had a swinging good time...
A nice shot of Rosa, Caleb, and Anna:
Something tells me there are beavers about....
Every tree close to the water bore testament to that fact!
Some had been felled, but most seemed to endure the damage.
Perhaps these trees can teach humans some valuable lessons. Victims need not just endure persecution, but recover and continue growing. And a lesson for bullies who think it's just harmless fun: note the scars still remain.
Wild irises abounded riverside...
This cool bug appreciates these beauties as well.
An exoskeleton I wish I could try on:
As we continued down the path we came across a section of woods teeming with vines.
This poor tree's innards were literally pouring out of it:
This tree thinks it's OK. Ella and Caleb think so, too.
A pretty flower with a not so pretty name: behold the Spiderwort:
Ella managed to get a bit too caught up in her quest to climb every tree...
A silly sign sighting:
I'd love to see someone try to disobey it!
A wolf spider with her egg sac scurried by:
I'm at a loss as to what this flower is, other than pretty cool.
Yet more forest jewels: a black female swallowtail butterfly shimmered in the sunlight.
Back on the home front:
We made some nature-inspired snacks: bird nests!
Anna thought they were delicious!
We'll end this post with some gems from an early-June wander at our usual romping grounds.
A cute finch:
An impressive gigantic moth:
A friendly grazer:
A hummingbird wrapped in spider webbing:
Don't worry: the little bird just stretched out...
...and quickly flew off.
Some pretty coral mushrooms gives one the illusion of being undersea:
A forest dweller out having a toad-ally fine time:
This grass has a hair-like appearance:
We hope you remember to take some time to enjoy summer's bounty!