What a lovely May we had. Maybe it was just my need to get away from work; to debrief, to release the anxiety slowly eating away my insides. But no, I truly feel it was really that wonderful a spring. The girls and I found any and every excuse to get out there and enjoy it, even if it was just to the local park. The vigorous ants we discovered there a couple weeks earlier were still out in full force.


While they were a bit, well, creepy, the gardens were in full swing. Here are some highlights:

picture: of

This tree made my day.

a face on a tree

Sunshine splashing on sassy sisters succumbing to spring-fever:

Rosa and Anna on a bench

Alex alleviates anxiety; allowing alluring eye-candy to absorb his affections:

Alex taking a picture of some flowers

Triplicating the tranquil thrill of trance-like treasures trumps the trouble of traveling to transfer tremendous trajectories for true treats. (Okay, that alliteration is a bit over the top. The English translation is just this: one can find simple treasures in everyday happenings, like these three geese drifting by.)

three geese

Ella gets my point. And finds bonus pleasure in some rock throwing.

Ella at the water's edge

It's just all so. . . big. You know what I mean? And big is totally awesome. This is big. All my problems are small. Commence with warm fuzzy feelings inside.

The lake reflecting the clouds

Same day, different location for reflections: Young swans spotted in a roadside culvert.

two young swans swimming

The month of May yielded plenty of eye-candy from our favorite wandering spot. (Cue the slideshow!)

The ultimate watercolor:

ducks in a  pond with a blur of colors

One of my favorite natural phenomena occurs on still days, when any body of water becomes a mirror. Behold: a cloud mirror:

clouds reflecting in a still lake

Tree and cloud mirror, with bonus trumpeter swans:

swans swimming on a still lake

Only one way to celebrate springtime's spectacular art gallery: break out the lighter fluid! It's time for the first s'mores of the year!

Ella with a s'more

We hiked our beloved woods almost daily that first week in May. Here's Ella greeting some fellow wanderers we stumbled across:

Ella greeting her brothers and sisters

Roaming off trail treated us to a pleasant find: bugs! (yes, after a cold winter we rejoice with the return of any life... even the creepy-crawly kind! Now mosquitoes... that's another story!) Spotted Lady Beatles were everywhere... on leaves:

a bug on a leaf

and flowers:

one on a dandelion

Wandering at dusk affords another of my favorite effects: silhouettes.

a bird on a tree at dusk

Another cool thing about dusk-wandering: spotting animals we don't usually run across. We sighted a male blue-winged teal, a rare find, for me anyway.

a male blue-winged teal

A couple of swans glided across the golden waters.

two trumpeter swans

While they didn't reciprocate the awe of seeing us, their hastening retreat gave me the joy of seeing a face.

swans making a face

(Come on, you totally see a face here!)

The swamp (Which we affectionately call Yoda's Swamp) was once again full of life. And the smell! There is something about wet earth that is so invigorating.

the swamp

The best find, though, by far was when we stumbled across a fell wanderer coming right at us along the trail.
We stopped.
He stopped.
He rose up on his hind legs and stared. We were only about fifty feet apart.I quietly counseled the kids to not move, and slowly raised my camera.
That was enough for him. And off he went!

a retreating racoon

That close encounter was the talk of our household for weeks to come. What were the odds? We would soon find out...

While some may be attracted to the big city scene, I am mesmerized by a simple jaunt in the forest.

the path in the woods

Thankfully, I think my kiddos feel the same way.

Corbin and Rosa on the path

My get-high drug: watching the sun set...

a golden sunset

A furry friend even joined me on the beach.

He soon skittered of, but I choose to stay a while longer.

the fading sunset

There is nothing better than to be taught by such a great artist, the Creator Jehovah God himself. We all benefited from our spring assembly.

the girls at the assembly

Afterwards Rosa did something she'd been wanting to do for a long time: she got her ears pierced. Even Sponge Bob approves of her new look.

Rosa with her ears pierces by a Sponge Bob figure

We ended our day in the big city with a meal at a Chinese Buffet. My fortune left me guessing...

the fortune says you are a person of outstanding wisdom. You are about to embark on a

Well, not really. I knew just where I was heading the next evening.

a deer in our forest

Yep, I really did go wandering just about daily in May. On this jaunt we saw the above deer, the below muskrat:

a swimming muskrat

some pairs of teals:

and what have we here? It's our fellow wanderer, treed.

a racoon

Sometimes when you look down, you get a clear view of what's up.

a tree mirror swamp

As we walked by the pine trees, they released thick clouds of pine pollen. It was really quite memorizing.

a close-up of the pine pollen

We were chattering away as we walked along the path when who should we stumble across?

the racoon again

Same place, same time, same reaction... but this time my camera was ready.

the racoon on its hind legs

The encounter left us a bit too late to reach the beach before sunset, but the moon just about made up for it.

the sliver of a moon

I think it was laughing about our repeat run-in too.

the smiling sliver of the moon

Mid-May had me seeing faces everywhere. I dubbed this little number toilet-pump face:

a pump that resembles a toilet with a face

crying tree face:

a pine tree leaking sap out of two holes that look like eyes

Hey, you think my fetish is weird? I've got a son who can eat the insides out of a marshmallow.

Corbin holding the shell of a hollowed out roasted marshmallow

If there is one thing I can't tolerate when wandering, it's seeing litter. We always bring along a bag just to put any trash we find in. I had to make an exception this one time, though. (These little guys were so tiny I almost didn't see them!) We decided to leave just that one scrap of paper be, for the time being.

tiny snails on a piece of paper

Summer is officially just around the corner: we saw the first butterflies of the year.

a butterfly

Anna taking it all in:

anna in the forest

All what? The hill of fresh greenery had sprouted a rainbow of wildflowers.

flowers on the hillside

I can only wonder what the kids think of my nature-is-my-art-gallery fetish.

Shannon looking at a tree

Anna and I were ecstatic when we found "the tree in love" again. I had erroneously thought it was one of the victims of last falls violent winds.

The warm sun brought out some other old friends of ours:

a snake

Not into creepers? This pleasant melody maker serenaded us with a merry springtime sonnet.

an oriole

I caught my new sunset buddy watching us.

a chipmunk

We ended the day's jaunt with a snack on the pier.

We ogled at the moon while waiting for the sun to put on it's nightly performance.

Lollygagging is an art worth practicing.

watching the setting sun

Picture perfect, as always.

the sunset

A road trip beckoned us on a rare day we all had off of work. Our destination? Somewhere we could monkey around, of course.

the kids goofing around in some turtle statues

Just. So. Cute.

a sleeping snow leopard

See, this is what I'm takin about.

a mother takin and her 2 young

Just gives you warm fuzzies all over, doesn't it?

ducklings sleeping in the sun

Yep, it's spring. Every animal had young ones. And young ones are, well, adorable.

some bison

Rosa brought her new camera, and made good use of it. A crow taking off from among a flock of geese made for a cool shot:

a crow in flight

I took this shot for Ella, who still has a thing for turtles.

two turtles

We could watch these clowns for hours:

prairie dogs

Yup, cute the warm fuzzies...

prairie dog youngsters

Nature acting out a fun play on words: a catbird watching the prairie dogs.

a catbird

The original hump-day gal posing by her posse:

Rosa and the camels

Is a wild horse wild in a zoo?

a horse

Now, I'm pretty sure this doesn't belong in the zoo. (Cue John Cleese voice) "Right! Now that's too silly!"

Ella with an animated dinosaur

The bog walk delighted Ella. (Cue the turtles!)

a turtle

Nice pose, but this little fella one-upped him:

One turtle even reenacted the swamp-thing rising from the depths below.

a turtle rising form the water, full of algae

Rosa loves foxes. Her camera captured this relaxed fellow.

a fox

While she loved seeing the turtles, nothing beats getting to reach out and touch a soul.

Ella and a goat hugging

Although this is a close second.

Ella on a tortoise statue

She did try to jump right in with these chaps. (A flying catch by Alex prevented her dream from being realized.)

We could immerse ourselves in the coral reef anytime. Especially when we are the only people around.

the kids watching the fish

Anna's favorite: the too-cute-to-be-real red panda:

the red panda

We headed home with many found reminders of just how unique and awesome each and every creature is.

a colorful tropical bird

How else to top off the perfect day than to head to our stomping grounds and have some s'mores? Hey, look! A campfire visitor. I got to get her on film.

Shannon taking a picture of a large snapping turtle

Pretty good shot.

the picture of the snapper

A photographer is never satisfied with the first take, though.

Shannon taking more photos

She tried to warn me. She hissed. She coiled back, like a spring rolling up.

the snapper retreating into her shell

I should have respected her opinion. But instead I listened to mine: I'm far enough back. What can she do to me?

The impact sent me flying backwards.

the snapper hitting the camera

Her beak had directly hit my lens. I inspected the damage while the kids laughed. She was fine, thankfully. I tried out the camera. It managed to take one final photo before the cracked lens frame completely broke.

a photo of the snapping turtle

I find it fitting that the last photo my beloved camera would ever take was of her smug smile.

Let's just say lesson learned.

As we wandered the woods I felt strangely naked without my camera. Nora took shots for me. We inspected the foxes' den. Look, a footprint!

a fox footprint

Ella, Anna, and I with the setting sun: (Although I tried to put on a cheerful appearance, I think Ella could feel my inner sadness of loosing my beloved camera.)

Ella, Shannon, and Anna

My funk didn't last long. Cameras are replaceable, and I soon had a new one. Sharing life's journey with loved ones: irreplaceable!

Anna being goofy

May you always remember what truly matters along life's paths. (And heed any warnings along the way!)

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