Frosty Feet

During the recent arctic blast, Reelfoot Lake froze over and ice formed around the base or foot of the Cypress trees which stand out in the water. This usually happens once or twice each winter, and is a beautiful gift of nature that shouldn’t be missed.

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”  ~Aristotle

“[W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is … No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.” ~John Burroughs

… Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snowmen …

… And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,

The world world looks good enough to bite …
~Ogden Nash

“Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old, their beards of icicles and snow.”  ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“If you listen carefully, the silence is beautiful.”  ~Unknown

The Barred Owl

We often hear the call of a Barred Owl as we walk in the woods of the refuge, but never seem to be in the right place to actually see one. Recently, however, while driving through the refuge, we stopped the car because I wanted to get a photo of a stream running through the woods.  As I opened the door to get out, a startled Barred Owl in a nearby tree took flight and landed in another tree a few yards down the road.  We had unknowingly stopped in the same place where an owl was sitting.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

The Barred Owl with its Razor-sharp Talons.


Barred Owl scrambling up the branch of a tree.

Now you see me, now you don’t.

A stream running through the woods near where the owl sat.

“The best part of the journey is the surprise and wonder along the way.”  ~Ken Poirot

Small Blessings

“Sameness” is a good word to describe these cold winter days of COVID-19.  Yet within the sameness of each day come small blessings which make it more tolerable.  The beauty of the sun glistening on the snow and icicles hanging from holly branches.  A variety of birds which appear at the feeder with their many colors and personalities and songs.  Robins gathering to drink water from melted snow puddles and huddling in sheltered spots with their big fluffy feathers.  A flock of cardinals descending in unison on a nearby bush at feeding time. Daffodils and magic lily leaves peeping out of the ground bringing the promise of spring.  A phone call from a loved one.  Sometimes, small things are precious things — gifts given by our Creator to add variety to our day and uplift the heart.  It’s important to remember to be thankful and not let the “sameness” put a damper on our souls.

“A good memory is one that can remember the day’s blessings and forget the day’s troubles.”  ~Irish Blessings

Relaxing

I’ve found that even squirrels sometimes need to find a quiet place, away from the hurry and scurry, to rest and be alone.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”  ~Mark Black

“It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos.”  ~Donna Karan

“Stop a minute, right where you are …
Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.”
~Barbara Kingsolver

 

“Even when in the midst of disturbance, the stillness of the mind can offer sanctuary.”  ~Stephen Richards

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.  So relax.”  ~Bryant McGill

“Like a small gray coffee pot sits the squirrel.”  ~Humbert Wolfe

A Memorable Sound

At this time of the year, we have learned to keep an eye out for the Snow Geese in open fields near the Mississippi River.  On this day, we found a large group of Snow Geese, mixed with other species of geese and some ducks, out grazing for food.  The sound that they make as they move about the field reminds me of a room full of ladies all talking and laughing at the same time.  But even more memorable is the sound that a startled flock makes when it shoots off the ground simultaneously.  The wave of flapping wings and loud, high pitched squawks echo as the frenzied birds soar skyward.

“If you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.”  ~Joshua Foer

 

Dawdling

Walking the trails and road in the wildlife refuge during the summer can be challenging due to heat, high humidity and a large number of mosquitoes which live there.   It’s always nice when the weather cools down and the mosquitoes hibernate or die.  Then, it is possible to walk at a slower pace and take the time to enjoy the sights.

“So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  ~Brenda Ueland 

Rainbow Surprise

On a cloudy day, the still water which stands along the road of the Grassy Island Wildlife Refuge looks dull and covered with a thin coating of scum.

But when the sun shines through the trees at just the right angle, the water magically lights up with beautiful rainbow colors.

According to the West Tennessee National Refuge Complex website, “This rainbow effect on the water is caused by the release of natural oils in decaying vegetation (and particularly from the bald cypress seed pod when it falls from the tree), which produces a thin film over the top of the water”.

This fleeting transformation is just another of nature’s many amazing surprises.

“Never forget to stop to appreciate life’s unexpected awesome moments.”  ~Unknown

Hermit Thrush

While hiking a trail in the Reelfoot Wildlife Refuge, this Hermit Thrush caught my attention when it landed on the branch of a nearby tree.  A winter visitor to our state, it spends a lot of its time foraging for insects under fallen leaves or searching for wild berries among the forest’s undergrowth.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”  ~Leo Tolstoy

Feasting on sumac berries

There’s a spot on our country road where we often see bluebirds fluttering about.  On this day, they were enticed by the deep red clusters of sumac berries growing wild along the road.   These berries are an important source of food for them during the winter months.

“God gives every bird its food, but does not throw it into the nest.”  ~Danish Proverb

White Pelicans

We first knew that the pelicans had returned to our area in September when we saw a large flock of them flying high over the Mississippi River.

   

In early November, we were able to see them more closely and enjoy their beauty at Reelfoot Lake.

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”  ~Louis Schwartzberg