Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Beauty That Surrounds Us (Reprise)

I'm working on an assignment for a client who is in the business of enticing people to take a pause from the hustle and bustle of life by enjoying a week of cottage living in beautiful surroundings. He rejuvenates tired cottages that once served that purpose.

I went out earlier this week to capture some of that beauty in an area about an hour's drive from our place, where the cottages are located. I could easily post a dozen photos but I think you'll 'get the picture'.

[Coincidentally I posted under this same title almost 3 years ago to the day - it just seemed fitting again]


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Terror in the backyard

The calendar is marking time for me these days rather than the clock. I realized it's almost been a month since I last posted. My camera has not sat gathering dust, however - I've done a little commercial work and family shots at birthdays and soccer games: those important moments in life. My work as treasurer for the dog rescue run by two of my daughters, with the help of many volunteers, has also taken much of my time (more info here.)

And then there are those surprises that almost catch you off-guard. I discovered that a new resident had made our pond home. I thought I had caught a glimpse of him some time earlier, but when I almost decapitated him with the lawn mower (rest assured, he survived the experience with nary a scratch) I was finally able to identify him - a snapping turtle !

I quickly ran to get a shovel and pail - I remembered being warned as a youngster never to try to handle one of these ornery creatures - they have rightly earned their reputation. This one was about 8" (20cm) across and was capable of inflicting a nasty bite. In deference to his ability and potential to snap, I used a zoom lens to capture his main weapon - a sharp beak.

I released him after a short while back onto the lawn and watched as he quickly (well, for a turtle) made his way to the water. A while later as I walked past the pond I noticed some old leaves stuck near the edge. Normally I would have removed them by hand but I picked up a stick that happened to lay nearby and reached to flick them out. As I poked the leaves, a head lunged out with lightning speed from beneath them and a beak snapped hold of the stick momentarily. I quickly realized that my fingers could have been the recipient of that attack. Lesson learned - no more fingers in the pond !

Despite his nastiness, even creatures like these play an important role in God's creation, helping keep things in balance. Otherwise I'm sure that our pond would be overrun by a plague of frogs.

[I apologize if I haven't returned a visit to your blog - I shall make every attempt to do that before my next post. Please know that I read and savour every comment]

the business end




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Connections

While reading the news online this evening I saw an article about the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in Holten, the Netherlands, paying tribute to the Canadians who paid with their lives to liberate that country 70 years ago. That reminded me of an event far back in my own history, when I was too young to realize its significance. That was the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

I received the commemorative cup illustrated below as an innocent youngster in kindergarten. My recollection of that event is that the cup was filled with candy. Little did I know then that within 2 years I would emigrate to the country that was primarily responsible for the liberation of the Netherlands.

My mother safeguarded this cup for many years until it could be entrusted to me. Since then it has stood tucked inside a cabinet from where I would occasionally take it and ponder it in silence. It reminds me of the connection I have with these two countries - one of my birth and the second which adopted me.

Amazing the significance something of such little monetary value can hold.





Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Veterinarian's Friend

There's lots to be said for country living - fresh air, wide open spaces, little congestion (we occasionally experience rush minutes vs. rush hours in the nearby village), and we're surrounded by plenty of nature. The density of humans can likely be counted on 2 hands per square mile whereas the density of other living creatures would be many times that of humans.

And so we do encounter wildlife on a regular basis. Today we encountered what might be known as the bane of dog owners, or the friend of veterinarians, depending on what side of the credit card you're on. I'm talking here about your docile porcupine.

In our family we all have had experience with our dogs meeting up with one of these prickly creatures and some experiences have resulted in quite costly vet bills. You would think that after such an experience our dogs would learn to avoid porcupines ... think again - some of them have had 4 encounters and they've always ended up on the wrong side of them.

After my wife spotted this one ambling along in front of the house, I dashed after it camera in hand (to say 'ran after it' would be a stretch since they move along at a steady rate that shows complete confidence in their 'armour'). As I got closer to it you can see that its hackles were raised - not that I needed a warning. I eventually lost it in the woods.

I'm happy to report that no dogs, or porcupines, were injured in the making of these photos.





Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beachcombers

We recently went on a little excursion to one of the barrier islands off SW Florida's coast with visitors from 'up north'. The morning started off with somewhat unseasonably low temperatures and we tried to huddle down as the small boat whisked us across calm waters.



After taking 'the tram' (a pickup truck pulling a wagon) to a beach on the far side of the island we set up base camp for the day's stay. I'm not sure when this fellow arrived - in fact, he may have already been there when we set up - but he wasn't shy at all. I was able to walk to within a few feet of him as he posed to have his portrait taken. You might wonder how I know this was a male - any self-respecting female would have straightened her feathers before allowing a photo.




While waiting for the forecasted weather to arrive, we decided to explore a bit of the island. After following trails for some time we returned to 'camp' along the shoreline. By now the fog had crept in and covered the strait rather than giving way to the promised sunshine but we hardly noticed as we discovered some of the life forms along the shoreline and marveled at the power of the Creator.


everything fits neatly inside the protective shell including the eyes



this one looked ready for action as I stared him in the eyes




and these sea urchins looked like they would give an inattentive beachcomber a nasty surprise