Tag Archives: Photo callenges

My Quest for a Forever Home.

I found what I was in search for. I know, it’s a spoiler. But I couldn’t possibly be sitting here at mom’s laptop writing to you if I was still pursuing my quest, could I ? Truth to be told, mom picked me up from my foster home on Friday, April 1. Almost six months ago now. But I can assure you I’m not an April Fools’ Day joke.  I’m a survivor.

dylan-when-he-was-found
Photo from March 2016 courtesy of Constanza Bryant, Florida Poodle Rescue.

You see, I was abandoned by my first family. I lived on the streets. And it was hard. Although I became good at sniffing for food people had thrown on the ground, I was always hungry. I could smell a half eaten chicken leg or a piece of hamburger bread from 50 yards,  but such treasures were few and far between. I lost a lot of weight. It was not obvious because my hair grew so long. If anything I looked fat. No hair cuts, no baths and no love do that to you. But it was even worse with water. Fresh water is something you take for granted when you have a home. I learned the hard way that it doesn’t rain in the spring in Florida. Finding even a small pool of dirty water was a challenge. I learned to get by with very little of it, mostly licking the trickles that reached the street when people watered their lawns. Recycled water. Not too good for you.

I can’t tell you how long I lived on the streets. I lost count of the days. And the long nights. I hardly slept because it was not safe. I had to stay alert. So I slept only for a few moments here and there when I collapsed of exhaustion.

dylan-in-march-2016
Photo from March 2016 courtesy of Constanza Bryant, Florida Poodle Rescue.

And I was looking for my family all the time. My mission was keeping me alive. I ran towards young couples pushing baby strollers. If they let me close, I would gently sniff at the baby’s toes. But it was always some other baby. I couldn’t find my family. I had always believed I was part of the family. Obviously I was wrong. They were gone and had left me behind. I had no idea what I had done to deserve this, but there I was. Homeless. I was so sad.

Then one day a car stopped next to me. It was not the car I used to ride in and hang out from the back window my ears flapping in the wind. Not my car. And I had learned to avoid cars. But the man was friendly so I finally agreed to ride with him. A milestone. My new journey had started. Hospital stay. Food. Water. Love. Florida Poodle Rescue. A foster family – and more love. I was grateful to have a home, but still grieving the loss of my family, if that makes sense.

About a week later, mom knocked on the door. She came with a friend…to visit me! I knew right away she was my mom. That’s called intuition. I jumped onto her lap. I’m not sure if I even thanked my foster family well enough for all the love they gave me, I was so eager to go with mom. And like magic ~ I found myself in her car. I remember sitting in the back seat with her kind friend. Mom kept telling me we would go home to dad. It took a couple of hours, but she was right. I’m home now.

dylan-april-6-bI’m always with mom in her office when she works. Or blogs. I can make my bed of the old blanket on the sofa, redesigning it until I’m comfortable. Sometimes I just chill on the floor next to her desk.

dylan-3-ud82I’m an avid reader, and sometimes mom lets me browse other blogs too. Nothing short of amazing. So much interesting stuff!

dylan-at-computer-2-ud82But I’ll tell you what I love the most. Going for long walks! The faster we walk, the better. But running is the best, of course. You see, I’m mom’s personal trainer.  And I take my work seriously. She really needs her exercise. At least three miles a day. Sometimes even four or five, if I can trick her.

dylan-in-the-parkAnd she’d better take her work seriously too. I appreciate my rewards, ever so small. Be it a couple of baby carrots or a piece of my favorite cookie. Even a tooth cleaning treat will do. Mom, give it to me already!

dylan-1-ud82I have developed many new tricks to test on mom and dad. Some of them work, some don’t. I’ve noticed a few more tricks work on dad. But that’s another story. See you later. Be good now.

With love, Dylan (or maybe I should say Bob Dylan, but that’s also another story)

A Day by the Sea

Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. – Thich Nhat Hanh

the bay before sunrise UD15The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. – Rumi

sunrise at the beach UD1God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest. –  P. D. James

Willet shore birdWhat will our children do in the morning if they don’t see us fly? – Rumi

sandwich tern flying in the surf in ud67I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes. – Charles Lindbergh

pelican taking off 3 ud25Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Khaled Hosseini

our camp on dolphin island ud67.jpgMay your journey through life be vibrant and full of colorful rainbows. -Harley King

rainbow beach ud67bClouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

sunset ship ud67For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.       – Richard H. Baker

full moon clearwater floridaThe pure bliss nature will plant in your soul is worth a day spent by the sea. – Tiny

Half-Light

I observe
Amazed and in disbelief
The half-light of my reflection
I wander
Between dream and reality
Until my heart finds answers
And I seek
Full light – nothing less
Until my soul finds contentment.
***
You can find more responses to the weekly photo challenge “half-light” here. I my case my photo was not inspired by a poem. It was quite the opposite. My poem was inspired by my photo.

 

Murmurations. Occupations. And a Circle at the Salt Marsh.

My goodness! This year got off to a flying start, in more than one respect. The days have flown by until late at night before this girl has hit the pillow. And the Kindle with interesting blog posts has hit the floor. The birds seem to have been equally busy. Like the European Starlings, performing murmurations over the bay (I only caught the tail end of it here) and occupying neighborhood roofs.

murmurationstarlings on the roofOr like this unknown handsome male, who flew repeatedly past my office window and circled over the salt marsh. He certainly made Papa Stanley keep a close eye on Mama Sandy.

young male osprey in flight

During the only walk I’ve managed to take in this week, on Sunday, I found Stanley sitting with his fish on a lamp-post just outside of our garden. He had a straight line of sight to Sandy, who was at the nest.

mama and papa osprey I observed they both seem to be “right handed” as they held the fish in their right foot talons.  But they didn’t actually eat. They were watching the visitor eating his fish on a lamp-post nearby.

young male ospreyThis new fellow might be a young male trying to charm “Diamond”, the young female who paid a visit to Sandy and Stanley around Christmas time. She is probably somewhere not too far from here. But if that’s the case, there’s not much hope for this suitor to get her father’s approval. Stanley was quite vocal about that.

male osprey calling alarm

When I arrived at the salt marsh, I found it to be much like a lively little city.  Lots of Wood Storks, Egrets, Herons and Ibis were mingling on and between the islets. Papa Wood Stork had complete control of his clan, and everybody coexisted peacefully. I have to say the birds do this better than us humans.

wood storks and an ibis portrait of a wood storkwhite ibis

A few ibis were foraging in a neat circle in the shallow waters. Some of them circling clockwise and others counterclockwise, much like we know from human life.

ibis feed in circle

Sandy was still at the nest working on her fat fish, and the Mayor presided over the crowds from his favorite islet.

female osprey with a fisholder great blue heron

The nesting season is clearly approaching. The Egrets are already growing their breeding plumage, and lots of courting was going on.

great egret growing breeding plumagesnowy egret  in breeding plumage

The one seemingly not interested in such adult behaviors was the juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, who was trying to hide in the grass.

juvenile black-crowned night heron

Pop Yellow-crowned Night Heron seemed uninterested as well. He had a potential partner hiding in the branches of a tree right next to him, but he was fast asleep. Or maybe he was just pretending? Peeking at her with one eye?

yellow-crowned night heron

Suddenly the Mayor decided it was time to change scenery. He flew on the other side of the marsh towards the bay.

great blue heron in flightI decided to follow him to check if that beach would be equally crowded. On my way I spotted the European Starlings again. They had now gathered in a huge tree close to the park entrance.

european starling european starlings

The Mayor acknowledged me with a sidelong glance as soon as I arrived to the beach on the bay side.

great blue heron

That beach was fairly quiet. Only a Double-crested Cormorant and a few Gulls kept him company. I guess he needed some peace and quiet away from the crowds.

double crested cormorant gull Walking home, I spotted another beautiful Snowy Egret, a few Willets, and my faithful friend, the Northern Mockingbird.

snowy egret in breeding plumage Willet northern mockingbird

Bougainvillea blooms greeted me at the corner of our garage when I arrived home from my 3.5 mile walk. Then thinking I would repeat the walk the next day again. But it was not to be.

bougainvillea flower Unfortunately it may take another week or more before I get to see my feathery friends again. I have some travels coming up starting tomorrow morning. I hope your year is off to a good start, and thank you for coming along.

You can find many other circles here.

Halloween Dates. Tricks and Treats at the Salt Marsh.

I heard them before I saw them. Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were having an early lunch date on Halloween. They had a lot to discuss. I wonder if they made plans for the soon upcoming nesting season. Can you imagine it’s November already? Sandy may have reminded Stanley to start choreographing his Proposal Dance and planning for the gift to be delivered to her in early January. In any case, this couple gets together more often now. They clearly know their vacation will soon be over.

male and female osprey

male and female osprey flying togetherAfter witnessing their lunch date, I took a swing through the salt marsh, looking for any signs of Halloween tricks or treats. And I was not disappointed.

The first one I spotted was the Muscovy Duck. He looked disheveled and had lost a bunch of feathers. Maybe he’d tried on a Halloween costume that was too tight?

muscovy duckI didn’t see any signs of a fight, so maybe it was just a trick?  Soon this young man looked himself again. Minus a few feathers.

Looking for spooky creatures, I found a huge spider. It had its Halloween web skillfully built between two trees over the water. I saw it in time not to be caught in his web, but the poor dragonfly was not as lucky.

spider caught a dragonfly Then I spotted the Reddish Egret, the clown of the marsh. He’s always up to some tricks. You’ll see some of them “live” in my next salt marsh documentary later on.

reddish egret An Anhinga was visiting too and that was a treat I don’t get every day.

anhinga Just when I was leaving to walk home through the beach, Sandy flew into the nest. She appeared irritated. She scraped the nest with her talons so hard that small bits and pieces flew in the air. I wonder what all that was about. Some disagreement with Stanley or a fish that just had tricked her?

female osprey at her nestShe soon calmed down, and as I walked home, I was treated with more tricks by the Willets on the beach. For this trick only one leg was allowed.

four willets on one leg But that’s not all. The Halloween evening was gorgeous. I had to go out again. My intention was to go straight to the beach to see the sunset, but found my feet taking me to the bay side first. I wanted more treats.

clearwater bay at sunsetfish crowsThe bay was basking in the last rays for this Halloween, and so were the black Fish Crows. And Stanley. He was perching at his penthouse resort lit by the golden rays.

male ospreyHe looked like the king of the forest. But then I saw him fly away, and settle on the roof of the Marriott Resort. Maybe he had another date with Sandy and wanted to be there ahead of time. osprey at Marriott's roof

Sandy was still at the nest, at the fast darkening salt marsh. She was not watching the sunset like she usually does. She had turned her back to the sun, and was looking towards the spot where Stanley was perching. Stanley was also looking in the direction of the nest (I snapped this photo from the salt marsh!). It certainly looked like they had another date planned. But Sandy made him wait just a little bit. These love birds made me smile.

female osprey at sunsetMiss Rosa was home as well. She presented me with a trick or two. First she was playing hide and seek, and then balanced some long grasses on one leg.

 roseate spoonbill roseate spoonbill The Yellow-crowned Night Heron was awake too, ready for his nightly adventures.

yellow-crowned night heronAnd Mr. Moorhen represented with elegance all the black birds pertinent to Halloween.

moorhenThe sun was already hiding behind the trees. I decided it was time to leave. I wanted to catch the Halloween sunset.

salt marsh t sunset It was gorgeous! It had romance in the form of kisses on the water, and it had some intrigue. A pirate ship was chasing some innocent boaters. But it wasn’t the least spooky.

halloween sunset sand keyboat at sunset on Halloween sand keyboats at sunset halloween sand keyHad I stayed longer, maybe I would’ve witnessed Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley on a romantic flight over the moonlit ocean. Halloween has its treats after all.

This post is also my response to the weekly photo challenge “Treat”. You can find other responses here.

Be Careful. Very Careful.

This weeks Photo Challenge, “careful” brought into mind many adventures in the wild all those years ago. I was young and adventurous, driving safaris in several countries while we lived in Africa. It was tempting to become confident. But that’s not an advisable mindset when entering the world that belongs to the wild. I would always tell myself “be careful, very careful.”  Even that wasn’t always quite enough. So I went to dig up some evidence in our scanned photo archives.

A male lion ZIMBABWEThis male lion was sleeping less than 90 feet from our vehicle. And not behind a sturdy fence in a zoo, but in a small national park in Zimbabwe. He looked peaceful with his huge head resting on his paw. But from previous close calls with lions, I knew we had to be very careful in his presence. That was the case also with a female lion who walked on the trail right in front of our vehicle for more than half a mile before veering off into the dry savannah in Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda.

female lion UgandaA year or so before our first visit there, a male lion had killed a man on that very trail. The man-eater was killed by the rangers, but it was rumored that a ghost of a lion was seen roaming the park at night. We were not lucky to see it, but this is how it was described by those who saw it. Glowing in the dark.

GHOST LIONElephants also have my respect. It was not advisable to come between the matriarch and the youngsters in the family. Despite being very careful, I came to see an elephant’s belly and her front legs up in the air above our vehicle. In the bush in Uganda. Understandably there is no photo evidence of that particular encounter. Only a wild video recording of the roof of the vehicle when hubby’s camcorder flew around, capturing the elephant’s “trumpet solo” and our screams in the vehicle.  All my attention was focused on pressing the gas pedal to the floor, and getting out of there. That situation was very similar to this one in Zambia. Only the tree was lush and much bigger, effectively hiding the matriarch waiting for the young ones right next to the trail. Needless to say, that incident raised my careful lever even a notch higher.

Elephants in the bush ZambiaObviously we had to be very careful when walking along rivers. The crocodiles were known to snatch people and drag them into an underwater “storage”. This happened to a friend of my Zambian colleague. Luckily the storage room had “skylights”. He could get some air, and the villagers could hear his cries for help. They were able to dig a bigger hole and pull him to safety. He lost a leg, but survived. So being careful, I never swam in rivers or lakes known to harbor these dangerous giants, like this Nile crocodile in Ethiopia.

NILE CROCODILE ETHIOPIAAnother not so friendly swimming companion was the hippo. It may look slow and even cute, but it’s easily scared and capable of killing humans both on land and in water. One night in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, I woke up at 2 a.m. to a strange noise. It came from right outside the window. And there was a huge dark shadow on the curtains. I tiptoed carefully to the window and parted the curtain, just an inch. And was looking at the butt of a huge hippo. So when they were in the water, I was on the water. And when they came to graze on land, I learned to keep my distance.

Hippo in Queen Elizabeth National Park UgandaIf and when you enter the wild kingdom to enjoy the wonderful experiences it offers, my recommendation is to be careful. Very careful.

You can find other responses to this challenge here.