Saturday, June 29, 2013

Melissa's Nature Notes-- New Blog

I have started a new blog, Melissa's Nature Notes, which will be dedicated to nature observations, sketches, and photos. The idea came to me a couple of weeks ago, when Stephen and I were walking on the Dutchess County Rail Trail. We had stopped to look for a bird we were hearing and couldn't identify by its song alone, when several boys zipped by on skateboards, then stopped and asked what we were doing. We told them, and they thought that was pretty cool and stood and listened quietly for a minute, then went on their way, at least slightly more aware of the fascinating abundance of nature all around them. Shortly after they rolled along, a woman walked by, ears plugged with headphones, listening to some electronic device, oblivious to the variety of song surrounding her. And then a group of loud men came by, drowning out the bird song long before they reached us and for some time after they passed by.

As we continued our walk, stopping to look at a snapping turtle beside the trail and to enjoy the vibrant pattern of a male White Tail Dragonfly (and thank him for eating mosquitoes), I thought I'd like to help even a few people walk with more awareness and enjoyment of God's beautiful creation, the natural world that exists beside and around us, but which we so often ignore.

I still muse and doodle on a broad range of topics, so my artwork, random writings, and other musings and doodlings will be on this blog. Some nature posts will probably show up here, too, as well as on my Nature Notes.

Here is the link to my new blog, Melissa's Nature Notes. Please join me in walking with eyes and ears open to see and experience the wonder and beauty of the world around us.
Male White Tail Dragonfly

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Rowan!

Funny, brilliant, silly, sweet, watchful, and so much more. In some ways it's hard to believe my furry boy is ten years old. In other ways, it's hard to believe he hasn't always been with me. Rowan takes his job seriously-- to watch over me and remind me to take care of myself. If I am late for a meal, he comes to me, snorting loudly, to tell me I need to attend to something. If I don't figure out what he's talking about (or I ignore him), he'll bark to let me know it's important. As soon as I "get it" and walk into the kitchen, he lies down and goes to sleep, knowing that he's done his job and communicated successfully with me.

I know Rowan can't read, but one time I came into the room to find him lying with this pillow leaning up against him. It had been on the chair when I left the room, and no one else was home at the time. I don't know how he knew I needed that message that day, but he made sure I couldn't miss it.

Rowan also watches over the other animals in our home and runs to check them if they yelp or start throwing up or suddenly start to limp, and often has then run to me and led me to the animal who needs my attention. When I was visiting a friend a few months ago, he alerted her to her blood sugar being too high. I call him my EMT dog-- he's a first responder here in our family.

Life isn't serious all the time, though. Rowan loves to play, whether with a toy or a an empty flower pot. When I'm gardening he hovers, waiting for me to get the plant out of the pot, then he grabs the flower pot and runs, cavorting like a puppy, sometimes with the flower pot covering his whole face.
Happy Birthday, Rowan, my wonderful boy, and may you have many more! I am blessed to have you in my life.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

PJ-- July 2001 to May 28, 2013

PJ was my friend Sarah's dog, and I got to know her well while I was pet-sitting when Sarah would travel. Later on PJ spent a fair amount of time with me and always fit in as a sweet, happy member of our family.

It was a kind of grace to be PJ's friend. She came to Sarah as an unsocialized, semi-feral puppy, and Sarah slowly, patiently taught her to trust. Over time PJ became more and more social and ended up loving people, but when I first met her as a two-year-old, she was still quite reserved. I immediately felt an affinity for this shy, camouflaged sprite, who so loved being quietly outside by herself, and I always felt it was a gift and a privilege to have her trust. Sarah often said that PJ had the same personality as I, but in a dog's body. Maybe that is why PJ and I connected right away; I felt as though we understood each other without words.

PJ was an observer. She spent much of her days watching and waiting in eager expectation. Hour by hour contentedly watching a tree in which she knew a squirrel sometimes foraged. Waiting patiently for a woodchuck to come out of its hole. Watching and waiting while a squirrel walked within a few yards of her on the deck. Weather rarely deterred PJ, and she would frequently ask to stay outside when the other dogs came in.
Watching the Horse Chestnut tree on a rainy day

Watching the world with her, whether slowly meandering through the woods on leash, investigating every interesting scent, or roaming fields searching for something moving subtly under the grass, or sitting on the deck with her watching her watch a tree for hours, opened my eyes to much that I may otherwise have missed. During times when I might otherwise have been stressed, PJ often helped cultivate a peaceful spirit in me, attentive to easily-overlooked but fascinating aspects of the natural world around my home.
My shadow and PJ, enjoying a winter woods walk
 I miss the gentle tap on my elbow or soft poke behind my knee that were her quiet ways of saying, "Hi, I'm here with you." I would turn to see those bright eyes, that sweet expression or happy grin, and her wagging tail. I miss the thump, thump, thump of her tail on the floor whenever I'd look in her direction. I miss her uniquely beautiful ears that would twitch slightly in my direction to greet me, when she was "watching."

PJ, beloved scruffy girl, I miss your gentle spirit and quiet zest for life. I will watch and wait and remember all you taught me.
A young PJ, in pencil
watercolor sketch done in the field
How to Appreciate a Tree, by PJ
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