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Watery Retreat

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Me, out of Custodial Mode. A very rare photo by Bill of the Birds.

I don't know what's happening to this summer. I feel like I'm running constantly just to stay abreast of all there is to do. It might have something to do with having the kids home and needing meals all the time, something to do with processing two large loads of laundry each and every day; something to do with a huge fast-growing lawn and gardens needing weeding that go on and on; with the fishpond filter that clogs with algae every day, with the Bird Spa needing to be scrubbed and refreshed; with countless planters and hanging baskets and bonsai trees suddenly drying up and needing to be watered each day; with all the creatures from fish and turtles to macaw, dog, flocks of brilliant goldfinches and hummingbirds that need to be fed and cleaned up after every day. Add doctor, dentist, orthodontist and optometrists' appointments, music lessons and frequent travel onto that, and I guess I've figured out what's happening to this summer. Please ignore my antic punctuation in this paragraph. I got lost somewhere between the semicolons and the commas. I'm just lost in general, wandering around in Custodian Land, trying to figure out how it all got to be so too much.

I think I do a whiny I-can't-do-it-all post like this every July. I love summer with all my heart, but the chores seem to magnify then multiply, magically. Sometimes I hum "Lazy Crazy Hazy Days of Summer" and just laugh. I would love to be lazy. Even for ten minutes.

I would like to have just one thing to do at a time, like a woodpecker feeding its young. I'm sure she'd trade with me...

When it all gets to be too much I go back in my mind to North Bend, to the quiet waters.

To the miniature islets, planted just so. 

To the sunbathing heron, standing with her wings akimbo, baking her body lice. Lazy girl.

 I drift closer and closer until she breaks the pose and sets about catching some fish.

She waded in and caught an early dinner soon after these images were taken. I was glad not to have put her off her task. 

That's what I love most about canoeing. It's easier to slip in and out of birds' lives in a little watercraft. 

And no, you can't sex a great blue heron. I was just guessing. Something about the way she was holding her wings.

I  loved watching the kids discover nature with the help of David and Mary Jane and their big canoe. Liam was cautious about bass. He kept asking me if bass have teeth.

I kept flashing on the wings of red-headed woodpeckers. It was a magical day, a fecund day, full of all the things I love best. 

Best of all, the birds we came to see were busy making more red-headed woodpeckers.

and more noisy flickers.

and more great blue herons

What a treasure North Bend State Park is. What a glorious place. You really don't have to look too far in West Virginia and southern Ohio to find some really special places to hike and canoe. I'd wager that's true for a lot of places. One of my readers commented:  You're seriously making me want to get a canoe or kayak, although I don't think I have anywhere that beautiful and bountiful to use it! 

Well, I didn't think I did, either. You have to check out the parks. Maybe you've driven by the sign for a local park a hundred times without ever exploring it. They're waiting out there, and I've had tons of fun exploring the ones in our area one by one. I'm always surprised at the beauty and serenity that's waiting there in the shallow waters where the speedboats can't go. Canoes: That's what they're for. 

They're for sneakin' up on things.
 photo by Bill of the Birds

Blue skies and puffy clouds and dragonflies on the shore.

My totem turkey vultures circled and tilted, telling me this was a good place for my spirit to rest.

If one could have a totem butterfly, the Z is for Zebra swallowtail would be mine.

Phoebe would soon discover the next wonderful thing I needed to photograph. "There's a bird here that looks like a pewee, but it has yellow underneath. It's got a nest here."

Give 'em binoculars and what do you get?  Little poults who find wonderful things, and return the favor by pointing them out to you!

Those mystery birds to follow.


I am going out to clean MY pond filter that clogs every other day right after I comment.

I love these views and thoughts from water level. Good job Bill on two book jacket Julie canoe shots!

Your vessel is interesting, it looks like some kind of hybrid kayakanoe cross.

Please store your kayaks and canoes in separate sheds to prevent this kind of thing.

You know I suffer from the same syndrome, every summer. Often, I remind myself to enjoy the sun and everything alive and stop worrying about 500 details a day.

Thanks for saying you can't sex a Great Blue Heron! I've wondered for years. My reference to "he" or "she" was always based on a feeling/instinct.

Beautiful, beautiful day on the lake. Beautiful post. Love it!


Let's see, divide those chores by 4 people and they would be a lot more manageable. You look like you have good help there.

As to finding canoeing spots. We have a whole lot of bridges and can access rivers, creeks and bayous there on public lands. And many city and county parks are along streams. I even once carried my canoe about 1/5 of a mile to paddle in Lake Tahoe while on a 7 week trip. And even Anahuac NWR has several places to canoe and kayak. And swamps - we have lots of them in East Texas and south Louisiana and they also have lots of public launches or public spots to put in. And the American Canoe Association will help you find local paddling clubs.

Thank you. I could almost feel the breeze on my cheeks as you described your "lazy" day. I appreciate being taken along. It is incredible what you see when you open your eyes and pay attention.

Right there with you, Julie.

We encouraged our kids to develop their own (very different) interests, and therefore the summer finds me driving hundreds of miles each week to get them to their activites, often at the opposite ends of town.

And the family seems to eat so much more, and wear so many more clothes in the summer, that I feel the constant tug of cooking and washing.

And yes, now that the kids are older, they chip in and have responsibilities, but essentially I am much busier in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

So glad to see you in that canoe. Good for Bill for catching you in action. You have one that you can throw on top of your car, right? I remember that blog post, and have always been a bit envious of your ability to pick up and take off in the woods, so to speak. Hope your summer has a few more of those days in store.

Wayne, pa

Posted by Anonymous July 3, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Time for the kids to figure out how to cook and do laundry.
They get things dirty, they can make things clean. - Does something have to get dirty for something else to get clean?

Long grass looks good and is environmentally friendly.

Get a few oxygenators and drop them in the pond, a few snails as well.

Keep feeding the birds.

Take a week off, watch a mushroom grow (watching kids grow is an acceptable substitute).
Don't answer the phone, pretend the internet is down.

Eat a Popsicle.

Plant a tree in the cool of the evening.

Listen for whip poor wills and cicadas.

Make sun tea, add a lemon slice, pretend it’s September and you are missing summer

Eat dessert first, life is short.

We call it Rondeau time around here.

I hope that everyones July 4 was a very good one. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa

Love this watery journey. Absolutely am smitten with zebra swallowtails. We have the pale out here, and I always fantasize.

What a gorgeous day you had.

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