Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Being 60, Finding Life in Today #56-60 Plus Two

by Donna L. Watkins

When I was approaching my 60th birthday it wasn't a comfortable feeling. I've always felt 20 in my mind and spirit, but this body struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and a few other health issues refused to agree with my mind. Turning 60 seemed to be a message that my mind should get in agreement with my body ... but I decided it was a better choice to get my mind and spirit in control and let the body respond more favorably. It works!

© 2011 Randal J. Watkins - Donna Lee
Brookgreen Gardens, SC
Keeping a 'today focus' really makes life more enjoyable. I didn't know if I could find 60 new adventures in one year, but was amazed at how many new species I saw when I put my mind on what was before me rather than what might lie ahead of me.

We can't control the future ... and we sure can't do anything to change the past. Jesus said, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" So each day I determine as best I can to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" and assume as He promises that all else will fall into place.

It's not easy, but we have choices every minute of each day. Whether it's a choice on what we will allow ourselves to think about or a choice on whether or not to gripe and complain or count our blessings. An attitude cannot be affected by anybody other than the one choosing to display it, so why not use our energy to have a good one?

So, here's the last of my 60 new adventures with a bonus of two before I stopped counting in mid-May.  My 61st birthday isn't until September 3rd, so it was definitely easy getting 60 new experiences within a year's time frame ... if you focus on it!  It's changed my view of life and living a little bit and maybe God will give me another idea before my next birthday to keep my focus more on His Kingdom and making Him first in all areas of my life.

It's really been a big blessing to me to share these times with you.  I get so many wonderful comments and so much encouragement from you.  I may not have kept track of it all if it hadn't been for my blog friends enjoying them with me.  Thanks!

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Turkey Vulture
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
#56 of 60 - The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was something Randal and I had talked about seeing for many years since we moved to Virginia over ten years ago, so we decided to make it our priority destination for an overnight celebration of our anniversary. We didn't want to do gifts, so we made memories.

On our way down the road to the parking lot, we were greeted by a beautiful turkey vulture. They provide such a great service to the world and I think they're fascinating birds.

Being April 9th, it was a bit early for the migratory birds, but we did get to see a Common Yellowthroat Warbler which was an earlier "adventure" for me on the trip to Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. I was really surprised that I'd never seen this bird and had now seen it twice in less than a month. Visit the Great Dismal Swamp by reading the information on each photo in this album.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - 90-foot Tall Coast Redwood Tree
at the Constantia House, Suffolk, Virginia
#57 of 60 - Town of Suffolk, VA - After leaving the Great Dismal Swamp, we drove into the town of Suffolk, Virginia.  Our first stop was at the Planters Peanuts Center which was established (built) in 1889.

Then I Just had to see the 90-foot tall Coast Redwood Tree.  It was wonderful to visit this tree.

The downtown area was very nice, dotted with quaint shops, restaurant and beautiful old churches.  We parked the car at one end of Main Street and strolled around snapping some photos and enjoying the small town flavor.

We visited the Seaboard Passenger Station Railroad Museum, est. 1885, and also the Cedar Hill Cemetery which had 32 acres that included ancient cedar trees.  Then we drove out to Sleepy Hole Park on the river.  We were surprised to learn that Suffolk is the largest city in Virginia with city limits of 430 square miles.  Very odd since the population is less than 83,000.  Visit Suffolk, Virginia now through my photo album of detailed titles.

© 2011 - Donna L. Watkins - Vine Growing Up a
Swamp Chestnut Oak Tree - Chesapeake Arboretum, VA
#58 of 60 - Chesapeake Arboretum - On our overnight trip to the coastal area of Virginia, we chose a hotel in Chesapeake since it was between the two places we wanted to visit. So when we headed out the next morning I had the arboretum on our schedule.

 We arrived early and listened to the birds still singing their loud morning songs. There had been rain the night before and things smelled so fresh.

There was a farmhouse and gardens area which we saved for last since we saw the entrance to the Tree Trail and headed right there. It was so dense from many vines and invasive plants, but the stillness and various areas of running water made it a delightful morning walk.

To get an idea of how large vines can get, this is a photo of one that had climbed a Swamp Chestnut Oak. That's my hand which only reached around half the distance. View photo album of Chesapeake Arboretum in Virginia.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Historic Seaport Town of Portsmouth, VA
#59 of 60 - Our last visit on our anniversary overnight was to the Historic Seaport Town of Portsmouth, Virginia. There is a part of the town called Olde Towne with a lot of interesting architecture and historical buildings. The two ladies at the welcome center definitely displayed "southern hospitality" and were very helpful. There seemed to be a lot of birds with various nesting activities and of course getting to see seagulls is always a treat for me.

After walking the streets for awhile, we headed for a stroll along the waterfront. Randal loves to see big ships and they had one pretty close that he thought was an aircraft carrier, but I couldn't imagine the deck being that short. We found out later that it was for helicopters. We learned about lightboats along the harbor and you can too by reading the photograph descriptions in the photo album of Portsmouth, Virginia.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Pickerel Frogs Mating
#60 of 60 - Pickerel Frogs - As I clean out some of the leaves in our pond with a net, I inspect everything very closely so we don't lose any dragonfly larvae, tadpoles, newts, etc. Was I surprised to have a female bullfrog in the first net full of leaves. As I swung the net over to drain, she jumped out to the ground. One big lady. Bullfrogs are big and with frogs the females are the larger frog.

I thought that would be the highlight of my day since we have a much smaller pond than bullfrogs choose, but in the next net I dumped a pair of mating frogs and I instantly knew that I'd not seen them before. All eyes were on me as I took photos which I later used to identify them as Pickerel Frogs. I put the net in front of them so they could jump in and be dumped back into the pond and they were happy to comply, with the male still hugging his missy tightly. Read about mating frogs at the photo album.

#61Pickerel Frog - We had a problem with the bathroom tub leaking and it turned out a new fixture needed to be installed.  So, when our friend, a plumber, arrived to fix it, Randal went to turn off the water at the street level to the house.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Pickerel Frog
When he lifted the cover there was a frog sitting there.  He couldn't see how it had even entered so he put it in a container and brought it to me thinking it was a new frog for us.  It was and less than two weeks since I saw the Pickerel Frogs for the first time!

When I lifted the lid my first thought was Leopard Frog just from its appearance.  I had heard the name while on a Frog Walk but had certainly never seen one.  I got our Field Guide on Amphibians and Reptiles and that's exactly what it was, technically called a Northern Leopard Frog.

After a 10-minute photo shoot of every angle with many praises for God's beauty expressed over the frog, I encouraged him to go back into the world and do what frogs do.  He sat on our deck for another 10 minutes and then took the leap to the ground.  I do wonder where he is, but more than anything, I'm so grateful that God has entrusted yet another species to our backyard wildlife habitat.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
#62 - In Spring we usually see Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrating through our backyard habitat.  We saw them in Alabama when we lived there also, but I never noticed a female since they are pretty drab in appearance compared to the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with its rosy red triangular breast patch. Somehow the male always reminds me of the book and movie, The Scarlet Letter.

So, I was especially thrilled to see a female in May this year. They winter in tropical forests and head north for breeding. They eat insects, seeds, fruits, and buds. They nest in deciduous and mixed woodlands, especially at the edges, and also in orchards, suburban parks and gardens. They are poor nest makers. It's so thinly constructed that the eggs can sometimes be seen from below the nest.

The male actually participates in the incubation of the eggs, so the female gets a break for about 1/3 of the day, and only she will incubate at night. When they exchange places, they sing quieting to each other. Isn't that sweet!?

If you want to stroll around our backyard habitat to see what other visitors we have, visit the critters and or garden photo albums for the years since I've had a digital camera.  There's also an album of short videos.  And my favorite photos of all are the ones I took while on two trips to Costa Rica.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always 
On Sale Now * Women * Men * Children * Essential Oils * Cleansing * Weight Loss

No comments:

Share This Post