Call of the Wilderness

“The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.”

~Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States of America

(Quote Source: quoteaddicts.com)

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Autumn colors begin to make their annual appearance in northern Wisconsin.

A lovely walkway…

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only tune in.”

~George Washington Carver (1860s-1943), American botanist and inventor

(Quote Source: smithsonianmag.com)

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A lovely walkway at Burwell Park in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Juvenile Sandhill Crane

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.  It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.  The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words.”

~ Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

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I was startled to come upon this juvenile Sandhill Crane standing alone in a clearing.  No doubt the parents had taken cover by hiding among the trees in the background.

Old Tree

“Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.”

~ Dr. Karen Shragg, Think Like a Tree 

(Quote Source: spiritoftrees.org)

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I have often wished that old trees could share their stories.

Roadside Picnic

“Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of the one who sees.”

~Rumi, (1207-1273) Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian

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This was a delightful spot for a roadside picnic while my husband and I traveled across North Dakota.  We lingered much longer than our original plan just to soak up the sunshine, the water, and the fresh air.

Visit the Great Outdoors!

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

~ Gustave Flaubert, (1821-1880) French Novelist

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Summer is just around the corner.  What an opportune time to see new sites and reconnect with the great outdoors!  I took this shot on a road trip across Montana.  Where might you be planning to travel this year?

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Instead of a quote, today I share with you a brief clip from a 1950’s television show, The Honeymooners.  Characters Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) are meeting for lunch in the park when Ed spots a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

(Television clip found on YouTube.com)

I grew up believing that a bird with this curious name was merely fictional. To me, the name was invented by a television writer to add humor to this particular sketch on The Honeymooners.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015 when I caught a shot of this bird.  I had not seen it before.  Imagine my surprise to learn that it was in fact a real Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Wow!

So, I guess this is what Ed Norton was looking at in the park that day with his binoculars.

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The Park

“Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”

~ Sigurd F. Olson, (1899-1982) American author and environmentalist

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When I am overwhelmed, irritated, or simply bored with the demands of daily routine I love to escape to a “park.”  Whether that park is national, state, or local; it is the sound of birds, the fresh air, and the enormity of the great outdoors that often puts my own concerns into perspective.  This shot was taken on a recent visit to Banning State Park in Minnesota.

The Old Crabapple Tree

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”

~Robert Louis Stevenson, (1850-1894) Scottish writer

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There is an old crabapple tree in our yard.  I suspect it is at least 40 years old.  Each year we contemplate taking it down to avoid our yearly battle with apple scab.  And yet, every spring when this tree blossoms and plays host to its variety of birds we decide to keep it around for another year.  I simply refuse to remove a tree that continues to make me smile!

Natural Recycling

“Nature doth thus kindly heal every wound.  By the mediation of a thousand little mosses and fungi, the most unsightly objects become radiant of beauty.  There seem to be two sides of this world, presented us at different time, as we see things in growth or dissolution, in life or death.  And seen with the eye of the poet, as God sees them, all things are alive and beautiful.”

~Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862) American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher; author of the book, Walden

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Fungi: Mother Nature’s recycling system

Listen

“The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, no objects to be exploited.  Everything has its own voice.  Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees — all these have voices and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.”

~ Thomas Berry (1914-2009), Catholic priest of the Passionist order

(Quote via ourhabitatgarden.org)

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The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker that often excavates nest holes in dead or diseased trees.  As I strolled my property I heard, and then discovered, one hammering on a dead tree.  I hoped that a nest was being built!  It turned out that this handsome bird was not in the market for a home, but I did get a chance to take a few photographs.

Great Horned Owl Napping

“When you’re making a film, you have an obligation to fill the frame with life.”

~Joss Whedon (1964- )American screenwriter, film and television director, film and television producer, comic book author, and composer (Wikipedia)

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Taking a picture of an owl can be a tricky endeavor!  It took me quite awhile to find a spot in which I could actually see most of this sleeping beauty.

Almost time for planting…

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”

~  Edward Giobbi  (1926- ) American artist and cookbook author

(quote via egreenway.com)

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Farming equipment awaiting the return of warmer weather.

Pileated Woodpecker

“God has strewn our path with wonders and we certainly should not go through life with our eyes shut.”

~Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with patenting the first telephone

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Here you see a Pileated Woodpecker showing off her winter’s work.

Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest woodpecker in North America.  They feed on insects and berries.  It is not unusual for them to excavate deep into rotten wood to get at the nests of carpenter ants as is obvious in this photo.  When I first noticed this woodpecker on this tree, the hole was about the size of a dinner plate.   She has been a busy bird!

My Austrian Pine

“People in suburbia see trees differently than foresters do.  They church every one.  It is useless to speak of the probability that a certain tree will die when the tree is in someone’s backyard.  You are talking about a personal asset, a friend, a monument — not about board feet of lumber.”

~Roger Swain, former television host of The Victory Garden on PBS

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I completely agree with Roger Swain’s statement. This hawk took shelter from a recent snowstorm by landing in an Austrian Pine that grows in my backyard.  Over the years this particular tree has played host to countless birds and squirrels in all sorts of weather.  It has provided me with shade in the summer and been a joy to observe after a fresh snowfall.

I’m guessing it is close to 50 years old now and its age is beginning to show.  The last couple years there has been less new growth and fewer pine cones, but I continue to do what I can to keep it alive.  I know that I will not see another tree of this size in my backyard during my lifetime again.