Sherman takes in a summer scene while taking a break. Being a little on the older side, Sherman takes a lot of breaks.
However, family and friends have noted that Sherman always pauses on the hill right behind our house or my parents' house before he heads inside.
I suspect he pauses behind my parents' home because he is waiting for my father who Sherman loves dearly.
As Sherman pauses a little more every day, I hope to be able to pause a little more myself.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
We have all heard the saying, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." However, there is also the popular motto that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different outcomes.
My dream of capturing a photo in the theme of the "Birds and Blooms" magazine maybe falls somewhere between those two adages.
I thought I had a chance at fulfilling this goal earlier this year when I spotted the Baltimore orioles feeding on the nectar of the blossoms on my apple tree. However, the shot turned out a little less stunning than I had anticipated.
I thought I had a deal with the orioles that in exchange for providing an unending grape jelly supply that they would pose for some stunning photos. They create beautiful scenes as they pose in the garden surrounding the feeder. But apparently, I had misunderstood the terms of the contact. They usually fled when I appeared with the camera and tried to get a photo.
Despite the orioles' dissing, I kept trying for some more birds with blooms photos. I managed to get the birds, but not with blooms. Other birds I was able to capture included a rose-breasted grosbeak, a goldfinch, a gray catbird and a blue-headed vireo posing for photos.
Still failing to add flowers to the mix, in mid-June I captured a bird on a wire photo. One of the bluebirds that had frequented my parents' yard gave me a side glance as I took his picture.
I spent hours stalking the hummingbird feeder trying to get the "perfect" photo. Some turned out. Most were just photos of empty feeders.
The only flowers present were the plastic ones on the feeder. It seemed to me that a lot of my bird pictures were missing the blooms part. However, even action photos at the feeders seemed nearly impossible as the hummers kept avoiding the camera. They would feed at the port on the opposite side, thwarting my tries.
So on the verge of insanity, I gave up trying to get the birds with the blooms and just went straight for the blooms. Blooms in and of themselves were relatively easy to capture good photos of, unless there is a strong wind.
Trying to capture the beauty of each blossom can sometimes be trying if the lighting isn't right. However, the blooms colors and delicate features shone through.
Nonetheless, butterflies as a photo subject never seemed to disappoint on the blooms part. However, there were some trying times as busy butterflies flitted in-and-out of frame and focus. They also failed to cooperate with any direction I tried to give them.
Earlier this June, the rhododendron bush was busting with blooms and was a very popular place for the pollinators. Tiger swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails and bees covered their blossoms. At one point there were a total of ten butterflies feeding on the bush. The whole bush was either buzzing or fluttering with activity. Sadly the blooms faded and the butterflies moved on.
However, I did capture an eastern tailed blue butterfly, who was perched on a leaf.
Back in the garden, a silver-spotted skipper decided to fulfill the blooms requirement part of a photo by feeding on some calibrachoa blossoms.
The act was actually kind of uplifting for me.
The particular calibrachoa or million bells plant in question was one that I had tried to keep alive throughout the winter. It looked terrible as I brought it out this spring.
Nonetheless, to my surprise it flourished and possibly looked even fuller than it did last season.
Other flowers flourishing in mid-June included the foxglove behind the garage. Or rather, these were plants I left so I didn't have mow the bank.
While, I couldn't get the butterflies or birds to pose with the foxglove, I was able to get a bloodhound to. Clem posed pretty with the posies while the other dogs just ignored my pleas.
Of course, Clem just posed in the flowers and didn't eat them. While foxglove is pretty all parts of the plant are poisonous to animals and humans.
However, the plant is used to make a medication for the heart.
Meanwhile in the woods, the flowers I found blooming were multiflora roses. They are pretty, but also pretty invasive. They have taken over and pushed out some native plants.
Kyle decided to try the roses and apparently found them edible. He also found the first bud of the season on my peace rose edible. I declared war on him for his discretion. Hopefully, the peace rose will try to bud again as was just the start of the growing season.
While the growing season for roses had started, the lady slippers were ending their time for blooms. I discovered a few of the orchids that were still trying to hold on. However, by mid-June no blossoms could be found.
Gus, however, has been successful in learning how to swim. He first tried just wading. He then turned to swimming laps around the neighbor's pond. He was usually the first one to the pond after he discovered his newfound dogpaddling skill.
Another successful try included the canines' chipmunk hunting. This was rare. I would watch as countless times the little critters would run down a tree and between the legs of several searching dogs. Clem managed to dispatch one chipmunk in the yard. However, another one committed suicide by drowning in the goat bucket. Not to worry though, at least two other chipmunks showed up to fill the void. These little guys sure try my patience as they dig up my potted plants and landscaping.
While chipmunks seemed to abound, I couldn't seem to find any fawns. I tried to see if any of the neighborhood does had little ones following them around. Nonetheless, I didn't see any. I grew jealous of Facebook posts of folks who just happened upon fawns in their yards or gardens. I still held out hope that one or two little spotted deer would show up on a trail camera. Meanwhile, I kept searching for more birds and blossoms.
Will I drive myself crazy in the attempt for the perfect birds and blooms photo?
I turned to a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson for some answers, "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." I hope to keep growing as I hope my flowers keep growing.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
More blooms without birds. ;-)
The peonies were out in full bloom.
Their fragrance was as delicate and beautiful at their blossoms.
A quick internet search turned up some interesting peony quotes.
Some of my favorites were:
as pretty as a peony;
a peony for your thoughts (probably a play on a penny for your thoughts;
and when in doubt add peonies and a rose is a rose, but a peony is a friend forever.
While some spring flowers have faded, many more are ready to open.
This appeared to be the time for the peonies to show off.
That's just the nature of things round here.
A male ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a zip tie securing some plastic spikes. He was guarding one of the feeders that I have put out. The spikes were placed on the chainlink fence to keep one of our cats from scaling the dog kennel. They didn't work and most of them have since been removed. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
"The Nature of Things" features the writings and photographs of Anna Applegate, who is a lifelong resident of Pinegrove Township, Venango County. She is a graduate of Cranberry High School and Clarion University. After a 15-year career in the local news industry, she made a change and now works at a steel finishing plant in Sandycreek Township. She is a avid lover of animals and nature, and a gifted photographer.