The Chrysalis

IMG_0576
Hanging from the bathroom window sill

My BFF Kathleen has been nurse-maiding some monarch butterfly chrysalis eagerly awaiting their metamorphosis to butterflies. She is a very dedicated “Butterfly Mom” who went to great lengths to plant milkweed to encourage replication of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle in her IMG_0578backyard. A few weeks ago she was the proud “Mother” of one brand new Monarch butterfly and waiting in the nursery were perhaps four or five more. I was privileged that she shared this great moment with me and what a beautiful event it was to witness. I admire her dedication to help in the preservation of these beautiful butterflies. As the saying goes…”It takes a village” to help save a species, to make a change for the better. Kathleen took up the banner and stepped up to the plate to make a difference for these beautiful creatures. A small difference, but all the small differences can make a huge impact on the survival of a species.

IMG_0579
Closer to emerging. Look closely and you can see the wing markings.

How fragile is a butterfly? Very! How many dangers lurk along their lifespan that might interrupt the life cycle? Too many to count!  Is it difficult to plant milk weed?  Definitely not!  Is the protection and preservation of these beautiful creatures worth it?  Resounding, I say YES!!!!

IMG_0577
Completed emerged from the chrysalis

So, rock on Butterfly Whisperer!

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

IMG_0729
Coming In Hot

Take me out to the ballgame….There is something very special about a beautiful cool Spring day drifting toward dusk as warm breezes skip across a beautiful pristine baseball field with its perfectly manicured grass and carefully swept and sprinkled pitcher’s mound and batter box. The two teams take to the field, young and energetic, each hoping for victory on this balmy night. And this scenario is being repeated all across our nation. Baseball is as American as apple pie.

IMG_0740
The Wind Up

Both of my grandsons play baseball. Mistakes are rarely made now when they play their games. But in the beginning it was a totally different story. T-ball was the beginning. A baseball is placed on a “t” at home plate and the player swings the bat and hits the ball and run, run, runs to first base. The opposing team has a pitcher, but he doesn’t pitch in T-ball. He just stands there getting use to the feel of being on the mound. Once the ball is hit, the infield players run to get the ball and try to throw it to a base. In the beginning, many mistakes are made…balls dropped or thrown the wrong way. The outfield players rarely see action and they can often be seen daydreaming, picking a flower or yawning. But that was then.

Fast forward to today and the players on the two opposing teams are well oiled machines. They are intense, focused, always aware of the intricacies of the game and give 110% each time they take the field. Over the many years from T-Ball to High School baseball, these young men have learned many things… the rules of the game, sportsmanship, pitching, throwing and catching skills. They have developed friendships and embraced how to win gracefully, how to lose honorably, and have been molded into a part of Americana….Baseball.

IMG_0726
Mom

The parents deserve resounding kudos for supporting their boys through all the phases of learning baseball. They arose early on weekends to ferry their children to baseball games and hurried home from work on weekdays to get them to practice. The parents tossed the ball with them, volunteered their time in concession stands and coached year after year. Without their sacrifices, Little League Baseball wouldn’t exist. It takes a village…

The thrill of seeing my grandsons learn and grow over these past years is the stuff grandparents live for…all joy and really not much responsibility. Watching their happiness after a win or the agony of a defeat has drawn me in as an unofficial team member. I attend every game I can, sit in the stands and cheer on the team. I scream, I yell, I jump with each exciting interchange. And victory is sweet!

IMG_0739

Yes, I love baseball. Even when I had no grandsons playing. I still find baseball relaxing, exciting, a true game of anticipation. The crack of a bat can totally alter the outcome of the game. Anyone and everyone can experience Americana baseball at a local high school. Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And yes, I take my binoculars to games because there are birds flying about…starlings, vultures, killdeer, grackles and the squawking of peacocks just behind the baseball field. See you at the ballpark!

IMG_0743
The Joy of Winning!

 

A Butcher Knife, a Cup of Water, Some Sticks and Faith

IMG_8306
Killdeer

I visited my sister in Burton again this past weekend. We jumped into my car and headed over to Lake Somerville to do a little birding. Along the way we spotted a Crested CaraCara, Black Vultures and once in the park, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Whimbrels, Sanderlings, Killdeer, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, American Coots, Ring-billed Gulls, Common Terns, a lone Cormorant and a Savannah Sparrow. The lighting wasn’t great, but we captured a few photos as memories of this outing. We headed home and had a lovely dinner…pork roast, sweet potato, vegetables and an apple crumble for dessert. After dinner we drove out into the country and tried to call up an owl or two. Unsuccessful, we went home and reminisced on a good day of birding.

IMG_8330
Whimbrels
IMG_8310
Common Terns
IMG_8344
Sanderling?

One of the things I love about visiting my sister is hearing some of the stories from our childhood. Being older than I, she has some memories of our maternal grandmother that I don’t share. One of these was of a time when our Grandmother was visiting us at our new house in Southwest Houston. Grandmother had some azalea cuttings and she was determined to plant them all along the front of our new house. Armed with a butcher knife, a bucket of water, those bare cuttings and my sister Linda, she began directing the planting of those cuttings. She used the butcher knife to stab holes in the soil, instructed my sister to plunge the cutting into that hole and pour a cup of water from the bucket upon each one. Our Grandmother had great faith and she must have provided an ample amount that day because those azalea cuttings flourished and grew to be enormous, each Spring bursting forth with beautiful blooms to adorn the front of our modest house. My sister confessed to me that as she was performing this planting ritual with our Grandmother, she had serious doubts about those “sticks” growing. She thought that the effort was pointless and it was a big waste of time and energy. Yet she forged ahead and helped our Grandmother. I believe our Grandmother planted her own seeds that day…the seeds of a master gardener in my sister’s soul.

As we sat on her front porch overlooking her beautiful gardens, listening and watching the IMG_8380resident birds, we were witnessing the transformation of our Grandmother’s faith before our very eyes. Each plant, seed or cutting in my sister’s yard was lovingly planted, tenderly cared for, vigorously protected, and ultimately culminated in a peaceful place of repose. We sit on that porch drinking our morning cup of java, enveloped in the peacefulness of nature that surrounds us on all sides. It is a great place to reminisce, share memories and plant the seeds of our next adventures.

Happy bird searching!!!

 

IMG_8377

IMG_8374