Happy Place

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge asks: ” Where’s your happy place?” For us,  it’s that place where the rising sun’s rays skim across the mountain folds, and updrafts sustain the wind play of vultures and hawks. It’s that place where birds fill the ears with chirps and whistles and hoots, and buck snorts add exclamation points to the Ouachita Mountain soundtrack. It’s also the place that has served as a bird blind, galactic observatory and deer-watching platform. That happy place is our deck.

Sunset Sept. 19, 2015.
Sunset Sept. 19, 2015.
AUTUMN FOG -- Fog fills valleys in the Ouachita Mountains. Taken Sept. 15, 2016.
AUTUMN FOG — Fog fills valleys in the Ouachita Mountains. Taken Sept. 15, 2016.

Grounded

This red-spotted purple probably escaped a predator at the cost of a wing and the ability to escape again. Though grounded, he continued to spread his wings in the sunshine.

Red-spotted purple butterfly with one wing.
STILL BEAUTIFUL – Red-spotted purple butterfly warms himself on the roadway.

Birdland

Been a while since we posted. We had a couple rounds of heavy winter weather and being trapped away from home for days at a time. Nice to be back home. Between bouts of wintry mix, the birds came out and did what birds do.

Weekly photo challenge: Serenity

Finding serenity any time is a challenge, and this week it IS the challenge.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to capture the latest comet Lovejoy in pixels. Tonight’s effort was flustered by clouds, but one shot — a test shot setting up — seemed to hit all the right notes.  The soft light in the cloud,  the familiar pinpoints of starlight and the warm glow coming from the house next door all seemed to be a little bit of serenity.

1-19 NightSkyTrees

Other bits of serenity from this week’s challenge:

Things you didn’t know you had

The downtime between Christmas and New Year provides temporal space to start cleaning those things that may not merit daily attention, but languish in that to-do list priority category just above “limbo” or “someday.” Today it was a handful of glassware reserved for celebratory use and a compact flash card that somehow found a hiding place in the LowePro backpack.  Among the findings from the latter:

July 12, 2014, supermoon
Supermoon framed by pine trees. Taken July 12, 2014.
Indigo bunting in tree.
Indigo bunting preening. Taken July 13, 2014.
Upside down butterfly.
Butterfly hanging on the underside of an azalea branch outside the office window.

 

 

Autumn subtleties

The Ouachitas’ big autumn show is winding down and the forest is wearing a decidedly more subtle palette these days.

Tarantula hawk

Tarantula hawks are both beautiful and gruesome. Their black bodies have a mesmerizing blue iridescence visible in bright sunlight, yet their curled antennae and orange wings make them seem somewhat cartoonish. Make no mistake, these wasps, while docile, have a sting that is described as “blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric.” Their mode of reproducing rather ghoulish as well, with larvae eating its live tarantula host from the inside out until it emerges as an adult.

Tarantula Hawk wasp.
BOTTOMS UP — Tarantula hawk wasp worked hard to get every drop of nectar from this snakeroot plant.