Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our World of Nature

Fall is coming!
What a beautiful day we are having today in Southeastern Minnesota.  The temperatures are in the high 60s and it is sunny out. 

This morning when getting up at 5:30 for golf, I had a difficult time getting out of bed.  The air was cool on our second level of our home, and the covers felt so warm and soft.  In the latter days of summer, it starts to cool down at night and the mornings are relatively brisk as well.  This is my favorite time of the year.  The fall colors are starting to show on the maple trees and the first signs of autumn are beginning with the gathering of birds into flocks.  Instinct tells them that they must be ready to start traveling south soon.  I look around me and see by the swaying branches on the trees that the winds are coming more from the northerly direction, and with that, the cooler weather.  From now until November, it will trend in the direction of winter.  These are the beginnings of fall when nature begins to ready itself for sleep. 

Beginning of a great day!
As I sit on the porch, I listen to the sounds of the crickets and the locust.  With the cooler and dryer weather, they seem to flourish.  With the cooler temperatures, I see the cardinals jumping from flower to weed, hunting for summer’s last insects.  They almost seem to be having fun.  They remind me of children hunting for Easter eggs.  Amongst the flowering thistles, I see goldfinches hopping from thistle seed to seed happily eating their fill.  At times it looks funny watching the thistle bend back and forth in the breeze under the finch’s weight.  They seem to be having fun, like children on a teeter-totter. 

With the end of summer comes our first fruits.
Looking out on the remaining gladiolas, I see our friends the hummingbirds drinking their fill of nectar.  Anne, my wife, commented that the two ruby throated hummingbirds flying in front of us both seemed to be courting today.  It was beautiful watching them fly almost effortlessly in a horseshoe pattern, each in unison, one with the other.  As I now look up into our pear tree, I see a rustle of leaves and discover that a baby hummingbird is sitting on the leaves, almost concealed.  At first it looked like a bumblebee, but on further observation, I could see that it was an infant hummingbird.  I then commented to Anne, that maybe the pair of hummingbirds flying below the baby were not mating, but celebrating an empty nest. 

As I type these words I can hear the call of a pileated woodpecker coming from the woods.  Further in the other direction, I hear chickadees seemingly answering its call.  When observing these birds, I noticed the golden rod swaying in the breeze on the hillside.  This unusual plant causes allergic reactions for my family at times.  I strive to cut it down, but it does get away from me at times.  It is a beautiful plant, or some might say (weed.)  One can spot, in the winter, many times a ball that has formed around the stem of the golden rod.  A worm bores into the stem and the plant instinctively builds a hard ball around it to protect itself.  Many times upon closer inspection, I have found that some woodpecker has pecked a hole into the stem ball, successfully retrieving the hibernating worm.  My son Will has excitedly asked me a number of times to cut into the stem in an attempt to find the worm as well.  I try to make our journeys into the woods a learning experience as well as enjoyable.  I want our children to grow up with an appreciation for nature and the world around them.    

Visitor to Anne's honeysuckle.
While sitting here typing, I look around and I hear clucking sounds coming from the woods.  It appears to be wild turkeys feeding on the forest floor.  They make their visits to our meadow several times a year.  I remember reading about Ben Franklin; he wanted the bird to be our national symbol, rather than the eagle.  The turkey flies up to 50 miles per hour and is clever enough to avoid predators like the fox and coyote by roosting in the branches of trees at night.  When teaching in a nearby town, I used to see up to 20 some turkeys roosting in one tree as I drove by a small wooded area on the way to work.  They are a very attractive bird and are majestic when the mating season arrives.  I have seen the toms (males) fanning their large colorful tail feathers in front of prospective mates in the spring.  That reminds me of the time we were building our home, my wife Anne came excitedly over to me and asked if I would like to see something wonderful.  “Come and see the largest pheasants you have ever seen.”  Well, they turned out to be wild turkeys instead.  I smiled and informed my sweetheart that they were not pheasants, but turkeys.  In retrospect, they did look a lot like pheasants though.  Anne grew up in North Dakota and they do not have wild turkeys living on the prairies.  Pheasants on the other hand are found in abundance.  I do joke with her at times about North Dakota.  In defense of this wonderful state though, I share a deep passion for its unique beauty.  My thoughts go back a few years ago when I met my brother from Wyoming and together we have traveled to Amidon, North Dakota.  There we competed in target shooting contests with other men and women from all over the country.  The black powder long-range buffalo target shooting contests are very exciting, as well as camping out on the wild untamed prairies.  This wonderful area is known as the Bad Lands, and has some of the most beautiful countryside that one can imagine.  At one time in history, Teddy Roosevelt was a cowboy in this same area.  He spent much time here before heading back east to pursue his political ambitions.  Many of his beliefs were formed out in the wild, while riding herd on cattle drives.  One such belief that he founded, was that of the creation of our national parks.
Wild turkey walking by Will and Abby's sandpile.

I love joking with my wife Anne, and we have a fun time laughing with each other.  One such day I informed her that the only trees in North Dakota are called telephone poles.  Anne does have a generous love for nature and she appreciates the beauty that God has placed all around us in the form of wildlife and greenery.  She is very good-natured and takes my joking with a grain of salt.  Anne is always kind and very courteous to our children and myself.  I have told her that it is true that opposites do attract in this case.  She smiles and gives me a kiss and says that I am a good man and not at all like that.  I then watch her walk away and think how fortunate a man I am that God has blessed me with such a wonderful wife.

Coyote's last visit in the early Spring.
In closing with my musings, I look up and listen to a coyote howling in the forest.  I laugh to myself thinking how much he sounds like a dog with an abscessed tooth.   How wonderful our world is, God has blessed us with so much beauty and life teaming all around us.