Bridges, paths & walkways, desert and mountain terrains, and national parks – these are some of the places to find interesting “ground.” Sometimes there is an added bonus: a lizard, a flower, or a butterfly, or something ugly, like trash. This challenge is a way to showcase the photos I don’t usually publish in other posts!
Chicago Botanic Gardens: bridges, paths, and walkways
Cuba Marsh Wildlife Preserve (Illinois): walkways and grassland
The Middle East (Egypt and Israel): Desert landscapes, markets and farms
Mountain and Southwest (USA) terrain: ground above & below the tree line and rocks at Rocky Mountain National Park; trails and paths at Bryce Canyon National Park
Residents in the Moorings community have been concerned for some time about our female swan on West Pond. She has been sitting on her eggs for eight weeks at least and seems to be getting skinnier! In spite of her perseverance in incubating her eight eggs, she has shown some frustration of late, even pecking at the eggs to try to get them to hatch!
We took a walk just after noon today. It was a beautiful day with high temps in the 70s, so taking a walk at this time of day was delightful. We saw both of the swans leisurely swimming in the pond – the female’s eggs never hatched and were taken away last weekend in a bucket by personnel from the swan farm. So sad! Feeling carefree, the cob kicked his legs for momentum and then just let them drag behind him in the water – I’d never seen this behavior before! I didn’t get a photo of that, but I did get a close-up of him standing on the bank with his wide webbed feet! (I was able to get surprisingly close to him and the ducks, so these photos taken with my cellphone camera came out great!)
Surrounding him was a group of mallard ducks, mostly drakes, just chillin’ in the sunshine or taking naps. We saw one mama duck followed by eight ducklings, a family that I had not seen before. The ducklings were several weeks old, I guessed. They were too far away to get a good photo, since I had only my cellphone with me today.
These ducks and swans were on West Pond. As we passed East Pond, we were surprised to see a large number of Canada geese coming down the bank and into the water. Once they were in the water, they separated into family groups and we could see that several of them were goslings, who followed their respective parents. There were nine goslings altogether! I had not seen these families before; these goslings have already passed the “cute” stage! It was interesting that they were all together, instead of the adults threatening each other to stay away. Perhaps they’re all related!
The adults were wary of us, though!
Here are some mallard duck families that I photographed earlier this month, one with two half-grown offspring, the other with seven little ones. Ducklings don’t ever pass the “cute” stage!
The red-winged blackbird made all his noises at us, thinking he was threatening us as he flitted from tree to tree, following our movements.
Meanwhile, a mallard drake showed off for us – thank you, drake! You let me get a great photo of you!
Canada goose, mute swan, and mallard pair (Arlington Heights, IL – USA)
These are the most common species to see in our ponds. The swans and ducks are welcome, but the Canada geese are always “crashing” and they make a mess of our walkways!!
Heron, swan and ducks (Arlington Heights)
This gray heron is a daily visitor to our ponds. He wades in the tall grasses and looks for fish – a few days ago we saw him catching and eating a fish, but alas! We didn’t have our cameras with us!
Vultures and marabou stork (Tanzania)
These scavengers clean the bones from a kill that the hunter has already abandoned. We often saw a sort of scavenger hierarchy, waiting in line for their turn: hyena, jackal, vulture, stork – all eyeing the carcass as a lion made a meal of its kill.
Snowy Egret and Gray Heron (Aswan, Egypt)
We had few opportunities to photograph wildlife in Egypt – most of our days were spent at ancient Egyptian temples and ruins. But our last day in Aswan, we spent part of a morning on a leisurely boat ride to look for wildlife. Mostly we saw birds – this egret and heron, cormorants, and a few unidentified small birds.
What inanimate object do you wish you could eliminate from existence? plastic bags – actually a lot of things made of plastic… However, I’m not sure I can call plastic bags “inanimate” – they fly through the air, roll down streets, get caught in trees…and end up suffocating unsuspecting marine animals when they drift into lakes and oceans. One of our most serious pollution problems is the proliferation of discarded plastics. Most end up in landfills, either in this country or abroad, such as in Indonesia, where the plastic trash problem is becoming severe.
Although we think we are doing our part in diligently recycling all the #1, 2, 4, and 5 plastics (which is what most municipal recycling programs allow), the fact is that only about 15% of all that supposedly recyclable plastic actually gets recycled! Actually, grocery plastic bags and any other plastic bag labeled #4 can be collected and taken back to the supermarket – most supermarkets have deposit bins for plastic bags just inside the front entrance to the store. Although I will continue to recycle (because I don’t know which items are really being recycled), I now believe that “reduce” and “reuse” are the better ways to go until cost-efficient recycling becomes widespread.
Some cities and states have banned plastic bags and I think many European countries have also. Next time you shop, take your own reusable bags – if the cashier says they can’t take them because of Covid, you can offer to pack the bags yourself. If you buy produce, don’t put it in the plastic bags provided; either put it into your cart loose, or bring mesh bags from home to put it in. We have to change our wasteful habits if we want future generations to be able to continue living on this planet!
I recommend watching the PBS program Frontline‘s documentaryPlastic Wars. If this link doesn’t work, try finding it on YouTube.
What tells you the most about a person? A person’s actions determine one’s values and character. People who are generous and kind show this in their concern for others and always offering to help. There are many people who claim they are kind or caring, yet they never actually demonstrate this trait. There are also lots of hypocrites, people who say one thing and do another, or expect others to follow certain rules, but when a situation affects them, to hell with the rules! (I’m thinking of many politicians, particularly many in the GOP.) Often our leaders don’t realize that what they do influences society at large. I think that since the 1980s, and particularly during the last four years, the values and civility of our society have greatly eroded. People have become greedy and rude, and are no longer afraid to show blatantly racist attitudes and behavior, and there seems to be a direct correlation of this lack of civility with the growing inequality in our society.
What is something you thought would be easy until you tried it? Ziplining. My one experience with it was rather frightening and I will never be persuaded to do it again!
What ridiculous and untrue, yet slightly plausible, theories can you come up with for the cause of common ailments like headaches or cavities? Chocolate: this tempting and delicious substance is actually evil in disguise! It is so easy to get addicted to this “food of the gods” and yet, it insidiously poisons your body systems, causing headaches, toothaches due to cavities, and even the common cold! Even if you are diligent with your dental hygiene, including daily flossing, and balancing sweets with healthy foods like broccoli, it is too late – once the chocolate is in your body, you can never get rid of its devilish effects unless you go through a thorough cleansing regimen and commit to abstaining from chocolate forever! If you do these things, you will be much healthier!
(Ah, the heck with it! I’ll take the headaches and cavities rather than give up chocolate! After all, we only live once!!)
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
What are you grateful for since they ‘cured’ Covid? (yeah, I realize it’s not cured. But at least the vaccine is available and restrictions have eased up in many places. If that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen I suppose).
Being able to walk around outside without a mask! It is great to breathe the air directly instead of through the filter of a mask! People can now see each other’s smiles again, and it is much easier to understand what people are saying when they don’t have to wear a mask.
Also, it is great to be able to hug again!!
*Note: As I wrote my responses, I tended to get very serious and possibly self-righteous, so please forgive me. I don’t mean to lecture anybody, but I think we as a society or as a species need to consider more carefully the things we do and take for granted.
Spots and Dots is the creative topic for Leya’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.
flowers (2 orchids at Chicago Botanic Gardens, sunflower at Cantigny Park-Robert McCormick estate, Wheaton, Illinois)
art: sculpture (dalmations in Sao Paulo, Brazil; abstract sculpture in St. Charles, Illinois; giant pumpkin somewhere in Japan – this photo was a screenshot; Chinese lion at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois)
museum art (tapestry, light display)
Lightscape light show installations for the holiday season, (Chicago Botanic Gardens, Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020)
I always look forward to Mondays, when Melanie issues a new set of questions for Share Your World. Her questions this week are quite thought-provoking, so I’d better get started!
What do you believe but cannot prove? The existence of God. God is seen differently by people; there may be almost as many ideas of God as there are believers. For me, God is within each individual and in nature. God is a force rather than an actual being. But I do believe in the power of prayer, so I guess sometimes I believe – when it’s convenient – that God does “listen” to prayers and perhaps helps things happen (or not). It is a comfort to me, at least, and it also is a comfort to others to know that people are praying on their behalf. In fact, there have been scientific studies of the power of prayer, and what was concluded is that knowing that a community of people who care about you bolsters your will to get better (or improve whatever the situation is). People are saying that they support you and are concerned about your suffering. It can actually motivate people to fight harder against a disease like cancer.
Do animals have morals? Exclude human beings from the equation please. Why exclude humans? Are we any more moral than animals? Sometimes I think not!
Anyway, I don’t believe animals have morals, not really, although some do have compassion. Having morals requires one to be able to imagine different scenarios and outcomes, and to be able to judge others’ actions. I am not convinced animals can do that. However, there is much about animals – particularly the most intelligent ones – that we don’t know. Dolphins have been observed helping people in trouble. Elephants also help each other when one is in distress. Whales use a complex system of sounds to communicate with each other. I always marvel at the natural world, because animals have developed adaptations to all kinds of environments and situations. But I don’t think that they can imagine the future or alternate situations. Possibly chimpanzees or gorillas, but only in a limited capacity.
People often pose the question of what makes humans different from other animals. It is our brain’s capacity to reason, analyze, synthesize, and imagine. Unfortunately, these capacities do not necessarily lead to better behavior than an animal might display. We make choices, often the wrong ones, which affect not only our own lives, but also the lives of others, including animals.
Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance? I believe there is inherent order, but we do not understand it completely. Science is constantly revising its hypotheses about the universe/natural world, as new discoveries are made. There is an order, but we have yet to really know that order. I read an article recently about scientists at Fermilab discovering erratic behavior by the tiny particles called muons. They have observed the muons deviating from whatever it is they do, which can alter scientific theories about how the universe works. It’s amazing that this tiny particle, whose existence has only been known for a few decades, can influence so much of scientific theory that was believed to be based on solid evidence.
Where is your least favorite place in the world? Somewhere that I’ve never been. Someplace cold and desolate. I probably will never visit places such as Antarctica or Greenland; I have heard that Antarctica, at least, is well worth a trip, and I would love to see the penguins. But I cannot imagine living through months of darkness and frigid cold day after day. Alaska is beautiful but I wouldn’t want to live there. So my “least favorite place” might be different depending on whether that place is my least favorite place to visit or least favorite place to live.
There is one place that I don’t think I would even want to visit – it’s the only place in the world that I can think of – and that is North Korea.
GRATITUDE SECTION (Participation Always Optional)
Feel free to share something about the seasons that makes you smile!
I am capable of smiling during any season, but I will focus on the current season of spring. I love flowers and they make me smile. Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about my garden, which is mostly about the flowers of spring.
HAIKU: THE GARDEN 4/26/14
Snow drops rise early to cheer the winter weary: delicate white orbs.
Crocuses give hope when purple flowers appear – spring will arrive soon.
Yellow daffodils herald the coming of spring with their bright trumpets.
Tulip leaves unfold, hiding their buds until May brings colorful blooms.
The lilac bush makes fragrantly scented flowers in lavender clusters.
The rose bush’s thorns keep gardeners at bay for red blossoms in June.
Aromatic herbs spice up the gardener’s meals; worthy of wild growth!
Gardeners’ reward is the harvest of summer: Beauty, fragrance, food.
Speaking of fragrance, lilacs are in bloom everywhere here! They are beautiful and smell heavenly!