Mountain Meadow Delight

08/09/14

Some people protect their favorite fishing hole—refusing to divulge the sacred spot. Well I have secrets, too.

Dirty little secrets. Toad secrets.

With amphibians in decline worldwide, I’m protective of their whereabouts. And when I run across one on a hike, it’s a moment of joy.

So yesterday’s meet and greet with a Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) was pure bliss.

Western Toad

Western Toad

Discovered under a log along Paulina Creek , I was mesmerized by this stocky, sluggish beauty with golden eyes.

Golden-eyed beauty

Golden-eyed beauty

The Western Toad ranges in color from pale green to grey covered with large bumps. Remember that childhood warning: touching toad skin will give you warts? Not so.

But these toads do pack a punch with a protective poison packed in a gland behind their eyes (parotid gland) which can exude a thick, nauseating substance designed to ward off predators. This mechanism leaves these slow moving creatures well equipped to fend off faster moving predators such as coyotes and raccoons.

So as I contemplated the wonder of this toad and basked in the glory of this glorious mountain meadow toad habitat, I savored the moment.

Toad sightings are a rarity. Toad populations are in decline  due to loss of wetlands, habitat degradation and environmental changes. That saddens me.

I’ll admit I’ve been called a tree-hugger. And perhaps after today’s post some may label me a toad-lover.

I’m okay with that.  Know why? Because God loves the humble toad too.

Yep. Look at Genesis 1:31 ~

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

This little toad was handcrafted by the Creator. And God thought it to be good. Very good.

And that, my friends, makes me smile.

The earth is the LORD’S and everything it it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Psalm 24: 1-2

 

How to Keep your Grip in a Slippery World

07/19/14

Sometimes the smallest things inspire wonder.

I admit, I’m easily entertained, but last Saturday’s encounter with a ladybird beetle captured my attention and left me wondering about the ability of this little beetle to hang on. This little ladybug hiked a distance of 6 inches—crossing a bridge of pink mountain dogbane to a downed ponderosa. It didn’t slip. Or lose its grip.  How’d it do that?

Ladybird beetle on Stachytarpheta indica at Ta...

Ladybird beetle defies gravity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ladybird beetle cruising across a log.

Ladybird beetle cruising across a log.

I did some research and found that ladybird beetles have some special “kicks”—and tricks.

A Science Daily story titled “Beetles in Rubber Boots” describes a scientific study that found each leg of this remarkable ladybird beetle is equipped with fine adhesive hairs of sorts. Take a look: click the link and be amazed–

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2013/2013-230-2.jpg

These microscopic hairs differ in composition –at the base they are stiff, with the tips being flexible. Researchers believe this variation provides the beetle with the ability to hold tight despite the terrain.

We, too, have an anti-slip mechanism in a slippery world. World famous Bible expert Matthew Henry calls this “mechanism” God (from Jude 24):

God is able, and as willing as able, to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory.”

And for that, I am thankful. I cling to Him who holds me tight.

When Flowers Say Amen

07/04/14

The Amen of Nature is always a flower.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

And one of my favorite flowers is the Skyrocket, Ipomopsis aggregata, blooming just in time for Fourth of July.

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Nature’s Fireworks: The Skyrocket

 

Skyrockets

Skyrockets

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Skyrockets at Sunset

Nature's Fireworks

Skyrocket, Ipomopsis aggregata

“The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:11

Remember to spend time in the presence of the Creator today and celebrate the wonders of his creation.

 

How a Face-Chucking Fish Taught Me to Crave the Word

06/26/14

Sometimes scientific research makes me smile. Recently I read about the fish nicknamed “Face-chucker.”

Seems this fish has an ability to throw its jaw and is highly successful when it comes to feeding.

The ability of the sling-jawed wrasse (Eibulus insidiatior) to propel its jaw to the moon and back (actually 65 % of its head length) has earned his name.

Watch this 35 second video–you will be amazed! (it even has cool music)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHWeTazxe44 elastic fish jaw

The Sling jawed wrass relies on suction to feed, one of the three predominant mechanisms of prey capture:

  • Suction
  • Ram (forward motion)
  • Manipulation (your basic catch and bite—think shark)

Using the one two punch of suction and ram, the sling jawed wrasse unfolds his extensible vacuum tube jaw much like a set of pull down attic stairs, turns on the suction and catches dinner.

Who knew?

Suction is noted to be the most common method of prey capture, but with some 28,000 species of fish, feeding mechanisms vary. Seems  all fish are not created equal when it comes to the ability to feed…

And neither are we. Especially when It comes to feeding on the word.

Some days I devour the word, pursue it with vigor.  I chase it down. Wrestle it and  chomp it, like a shark. I manipulate it–in a good sense.  Mull it over, chew it. Digest.

Other days, I open my mouth and simply inhale, hoping my lungs are strong enough, using suction to draw goodness in.

But it’s those “ram” days (more like cram days) that are the least efficient in terms of reading the word. Those are the days I quickly peruse the word, hurrying over it in an effort to catch a morsel en route to my next activity.

When it comes to God’s word, there are no short cuts.

The days I cut my feeding short are the days I suffer—as do those around me. I am short tempered, impatient. Doubt and discouragement encircle me.

I know better. And I have the tools. I have the time.

It’s just that some days I lack the hunger.

Oh, that I would hunger after the Word as that sling jawed wrasse pursues its prey—with a determined accuracy and tenacity. An appetite like that could change the world.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:6

Imperial Geyser

O6/01/14

Sometimes I find a wonder so wild, so untouched by human hands I’m left in complete awe of the Creator God.

Enter Imperial Geyser–tucked away on a hidden slope in Yellowstone National Park.

Imperial Geyser, Yellowstone National Park (watch video)

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In the mist of its steaming turquoise blue waters, under its delightful spinning plume of water, I meditated on Psalm 89:11:

The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.”

And I, for one, am thankful.

What wonder of God has stopped you in your tracks?

Spring Azures and Schedules

05/14/14

Each year I anticipate the arrival of the blues. Spring Azure blues, that is. As in butterflies. Those little-bit beauties assure me spring has arrived and warmer days are on the way.

Packaged in just over an inch of fluttering wonder, the Spring Azure adult stage of life is brief. Many survive only a few days days before laying eggs that will give rise to the next generation.

English: Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) taken...

Spring Azure, Celastrina sp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Yesterday, the Spring Azures visited my garden.

Spring Azure in my garden.

Spring Azure in my garden.

And to think I almost missed it.

[Read more...]

God, Nature and Nitrous Oxide

05/07/14

The calendar reminded me of what I longed to forget: Root canal, 2:00 pm. I was worried sick. Dental appointments are not my strong suit.

I needed an escape. So at 7:30 AM I packed my binoculars and went in search of a bluebird.

I’d been searching for the nest of a pair of Mountain Bluebirds that have been taunting me all week. My husband reported seeing a pair of the cerulean-blue wonders near a large snag just off the road. I went to investigate.

Mind you, I wasn’t chasing happiness, although the bluebird has been associated with happiness for centuries.

I sought the bluebird experience to pack some peace into a stressful day–and to pray.

Sialia currucoides - Mountain Bluebird, Cabin ...

Sialia currucoides – Mountain Bluebird(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And God heard my prayer. Here’s what I found:

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We Need Knees–Here’s Why:

04/30/14

I would have missed it if I hadn’t dropped to my knees. Beauty stared up at me from the face of a tiny flower, Spring Draba (Draba verna).

Spring Draba (Draba verna)

Spring Draba (Draba verna)

Just an inch off the ground, this miniature bloom spoke volumes —reminding me of the words of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold:

He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba.  He who despairs of spring with downcast eyes, steps on it, unknowing.  He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.” Sand County Almanac

Such an image—“searching for spring on our knees.” Indeed, I found spring on my knees last week.

But on our knees we find so much more.

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What’s Smaller than a Hamster and Hibernates?

04/23/14

What’s smaller than a hamster and hibernates? The answer may surprise you.

Hibernation usually conjures up the image of a burly bear snoozing in his den, but the truth is, at least two species of butterflies hibernate (sleep through the winter) in their delicate and fragile adult phase—the Mourning Cloak and the Zephyr.

The Zephyr, Polygonia gracilis

The Zephyr, Polygonia gracilis

Mourning Cloak Butterfly pausing on Spruce bou...

Mourning Cloak  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, just two days before Easter, I was doubly blessed to see both of these butterflies  as they rose from their winter slumber.

How do these ephemeral creatures survive negative temperatures and live to fly again?

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Would Jesus Like Easter Lilies?

04/16/14

Would Jesus like Easter lilies? Maybe. Maybe not. I mean, think about it–Easter lilies—those showy, scented, “look-at-me-flowers” are everything Jesus was not:

For he grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in appearance that we should desire him.”  Isaiah 53:2

Easter Lily

Easter Lily (Photo credit: photoholic1)

I find it ironic that the “large and in charge” Easter lily  represents Christ and his resurrection. How did this come to be?

According to legend, lilies sprouted in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s crucifixion—popping up from the sweat-soaked ground after his brutal bout of suffering.

From this legend, the multi-million dollar Easter lily business is believed to have grown. And this week those stately flowers will adorn the altars of thousands of churches, representing hope and purity.

Yet in keeping with his humility, I can’t help but think that Jesus would have preferred the more natural, unforced bloom of the humble Sand lily to that showman Easter Lily.

Each year, this elusive wildflower resurrects from battered soils for a brief appearance. I found the uncultivated, unfertilized and virtually unknown native Sand lily growing near Sisters, Oregon.

When pictured side by side, the differences between the lilies are striking:

Sand Lily

Sand Lily, Leucocrinum montanum

Easter lillies in June

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may be wondering if I’m suggesting we abolish the Easter lily tradition.  I’m not. That Easter lily wonderfully represents the grandeur of the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

That said, I prefer the native Sand lily. Its subtle beauty and simplicity embodies all that Christ stood for.

My savior sought no attention, no accolades, no applause. He shunned the spotlight.

Instead, Christ lived selflessly—and died sacrificially. For you. And for me.

This Easter season, as we celebrate a time of renewal, may our lives blossom with the simple, understated  beauty of the Sand lily as we strive to grow daily in the grace of our glorious Lord.

Blessings to you and yours this Easter.

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