Sunday, September 18, 2011

Illinois Nature Walk at BNC: From Beginning to....???

Some broad themes brought me where I am today. At a very young age, my hobby became thinking and finding connections.
Dean Kamen, Inventor

      Over three years ago I started this blog as a way to show my elementary students that by becoming aware of the world outside your door, you can enrich your life beyond measure. After seeing that there are many websites that now focus on the flora and fauna of our state, and do it much better than I can, I decided to change the focus of the blog to photographing the four seasons within the different habitats at Ballards..
      With photos, I wanted to show the changing seasons at Ballard Nature Center, located just west of Effingham on Route 40.  BNC, in my mind, was like the hidden jewel of south-central Illinois, and it still is. Sharing that jewel with others in the area was my way of saying thank-you to BNC, and the late Ernie Ballard, for giving us a place of peace, a place to gather, a place to learn, a place to connect with nature, a place to take our families.
     This was all before BNC got their awesome new website, see it here, and their Facebook page.  Now Karan Greuel and Patty Gillespie, Directors of the center, do a fabulous job of adding beautiful pictures to the Facebook page, and keep everyone updated with the latest news. I am a "Friend" and hope you are, too.
     With the BNC having such great representation in the local area, I then looked for ways to "show off" our little local jewel to the world. I took my tiny little blog to the world through weekly "Memes" such as "SkyWatch Friday," "MyWorld Tuesday," "Scenic Sunday," "Weekend Reflections," and the beautiful monthly meme "Festival of the Trees." (See links on the sidebar of this blog.) 

     "Illinois Nature Walk at Ballard Nature Center and Beyond" is also now permanently listed in The Nature Blog Network and BlogCatalog. ...As I believe any blog about this lovely little educational respite deserves.

       Far too late into the life of this blog, I finally added a flag counter to track the regions from where the visitors originate. As of this posting, there have been visitors from 38 of the 50 United Stated, and 36 different countries around the world. To find out how much those numbers have increased, click on the flag counter on the right.

     But one of the things that I have loved the most about this blog are the photos I was able to take. I began photographing nature when I was just a child, many decades ago, and am always looking for the perfect moment when that balance light and dark is met. I'm still looking, and probably always will be, but the joy is in the quest.

     The other benefit that I have enjoyed about this blog are  the wonderfully reflective walks on the trails that allowed me to be a participant in the beauty around me. Whether with my faithful four-legged companions, my occasional two-legged companions, or just on my own, I have frequented the four-seasoned trails that could be, for any one, at any time. "The Little Brown Church in the Vale." Some of my closest walks and talks with God have been in a church with a blue sky ceiling and a golden, leafy carpet.  Everyone has their own path to feeling close to God, and my path was often just a trail in the woods.

      So as you can see, this whole blog has been a labor of love. But now with added demands with my job, my family, and my health, there just is not enough time in the months to come for me to post to this blog.
     I hope to return to this blog next year, but for now, to my faithful few followers, the local readers, and the beautiful bloggers around the world, I bid you adieu.    
      I will miss you all.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cooler Weather At Last!

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
- Helen Keller
I finally made it back out to BNC for a couple of photo shots after a much-needed rain brought a drop in temperatures from high 90's to low 70's. Many others also came out to enjoy the late summer blooms found along the trails.

Shot this sunrise in the parking lot of my school. It was a great start to my day!
For sky photos from around the world, check out SkyWatch Friday

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.
- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, August 13, 2011

For Any Fellow Dog-Lovers

 Sweet New Puppy

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

     Not the normal scenic picture here, but this little thing joined our household last spring. Right in the middle of all the commotion with my eye surgeries, Pepper Gizmo was just over three pounds when I brought her home. 
     This picture was taken when she was about four months old, still hardly bigger than the dog toy she is seen playing with. Photographing her is very difficult as she seldom ever sits still.
      When I was planning on adopting a second dog, I assumed I would get a dog big enough to go on hikes with me, not one so small! But when I held this pup, the runt of an "accidental litter" of two mixed breed dogs of a friend, I knew she would be coming home with me. And she did; she moved in and stole my heart. She is now eight months old, and is still only as big as a small cat.
     I'll try to post more nature pictures next time, just wanted to share this with any dog-loving bloggers out there.
     Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Splender in the Grass

As summer flowers fade, these feathery seeds are filled with life and hope, waiting patiently for their time to grow, perchance to bloom.

 "That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind." ~William Wordsworth

Friday, July 22, 2011

Keep Looking

       Keep Looking Up. These three words helped me as I was growing up. They reminded me that I was not alone, there was someone else to help me shoulder my burdens. This knowledge gave my young mind peace and security, if not serenity.
       Today, I focus on the first two words:
Keep Looking
       Since regaining my vision recently, I can't seem to stop marvelling at the beauty that lies outdoors, especially the sky. Courtesy of our own atmosphere (however embattled) we have a pro-offered pallette of peace. Diamond-lit black at midnight, infinite white at high-noon, oranges, yellows, and purples at twilight. And the blues! From slate and cesious, to celeste and hyacinthine, nothing is a better backdrop for what the earth yields then these heavenly colors.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back From the Blur

Hello Bloggers!

Soooo glad to be back on the computer!
Thanks to my faithful followers for sticking with me!
I have been going through many of my pics from last year
and have deleted many because they were blurry.
(After my fourth eye surgery and with my new "bionic" eyes,
I now can see all of my mistakes! : ( )

Too hot in Illinois to get out and take pics,
but here is one from the
Air Force Memorial in Washington, DC.
It was taken last October by my husband while he was escorting
a WWII veteran on an "Honor Flight."
 Since he rarely uses the camera, I think he did pretty good, don't you?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Eye Surgeries

I am in-between eye surgeries and will return to this blog when possible.
Currently, typing is next to impossible. Photography IS impossible. But....
Prayer is ALWAYS possible.

My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to to people of Japan.

The Japanese beauty pictured above displayed her glory last spring at the Altamont City Park.
This post is dedicated to the victims, survivors, and family members of the tragedies in Japan.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Light of the Evening: Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

Our world today needs Abraham Lincoln.
The quotes he left us cannot be shared enough.
Here are a few to remember him on this  anniversary of his birth,
and on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

To honor him,
here are some of my favorite quotes
 by Abraham Lincoln:

Character is like a tree
and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it;
the tree is the real thing.

 If we falter and lose our freedoms,
 it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Any people anywhere,
being inclined and having the power,
have the right to rise up,
and shake off the existing government,
and form a new one that suits them better.

 This is a most valuable
- a most sacred right -
a right,
which we hope and believe,
is to liberate the world.

 I am a firm believer in the people.
If given the truth, they can be depended
upon to meet any national crisis.
The great point is to bring them the real facts.

I have always found that mercy bears
 richer fruits than strict justice.

I like to see a man proud
of the place in which he lives.
I like to see a man live so that his place
will be proud of him.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years.

Most folks are as happy
as they make up their minds to be.

My dream is of a place and a time
where America will once again be seen
as the last best hope of earth.

My greatest concern is to be on God's side,
for God is always right.

The time comes upon every public man
when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

With Malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds.

 You cannot escape the responsibility
of tomorrow
by evading it today.

With the fearful strain

that is on me night and day,
 if I did not laugh I should die.

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln,
our nation needs your wit and wisdom!

Weekend Reflections

It was a very challenging week...
so my heart was uplifted today as I heard the delightful melodies of the songbirds on my morning walk! Obviously they know that spring is waiting patiently underneath the ice and snow-covered ground here in central Illinois. What a blessing from God these little creatures are,  that the smallest of voices, banded together, can herald in a season of new beginnings!

Ballard Nature Center, children's fishing pond at twilight.
See more reflections at Weekend Reflections, more beautiful sky shots at SkyWatch Friday, and more wonderful shots at Watery Wednesday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ice Gallery

The Ballard Nature Center building could easily be at home in Colorado
 as it is pictured here.

 Eight inch icicles hang from this trail sign.

 Squirrels have already harvested the acorn from this falles oak brance.

This glorious sight begins with the tiniest of footprints and leads up to bright blue cloudless sky.

 I look up to the southern sky,
where six more inches of snow are looming in the storm front just moving in.

This old tree could not hold the weight of the ice on its limbs,
and dropped onto the old pavilion at Bliss Park in Effingham, Illinois.

The bridge at the Altamont City Park at sunset the day after the ice storm. 
Deciduous trees are dressed in their finest jewels
and glittering icicles dangle from frigid fence boards.