About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

My new favorite bird

I’ve always enjoyed watching birds in my backyard and the occasional hawk soaring along the highway, but the last few years have changed how I watch birds and brought a deeper appreciation for them.

You’ve been able to join me on this birding journey as I’ve chronicled a range of birds, from hummingbirds to vultures to ospreys to owls. I want to introduce you today to my new favorite. His name is Buddy, and he’s an American Kestrel.

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Meet Buddy, the American Kestrel.

My husband and I were on a trip with several of his co-workers and their spouses. We carved out time to mix in some fun between the work meetings and signed up for a falconry class. I was beyond excited about the class, even though none of us had any clue what to expect.

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Red-letter words for dark days

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. — Matthew 5:4

I’ve been reading through the red-letter words of the Bible this morning and listening to a filibuster in the U.S. senate chambers on gun-reform laws. Less than a year ago, I wrote a similar post for a similar reason: a gunman went into a sanctuary and killed minorities he hated. I am heartsick to be here again with another list of names.

I had planned a very different post today, but it will wait. Life and death interrupt us all in ways we never anticipate, in events that horrify us and cause us to pause. Some days, “business as usual” just feels wrong.

Today, I share the same picture as last year and a different, too-long list.

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Last year’s nine candles. Today, 49 more names.

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A new odyssey

My friend Adam says, “All snakes are poisonous when you’re running.” He knows it’s not true, but it sure feels true in the moment you see one slithering across your path.

I was maybe a minute into my first leg of the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey this weekend when a black and pale yellow snake slithered across my path. It was not a small snake. My usual “turn and run the other way” technique for snake avoidance wouldn’t work here. I couldn’t turn around without letting my team down. I couldn’t veer off the path to miss it because knee-high bushes (excellent hiding places for even more snakes) grew along both sides. I had to hurdle it and keep going.

I suppose all interesting odysseys must involve scary beasties and other obstacles.

Before the start, I was anxious about the other obstacles we would face, primarily heat and altitude. Snakes hadn’t really crossed my mind until one crossed my path. On my way to the start, I had even walked by a homeless person trying to shoo a small snake away from where he was sitting. The whole snake thing barely registered then.

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Smiling and clean at the start of our 178-mile journey: Adam (l), Gen, Me, Chris, Mike

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Wild irises and other running diversions

I’ve been ramping up my running mileage lately to prepare for races later this year—a half marathon in August and a full in December. The already-blistering summer heat has me questioning the sanity of these plans, as they’ll require solid training through the summer months.

To take my mind off the running, the weather, and the cruel sun that gets up earlier and earlier each day, I’m always on the lookout for distractions along the trail. Yesterday it was a coyote watching the dog and me from a safe distance. Today, deer and jack rabbits were doing the same.

Along the river, I’ve discovered one of the best diversions: wild yellow irises.

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I’m enjoying these blooms on my morning runs.

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The owls and the interloper

Our owls came back to nest this year, and my husband and I have enjoyed seeing the increased activity around the owl box in the past few weeks. The parent owls showed themselves more during the daytime this year and even did a few too many fly-bys of my head when I was outside in the evenings.

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Mamma or daddy owl (a western screech-owl) on high alert. Its markings are beautiful.

Others nearby haven’t been as thrilled with the owls nesting in our bird box. Somewhere close to the box is a hummingbird nest, along with the nest of another sort of bird—perhaps a black phoebe (I’m not sure about the identification of that one). There are other tiny birds in the area, too, and I wonder if they have a nest somewhere in those trees, too.

As the mother owl left the nest more frequently, the other birds flitted around the trees by the box, pitching a frenzied “Go away!” fit. Continue reading