The heron, the frog, and the Thanksgiving feast

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to my American readers (and happy Wednesday to the rest of you)! As you travel over the river and through the woods, or wherever this holiday may take you, I hope good cheer comes along for the ride.

Today’s post is a short one, and it’s all about an ongoing feast in my back yard.

This summer, a juvenile Green Heron discovered an all-it-could-eat buffet of frogs in the pool and became a frequent poolside visitor.

Our juvenile Green Heron in early August

My husband and I had not seen so many (or any) frogs in our pond in previous summers, and their presence added to the daily outdoor chores. Sometimes we could relocate them while they were still alive. Other times, we had to fish them out after they drowned in the skimmer or at the bottom of the pool.

A small, brave frog watches me take its picture.

I haven’t seen any frogs in the pool for the last month or so, and I realized about a week ago it was because—at least in part—we still have frequent visits from the Green Heron. I don’t know if this is the same juvenile heron as our August guest, but I enjoy seeing it stand by the pool.

It’s skittish and quick to fly if it sees me watching it, and so I have to take its photo from inside the house and be careful that it can’t see me from a window. It’s not graceful like other herons. It has a gangly look when it flies, and its squawk sounds like an unpleasant shriek.

Today, the heron sat frozen like this for several minutes. I’ve never seen it still for so long.

The Green Heron stares up at the sky.

Was it asking a blessing for its meal? Was it basking in the joy of having just eaten a frog? Was it hypnotized by something in the sky?

If this is the juvenile heron, its coloring is coming in nicely, and it’s clearly adding girth from eating so many frogs.

This Thanksgiving, may you enjoy your feast as much as the heron enjoys its frogs.

One of the things I’m grateful for is a back yard that attracts interesting birds. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Favorites on Thanksgiving Eve

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to my U.S. friends and family. I hope your grocery shopping is done, and if not, may the parking spaces be close and the lines be short.

For those of you following along with my NaNoWriMo updates, this past week was the toughest so far. The words didn’t flow, and neither did the ink (several more pens are done). Not counting what I wrote yesterday—a decent writing day—that I still need to type up, I’m at 29,546 words.

I’m hoping for a productive writing afternoon, and then this evening, I’ll be making my mother’s cranberry relish for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or having an ordinary day in some other part of the world, I hope you have a great day.

I’ll leave you with a few favorites from the week:


A hummingbird’s Thanksgiving feast

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A counting of blessings

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, and I find myself counting blessings today. How about you? I’m grateful for family, health, friends near and far (and old and new), my faithful blog readers, and so many more blessings.

I wanted to share with you a few pictures of the things/places/creatures that fill me with gratitude.

This has been a year of transition, but I’m grateful for the place I live. My husband and I landed in a friendly neighborhood, and we get to run on trails by a river that teems with beauty just about every single morning. (The mornings that include rattlesnakes are a bit less lovely than the rest.)


The river in autumn

The river brings with it some amazing animals (look for more on the ongoing salmon run in a future post). Bird watching is spectacular here. And I’m grateful for our next-door neighbor in Raleigh who sent us off on our journey to the left coast with the Sibley Guide to Birds. I miss sitting on her screened-in porch watching birds with her but look forward to a time she and other birding friends will visit. I imagine our walks by the river with anticipation. Will we see kites, hawks, gulls, mergansers, vultures, hummingbirds, egrets, or all of these and more?


A Brewer’s Blackbird glistens in the sun.


An osprey’s feast of fresh-caught trout. May your plate be full of your favorite catches tomorrow.

I’m grateful for a full refrigerator and having completed the grocery shopping. I’m grateful to the Whole Foods several towns away for vegan pecan pie. (I mostly say pee-kan. Do you say pi-kahn?) I’m grateful to have seen the most beautiful tree in a Target parking lot of all places, making my Thanksgiving errands that much better a couple of days ago.


A stunning autumn sight

This autumn has been stunning, and it only took a few rainy days to make that happen. Has fall been fabulous where you are? My dad emailed the other day to say that Raleigh’s fall trees were the most beautiful he remembers in his four+ decades of living there. I asked for photos (he’s an amazing photographer), but so far, no pictures. That’s okay. I’m enjoying the show here, and I’m glad he’s enjoying the show there.

I’m grateful for views of the Sierras that show snow-capped mountains again, a promise and hope of El Niño bringing much-needed precipitation this winter. We’re already behind for the rainy season, but the presence of snow brings me joy anyway.


How about you? What fills you with gratitude? For a little Thanksgiving fun, if you have time over the next few days, I’d love to know:

  • Your favorite Thanksgiving dessert (vegan pumpkin for me).
  • Your favorite tree in fall (just about anything bright yellow, orange or red, but maples if I have to pick just one).
  • Your favorite bird (these days, it’s a toss up between the osprey you see above or owls in general).
  • Your favorite running spot or your favorite place outdoors (too hard to pick just one, but I love a well-shaded running trail that ends up near water of some kind).

Safe travels to you all this holiday, whether you’re going over the river and through the woods, or just out for a walk around the block. Happy Thanksgiving (to my American friends)! And happy Thursday to the rest of you.

Seasons and surprises

Ever have one of those weeks where lunch, if it happens at all, happens at 4:30 in the afternoon standing over some work you have to get done? That’s the kind of week I’m having. The busyness is all for great reasons, and I can’t complain.

However, it means I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and write this week. Still, I want to share a few seasonal happenings for which I am deeply grateful, and one seasonal surprise I’d just as soon do without. I hope you don’t mind a post mostly of pictures.


Rain-soaked maple with leaves turning for fall

We’ve been blessed with good rains the last two Sundays and Mondays, the promise of a much-needed rainy season here. I never thought I’d get so excited about rain. Of course, I don’t always appreciate God’s sense of humor with the timing of answering my pestering prayers for rain. This past weekend, rain started to fall four and a half minutes into a half marathon I was running. Two hours of cold, wet running: fun and not fun at the same time.

I wasn’t sure if fall would be all that pretty here given the drought, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’m grateful to the previous owners of our home for planting several trees in the yard that are turning beautiful autumn shades.

I’m also grateful to whichever neighbor included this lovely mum as part of my secret “boo’d” gift for Halloween. I’m still trying to figure out the best sunny spot to plant it, hoping it will come back year after year.


Mums and pumpkins glisten in the rain.

The rains have brought huge puddles to my running trails, and dodging them makes for a fun challenge. The dog is less picky. She runs straight through the puddles. She loves the rain, too, mostly because she likes getting toweled off when we get home.


This puddle stuck around all last week and got refilled with the new rain earlier this week.


A bit of fall red amid all the green trees. I like its reflection in the river.


More puddles and fog rolling in, a battle between the wet ground and the rising sun

Now for the unpleasant surprise. No one told me there would be two (!) yellow pollen seasons here. This is how the front porch has looked for the last couple of weeks.


There ought to be a warning that California has two yellow pollen seasons!

My supply of allergy medicine is dwindling. Guess this is a sign of happy trees, though, and so I will try not to gripe so much. It’s a nuisance more than anything, and it makes me even more grateful for the rain.

What seasonal happenings are you enjoying most these days? What surprises would you prefer hadn’t come your way? I hope the joyful bits outweigh the unpleasant ones for you.

The thrilling prospect of a personal worst

You’ll hear runners talk about PRs or PBs or BQs (personal record, personal best, Boston qualifier), but there’s one alphabet-soup abbreviation that most runners don’t like to think about, much less talk about: PWs, the personal worst time a runner has recorded for a given distance.

Runners revel in PBs. PBs mean that we’ve been working hard to accomplish greater speed and all the hard parts of our training plans are finally starting to pay off. And don’t even get me started about BQs. It’s an exciting goal to attain a qualifying time for Boston, a marathon where you must have a proven time to even get to register for the race. PWs, though? They’re just not fun.

But I have to admit: I’m pretty excited to try for a PW this weekend. Continue reading