Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Puzzling Times

Puzzling Times

I love to travel. There are so many places in this world that are amazing. Nature offers a look at different plants and animals, birds and landscapes. And there are so many people to connect with who are willing to share their lives and perspectives. I see the whole world as part of Ferida’s Backyard, a place to explore and enjoy.

Unfortunately, foreign travel is not an option right now. We are mostly staying at home, though we have discovered an interesting diversion; we occasionally drive around local areas that we haven’t been to. We stay in our car and explore housing developments, farmlands, small town centers. We often come upon nature paths that one day we will go back to.

Meanwhile, I am into jigsaw puzzles. This one keeps me hopeful that I will one day be able to travel again. It is called “Safe Travels” (Masterpieces Puzzle Co.) and it reminds me of what traveling is all about. It shows snippets of other countries and their residents, some foreign currency, photos that were taken, a journal, and other travel details. It isn’t an easy puzzle but its 1,000 pieces provide a meditative process that helps me focus on the now and not obsess on the “what’s next?” 

I hope I get to travel soon again but meanwhile, I am peaceful where I am and hope you are, too.

Puzzles are beneficial for many things:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blond-tailed Squirrels

Blond-tailed Squirrels

A squirrel was munching its way through the afternoon. It wasn’t an unusual sight, squirrels seem to be everywhere. But this one was different – it had a blond tail! I never saw that before. It reminded me of the time I noticed a squirrel with a white spot behind one of its ears. The next spring there were several with that spot and then some showed up with the white spot behind both ears! I still see them occasionally. As I was watching this unusual squirrel, another blond-tailed squirrel joined in the feast.

It’s easy to think of squirrels in the singular but there are many varieties and lots of colors, from albino white to deep black and everything in between. And their tails offer options as well.  I suspect that these blond-tailed squirrels will produce another wave of variety to grace my backyard; I will look out for them. 

Nature is always interesting. Whether it’s animals, birds, insects or plants, no two are exactly the same. Alike, yes, but there are always differences if we truly observe. And like people, each has its own way of interacting on our incredible Earth. Diversity is what makes life so intriguing. I hope we can remember that our individuality is vital to the greater whole and use it wisely.

Learn about squirrels:

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Box Turtle Surprise Again

Box Turtle Surprise Again

Look who was taking a walk on the path at Barclay Farmstead in Cherry Hill, N.J. It stopped me in my tracks on my own walk through the Nature Preserve. What a beautiful shell. I bent down to better see it but the turtle took exception to my curiosity and pulled its head and feet into its shell. I said quietly that it needn’t be afraid, I wouldn’t hurt it. It peeked out at me and I couldn’t help smiling  at the quizzical look in its eyes.

It reminded me of other box turtles that have crossed my path. One was crossing a busy street in front of me as I was driving to my son’s preschool. I stopped, carefully lifted it up and drove it to his school. It had a weeklong visit with the children then was released at the teacher’s farmstead. Another time a turtle was starting to cross a street in a housing development in front of my car.  I gently placed it in the wooded lot across the way. And there were others, always to my delight.  

Turtles have been seen as mystical creatures. Folklore says that they are a symbol of longevity and bring good luck. I feel grateful when I encounter this unexpected gift of nature. It stops me in my distracted thoughts and helps me focus on the here and now.

I took a deep breath and thanked the turtle for being there. Then we both continued on our nature walks.

Facts about the Eastern Box Turtle:

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Social Distancing Nature

Social Distancing Nature

Saturday was such a beautiful day here. We were out walking (what else?), this time in a local nature park. The site was closed to cars but not to people. Fortunately, there weren’t too many walkers that day so we only had to divert our path a few times. One man was fishing in the creek. A family was biking. 

And then there were the geese. Usually there are many geese in the park but only a few were around on this day. They seemed to be in their own form of social distancing. This goose was eating on its own after being chased away by a connected pair. It seemed to want to gather food near us. As we backed up, it came closer. It seemed to want company and comfort as if it was looking for its family. I softly reminded it to keep a safe distance.

I wondered if animals are as prone to get the corona virus as we humans are. I read that a dog was recently diagnosed with the virus but then I read that dogs were being trained to sniff out the virus in those without symptoms. There are so many questions about this pandemic. But one thing to remember is that social distancing can help us contain the spread.

I hope the goose eventually finds its natural family. I hope that we all are safe and healthy and remember that while at a distance isn’t our natural way of interacting, it is necessary at this time.

Canadian Geese

Monday, April 13, 2020

Maple Seeds in Abundance

Maple Seeds in Abundance

We have a large maple tree in our backyard. Each Spring it produces tons of seeds that offer food to the wildlife and promises of new trees. This year the tree seems to have exceeded its seed production. We have maple seeds all over our yard. It speaks of a burgeoning of life, an opening up of the season of growth and expansion.

And yet, things happen. This morning one of the branches was ripped from the tree trunk by an incredibly strong wind. It lays upon the grass, the seeds still clinging on. But now it has me thinking about the strength of the parent tree. Is this a harbinger of its decline?

It’s a short step from tree-worry to people-worry. Is our tree of life starting to weaken? We seemed strong until the corona virus began playing havoc with us. It is hard to see the bright side of things right now but I try to focus on the positives: a neighbor offering to shop for me, fellow walkers saying hello but carefully avoiding close contact, having a snack virtually with my grandchildren. Small things but they help to keep the positive in view.

I’m looking forward to a season of healing, whenever that comes about. I hope the squirrels enjoy the feast Nature has offered.  I hope you find whatever is positive around you and that you stay safe and healthy.

Lots of info about maple seeds:

Friday, April 3, 2020

We Are Birds of a Feather

We are Birds of a Feather
We took a ride recently to The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge protects more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats and is a haven for migratory birds. We drove slowly through the Refuge, observing the birds that were gathering in flocks. When they were flapping around or searching for food, we would park, get out of the car, and take photos. Other people were there, watching as well, but no one was close to anyone else. It was at the beginning of the social distancing rule. All along the road, the cars and the people kept appropriate distances.
It was the time for nesting, for bringing new life into nature. Ospreys were gathering grass and weeds to place within the nesting formations set up for them. Geese were moving in vees and flapping from one part of the marsh to another. Ducks quietly floated, occasionally poking under the water for a treat to eat. Gulls dropped shells in the middle of the road, cracking them open for a meal. They were all together, as Mother Nature designed.
Across the fields was the city. Tall buildings reminding us of how people needed to stay away from personal contact, such a sad contrast from the what we were seeing. I hope that we are able to connect with each other soon, to enjoy our connections with family, with friends, with our professional contacts. Like the wildlife at the Forsythe Refuge, we are meant to connect with others. May this time of isolation be over soon.  After all, we too, are birds of a feather…  

The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge:
A wonderful video:
For bird lovers, here is a website you’ll enjoy:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Climbing Trees

This bunch of tree trunks huddling together reminds me of my younger days when I was a tree climber. I remember looking over the rooftops of the houses on my block in Brooklyn, watching the world go by. There was something so peaceful about being so high in the air. I could feel the breeze blowing gently through my hair and I smiled as I sniffed the scent of the flowers that the gentle wind lifted into the air.

But there is more to this picture than my memories. I can imagine each seedling starting its life, reaching up as it grew and finding others like itself nearby. They all matured and found themselves so close that each became more than an individual, all of them connecting like a family that bonded together.

It has me wondering why we humans have so  much trouble connecting with other humans. We may experience differences but we are still of the same branch, so to speak. We are all people. I hope we can embrace our connection and climb up and away from whatever keeps our family at odds.