remembering the fawns

Five years ago we woke up to this breathtaking scene on our first full day of a family reunion at Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The day was full of pleasant surprises as I encountered fawns every time I turned around, and a few lovely does, and took many pictures. Following are a few of my favorites, which I dug out of my photo archives, because the memories of that wonderful day keep coming to mind at this time of year.

Little Thunder realized that the mother deer must not be too far off, because only rarely would a mother deer leave her young – and then only to get a drink of water or find a new place to hide her fawn.
~ Ted Ressler
(Whispers in the Forest: A Treasury of American Indian Tales)

low tide

5.3.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Zoë waiting patiently for her morning sunbath ~ 5.3.14

Over the years our double-paned sliding-glass doors filled with condensation and became so “foggy” that we could not see out of them. It took us a long time to get around to having them replaced, but we finally did so near the end of April. Zoë was delighted to be able to clearly see the birds and we celebrated by buying two chairs and a little table (at an estate sale) for the balcony.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
an extraordinary piece of driftwood ~ 5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Never mind that right on the heels of these sips of joy we had a flood in our basement, a sewer backup. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Funny all the twists and turns life brings. Thank goodness our home insurance is covering the cost of clean up and repair. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I’ll be glad when they finish, but we had to interrupt the process to drive to North Carolina as planned.

Everyone’s experience indicates that everything we are, and everything we do, is simply the movement of existence itself. It’s here that we come to the highest realization indicated in all the great spiritual traditions: we do not exist as anything apart from the flow of nature and that flow is an unformed, inexplicable dance accomplishing itself.
~ Darryl Bailey
(Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion)

For a few days forgetting about the ‘inexplicable unformed flow of nature’ in our basement, we started our journey south and delivered Aunt Flora’s rocking chair. We had a wonderful time visiting family. Nate & Shea drove up from Georgia, and I got to see an old friend from high school who happens to live about 2 miles from Dima & Larisa.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then… Tim got sick with diverticulitis (not again!) which delayed out trip home by a day so the antibiotics he was prescribed could have a chance to start working. Needless to say, we didn’t arrive home feeling particularly refreshed physically, although emotionally we were revitalized for having spent so much time with our children.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Last weekend we made it to a local farmers market. This morning we took a walk on the beach – the tide was very low, revealing the largest piece of driftwood I’ve ever seen. Tim estimates it to be 20-25 feet long! What could it possibly have been? This afternoon we ate our farm-to-table lunch out on our new little table on our sunny balcony. Life is good!

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

dinosaurs in the woods

6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
Dominic and Julius at The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
Dominic ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut

While Nate & Shea were in Connecticut for the wedding, we also spent a fun day at an outdoor Dinosaur Place with them and their nephews.  It was very hot so we were glad to be in the woods most of the time, and enjoyed watching the kids play on the splash pad after our long dinosaur walk.

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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut

I don’t know the names of these dinosaurs, but Dominic knows ALL of them and he’s only 4 years old!  It was fun seeing this lost world through the eyes and imaginations of the little ones.

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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Julius and Dominic ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Julius ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Dominic ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Julius ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Dominic enjoying the amazing playground ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut
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Dominic ~ The Dinosaur Place ~ 6.23.13 ~ Montville, Connecticut

wedding in the woods

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15 June 2013, Orange, Connecticut
Camp Cedarcrest, by the Wepawaug River

6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
Dima waiting patiently
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Grandma Nina and Vladimir, father of the groom, waiting patiently
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Larisa and Tim ~ photo by Susan Kwan
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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Larisa reading her vows
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Dima reading his vows
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a kiss
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matron and maid of honor, Alyssa and Alicia
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Larisa & Dima…Tim & Barbara
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our dear friends from Macedonia, Bojan and his sister Ana
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Larisa
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Dima
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Larisa made the dress with help from her friend, Brit; Janet and I went to New York City to help Larisa pick out the fabric
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Svetlana, mother of the groom
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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tradition is that the person getting the bigger bite “controls” the marriage
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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best man, Dave
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Tim, father of the bride
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Vlad, father of the groom
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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Aunt Delorma, who has been a mother to both Tim and me, and a very special grandaunt to Larisa
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the lights of my life, Nate, Larisa and Jon
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cousins Erica, Larisa and Erin
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cousins Nate, Jon, Larisa, David, Erica and Erin
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Larisa and me
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Tim and Larisa
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Nate and Larisa
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Nate, Tim, Dima, Larisa, Barbara and Jon
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Larisa and Eliza
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Toby and Larisa
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Drew, Janet and Tim
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my favorite picture!

Shea helped me out with a lot of the picture-taking, and Svetlana made all the lovely decorations. Dima & Larisa created an amazing wedding and reception, in a perfect setting, and we could not have asked for better weather. A very special day for all of us to remember forever.

An interesting side note – all of the women in the bridal party and the mothers and grandmothers and grandaunt have names that end with an “a.” Larisa; her attendants, Alyssa, Alicia, Erica and Lisa; the mothers, Barbara and Svetlana; Dima’s grandmothers, Nina and Anna; and Larisa’s grandaunt, Delorma.

vegan ♥ paleo

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4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

To look for a “healthy” diet can be as discouraging as a search for the “true” religion. I spent many years extricating myself from a belief system which had at one time seemed to have all the definitive answers my teenage self was yearning for. One would think I might have learned a lesson or two about words and ideas that sound too good to be true.

Some of my readers may remember a few passionate posts I wrote back in October of 2011, when after reading several convincing books by cardiologists I decided that Tim & I should become vegans to try to reverse his heart disease. In my mind it was a done deal, the final answer. But in the months following our change to a vegan diet, Tim wound up in the hospital twice, which left me feeling demoralized. It was as if eating plants was making things worse, not better.

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4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

One day last fall, I happened to catch another cardiologist being interviewed on TV, and he was talking about the evils of gluten and wheat, and how consumption of grains leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And so began another round of research for me, more books, more websites, more theories to contemplate. To make a long story a bit shorter, we have switched to a paleo diet, or caveman diet. Wild game, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry. Lots of vegetables. Nuts and berries. Hunting and gathering. No wheat or grains. Keeping our fingers crossed.

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4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

This time around I’m not looking at this change as The Answer carved in stone. It’s an Experiment to see if anything different will happen. I’m the daughter of a scientist after all. Maybe the food we choose to eat has nothing at all to do with heart disease, though somehow I still think it might. But cardiologists don’t seem to agree on the best diet for heart disease, so I won’t list all the authors of the books I consulted. Staying off of the bandwagon for the time being.

Last week we did have some encouraging news after Tim went in for a checkup. He lost some weight and his progress pleased his doctor for the first time since his original heart attack five years ago. Let’s hope we’re finally on the right track, although I am keeping myself carefully skeptical, just in case…

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4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

grackles by the sea

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Last April we took a trip to visit our son and daughter-in-law in Georgia. When we got home I started posting pictures on my blog of the places we visited, but never finished. Since I have a little time now I decided to post some more of our photos. (For anyone interested, the first batch of pictures started here.) The following pictures of grackles were captured at the Howard Gilman Memorial Park on the waterfront of St. Marys, Georgia. The park has a lovely large water fountain and on the day we visited it was doubling as a bird bath!

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

To claim, at a dead party, to have spotted a grackle, 
When in fact you haven’t of late, can do no harm. 
~ Richard Wilbur
(New & Collected Poems)

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia 
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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Animal Dreams)

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Birds know themselves not to be at the center of anything, but at the margins of everything. The end of the map. We only live where someone’s horizon sweeps someone else’s. We are only noticed on the edge of things; but on the edge of things, we notice much.
~ Gregory Maguire
(Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years)

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

photos by Timothy Rodgers

fourth day

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

…we heard it was snowing in Connecticut, but alas, we were in Georgia…

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

Our car ride from Virginia to Georgia was long and grueling, but we finally made it to our destination very late Thursday night. It was so wonderful to see Nate & Shea again, and the rest of their multi-generational family: Shea’s mom, Angie, who so generously gave us her room for a few days, and Shea’s sister Sarah and her two little boys, Julius and Dominic. It is a full house, but a big house, and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality we were shown. Angie is a fabulous cook and kindly catered to our food quirks!

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
Dominic and Nate ~ 12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

We brought the little guys some Lego bricks sets as a gift. Dominic adores his Uncle – and the feeling is mutual – so we got a kick out of watching Nate help him build his little Lego helicopter.

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
Dominic ~ 12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

Dominic loves bugs and animals and I enjoyed reading his dinosaur book to him. Thankfully it had a pronunciation guide. Little ones have so much energy!!!

On the fifth day of Christmas Nate, Shea, Tim and I drove into Florida and ate lunch at Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Jacksonville – the food was great and the atmosphere was tropical. Then the four of us went to see Life of Pi in 3D – it was the 3rd time for me and the 2nd time for Tim, but not in 3D before. The 3D experience was better than I thought it would be!

After we returned to the house we were treated to a spectacular sunset, Georgia style, which kind of made up for missing our snowstorm…

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

On the sixth day of Christmas the guys watched football while Shea read her new Nook, a Christmas gift, and I read my old Kindle. Later Tim & I sat up late (late by my standards anyway) into the night with Nate, talking about the movie, interplanetary travel, quantum physics, gun control, and assorted other existential and scientific topics. I am always amazed by these conversations because Nate seems to have gotten his logical side from Tim and his sense of wonder from me in perfectly balanced proportion.

On the seventh day of Christmas we started the long journey home, from southern Georgia to northern Virginia. Lady Zoë was looking for me and let me pet her again, but still was not ready to sit on my lap.

On the eighth day of Christmas we drove from Virginia to Connecticut, resisting the urge to stop by Dima & Larisa’s, but thrilled to find snow still on the ground in Connecticut! Winter is finally here and I hope it plans to stick around for a little while this year. And our Christmas tree was still standing and looking as pretty as when we left – we had been afraid that a week without watering would be the end of her. All in all, it was a wonderful trip!

Okefenokee Swamp IV

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

In a swamp, as in meditation, you begin to glimpse how elusive, how inherently insubstantial, how fleeting our thoughts are, our identities. There is magic in this moist world, in how the mind lets go, slips into sleepy water, circles and nuzzles the banks of palmetto and wild iris, how it seeps across dreams, smears them into the upright world, rots the wood of treasure chests, welcomes the body home.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
sandhill crane ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
great egret – bill appears orange when breeding ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

As darkness fell we headed back through the swamp to the visitor center.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

photos by Tim Rodgers

It was too cloudy to see the full moon, but as we learned on this trip, we often didn’t get to see what we expected see, but what we were granted to see was more than enough to fill us with gratitude.

Okefenokee Swamp III

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To me, Okefenokee Swamp felt like a sacred place in the twilight, with Spanish moss hanging down like stalactites, and cypress knees rising up like stalagmites, like the ones often found in caves.  I grew up playing in Cedar Swamp, another mystical place, in the woods behind our house.  But this southern swamp is very different from, and much larger than, the swamps we have here in New England!

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

The swamp’s water is black, due to vegetation decaying in the water and leaching out tannin which stains the water in much the same way as the tannin in tea color the water in a teacup.  After the swamp exploration our skiff turned out into a marsh, where we could view the sun setting and see what wildlife might come near.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

One last batch of pictures from Okefenokee Swamp tomorrow!

photos by Tim Rodgers