The Red-Breasted Winter Flock

My son was first to see the flock of Robins, alerting me with an excitement I hadn’t heard in a great long time.  That was a blessing in itself.

“Mom! You gotta come see!” he exclaimed.  “Just for a minute,” he added.

I knew I had to go see what he saw.  I made it to the door in time to see the flock of American Robins gracefully landing on the moist and cold grassy lawn.  The slight sound of their wings in flight, I can still recall.  I like that.

I am grateful to be alive in these moments. Life is not easy, at least not for me, so when nature shows her awe, I do take notice.  I catch a trillionth second wind moving me to carry on.

The red-breasted beauties hopped, stopped, and hopped again.  My neighbor said they they hear worms, so they stop briefly to listen for them.  I don’t doubt this, because bird brains are pretty darn smart!   I do however wonder if wintertime lawns have worms to offer.

A fully grown man, my son, stood with me watching the birds, both of us glad to be there, together, without words and absolutely taken by the moment.

(Originally posted on Flickr.  Edited on January 28th, 2014).

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The Winter Resident

Robin on a cold day in North Carolina

Winter Sighting, American Robin

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.  ~Chinese Proverb

I watched, as our recent winged visitor, a fat and sassy Robin, walked along the porch railing by the Holly tree.  Big white fluffy snowflakes were falling.   Everything was quiet, except for the beautiful bird songs, both of which I love.

The Robin didn’t seem to mind the snow.  I wasn’t surprised.  He (or she) has guarded the Holly tree and it’s cherished bright red berries since arriving a few weeks earlier.

Holly Berries

Note: I’m not experienced in identifying birds.  I made my best guess that the Robin pictured above is a male that has come to breed.

“Male robins arrive about the time that the average daily temperature is 37 degrees. (This fits the pattern of when the Robin arrived.  The bird also perches in a coniferous tree, with a clear view of the Holly berries).  “During cold or very wet weather, the males grow more silent and concentrate on feeding and taking shelter in thick conifer branches.”

Source: Journey North, American Robin (

The above listed site is full of interesting facts and information about the American Robin.  You can take part in, “Winter Sightings,” and learn their five vocalizations.  (Listen to the Robin’s song:

Worms, please...

A Warmer Day

The Robin has certainly made his presence known to all.  I am quite sure he has claimed, at least temporarily, complete rights to the Holly tree and its bountiful fruit. 

Several species of birds have made it to my porch rail by the Holly tree, but not for long.  The few that ventured into the branches, trying to get a mere berry or two, well…

Without delay, the Robin lashed forth, thrusting his body at theirs.  The birds took flight in haste!

One day, the Red-bellied Woodpecker that’s usually seen in the backyard, visited the Holly tree.  Something was up that day, because all of a sudden, several birds came at once to the tree.

The Robin watched this spectacle, waited for about a minute and swoosh!  He went first for the Woodpecker.   Amazingly to me, that big Woodpecker flew away after one jolt from the healthy Robin. 

The other birds followed the Woodpecker, returning to their backyard haven, safe from the large-breasted Winter resident.

The recent soft snow brought with it a few birds I haven’t seen this year.

Wintery Day

a cold snowy winter day

One of the new birds (below) came to the Holly tree and it did meet the resident Robin on the porch rail.  I don’t think it flew into the tree, but I was able to get a few photos before it left.

snow falls on new visitor

snow falls on new visitor

Winter Birds Visit in SnowI haven’t yet identified the pretty little bird (above).  Do you know the name of this winged visitor?

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Sunlit by Rosa Blue
Sunlit, a photo by Rosa Blue on Flickr.

After visiting our dog’s resting place, which we only did for a few minutes because we want to think most about his life and all the joy he brought to us, we were taken by the warm sunlight shining on this old building as we rounded the curve on our way home.

Thank you again, Tiny.  You continue to show us the good parts of life!

Cross on the hill

Cross on the hill by Rosa Blue
Cross on the hill, a photo by Rosa Blue on Flickr.

Via Flickr:They say you see a church on every corner in the mountain towns of North Carolina. I can tell you, it is true. Cross on the hill photographed at a campground (serving as a homeless shelter for men during Winter) in Waynesville, North Carolina, a town of which is surrounded by some of Nature’s most beautiful places in the world in our Beloved Blueridge Mountains.


Baby Turtle and Frog

Several days of hard rains caused me to wonder about “Baby Turtle” (BT), along with the more senior resident at one of the water gardens, “Frog”.  I’ve observed these two critters many times, but only on warm and almost always, sunny days.

The heavy downpours had slowed to a light mist.  My son and I headed out to visit the gardens.  Sure enough, I saw Baby Turtle right away.  Frog, however, was MIA. 

(Below: Click to see the larger image for the best view of Frog and BT’s habitat).

New Baby Turtle in the Lily Pond (image for Green Healing Notes, the blog)

Baby Turtle’s Home

Shortly after the staff at the Botanical Gardens discovered Baby Turtle, they placed a nice flat rock in the middle of the pond.  Baby Turtle likes the rock, but more often than not, it sits near Frog ‘who’ spends most of the time, at least on sunny days, sitting in the mud or shallow water beside the Bald Cypress.  I imagine the tree is why they like that particular water garden better than the others.

Frog's Face

I don’t know much about turtles or frogs and haven’t spent much time around them until this summer.  Alas.  I’m in-love, again!

New Water Garden Resident Baby Turtle aka BT

BT has a very cute head!

Frog doesn’t mind being in pictures, but BT is much more concerned by my presence than is Frog.  He likes for me to stay at least five feet away, but sometimes my wish for a closer look gets the better of me.  If I’m not careful, BT will take off, chase Frog along the way and they both end up leaving the scene.

Frog and Baby Turtle in Water Garden

I hear Baby Turtle will grow into a very large critter.  I wonder if ‘he’ will always live in those water gardens.  I hope he does, and Frog too.

 Baby Turtle swimming to the rock in the water garden

Above image:  The Real Deal

Another surprise during our visit to the water garden was a creative and fun colored set of sculptures depicting water-wildlife.  My favorite just happened to be the turtle. 

Below images:  Artsy Turtle

Turtle Sculpture

Sea Creatures

Art by the Pond Gardens

We enjoyed our short visit to the gardens. 

Thank you for visiting Green Healing Notes! 

Sunflowers, Plant People, Big Color

Well, I’m back sooner than expected to share more Sunflower photos.  I really can’t help myself.  If I wasn’t tired, which I am, I’d give fun names to the ones I saw today!  I guess some folks might think if you’ve seen one Sunflower, then you’ve seen them all, but today only strengthened my personal observation that each one is unique.

Note:  Click on images to see the original size.

Drop Dead Red Sunflower, Green Healing Notes Blog Images

My friend and I had gone to the gardens to have lunch under the naturally vine-crafted Gazebo by the herb garden.  I thought it would be cool spot to sit, but I used all except one napkin for wiping the out-pour of sweat on my body, and I had on a summer dress! 

I may be a mountain woman in my heart, but I’m not sure.  We lived in the mountains when I was a toddler, but soon moved to the Piedmont area of North Carolina, which is where I’ve spent most of my life.  We’ve always had rather hot and humid summers in NC, but they’re hotter now than they were twenty (or so) years ago.  I later moved to the mountains with my teenage son.  After living there for several years, I learned that I like temperatures around 72 degrees.  We had to move back to the Piedmont area for medical reasons, but I’ve never forgotten those beautiful blue hills.  I’ve regressed.  Back to Sunflowers…

Sunflower Green Healing Images, Drop Dead Red

My friend, Camila, who is also a volunteer in Horticulture Therapy at the Botanical gardens, was watering the Sunflowers when my friend and I arrived for our lunch outing. 

Camila likes the heat.  I salute her for enduring it because she is now solely responsible for tending the Horticulture Therapy gardens, which includes the Sunflowers.  Yay for Plant People, especially ones who volunteer their time.

As much as I love the ‘Drop Dead Red’ variety of sunflowers, an amazingly large yellow one in the back of the garden overlooking the hill and the woods where the nature trails are was most worthy of our attention.

Camila had earlier tied the plant’s thick stem to a bamboo pole.  “That one is so big it was falling down,” she said with a loving little laugh.  We’re a lot alike in our love for the Sunflowers, as for all plants.

Yellow Sunflower and Woman


Green Healing Sunflower Images in Yellow

Is that a hummingbird hovering above? 

I think perhaps the big bloom (above) is prepared for a special event.  I mean who knows what goes on in that garden when the humans are sleeping and the Moon is shining.  For all I know they have parties and beauty contests!  I especially like the blown petals with fashionably curled tips on the big one with a very heavy head (above), but I must say, they were all beautiful!

Below is the tallest flower in the garden, not yet blooming, and Camila, a special one of the Plant People.

Beautiful woman standing in Garden of Sunflowers

The Horticulture Therapy group is harvesting Watermelons today, so I gotta go!

Thanks for viewing my Sunflower and Plant People images!

Grandma went Camping!

“Where are we?” my mother asked.

We were in the heart of North Carolina mountains.  We were also lost. 

“I’m not sure,” I answered, “but I think we’re in Heaven!”  I was trying to keep things light.

“Lord!” she remarked, and rolled her eyes at me the way she does when she doesn’t take me seriously.  I don’t especially like it when she does that.

We were going to a farm and when we arrived at this one, (pictured below) I thought we had found our destination. 

(Click on images for a more intimate view)

Barn in Mountains

Adventure in the Journey

I was at the wrong farm, but I really didn’t mind.  I was in awe at the beauty of the surrounding mountains, which live in my heart, and the rolling green pastures.  A cute farmer on his tractor waved at me, which caused butterflies in my tummy.

Farmer on tractor in field

The Farmer Farming

Mother made a remark about how she wished I’d meet a farmer.  Then, after thinking a few minutes, she said, “I don’t think you would make a good farmer’s wife though.”

I reminded her that it’s 2012 and that being a wife has different meanings and expectations than it did forty and fifty years ago.

“It’s not like I’d have to get up at 4am and milk cows Mother,” I responded, but then, I would if I wanted to and was able.

“Look!” I exclaimed.  “Oh my God!  Look how beautiful it is here!” 

My mother wasn’t getting excited and that’s when I realized we were only a few feet away from some of the most handsome Cattle I’ve ever seen.

“Look at those cows!”  I couldn’t believe we were so close to them.

“Michelle,” Mother said, “Just turn around.  You’re going to get us in trouble.  And those are just cows.  I get enough of seeing cows.”   Image of my mother’s backyard, where the cows usually graze.

There was a woman riding a big John Deere lawn mower.  She saw us, but continued mowing.  Obviously she wasn’t concerned about us.

The Cattle were shimmering under the mountain sunlight.  Their eyes seemed to peer into mine.  I was intensely moved.  I had to get my camera, which made my mother roll her eyes again. 

Handsome Cattle

Is that a Mohawk?

My mother loves flowers and the pretty things about a garden, but isn’t especially interested in sleeping outside. 

She told me a story about the one time in her life she had attempted to camp.  The trip hadn’t been successful, and she and my dad had to take the children home in the middle of the night.  Both my sisters got an earache.  I was, “too little to remember,”  Mother said.

Perhaps, somewhere in my mind, I do remember.  Maybe that’s why I like sleeping in tents and my sisters like cozy big comfortable beds, indoors. 

Mother went with me to offer emotional support and keep me company while I drove.  She was a real trooper and I’m truly grateful for her help.  The journey wasn’t easy.  I was under the weather and have conflicting feelings about whether or not my son is in the best place.

Maybe if we had gone on a, “real vacation,” as my mother later pondered that we might get to do one day, then having been lost may not have evoked in me such enthusiasm.  I get pretty excited when something moves me in a certain way these days.  It’s like I’m craving sensations that make me feel alive, and for now, nature is doing it. 

I’ve learned with time that there are often hidden gems in difficult journeys.  I’ve learned that the simplest of things can bring a ‘Green Healing’ moment into my heart or awareness.

Listen to a cow’s moo! (via Wikipedia)

Handsome Cattle

The farm we went to didn’t capture my enthusiasm in the same way as the small Cattle farm had done, but it was just as pretty. 

Barn, Field, Mountain range

Finally, We made it!

And of course, they had their own cows, which they proudly spoke of after I showed them my photos of the farm where we had been lost.

Green Mountain and Cows

More Cows!

The cow pasture was the view from the fire-pit where we sat for most of the following 24 hours.  I never thought I’d see the day that my mother would sit with me, outside in the mountains, without the most modern amenities, at a fire-pit.  Alas.  I have.

Green, Mountains, US Flag

The best part of the trip was seeing my son.   He recently went to work on a small farm in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.  The group of men he’s working with had gone to the mountains for a week-end camping trip.  I wanted to see my son to ask how he’s liking the place, and if he’s getting along well. 

I enjoyed the time with my mother too.  We did pretty good considering the circumstances, which consisted of my fatigue and neither of us having much extra money.  We had enough though.  This wasn’t a luxury trip.  It was something I really needed to do, and like I said, my mother went along to keep me company. 

Mothers keep on giving and loving.

My son and I talked about how we missed the mountains.  We lived there for several years.  We also talked about the air.  I have bronchitis, but didn’t cough once up in those hills.  I had to go to the doctor after one night back home.  He said it was the first night since he left that he was able to get some sleep.  I hope this changes for him soon.

We are both in a state of limbo as I write.  Sometimes, I guess, that’s life.  One thing I’m clear on.  I love my mother and son!

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