Birdwatching Birthday, Photography Lessons, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Inside: Celebrating a birthday at the Riverlands, learning to see beauty through a lens, and what I’m reading lately.

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Birdwatching Birthday
You lookin’ at me? Picture courtesy of Emily Moore

Celebrating at the Riverlands in Pictures

Last Friday Emily, Mom, Mike, and I headed to Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary to celebrate Emily’s birthday. She had requested spending the morning there to photograph birds after which Mike had a restaurant lined up for our lunch. The weather was cold but not unbearable, even sunny. Pleasant skies.

We had a wonderful view of the Clark Bridge, which connects Missouri with Alton, Illinois.

Birds balancing on the ice near the Clark Bridge. Yes, the water was that blue!


My first view of a trumpeter swan.

Birdwatching birthday, photography lessons
Lovely. Photo by Emily Moore


On the left, Mike trying out Emily’s camera. Occupational hazard! On the right, Mom, Emily, and me posing for a shot.

Photography lessons
Who’s that guy behind the camera? Photo by Emily Moore.
We three woman. Though we promise not to roar. Photo by Mike Moore.









Emily doing what she loves. She takes after her dad!

Birdwatching and photography.
A girl and her camera. Happy Birthday, Emily! Photo by Mike Moore.

Learning to See Beauty Through a Lens

For Christmas I asked Emily to give me photography lessons, and so far I have turned in two assignments. They have not been easy, by any means. When Emily gets in teaching mode, she expects much from her pupils, be they her fencing students or her mother wanting to learn a skill. She is also not one to pass up a teachable moment.

Before we left Friday, she told Mike to make sure the battery in the camera was charged and ready to go. (Read: You will be taking pictures today, Mom.) Mike is also a talented photographer, so he ended up taking many shots that morning. But as we walked along a trail near the shoreline, Emily spotted a field of foxtails, the sun casting a warm glow upon them. She called me over and instructed me in what to do, and she did likewise.

Birdwatching birthday, photography lessons.
Here is Emily’s photo of the foxtails.
Photography Lessons
My picture of foxtails.









Who knew weeds in the right light could be a thing of beauty?

She graded my first assignment, and I got a 93 percent. (Woo hoo!) Please be patient with me as I learn to take better photos for this blog.

What I’m Reading

One of my goals this year is to read at least 12 books off my bookshelf. At the moment I’m reading two–Possum in the Pawpaw Tree: A Seasonal Guide to Midwestern Gardening by B. Rosie Lerner and Beverly S. Netzhammer and Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. The former is a gift Mom’s friend and fellow plant lover Ellyn had given her years ago. Mom had given it to me not long after Ellyn passed away, and I cherish it, as I had for so many years been the recipient of Ellyn’s gardening wisdom, usually secondhand–“Mom, ask Ellyn what I should do about . . . (Insert gardening dilemma here.) It brings back fond memories of gardens past and Ellyn’s kindness and extreme generosity to our family. The dark purple cover of Possum makes me smile.

The other book, Simple Abundance, caught my eye before the end of last year. Upon sizing it up for possible reading material for my goal, I noticed it had an entry for each day, so I’m glad I was able to start the year off with it. (It’s not too late if you’d like to do the same.) Years ago I picked it up at a book fair, lured by the title, but then promptly filed it away on my shelf. But I’m glad I did because it’s one of those situations where it’s the right book for the right time in my life. In an nutshell, the book focuses on looking at life in a different way, counting blessings, being thankful, seeing the beauty in the ordinary. If I have one small peeve, it’s the occasional reference to “the Universe,” which I think is a way to say “God” without offending some people. I’d much prefer credit goes where credit is due. That said, she does mention God, and so far I’ve even seen a scripture as well as phrases taken from the Bible, though non-Bible readers would likely not recognize them.

All in all, I love exploring the topic of simplicity. But I’m guessing you probably noticed that by now. (Grin.)

Wherever you are, take in the simple, abundant beauty around you.

The Audubon Center at Riverlands.
Mom spotted this wonderful quote from naturalist John Burroughs at the Audubon Center. My sentiments exactly!

What are you reading? What’s happening in your neck of the woods? Tell us about it in the comments.

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