June 24, 2011

Revisiting Espy

Each year a word is selected to inspire and guide me through the upcoming year.  You can read about the process here if you're curious.  This year's word is 'espy'.

Simply put, it's about slowing down, being purposeful and catching glimpses of moments that so typically escape our attention.  At this half-way point of the year, I thought it a good time to give an update on some moments espied in the garden recently.

There are several hummingbirds flitting about the garden and I often see them at the feeders but I consider it a special moment captured when I'm able to get a shot of them feeding at the flowers.  This photo gives a good impression of how easy it is to miss the moment and what a gift it is to catch it.

This cardinal couple regularly visits the liner of this hanging basket to supplement their nest.  It's difficult to see the pieces of fiber she is holding in her beak but she pulls several each visit and carries them back to her nest.  The male is never far from her side during these shopping expeditions.  See him in the lower right corner atop the Japanese Maple?

The drought has been so intense that even the coneflowers have shown stress.  Upon inspecting the damage to their petals I came across a couple of surprises...

I'm sometimes tempted to cut these flowers back as they are looking pretty tired already but then I see how much the insects depend on them and I'm reminded of the importance of them to the wildlife.  I know that if I let them go to seed, the birds will delight in their abundance.  I'm learning patience and realigning my priorities.

Last night as I looked out the upstairs window I noticed a small orange spot atop the bamboo trellis in the back perennial bed.  This trellis is all the way across the yard so it wasn't a clear view but I really hoped that what I was seeing was a red dragonfly.  This morning...

My friend and I slowly walked toward him.  He would fly off but then come right back.  Then to make the moment even more special, another red dragonfly came along and we were able to watch them in their companionable acrobatics.  They are so fascinating!

Did you notice the tiny bit of web in the lower right corner of the dragonfly photo?  This is the spider that lives in that web...its lower left web strand is attached to the bamboo and the rest spreads along the iron fence.   This little guy appears to be doing some repair work.

With the drought, this fountain is a hopping spot all day long.  It appears to bring out the selfishness in some users...see the female lesser goldfinch being chased away by the male?

But this little female was not to be deterred.  Not only that but she wasn't content to be so far away from the male.

She keeps moving closer without any regard for his demonstrations of superiority.

She ambles over toward him until he finally accepts that she isn't going anywhere.

These espied moments in the garden make the hard work and effort worthwhile.  The moments are dearly treasured and held close to my heart as they bring immense pleasure and comic relief as this drought lingers.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Such small, tiny moments that become so large when your camera espies them. They really are big moments, full of stories and drama if you know to look.

  2. Gorgeous, as always. I's send you the rain if I could, we have had our share and yours for the year I think. Hoping the dry and wet areas change places soon.

  3. what is more fun than watching birds at a birdbath. also, i agree with you about trying to refrain from cutting back plants the moment they start to fade so the critters can continue to enjoy them! i have to say you seem to have mastered espy!!

  4. Lots of interesting things going on in your garden to espy :-) I have been working nonstop to get ready for my garden tour this weekend, but now that all of the "work" (aka fun) is "done" (for now -- as much as a garden is ever "done"), I hope to have some espy moments of my own as I can just linger in the garden each day instead of having a "to-do" list to accomplish. I have gotten some great dragonfly pics and a turtle and a toad, but too busy to post! So many wonderful things abound...so little time. Sounds like I need some ESPY!! I just love your fountain with the wrought iron fence behind it. Beautiful! Looks like the birds enjoy it too :-)

  5. Cat what a beautiful post, I remember reading Laurie Lee's book As I walked out one midsummer morning, in it he describes spending considerable time watching some birds, at that time in my life I couldn't do that now I can, this moring I went to post a letter and a Red Shank was calling and dancing near me along the fence I thought at first she was chasing me from getting to close to her nest but no she wanted help her young was on the road ahead as I walked closer the young bird finally flew back to the field, it was such a wonderful moment, I'm glad you are enjoying slowing down to 'see' and I love that you leave your seedheads, tidy gardens seem so sterile to me, Frances

  6. Hi Cat,
    Lovely photo`s there. Am particularly jealous of you getting Hummingbirds visiting your garden, WOW!
    The other glimpses of nature taking advantage of your handiwork are lovely too, but as you know, birds are close to my heart!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  7. I live for the small moments. I agree it often takes an effort to slow down and take the time to notice, but it is so worth it. I enjoyed watching bees this week working a patch of monarda, going in, on and under the flowers, even pulling them down to get at the nectar.

    I'm glad you let the coneflower be. I wrote today about the importance of habitat for insects. Also, if you leave the seedheads on the plant, you'll get lots of baby coneflowers. In my opinion, you can never have too many coneflowers!

  8. Love all the scenes you espied! I haven't seen an orange dragonfly this year - yours is gorgeous! Cute story of the bird inching closer to the male.

  9. I wanna pack my camera, hop onto a plane and come and visit. It's freezing over here but summer should be back by monday - at least that's what they promised on TV ;-)
    Take care,

  10. They are big moments Laurrie! They seem insignificant sometimes but when I add them all up, they make up a lot of my life joy.

    Thanks ME - We'll take what you can send ;)

    Thanks Laguna Dirt - espy has been a good word...keeping me grounded and reminding me to observe more around me.

    Toni - Your gardens are gorgeous and I'm sure your tour will be a success! You deserve some rest now. Can't wait to see pictures of your espied moments!

    Frances your story is wonderful and I'm so glad you shared...they are blessed moments, aren't they!?

    Thanks John. I enjoy all your birds too ;)

    Sheila, bees are captivating and so industrious...I wish I had half their energy!

    HolleyGarden, these were the first red dragonflies I've seen this season so you can imagine my surprise at seeing two!! Thanks for stopping by.

    Bring it on Sandra! You always have an open invitation here. Did you get my email?

  11. Thanks for sharing your beautiful moments! I treasure each time I can take a walk through my garden and capture all the little creatures that are found upon closer inspection.

  12. A great word choice for this year. Love the small moments you have caught on camera and all the life they show going on in the garden.

  13. Amazing photos. I loved the birds at the bath including your commentary. Every time I see that red bubbler I think how badly I want it.

  14. This is what gardening is about! How many special moments do we miss when we are in a hurry? Thanks for sharing your moments in the garden. Your photos are lovely!

  15. I was inspired by your first espy post, Cat. This is a lovely follow-up. I'm doing much better at not allowing life to overtake me, rather to see and enjoy the little things that bring such pleasure. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. What terrific photographs Cat. The birds are just so cute. I love watching them in the birdbaths. They can really get into that bathing thing.LOL!Splashing water everywhere.

  17. Simply lovely, both your philosophy and the ones you've espied so beautifully. You inspire me to keep trying to get a picture of our gold finches in our fountain.

  18. Moments like these are the ones I most treasure in the garden. I enjoyed experiencing yours with you through your wonderful photos and description!

  19. Wonderful moments, beautifully captured. Thanks for sharing !

    Hope you have more 'moments' in the coming week.

  20. Hi Cat, It is too easy to over look small but these kind of small but priceless moments. Isn't it a wonderful thing that your camera allows you to capture them so we can savour them with along with you!

  21. Cat these days i live for these moments and plant o make a habit of finding more time to espy things...I love catching hummers at the flower and hope to have time to sit and wait for them soon...sorry to have been away but am back now

  22. Life is a series of moments. How lucky are those who take the time to stop, look and really see what's happening around them. You constantly remind me to do that, Cat. Once again, thank you. Beautiful photographs!

  23. We should always have espy in our lives. Great post! I like the finch dance.

  24. What a wonderful post and important philosophy. I was just thinking this morning that I want to be one of my dogs for just a day so I could lay on the couch all day. I'm going to take your advice and slow down!! Love the finch photos!!

  25. Wonderful post, wonderful photos, wonderful little details.


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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