25. Everyday Grace

Like so many folks, I am an Instagram lover. There’s something magical about simply clicking on the app to find photographs from all over the world sent just to me*. I’ve chosen the feeds I want to see–most are remarkable nature shots, some are people who make things or blog, a few are celebrities**, and many are people I know who make me laugh, smile, feel inspired, or simply give me a little peek into their daily lives.

(Instagram is one reason I love social media.)

I have posted to Instagram myself for several years and include in my feed a little of this and a little of that. Then it occurred to me some readers of The Daily Grace might enjoy a little grace daily! So I’ve created a new feed that offers one photograph I’ve taken each morning…a sweet moment of grace to start your day.

Here’s a sampling.

 

pink clouds

 

hummingbird

 

flower

 

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cloud form

 

tree

If you are an Instagram user, I invite you to follow me there. And if you’re not, perhaps you will consider joining. (Even those who don’t participate in much social media find this app easy to love.) It is my hope you will find The Daily Grace on Instagram to be a sweet spot for calm, joy and gratitude amid the chaos of this hustle bustle (wonderful) world!

Find me here: The Daily Grace on instagram

*Not really, but it feels that way.

**highly curated

***If you already follow me on Instagram, you will see this is a new feed dedicated to The Daily Grace. My original, personal feed is still there: CathyRiggMonetti on Instagram.

 

30 Days of Fun

 

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Living wild. Living free.

 

I HAVE HAPPY NEWS, a great bit of so wonderful I can hardly wait to share it. But first I want to remind you of Parts 1 and 2 of this saga.

 

FIRST THERE WAS THE DISCOVERY of a ground nest of juncos, babies so tiny it was a miracle they survived at all, what with snakes and the whir of our (unknowing) weed eater as we cleared an overgrown slope on the side of our new-to-us mountain retreat. (You can read that story here.)

Then that one baby got so far over on the compromised nest he slipped out, and my goodness the others followed, so we reinforced their home and scooped them up, gently, gently placing them back in all safe and sound. But instead of hanging there to be properly fed by Mama and Daddy the one escaped and promptly headed up the hill, hop hop hopping since he was too little to have enough feathers to fly.

We rescued him again.

And again he ran, leaving me with nothing to do but fret all day keeping an eye out but knowing good and well night was coming and he would be alone and hungry and covered in dark and cold.

Finally, finally it was morning. I searched high and low but I didn’t see him, didn’t hear a peep from either that runaway baby or his parents, focused, as they were, on feeding the three good children at home. (You can read about that–and see photos of the cuties and that little stinker–here.) And it was time for us to go. So we drove away from the mountain raising prayers of protection for the one and hopes of proper fledging–once their wings were fully developed–for the others.

 

I’VE WORRIED EVER SINCE over that baby and his sensible siblings. I didn’t hold much hope for the renegade, to tell you the truth, who couldn’t fly and was on his own in territory that is already known to be fierce. But the other three? Oh, maybe.

 

WE’VE BEEN BACK TO THE MOUNTAINS, and the Junco parents have been around. We see them flitting in the trees and bushes behind the house; we hear their familiar click click clicks as they dart here and there. And then I got brave and hung a small bird feeder way high above the ground and not so high above the deck. It was a decision I came to carefully as knowledgable neighbors have warned us the Black Bears, which already like the blueberries in our meadow, will consider this an invitation we’ve extended for dinner. We are extremely somewhat careful to bring in the feeder at night, and–to date–the bears have not come. But the Goldfinches have. Goldfinches are very beautiful and equally picky, something the person paying for the seed and filling the feeder finds surprising, and they knock a good bit out and over the ledge of the feeder.

And then this different little bird showed up and commenced to hopping about on the deck absolutely thrilled to scavenge the leftovers. I didn’t pay him too much mind, truth be told, because he was a rather plain looking fellow.

But then it started to rain, and he got all puffed up and cute, and I decided to take some photos.

When I downloaded them I got more curious.

 

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There was a photo match on Birdnote that said this:

This juvenile Dark-eyed Junco has the beginnings of white outer tail-feathers. But other than that, it doesn’t look much like its parents!

 

And do you know what happened the very next day?

Three more juveniles showed up.

 

YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME when I tell you this and I can’t much blame you, nevertheless it is gospel truth. Just about any time you look out that window and see those birds whether in the meadow or at that feeder there will only be three. And when the one shows up?

Umm, no.

 

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three

 

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three

 

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one

 

But don’t feel too sad for the little renegade. He is fully independent and looks to be doing just fine making his own happy way: perching on top of the hummingbird feeder; hanging around on the deck rail, surveying the meadow; peeking in through the window as I sit close by writing, as curious about me as I am about him.

He’s living his life on his own little bird terms, that’s what I think, out there making it happen the way he always has, the only way he knows how: living strong, living courageous, living free.

 

then
then

 

wildandfree
now

 

 

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22. Joy at 5200 Feet

An advantage to being at this elevation is the ability to see weather coming from miles away. The temperature and conditions also happen to change every few minutes, so a glimpse into the future can be a pretty helpful consideration.

Except the weather sometimes comes from behind us. It blows in from the North, up and over the house to find us on the back deck blissfully unaware, our gazes set on the three other directions.

It’s just what happened the other day. Dear friends had just arrived for a long weekend–and along with my precious Eliza and one of her besties, Jillian–the six of us were out back to soak in the broad mountain vistas.

 

group
eliza, leslie, cathy, jillian, tim and scott–all sun and smiles

 

Then tiny raindrops began to fall. From nowhere. We looked around disbelieving our luck.

Then someone looked left.

 

rainbow
above the (almost double) rainbow

 

It was hard to believe, a rainbow so perfect, so close you could nearly reach out and touch it. We giggled and rejoiced and stood in the rain admiring its beauty, its intensity, and the perspective of actually being above the rainbow.

And we gave thanks, each in our own way, for the promise.

 

30 Days of Fun

 

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20. The Bear Hunt

We decided to go on a hunt*, Tim and I, now that we’ve had our appetites whetted with two confirmed Black Bear sightings on this, our work/play mountain vacation. It’s become a bit of an obsession, if I’m telling the truth, our need to see more. They come and go quietly is the thing, at least according to our limited experience, no movie-style snapping twigs, no shaking branches. Just big, silent, gorgeous black bears moving across the meadow.

So we gathered the gear required–two cold beers, one pair of binoculars, and most important of all, my camera with the big zoom lens–and we climbed the slanting walk to the roof deck.

 

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There was a better view.

 

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But alas, there were no bears.

 

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the happy hunters

 

No worries. Tomorrow is another day!

 

*To be clear, no guns were involved!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

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19. When You Decide To Go Big

 

When we vacationed in Costa Rica, I was surprised to learn the country is rather serious about its cattle ranching. This first came to my attention the morning we went on a flat-bottom boat tour of the Tarcoles River, an adventure that gets you up close and way-too-personal with the crocodiles that live there. To distract myself from the horror, I kept my eyes on distant shores, where the white Brahma cows hung close and seemed just as befuddled with the entire crocodile exercise as I was. I developed a little crush on those cows, snapping photograph after photograph after photograph.

 

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trio

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Then I had this oh-so-fun idea. What if I painted one of those cows…five feet tall!

A few hours and a lot of great music later I was on my way.

 

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in progress

 

She’s still in the early stages, but I’ve got my joy on and can’t wait to get back to her. I think I’ll add some color and whimsy.

Who knows what might happen next?

 

 

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18. The Bear

 

My dreams have come true in the form of a mountain house high in Western North Carolina’Pisgah National Forest. My soul is at home here, there is no doubt.

 

meadow
Our meadow. Our view.

 

But it didn’t taken long to come to the realization this is a wild kind of country for which I am not prepared. I am a child of the mountains, yes. But I grew up “in town,” even if that town had a population less than 3,000.

Not so here.

There are 18 homes in our mile-high neighborhood, exactly none of which are in sight and two-thirds of which are uninhabited at any given time. It is glorious–mountains roll on for miles and miles and I promise you, you hear nothing but wind and birds. How we love it!

How blessed we are.

And still I have a healthy respect for the natural world here on this mountaintop. Snakes, yes of course. And Black Bears that roam with such freedom it doesn’t take long to understand why they’re a part of the decor of every WNC mountain home. Tim and I have been a little obsessed; we’ve caught bear glimpses from the safety of our car as we’ve moved around the mountain during these, our first summer weekends here. And we watch for them every time we step outside (particularly when our sweet dog, Little Bit, is in tow). With the wild blueberries in season–and the currently overgrown meadow that lies just below our back deck housing so many bushes–we know we’re likely to have regular bear visits.

It didn’t take long.

 

our first bear
our first bear

 

We’d just been in the meadow, out there making a quick check of the blueberry crop. And two minutes later–maybe?–we’d come back to the deck when I looked out to see this guy.

 

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He seemed to have a healthy respect for us, too, as he watched us watch him for a while, then he turned to go.

We’ll be here a few more days.

We’ll all be keeping an eye out!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

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17. That Time A Surprise Guest Joined Us for Happy Hour

It’s more the end of the story, if you wanna know the truth, something that happened to add a jolly exclamation mark to the end of our already joy-filled weekend.

We’d come for Dabo’s Women’s Clinic, you see–the collection of 10 college friends gathered at Sarah’s lake house and another handful across town. (There is a great football lesson there, and I shall get to it by and by. I hope it’s one you’ll want to hear.) Anyway, our day of football over, we loaded a couple of snack trays, filled a cooler or two with drinks and made our way down to the water’s edge. There we sat for an hour or more, talking and laughing, laughing and talking until someone looked up to see a white duck strolling right up Sarah’s dock toward us.

 

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That duck nosed around the cooler a while, then took herself a big fine seat right on our edge. And she sat there a good long while, leaning in, listening, laughing along with the thousand funny things we remembered from our college years together.

 

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Then dusk started to settle. Our chatter turned toward dinner and a possible return to the house, and that sweet white duck got up, turned on her webbed heels and headed back toward the dock.

 

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We were sad to see her go. But we were mighty pleased she had come!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

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