A Bird of Another Feather

This buggy break took me in another direction, all the way south to Costa Rica. What a break it was! I had to go on a business trip so I decided to take a few days and do a little birding with a few friends. Here are a few of the 1,000 pictures I took.

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Green Honeycreeper

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Summer Tanager

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Passerini’s Tanager

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Rufous Motmot

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Royal Flycatcher. This was a rare moment. These birds are not easy to find.

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Butterflies (unknown)

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Keel-billed Toucan

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Northern Jacana. A very good pose for a photographer!

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Scarlet Macaw

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I believe this is a Manakin but I am not sure which one.

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Emerald Toucanet. A great find!

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Rest At Stockport

If you follow the mighty Muskingum River out of Marietta, Ohio as it winds its way north it will lead you to the scenic village of Stockport. Stockport is one of those Appalachian villages that are resistant to change. The village is very quiet with friendly people, a delight for people like us who are used to hearing traffic and sirens on a regular basis.

Once a feed mill, the Stockport Inn now offers rest and relaxation to those who cross its threshold. It sits precariously on the bank of the churning river. In the recent past there was little reason for anyone to go to Stockport who did not live there, or was not going to visit anyone living there. That has changed, thanks to the inn.

The inn has four floors with delightful rooms on every floor. If you go downstairs you can see two turbines in the swirling water making electric. The soft hum of the turbines and the rushing water tumbling over the locks . . . . I don’t even want to talk about it. It is making me sleepy. Go on the weekends and they will serve you a delicious dinner.

Esther and I have taken a few trips to the inn. We are always delighted to be there. Sitting on the little balconies hanging over the river offer a great way to relax. If that balcony does not relax you the Jacuzzis surely will. If you need a more hands on way of relaxing they do offer massages. We never got the massages but I am sure that would put you to sleep rather fast! To get to the inn you will have to travel through scenic hills. You might think that getting there is half the fun, but wait until you see the rooms and hear the rushing water right outside your door. You might want to stay a while. Oh, and don’t forget to walk through the village.

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An invitation to relax

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How relaxing to sit on the balcony 

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A lazy morning

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Nice bedrooms

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Rustic charm

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This old friend sitting beside the street never fails to greets us

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A tribute to the season

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A reflection of the day

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Down the river road

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A river runs through it

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Bricks were cheaper back then

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Titles of Pleasure

In west central Virginia and eastern West Virginia lies some of the most beautiful scenery you will find in the eastern US. My wife and I have explored this area a number of times and never get tired of it. We want to go back again since more is yet waiting to be discovered.

The grassland stretching out to the distant mountains reminds me of the endlessness of space. I think this photograph should be titled The Grace of Space. What do you think?

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Colorful treasures lie in wait to surprise us with their beauty. Many times we lifted our hands in deep pleasure surrendering to the beauty of the moment. I will title this photograph Splash of Color.

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This work worn little building screams of a lifetime of service and makes me ponder the seriousness of life. Why was it built? Who built it? And the most sober question of all, where are those people now? How did they live? How did they die? The Stately Elder seems an appropriate title.

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We do well to stop in the middle of the road occasionally and look back where we came from. Though it was a pleasure to weave through those distant tree laden mountains it was pure pleasure to see them from a distance. Look back once in a while. You might have missed something. This photo is named A Backward Glance. Maybe you would name it something else?

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Beautiful flowers, a bird flying so fast that he looks like a dot above the fence, a well-worn barn that has served well, a mysterious little shed, and relaxing mountains add depth to life. Don’t you think so? Wouldn’t you like to hide in that tall grass and let time and stress disappear into the distant mountains! I think it would be appropriate to name this one Deepening My Vision.

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These little hills have found a special place to live. They are placed in a good position to watch the water gush from the distant mountains in a downpour of God’s love. I am not sure what to name this one. How about simply naming it Contentment?

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Sheep gather for an afternoon nap in the shade of a helpful tree. I wonder if they found as much rest as I did viewing the placid scene. This one is easy to find a title. Rest!

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This scene must be titled Lonely Among Beauty. This neglected building reminds me of the many lonely people. We so often are careful to make sure everything looks proper. We groom our surroundings but neglect caring for the little buildings that live among us. Minister to the lonely. Dash a bit of color on their life.

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Footsteps in The Night

It was a dark and gloomy night in Ukraine. The wind whipped the trees against the house. Rain tiptoed across the window panes. We had driven a few hours in the rain, and Michael, my host and guide, had just dropped me off at the large guest house. He helped me carry my luggage up the steps and through the front door. After examining all four rooms circling the foyer upstairs, we found one that was ready for guests. The bed was made and inviting. It was next to the bathroom. We lugged the suitcases upstairs. Michael informed me that I had the big house all to myself.

After Michael left, I took the clothes I needed the next morning out of the suitcases and hung them up. I went downstairs to explore a little before I went to bed. Many rooms were scattered throughout the house. It was a large house indeed! I found a magazine to read in bed that should help me unwind from the long day.

Rain continued to pepper the window, while the trees beat the siding without regard to my desire for quiet and comfort. The walls creaked under the weather’s relentless assault. After I turned off the light, every sound seemed to amplify the dismal attack on the house. It took a while to relax under the stress of another culture and the effects that the weather made on the house. As I lay there, the house became rather creepy. I should never have done it, but I fell asleep, in a very large empty house groaning and creaking on a dismal night of pounding rain and angry wind.

With a start I awoke. I had heard something. I lay very quietly and listened carefully. Something had awakened me. Did it come from the outside or inside of the house? Suddenly I heard it—the sound of footsteps at 1:00 o’clock in the night! Footsteps were investigating the house! Since the house was so large, the footsteps would fade as the intruder investigated the various rooms, but when the footsteps came back to the foyer at the bottom of the stairs, they became louder.

Suddenly everything was quiet—too quiet. I heard my heart beating against my chest. Rain tapped on the window; trees brushed the siding. Footsteps sounded on the steps! They were coming upstairs. I sat up in my bed. What could I do?

Slowly and deliberately the footsteps came upstairs, ever closer to where I sat in muted fear. At the top of the steps they paused. The silence was frightening, but still better than the sound of footsteps. Then the footsteps began again, going into a bedroom. After another period of silence they came out and went to another room. A few minutes later, they came out and went to the bathroom. My bedroom was next! I wondered what weapon the footsteps had? Was it a knife, red with the blood of others, a stained wooden club, or maybe a heavy chain to tie up the victim? I trembled. What would those heavy footsteps mean once they found me in bed alone and defenseless! Who was it? What was it?

The footsteps came out of the bathroom, walked deliberately toward my bedroom, and paused. This was it. This was the beginning of the end. A foreboding like the invasion of a dozen mice crept over me.  A footstep started again, and paused. Another, and another, and then they went into the next room. I strained my ears and listened. What was happening in that room?

Finally the footsteps came out of the room, went back down the steps, and retreated into silence. I quickly got out of bed to watch the front door under the window. I kept a watch on the door for quite a while, but nothing happened. No monster, no sinister murderer appeared at the door. No sound was heard on the floor below me. The monster stayed inside, with his blood stained knife. Did he, or whatever it was, know I was in that bedroom? Was he, or it, scheming my demise? After a long vigil at the window, I finally crept into bed and listened. Nothing. He, the footsteps, must have left.

“Okay, Lord, I need some sleep. It is already 1:00 a.m. and I have to get up at 5. Protect me, and give me rest.”

Suddenly the footsteps appeared on the stairs again. They were coming for me! Tensely I waited. Why would I have to die in a strange land? Surely Lord, you have a better way for me to die than to die in a strange country in the middle of the night in a dreary house!

The footsteps stopped in the hallway outside my room. Suddenly I decided that this would never do. These footsteps had no right stepping into my life like this. I would not be scared by, I did not know what. I became a little indignant. My indignation led to boldness. Maybe it was a foolish boldness, but before I could think through things, I heard myself speak, a little too loudly, “Who are you? What do you want?”

Everything was silent. I waited and then spoke again, “Who are you?”

The footsteps found a voice. It answered in a language I did not understand.

“I have no idea what you are saying. Speak English. What are you doing in this house?”

The footsteps spoke again, this time in a language I could understand. In German, the voice said, “I am Frederick from Germany. Do you speak German?”

Ah, the blessings of communication. A voice with words that could be understood! The monster had a harmless voice.

“Yes, I speak German. What are you doing here?”

“I am going to sleep here.”

I thought a few seconds. It seemed harmless enough. What could I do about it? I could not very well tell him he could not stay. It wasn’t my house. “Oh. Okay. Guten nacht,” I answered.

Guten nacht.”

“Lord, as I was saying, I need to sleep. I don’t know who this man is and what he is doing here, but keep me safe.”

I rolled over to sleep, confident that no one could murder me unless God wanted me murdered.  The footsteps went into the next room, the rain played tic-tac-toe on the window, the wind beat the trees, the trees brushed the house, and I slept.

The next morning I awoke very early to discover that I had not been murdered in the night. Tiptoeing into the hall, I saw the bedroom door next to mine open a few inches. I peered inside. Sure enough, someone was in the bed. I tiptoed to the bathroom where I noticed that the shower was not in the best condition. I decided to take a shower in the downstairs bathroom beside the entrance door.

When I was finished, I went back upstairs. It looked like the door of the bedroom where the intruder was sleeping was open a tiny bit more than I remembered. I tiptoed over and peered inside. The intruder was gone! Was he hiding in my bedroom ready to pounce on me the moment I went inside? Cautiously, I peered inside. No menacing footsteps, no foreign voice greeted me. He had left when I was in the shower, downstairs, beside the front door. He must have slipped past the bathroom and gone outside into the gloomy night. It was only 5:00. He did not get more sleep than I had.

I packed and went downstairs to wait on my ride. It was now about 6:00 a. m. when Michael pulled in and came to the door to help me with the luggage. I told him what had happened. He was stunned. “As far as I know, no one was supposed to be in the house.”

We left the house. The rain had stopped pelting the windows, the wind was no longer beating against the branches, the branches had ceased whipping the house, the footsteps had left, and I was safely secured in Michael’s van.

I thanked God for the day.