Changing in the constant state of flux

To improve is to change;
to be perfect is to change often.

Winston Churchill

When we are no longer able to change a situation–
we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

“So do flux and reflux–the rhythm of change–
alternate and persist in everything under the sky.”

Thomas Hardy

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(chrysalis for a tiger swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

The parsley is almost all gone…
Decimated nearly overnight by the ravenous feeding frenzy
of the caterpillars.

I wondered about 22 caterpillars and where they might all go
once they finished gorging themselves…

and so now I see…

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All rather amazing really.

See how it’s tied itself to the stem…
All wrapped up nice and neat…
and ready for a quick change sort of performance…

Butterflies, caterpillars, cocoons, or rather chrysalis, are perhaps the most
magically odd developments to transpire within the world of living creatures…

Yet this cycle of change is in a state of constant flux.

A butterfly spends it’s very short life feeding…
A caterpillar spends it’s very short life feeding…
A chrysalis spends it’s very short life in a constant state of change…
albeit it hidden from observation.

We don’t know exactly what or how things go on in that sack of theirs…
all we know is that a long worm-like thing goes in…
and then a brightly colored, light and fragile winged thing comes out…

Something so tiny, so minuscule, so fragile so odd and even oh so mysterious
can give me such great comfort and even needed solace…

That no matter the change that comes about in my life, in all our lives…
for we are ourselves also in a constant state of flux…
that in this most tiny creature and it’s miraculous cycles
lies the full mystery and depth of
a loving Father,
an Omnipotent Creator
and an overwhelming God…

that despite all that changes in my life…
for good and for bad
He is the One true Constant that I can hold onto with all great certainty…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 3:16

Isn’t it lovely….

Isn’t “it” lovely
Isn’t “it” wonderful
Isn’t “it” precious

Adpated lyrics Stevie Wonder
Isn’t she lovely

“And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill
or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?”

Chief Seattle, 1854

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(a southern toad, Bufo terrestris / Julie Cook / 2016)

Down through the ages both frogs and toads have long gotten a bad wrap.
In almost every culture around the globe, within every tale, legend and folklore,
frogs and toads are inevitably cast in a bad light

They have been accused of causing warts.
Witches seem to love turning people into frogs.
And even Biblically, frogs and toads don’t always fair well.
As we read in Revelation that frogs spew forth from the dragon or beast’s mouth…
(Revelation 16:13-14)

They are instinctively thought to be slimy.
They like to eat flies, a little thing which seems to gross most folks out,
but hey, something has to eat them.

And of course there are those members of their clan which are poisonous.

And whereas frogs and toads are often looked down upon and considered lowly
they should also be considered most lovely.

They are considered by the scientific world as bioindicators.
A measuring stick if you will for the environment.
As frogs and toads populate both wet and dry lands and their skins are such that they readily absorb toxins and poisons form their surrounding environments, they are the first responders to show signs of distress and or a problem.

They have been around for over 250 million years pretty much as we see them today.
They have weathered the rages of time…yet their current numbers are shrinking at alarming rates.

An educational website, Save the Frogs, states:
“Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1980, and this is NOT normal: amphibians naturally go extinct at a rate of only about one species every 500 years!!! Amphibian populations are faced with an array of environmental problems, including pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. Unless we act quickly, amphibian species will continue to disappear, resulting in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans. Frogs eat mosquitoes; provide us with medical advances; serve as food for birds, fish and monkeys; and their tadpoles filter our drinking water. Plus frogs look and sound cool, and kids love them — so there are lots of reasons to save the frogs!”
( Savethefrog.com )

It seems some of our lowest and most often ignored fellow creatures, such as bees and frogs,
are much more important to our survival than we often care to imagine.

When thinking about seemingly insignificant beings such as lowly frogs and toads having such a tremendous impact on the vast environment, eventually impacting our own existence, I am often reminded of the story of Androcles and the lion…

Of how tiny unsuspecting things can paralyze the great and the mighty.

Androcles demonstrates tenderness and mercy to the great beast by removing the thorn from his paw—I find it amazing that a great and mighty beast, such as a lion, is brought down my a tiny thorn stuck deep within his paw…
It’s a tale that should give us pause as we should consider the afflictions to the bees and amphibians
and that if they remain afflicted, they will inevitably die, taking us eventually with them.

A little bit of care and concern today, could do all species a wealth of good.

“Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?

Job 13:14-16

A bad day for the birds

Do you ne’er think what wondrous beings these?
Do you ne’er think who made them, and who taught
The dialect they speak, where melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,
Sweeter than instrument of man e’er caught!

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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(5 tiny bluebird eggs / Julie Cook / 2015)

If you’ve followed much of cookiecrumbs for any length of time, then you know I love my birds.
Not the Atlanta Falcons or Hawks mind you nor some sort of pet parakeet but rather those beautifully wild birds which frequent my yard.
I just love all the various wild birds that either call my yard their permanent home or those more transient species who just happen by on a short lay over as they travel onward to wherever it is they go. . .

I enjoy the commotion on the feeders, especially after a recent replenishing.
I relish those fleeting occasional sightings of some rare bird making an impromptu pitstop.

From hummingbird to hawk, I love my birds.

Yet sadly there have been three incidents as of late which have left me rather troubled and to be honest, quite sad.

I realize that Nature is Nature–wild and free so to speak.
There’s that whole food chain thing going on. . .
The survival of the fittest. . .
That whole eat or be eaten mentality. . .
All out taking place in that yard of mine.
Be it raccoon, copperhead, rat snake, possum, mole, armadillo, coyote, bobwhite, bobcat, buzzard, cardinal, robin, turtle, lizard, chipmunk. . .living harmoniously is certainly a very fine line.

First my bluebirds.
We’ve had a family of bluebirds here in our yard for as long as we’ve lived in this house–a good 16 years. Offsprings return each year and continue raising generation after generation.
I have several boxes up for their choice of nesting.
Last year, on Mother’s day of all days, you may remember the whole bird box incident with my husband and how Mrs Bluebird did not have a happy mother’s day. I was shocked they decided to actually come back, giving us a second chance, but we won’t relive that little trauma drama right now. . .

I had watched with keen interest this Spring as mom and dad bluebird were first busy building a nest in the box of choice and then secondly how they worked in tandem to feed the hatchlings.

Yet oddly one strange day, all was silent. There was no activity of the usual flying back and forth. No little rising crescendo chorus greeting the latest tasty morsel of worm or bug delivered for meal time—a never ending mealtime.

I watched the box for a couple of days before taking my chance. . .I eased up to the box, twisting the latch to check inside.
I found nothing.
It was still too soon for the babies to have “flown” the proverbial coop—I fretted that a raccoon or snake or feral cat had had it’s way one dark and sinister night with my wee blue family. . .

Fast forward a couple of weeks when, once again, I notice a bevy of activity. Mom sitting with her tiny head poking out of the hole as if she was on patrol as Dad made the deliveries of tasty takeout.
This went on for about two weeks, when once again, out of the blue, nothing.
No noise,
No commotion,
No movement,
No mom.
No dad.

So once again after watching the box intently for several days, I slowly inched my way to the tree, lifting the latch. . .this time, resting gently in place were 5 beautifully blue eggs. Alone.
Mom and Dad had left the box. . .
But way?

The other seemingly tragic event came around the same time as the first bluebird batch disappearance.
There was a mockingbird who had built a nest in close proximity to the bluebirds box, with its nest perched up in a Tea Olive tree.
Mother and dad mockingbird were fiercely protective and equally as busy as Mr and Mrs Bluebird.
Mom had laid several beautiful eggs that hatched into several tiny little balls of fluffy down.

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(mockingbird eggs / Julie Cook /2015)

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(the tiny mockingbird fledglings / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yet oddly, their nest grew quiet at the same time as the bluebirds. . .which certainly raised my suspicions as to what was taking place in the cloak of darkness.

Lastly the final insult to injury for my beloved birds. . .

A couple of weeks ago I had shared a post featuring our new redheaded woodpecker family.
The first couple of these gorgeous birds to call our yard home. They were truly magnificent birds to watch purely because of their striking colors. A brilliant red head offset by the white and black body feathers.
I was so proud that this pair of beautiful birds had opted to call my yard home.

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Their range was rather wide as I would often see them flying off to the woods across the street at the back of the neighbor’s pasture. They began to enjoy sitting on our black fence with runs the length of our property along the road. I imagined the pickings for bugs must have been ideal along the fence.

Last week, at the end of one long hot day finally returning home from Dad’s, I turned to pull into the driveway when I noticed what appeared to be a dead bird lying on its back in the middle of the driveway. Immediately I could hear my own voice echoing in the car “NO, NO, NO. . .”
Stopping the car to investigate further, my initial assumption was sadly was confirmed—-it was one of the woodpeckers.

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(my beautiful redheaded woodpecker is no more / Julie Cook / 2015)

From my observation I noted some blood around the beak and sadly surmised that the bird perhaps had flown out and up at the same time a car had came barreling down the road.

I brought the bird down to the house and took it out in the back to bury it.

I always feel privileged when I am afforded a glimpse into the lives of the animals, birds, reptiles, fish that I share my little piece of the planet with. . .I’ve always felt as if God has given me a tiny precious gift each encounter, each observation. . .be it here in my own backyard or along the shores of the ocean or in the wilds of Alaska. . .Those created creatures both majestic and beautiful, wild and free. . .creatures I am tasked with, as a steward of the planet and created creature myself who God entrusted with responsibility, to care for, honor and respect. . .

I am thankful for their presence in my world as they remind me of God’s grace as well as joy—as He must have taken great pleasure in their creation. . .

Here’s to my birds—may better days grace your horizons. . .