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Sep 1, 2013

The Nature In Us Newsletter
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"Remember that faith ... the weight of a grain of mustard seed ... will do more than a ton of will, or a mind full of determination. Genuine faith can no more manifest itself without result, than the sun shine without light and heat. Knowing this, and believing it to be true, what is it that we have been mistakenly calling faith, because real faith never fails to bring about the result?" -- Charles Price, The Real Faith
Hello Dear Friends,

Me at 22 in Pennsylvania I will be celebrating another birthday in only a couple days. In this photo I am only 22 years old standing outside of my apartment. This was a time when I knew everything and living was all about me and what I wanted. After you get enough plates spinning in the air with a limited number of poles to keep them spinning, you begin to realize that at some point life as you know it all falls down and reality hits and we realize it's not all about me after all.  That's probably more of a lifetime process than we care to admit, even at age 63.

Of course my parents had a hand in all of that since they were actually my grandparents and definitely made me the center of the universe ... and I have to admit that as we were raising our son, Benjamin, we made many of the same errors with totally different methods. You know how that goes ... you grow up saying, "When I have children, I'm going to ...." and it's something opposite of what you didn't like about your own childhood, but then you end up with the same results anyway. My Daddy used to say, "If I could be 21 and know what I know now." Oh no! I wouldn't go there. I'd just make as many mistakes with a different twist than the first time around.

A few days after the last newsletter when I mentioned the visit of a Gray Fox, I saw him walking with his back leg held up. He was visiting a few times a day for the apples we had picked for wildlife. I could see that the hip was okay, the knee seemed to be okay and even the ankle joint, so I assumed he may have something stuck in his foot or had cut it. This went on for over a week and then he disappeared for 3 days and I really got concerned.

This appears to be the same fox that has been visiting our neighbors across the street, so I emailed them to see if they had seen him since the injury. They had not. I think he was staying under our porch most of the time until Randal had to go under there to get into the crawl space. That's when we didn't see him for 3 days, but on Wednesday he was at the fruit and veggie scraps and I stood up so I could see him walk with both feet on the ground and in his usual speedy departure. I was so happy! The joys of getting to interact with so much wildlife are many and awesome, but when there is one injured, it's not a fun event.  [View Gray Fox Video]

View Video
Three Squirrels Playing on Short Branch
I was on the screened porch one morning and looked up to see three squirrels chattering and playing on the same short branch. I ran in for the camera and came out to the deck since the tree was right in front of it. One of the squirrels looked my way to be sure there was no threat and then went back to playing with his siblings on that short branch. What a delightful way to spend a morning if you're a squirrel. [View Three Squirrels Video]

On the way down to the mailbox one day I saw two fluttering butterflies in the air. I always call this "The Butterfly Dance" since it's part of their mating ritual. It's a beautiful thing to watch as a courting pair of butterflies circle upward into the sky. It's like a ballet in the air. As I got closer with the camera I could see that the butterflies were Black Swallowtails. They had been visiting the deck flowers and verbena nearby that week so I wasn't surprised to see them. 
I love the polka dot body on this butterfly. [View Black Swallowtails on Deck Video]

It's always wonderful to think about God's Creations being fruitful and multiplying right in our own wildlife habitat. What a joy that goes beyond any entertainment venue we could choose. No wonder we have no television reception and don't go to movies. There's too much excitement right outside our doors. For more information, here's a great article on Butterfly Mating.

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Mama Love Deer with Two Fawns Nursing
Our injured deer is certainly running through the names. She started out with us calling her Limpy. Then after making it through the winter and into a year since we first saw her, we renamed her Love Deer since she was being followed around by a couple of lost fawns ... or so we thought. What a surprise to discover that she is nursing them. As I was taking photos at ground level I could see that she was geared for that and before I got over the shock of that, the twins ran in and began nursing. No more confirmation needed than that, eh? How precious!

We have now named her Mama Love Deer.  It's hard to imagine a buck mating her. They generally avoid injured or runt deer, but obviously she got through the mating process and the birthing also. Amazing since she's not even full size.  She loves apples.  There's a local orchard that allows you to get apples from the ground for the wildlife at $8/bushel, so when we go to pick our bushel from the trees, we do one for them.  [View Mama Love Deer Eating Apples Video]

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9-Inch Mushroom in Garden
I was so excited to see a huge 9-inch mushroom in our garden. The color was beautiful from the top. But the area under the mushroom was also fascinating. It reminded me of when we went to Shenandoah Caverns in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Virginia.

There is so much to see and experience in a wildlife garden. Since you don't control everything, but instead let nature balance things out, you can come across some really unusual bugs but mushrooms have been a surprising delight on our property since we have woods behind us that produce so many.   [VIew Photos of Mushrooms]

The sad thing is that mushrooms don't last long. Especially in a wildlife garden since many types of wildlife love to eat them. Of course the poisonous ones are left alone to view for a longer period of time.

We've had many varieties of Assassin Bugs in our habitat and I enjoy seeing them because they do a great job of hiding out and for our benefit too! Since we don't use chemicals in our yard, we are blessed with many beneficial bugs and the many designs of this one fascinates me. This beautiful bug is swift and deadly when it comes to insects. And thankfully, they're on our side, eating pests that would normally attack vegetable and flower gardens.

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One of the Many Species of Assassin Bugs
There's more than 100 species of assassin bugs in North America. The wheel bug is a familiar one due to its unusual name and "wheel" on its back (post with more info and photos). Adults are about 3/4" or more in length with a sharp, curved, dagger-like mouth held under their body until it's time to eat. Then they ambush their prey and pierce it with this "sword" and inject with a lethal toxin which kills the insect in seconds and then liquifies its insides to be sucked up like a milkshake.

Not a pretty picture, but they eat tomato hornworms, potato beetles, leafhoppers, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, aphids and caterpillars of all sorts, which is the only downside since some caterpillars are beautiful butterflies and moths.

There's been a huge population of butterflies this year in our yard, mostly the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail which is Virginia's state butterfly. It's time for the Monarchs to be heading to Mexico. What an awesome migration that is. Monarchs fly from Canada to Mexico.  Even the ones who have never been there know where to go. [View Video: Monarch Butterflies Migration Google Earth Tour]

View Enlarged Image
Male Monarch Butterfly with Chrysalis Beside It
The First Day of Life Begins
Last winter in Mexico the population hit a record low. 80% below the average. Drought and excessive heat during summer 2012 resulted in low reproduction last year. The population does not appear to have recovered during this year's breeding season. Here in Central Virginia, we haven't seen any South-bound Monarchs yet. We only had a few on their journey North in Spring.

At this website, you can track the Monarch's migration to Mexico.  You can also report your sightings of Monarchs in your area.  We should soon be seeing warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. When we've had cottony scale on our Firethorn bushes (Pyracantha), the Kinglets really loved it. It's not something you'd really want to invite into your garden though. In large numbers, it can cause damage and even death to your bushes or fruit trees.

Jesus Gives His Sheep Living Water
(Photo from Pinterest) A sweet friend of mine in Massachusetts sent me this photo she saw on Pinterest.  She's been looking for non-typical pictures of our Jesus and this one really hit home for me.  Thank you, Rainbow!

How loving He is not only to us, but to His Creation also.  "He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing." (Ps. 145:16)

I love the peacefulness of the scene and the tender care portrayed in His hands.  With the cool summer we've had here, some of the mornings are a bit chilly since we like fresh air coming in during the night.  When I initially wake up the devil would like for me to begin analyzing the state of my physical body, but instead I picture this scene with Jesus giving me Living Healing Water in His own hands.  I bow down before Him and He anoints my head with His peace and joy.

"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." (Ps. 95:1-7)

Now how many of you just skimmed over those verses?  Too much to read ... too much to do ... too many emails.  It's so easy to think, 'oh yeah, I remember that one.'  We should never devalue the Word of God.  It is always alive and active if we implant it into our hearts.  It doesn't matter if we "remember" it.  It doesn't even matter if we have it "memorized."  It's the chewing meditation on the Word that grafts it into our very heart and then it begins to change our soul (mind, will and emotions) to be more like Christ.

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Wall Mural of Rainforest by Christina
While working on the newsletter I received an email from my friend, Christian, in Oklahoma.  She is an incredibly talented young stay-at-home mom.  The range of her artistic abilities never seems to end.  Before her child was born she was painting a mural for Elijah's room.  She chose a rainforest as her focus and of course, you know I love rainforests because of my time spent in Costa Rica rain forests. 

I saw pieces of it as she progressed and was in amazement of what she can do with a blank wall.  I already have the results of what she can do on canvas hanging on my wall, but to see an entire area transformed into a beautiful paradise is breathtaking.  Be sure to look at the enlarged view.  It's simply awesome!  A reflection of the love God has for Christina is in every brush stroke.  His artistry flowing through her hands.  I believe the Garden of Eden was a rainforest and I can't wait to see what God has for us to enjoy in the new heaven and earth.

A highlight of the month was to be asked to review a DVD on birds.  It was the most awesome bird video I've ever watched ... especially since it's based on the presumption of "intelligent design" meaning that it did not evolve.  Terrific video.  Don't miss reading the post:  The Intelligent Design of Birds.

May God give you wisdom for each day and understanding of His love for you every moment of the day.

Until next issue .... get out there and have some fun!  It's okay to act like a child no matter what your age.  Jesus approves!  "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 18:3)

P.S.  Know somebody who needs to see something in this newsletter? Forward it to them. Thanks!

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written by Donna

Posts Since Last Newsletter

Detoxing Your Thoughts to Renew Your Mind  (DLW)

The Intelligent Design of Birds  (DLW)

Free From The Law

Monarch Migration Questions

God's Word - Use It!

8 Foods We Eat In U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries

Rid Mold Growth with Natural Materials

5 People Foods to Never Feed Your Cat

National Parks FREE on August 25

Healing: Why Does It Take So Long?  (DLW)

Emotions Can Change Your DNA

Bringing Home a New Puppy

Goldfinches & Thistle Down Connection

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 8/15/13  (DLW)

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Pets:  19 Years and No Pet Food Recalls  (DLW)

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Posted: Sunday September 1, 2013, 6:14 am
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Donna Watkins
female, age 63, married, 1 child
Palmyra, VA, USA
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