Wildlife Lesson: Surprise Seasonal Miracles


“Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.”

Charles Cook



After our very wet spring, many of our critters seemed to disappear.  We had about a dozen deer living in the woods around us.  And momma deer and her twins were spotted in early spring.  But during summer and fall, all but one deer was occasionally spotted.  It seems that the harsh winter took its toll, and many deer died.  Even hunters noted reduced numbers.





And our precious fox, Hunter, also seemed to have moved on after his den was flooded so often.  We missed them terribly.  So on Christmas, we were so surprised to see the flash of red run onto the meadow.  A ‘Christmas miracle’ my husband proclaimed.  At first, we thought it was Hunter….




DSCN1553But upon closer examination, the tale had a pure white tip, and was much darker….not Hunter.  And I think this may be a female.  So we named her, Noel, at first.  Then I remembered that a female fox is called a vixen.  So what better name for our Christmas fox than, Vixen (one of Santa’s reindeer).


She scoped out the area quickly and then we saw her white-tipped tail bid us goodbye (in the last picture below).  We also noticed her winter coat was not as thick as Hunter’s last year when it was -20 degrees.





It was rainy leading up to Christmas and one of our squirrels was out and about.  I love his umbrella tail!





And the green frogs were still not hibernating.  We saw them on Christmas, and just before New Year.  See how dark in color they are now.  They match the dark pond water.





December saw a busy time at the suet feeders….and some fighting.  It is fun to watch the pecking order as they all vie for the feeder.  This is a female Downy Woodpecker.




xmas bird collage

And other Christmas visitors included the Hairy Woodpecker (left), Goldfinch in its brownish-olive color now.  And Chickadees have been frequent visitors, along with that female Downy Woodpecker (lower right).





Our greatest surprise was seeing a deer again on Christmas Eve just before the moon rose.  We think it is one of the twins from last winter.  A small doe.  The last time we saw any deer was late spring, and I had virtually no garden damage except for lilies.  Now I see a bit of daylily foliage nibbled so this deer is about, but mostly at night.  And her winter coat is not thick, and looks pretty ratty.


So there you have some Christmas/seasonal miracle visitors….and surprises!  We feel blessed!




New Years critters

In the first few days of the New Year, Vixen has appeared and was ably hunting voles through the snow.  She (and it is definitely a female) is as good a hunter as our male foxes, if not better.  Perhaps we will see babies or kits one of these springs.

And the deer have returned.  At the first snowfall, we saw many deer tracks, and then three appeared in the meadow.  Maybe momma and her 2 children, now over a year old.  I am hopeful, in this new year, that our critters will continue to share the same habitat with us….and that we will see fawns and lots of other baby critters once again.


What wonderful critter surprises are you seeing?


With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.




I leave you with another thought about the miracles of nature.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Wildlife Lessons-Cedar Waxwings Play


“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson



Last May, as I sat on my comfortable lounge chair recovering from surgery, I happened to hear a sound that was about the only thing that would get me up and out of that chair.  You see the surgery was for an abdominal hernia repair, and it was hard for me to get up, stand up or walk.


DSCN8070But when I heard the trilling and whistles, I knew what it meant.  The Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) had come back to my garden.  When I looked out to the tall trees in the center of the garden, there they were.  About 20-30 of them….they looked so excited to be here.  They had returned from their southern winter homes and were back to take up residence and find a prime nesting site.


It seemed they were hanging in my trees because they were all vying for time in the pond.  If you have never seen an “earful” or “museum” of Waxwings, then you have missed a treat.  Besides all the whistling going on, they are always in motion.  Moving, tussling, hopping, pushing and doing acrobatic moves as they catch insects on the fly.  And they are incredibly social birds too.


Whenever I see this “earful” of Waxwings, I think back to my childhood days when my DSCN8084siblings and I, along with the neighbor kids, would get together and play.  We would play these large games sometimes make-believe, sometimes with rules like Simon Says and sometimes just exploring down by the creek or digging in mounds of dirt for unusual finds like arrowheads.  And when we were together, you could hear us a mile away with our high-pitched squeals of delight.


I have written about the virtues of play before.  It is one of the joys in life we sometimes forget to practice when we begin to grow older.  And we sometimes think play is only for children, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  One of the best ways I know how to play is to cultivate a creative pursuit.  Dancing, singing, drawing, gardening, photography, writing….you name it.  If it is part of being creative, then it is part of the joy of play.


DSCN8570And you don’t even have to be good at it or worry if you are.  I never cared if my pictures looked great or if I used the right green to color in leaves.  I just had fun coloring or drawing.  Now I tend to care a bit too much, but I am releasing the arbitrary bonds I have place on my creative self.  And in that freedom, I have found my playful side again.


So when I see fawns frolicking or birds riding the thermals, I am reminded to play.  And it is especially easy to think of play when you I see Cedar Waxwings each spring.  Don’t they have the most beautiful coloring.  I love the browns and yellows so subtle.  And the little red tips on the ends of their wings.  But best of all, I love their masked faces.  Like a bunch of bandits riding into town to whoop and holler.  I want to get on my pretend horse, don my Lone Ranger mask and ride those bandits out of town, the hero of my yard again!


The Waxwings also remind me of those times, during recess, when there would be so many DSCN8064children screaming, yelling and playing.  A group of us would sneak off to the old apple trees, and gorge ourselves on dimpled, imperfect apples….much like these fruit loving birds.  Watch out because they will eat every serviceberry, winterberry, strawberry, mulberry, crabapple, and raspberry in sight… as well as the berries of juniper, dogwood and honeysuckle.


Cedar Waxwings are native to North and Central America, where they nest in open wooded areas (right behind my meadow) and winter in the southern half of the United States, Central America and the tip of northwest South America.  They are supposed to live year-round here in New York, but I have not seen them here in winter.  And they are supposed to breed mainly in southern Canada, but we have mating pairs here in central New York each summer.  Wherever there is running water (my pond with waterfall) and berries along with lots of insects…that’s where you will find them.  It seems my wildlife garden has become a great spot for the Waxwings to visit and dine.



Here are some interesting facts about Cedar Waxwings:

  • Males and females look alike.
  • Cedar Waxwings have been known to eat fruit that is overripe and has begun to ferment, thereby becoming intoxicated.
  • When there is a supply of berries that only one bird can reach, the Waxwings will line up along the twig and pass berries with their beaks down the line so that each bird can eat.
  • Cedar Waxwings are said to be named because of its fondness for the small cones of the eastern red cedar…..AND
  • Because the name “waxwing” comes from the waxy red tips of its wings that are said to possibly attract mates.
  • The oldest known Cedar Waxwing was 8 years, 2 months old.  It is nice to know that the same birds may return to my garden each year.



With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.






I leave you with another thought about play.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

waxwings play

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Creating My World



Creating My World


I touch the heaven inside of me

Flowing, boundless, creating my reality.


Always changing, twisting, transforming

Beliefs morphing, still being born, forming.


All before me limitless

Unending joy, pure bliss.


Listening, tapping into the whispers that surround

Nature’s miracles through my eyes abound.


A spirit transcending time and space

Manacles broken, no longer in a race.


Moment to moment the scene will change

As I try to capture it just out of range.


A word, a melody, the light

With pen and paint our senses delight.


So harness the wind, oh I think you can

Creating your world with a wave of your hand.



© Donna Donabella 2014



This poem was also created during that inspiring flight to see family in November.  I was in a very artistic mood, creating my world.



I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

water lily collage

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  



If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 



Special Note:  The lotus flower, pictured in this post, is a symbol of spontaneous generation, and also represents creation itself.



I leave you with a little reminder of the creating.   I welcome you to download the photo and share it.


All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Finding The Productive Path


“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  ~ Steve Jobs



I am a couch potato by nature meaning I enjoy just sitting.  Sitting and and reading.  Or sitting and glancing out my windows at the gardens and nature around me.  And I love to sit and watch old classic movies from the 1930s and 40s.  It is my ultimate escape from work, worry and engagement with others.  I use it as a numbing technique when I am overwhelmed or need to shut myself off.


And since retiring, I have found I needed that numbing for a while.  A cocoon to encase myself as I healed and rested.  Being a workaholic for so many years, it would seem it would be hard to sit still.  But not so.  It was easy to fall into the habit.  Not have an agenda.  Not have any set ambition for the days, the months ahead.


Oh yes I had my garden blog and I had big plans for my garden, but life intervened and my health issues forced me to rest more than I had planned….No you are not going to go out and spend hours, days and weeks beating up your body to make-over gardens.….They are not ready, you are not ready.  So this was what I was relegated to do…just sit.


DSCN4201So I did just what my body told me to do for 5 months initially.  Then this summer, I broke free a little and allowed myself to explore more with photography.  And I started this blog as a vehicle to continue the exploration, the creative endeavors and the healing.  But I never stopped mostly sitting and observing.


It had become part of me this waiting and looking.  This quiet time to see deeply into the landscape of my gardens and my soul.  To see what would be the productive path.  What I want to do and love to do, not wishing for a different life or hoping things would change.  But a deep knowing this was what I wanted to do now.


And there will come a time soon when I will be ready to move on again.  To add the next steps in my journey.  But developing the habit of waiting, looking and now intuitively knowing has been more productive than any other work I could have done.  It is the lesson of slowing down I had not been able to master.


Now not just “busying” up my day, but following what the heart and soul desires.  Floating through the day like a butterfly searching for the sweet nectar.  Then alighting there to drink it in until full.  Moving only when the sun sets, to start again the next day to find my next source…my desire.  It can be anywhere you know as long as you take time to sit and look for it.  And I will know it as it waits for me to follow along again floating on the wind.



Note:  Goldenrod means encouragement in the Language of Flowers.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I leave you with another thought about living a full life.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Discovering My Life Force


“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”  ~Martha Graham



I am a deep thinker.  I have always been and recognized this at an early age.  I was able to tap into my innermost thoughts, those held deep in the recesses of my soul until given voice.  Even when I was working as an educator, I contemplated below the surface of issues and felt them deeply.


And most recently, I have been exploring those deep recesses to bring my thoughts to light again.  Maybe that is why I took to meditation so eagerly as it has been a means to help me in my exploration.


People have asked me how I am able to write the way I do…..and I say it just comes.  Some days the words are stuck, blocked, and I know I have to work on the blockage first before they can flow.  Many days as I sit in quiet solitude a phrase, a snippet of a thought will caress the outer reaches of my consciousness, and I will play with it to see if it has potential.  Maybe it is not the right time and it will float away for now.


And some days, I will sit to write about a subject, and the channel will be open as the words flow out hard, fast until exhausted I sit and read it back wondering who wrote this.  But it is always about the words.  Finding those elusive words, those precious thoughts, the speaking of my soul let loose to bring tears to my eyes, or laughter to my heart always meant for me first.



Words have been my life force.  Whether spoken or written, they are the Universal energy that flows through me.  They are picked up on the soft winds and the howling gales and are strewn about me.  I lift them up and send them out into the world.  Some in short verses with deep meaning and others as lessons I want to share as I create new energy that will come back to me.


My words are not always positive especially those spoken.  They come as a firestorm sometimes, and I have to keep a close watch on those emotional outbursts.  I know now that those times are best left unspoken, and some time away is called for to assure I am not wounding or being sucked down into a dark place I did not intend to go.  I have better control now and exert it.


And I polish the positive words.  I shine them as they are picked up in the light and float out in gleeful currents.  Those are my true words full of emotion but so much more useful, compassionate, peaceful, rich and powerful.  These are the words I want to keep as my life force.  Those that heal not hurt.  There is no purpose in the hurt.  It causes me greater harm in the long run.


So I keep to my true purpose and think deep thoughts, feel passionately, hurt, let go, forgive, judge less, love more and speak earnestly.  The heart smiles, the soul is expanded and the tears of happiness fill me up and wash me blissfully.






Special Note:  The Cardinal Flower pictured here signifies energy.



The picture below is my gift to you this week.  Please download it and use it to spread the positive energy around you.




All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.




A Kinder Place


“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.  Kindness in giving creates love.”

― Lao Tzu


I have a friend who is a consummate giver.  I love watching her give by doing little acts of kindness…seeing someone struggling with a door that she gladly holds open as many others walk on.  Or giving up her space in line for an elderly gentleman, and letting into traffic that frazzled mom with a van load of kids.  No judgement here as I have walked or driven on by as well in my own little world not noticing.


But it is in these small, almost mindless, acts of kindness that we spread love, and I know we can all use more of that.  We never know what ripple effect our kindness can have.  But I know when someone has shown me a kindness, I feel happy, grateful and it makes me realize I need to give a little more.  No obligation just a pure, loving, wanting that permeates from within me that must be released or maybe unleashed on the world.


I love walking down the street and smiling at everyone.  Even those who do not look my way.  Maybe they will feel the love flowing to them.  And it is amazing how much someone can be uplifted by that smile…that little simple kindness that uses so many of my 43 facial muscles.  I usually get more smiles in return, but it is not why I do it.  I am giving straight from my heart center letting it flow out…and boy does it make me beam inside like sunshine emanating from every pore…feeling warm and luscious almost like the rich chocolate oozing from the center of  a flourless cake.



I found someone’s wallet once and made a point of finding out who they were, and drove it to their house.  They wanted to give me a reward, but the reward for me was in giving them peace of mind.  And do you know that I have lost things like credit cards and keys and somehow they are brought back to me.  A bit of karma maybe riding that kindness wave.




My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.  ~Dalai Lama


Kindness is an important and often missing element in our world it seems these days.  One that if practiced more, we might not have as much suffering, anger and hatred swirling about.  I’m not saying it will all just go away magically, but I know there would be less angry people in a kinder world.


Doing something that makes me feel good, and given with heartfelt love and no obligation or strings attached.  What a most precious genuine gift for the receiver and bliss for the giver (said with a bright, big, beaming smile of love to all)!





Special Note:  The blossoms in the pictures here are elderberry blossoms.  These lovely blossoms signify kindness.  And produce a yummy berry (as seen below) I share with the birds in fall and winter.



The picture below is my gift to you this week.  Please download it and use it to spread kindness.


elderberries painting



All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



You Need To Listen To Me


“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 
― Ernest Hemingway



As summer wanes, the silence increases.  Little birdsong is left as many parents and young ones get ready for the trip South.  Crickets and locust still continue their chirping day and night, but the frogs’ croaking has lessened as well.


With the movement now of summer to fall, I begin to hear the crunching of the leaves.  I hear the grasses rustle and sway.  Soothing sounds that nature gives us that seem to move with my breathing in and out.


And with the quieter times in the garden, I revel in that solitude.  It gives me a chance to listen intently to every little sound now.  And to listen to my internal voice.  It usually is too busy with so much outside stimuli that I can never quite hear its message entirely.


DSCN2616I often think we don’t listen enough to ourselves and to others.  I have definitely been more of a talker instead of a listener.  Nodding, shaking my head…in a hurry…get to the point…I need to move on to a meeting….oh yes I have done that too…now what was I going to respond…need to keep that thought in my head…what were they saying…..that was the usual discourse going through my head as someone was talking.  Not listening, just hearing dribs and drabs so it would appear as though I was.


And I wasn’t proud of those moments.  Sometimes I wished I had the time to listen more, to really listen.  Maybe to make the time to listen.  When I took time to listen to people who came to me, I was helpful even it was just to lend an ear and not to give advice.  People need to run their ideas or their troubles by someone and sometimes come up with their own solutions.


But beyond those times when someone came and I had time, I wish I had connected more with people.  Spending less time talking….this is hard for me…..and more time listening.   Hearing them, letting them talk.  Getting to know someone by letting them tell you about themselves without interjecting about my life.


But listening isn’t easy, is it.  To keep your attention focused on someone else.  Really hearing their words, watching their body language totally engaged with them.  Not wanting to respond and get your ideas or experiences out.


It is a gift to give someone your full attention.  And when I give this gift, I find I have less of a need to talk.  Instead I crave the connection that comes from this gift…a more special experience.  Giving someone my attention, my time….I can’t think of a better gift, can you.




Special Note:  The plant featured in this post is Northern Sea Oats.  It is a wonderful native grass that grows here, and I love to listen to it rustle from late summer through winter.


I leave you with another thought about listening in my garden.  Feel free to download the photo and share.



All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.