Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Grateful For A Patch of Dirt

Weird to take a picture of dirt – I know. As you know, every picture has a story and this is no different.

This particular patch of dirt has gone through quite the evolution. In a way it is reminiscent of the Shel Silverstein book, The Giving Tree. The dirt patch is always ready to do what we ask of it and it gives us so much more.

When my children and I moved into my current house, my youngest was excited about the big play area in the back yard. To a six year old play equipment in their back yard is a big deal. This was a small set with a couple of swings, a climbing area and a little spot for a fort. She was excited every time she went to play in the yard. She didn’t play in the dirt much, but she did love that fort with the swings. This little patch of dirt was the strength beneath the equipment and made for a soft landing if you slipped out of the swing. Trust me – I know.

As my children grew, the need for the play area became less and less. Every once in a while I would see my daughters with their friends sitting on the swings while they discussed the latest crush or the happenings at school. This happened less and less. It became obvious that the play area just wasn’t needed anymore. We tore it down and stored the wooden pieces.

The next great project was to try a vegetable garden. I used some of the wood from the play equipment to mark off the garden by building around the patch of dirt. I thought this was going to be easy – the dirt was already there and all I would need to do is drop in the seeds. I dreamt of the delicious vegetables that we would enjoy from the garden. But, that didn’t happen. The little dirt patch tried. Some of the seeds sprouted, but little critters got to them before we could get any vegetables. I tried this for several years and finally decided no more gardens.

Even when the gardening was done, I didn’t put any grass seed down or try anything to fill in the patch of dirt. I just let it be there. This was not necessarily by design as I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do next. So, the patch of dirt just sat there. I was almost ready to put some sod down to get some grass to grow when I noticed all of the activity in this little patch. Several different types of birds would cool themselves in the dirt. Even rabbits and squirrels found the dirt to be a perfect place to rest. It was about this time that I got my camera and begin taking photos. My new photography hobby began – inspired, in part, by dirt.

But the greatest thing this patch of dirt has brought is a place for me and my grandson to play together. We have spent hours playing in the dirt. We’ve dug a lot of holes, planted many rocks, built roads for pretend cars and made mud pies. We would always be dirty when we were done playing (some times it was more muddy than dirty). This was no big deal because it meant we had had fun (and now we could play with bubbles while he took a bath!).

I now have a granddaughter, who I look forward to spending time with, while playing in the dirt.

So yes, it is just a patch of dirt. But, for me, it is a treasure chest of memories.

Here’s some photos of the fun in the dirt.

Yes, I am grateful for my very special patch of dirt and all the wonderful memories.

Hope you liked this post. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog.

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless.

Photography · Short Stories

Back Yard Photographer – Meet Little Frank

Ground Squirrel – Little Frank

Yes, it is that time of the year again – the love/hate relationship with the ground squirrel continues. However, this year there is a new twist. I have a helper with the birds and my flower gardens – my grandson. He is two and a half and loves to be outside. He has a great time pointing out Little Frank when ever he sees a ground squirrel.

Why the name Little Frank? Well, naturally there is a story. 🙂

Ever since I have been feeding the birds, the squirrels have been enjoying more than their fair share of bird food. Many different tactics have been utilized to keep the squirrels out of the bird food. One of which is to open our deck door and yell at the squirrel. Probably the least effective of all, but it gets them away from the food for a little while. During all of this, I would take pictures of the squirrels – because they are just so darn cute! I named the squirrel I would photograph Frank (yes there were several different squirrels I’m sure, but they were all named Frank – I couldn’t tell them apart!).

Here’s Frank:

Squirrel – Frank

My toddler grandson loved to join in yelling at Frank to chase him out of the yard. It is rather cute to hear a little two year old yell, “Go away Frank!” So, this has become a thing. One of the first things my grandson does when he comes over is look out the window to see if Frank is in the back yard. The other day when he came over, it was the same thing – run to the window and look for Frank. He didn’t see Frank this time, but he did see the little ground squirrel.

Ryker (my grandson), squealed with delight as he ran to the deck door, giggling, “Little Frank!! Little Frank!!” I was right behind Ryker and asked him if he wanted to chase Little Frank away. His delighted response was jumping and saying, “Yes!!” I picked Ryker up and we went out onto the deck.

Little Frank had heard us and disappeared into the long grass of the yard.

Betch can’t see me!!

Ryker still saw him and screamed, “Go away Little Frank!”

The ground squirrel stopped in the grass. He then stealthily moved through the lawn trying not to be noticed.

It worked on me – I lost sight of him, but Ryker did not. Ryker kept pointing and saying, “Little Frank! Little Frank!” Yet the ground squirrel continued on his adventure through the yard.

Hiding in plain sight
Food time!
But first a prayer…
Take one more look

As the ground squirrel took one more look around the yard, Ryker yelled again, “Go away Little Frank!” The ground squirrel took off running. Ryker was delighted and excited to tell Grandpa how he had chased Little Frank away.

Yes, Little Frank does continue to come into the yard and nibble on the bird food on the ground as if Ryker hadn’t scared him away. But soon, Ryker will be back and trying to scare Little Frank away again. I have no doubt this cycle will continue all Summer.

Little Frank got his name because Ryker heard us say ground squirrel. He could tell it was smaller than Frank (the squirrel in the trees). Little Frank, simply means Little Squirrel to Ryker. 🙂

Hope you liked the story and the photos of Little Frank.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Short Stories

Back Yard Photographer – Frank the Squirrel

Frank the Squirrel

A young squirrel has discovered that we have the good bird seed out right now in one of the bird feeders. The seed has nuts, berries and sunflower seeds. He quickly walks across the top of the fence to see if he can get to the bird feeder. Yesterday he discovered he could get to the feeder, but couldn’t get to the food. Frank (the squirrel) then discovered that there were plenty of goodies on the ground underneath the bird feeder. The small birds tend to push quite a bit of food onto the ground. Today he didn’t try for the bird feeder he went straight to the food on the ground. The birds seem to be accepting of Frank as he keeps his distance. However, if he gets too close they let him know. We are also trying to set boundries for Frank so he does’t eat the plants or too much of the bird food. We will see if he follows the rules. 🙂

The below pictures are of Frank’s activities today. For the picture at the top of this post, I was able to get pretty close to Frank without startling him away. He does have a silly expression on his face – as if he is trying to figure out what is looking at him. 🙂

Here’s Frank’s adventures:

This doesn’t look like the good food.
Do I see the good stuff??
Hey! Where’s the suet?
I smell some yummies on the ground!
The treat has been found! Yum!!!!!

Hope you liked to see Frank’s adventures! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Small, Peaceful Lake

There is a small lake, maybe more like a pond, near one of my favorite walking trails. This is the spot where I go when I don’t have time for a long walk, but still want to relax in the great outdoors. Even in this little area I saw a couple different butterflies, some birds I hadn’t seen before, and an abundance of wild flowers. But I spent most of my time staring at the landscape. There is just something about the sound of the water splashing against the shore.

I met a few people while I was there. Even in a time where we wear masks and are socially distant, I can’t help myself, I have to greet people. From a distance we make eye contact and I wave politely. Usually people will wave back or nod hello. On this day, I met a couple who were unloading their small fishing boat, I had commented that it looked like they were going to have fun. They told me they like to get a little fishing in before they go to work. I’m not sure they caught many fish as I kept hearing the young lady laugh and there was the occasional splashing sound. I have a feeling he liked to fish and she just wanted to spend time with him. After I had finished with my photos and was heading back to my car, I met a gentleman. He saw my camera and asked me about the kinds of pictures I was taking. I asked if he was enjoying the weather on his walk. He had a cigar in his hand. He lifted it and said that he was enjoying his walk. This was the only time he could have a cigar since he couldn’t smoke at home. Even in a pandemic world, I get to have fun meeting people and having conversations.

But I digress. The above has nothing to do with the peaceful landscapes, just a comment on how others spend their time at this lake/pond. 🙂

Here’s a photo of the lake, trees, ect.

There were several types of dragon flies flying around me, but they were way too fast, so I wasn’t able to get a picture of them. And I was a bit fearful that I would lose track of my whereabouts and fall into the lake. So, instead I decided to focus on the green/yellow foliage that was floating in the lake.

Leaves in the lake

Here’s a closer look:

Yes, still looks like nothing more than a bunch of leaves to me. But it seems odd that there would be so many leaves at this time of year. So, I got an even closer photo (gotta love a zoom lens!).

The above are not leaves, but a type of Water Smartweed. The parts that are sticking out of the water, turn bright pink later in July. I learned something new on this trip. 🙂

I was sitting close enough to the edge of the water I could hear the fish and frogs. I never caught site of either, at least not long enough to get a good photo. However, a Great Blue Heron was nearby. It usually startles me when it takes off, but on this day I remained calm and was able to get some pretty decent photos. Here’s one of them:

It is a large bird. It stands 97-137 cm and has a six foot wingspan.

Hope you enjoyed the story and the photos. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless. (yes, I changed my name from Kim Stites to Kim Lawless. I got married!)

Photography · Short Stories

Back Yard Photographer – Was Sunflowers, now just Sunflower

One remaining bloom

Sunflowers are supposed to be a good flower to add to your flower garden for pollinators. I am planting flowers and plants in the flower garden specifically to attract pollinators, but also to add some much needed color in that area of my yard. Now I just need to find a way to keep the destroyers (aka rabbits, squirrels and ground squirrels) from feasting on the new plants.

I bought a couple sunflower plants that each had about 5 or 6 blooming flowers on each. They were beautiful. The creamy yellow of the flowers with the rich green of the plant were a wonderful combination. I was very excited to get them home and planted. The sunflowers would add a natural blend to the small field of wildflowers and plants just beyond my property line. What a wonderful back drop to future photos of butterflies and bees! Ahhh… I was very happy with this purchase.

Once home I busily planted the sunflowers. I was hopeful that the plants were big enough that they wouldn’t be an attraction to the previously mentioned destroyers. I had already tried planting sunflowers from seed, but the destroyers and my bird friends had a feast. (Yes, in hindsight, I should have know that would happen.) As I had hoped, the plants looked perfect in their spot. I was very happy.

My daughter and my husband were fortunate enough to get to admire the latest addition to the flower garden with me. They might not agree with the “fortunate” statement, as I had actually demanded (in a loving way of course) that they view these flowers with me. After all the appropriate oohs and ahhs, they returned to what they had been doing and I had to get ready for my afternoon shift at work.

Before leaving for work I looked out to the flower garden for one more glance at the sunflowers. To my dismay about half of the blooms were gone. Remnants of the blooms were dispersed around the yard. A bunny was happily enjoying the fresh green leaves of the plants and the ground squirrels were having their fun with the blooms. Unfortunately, I had to get to work so I didn’t have time to check things further or to try to do something to slow down the destruction. There were a few blooms left, so I hoped they would remain until I got home and could take some pictures. Thank goodness I only had to work a half day!

By the time I got home all the blooms were gone. Most of the leaves were also destroyed. At closer inspection there were a few buds remaining, so there was still hope of future blooms and my dreams of photos with the pollinators. I would know more in a few days.

In post a few months ago I had mentioned my love/hate relationship with the destroyers (they really are quite cute and fun to watch). I am now at the love them a bit less part of our ongoing relationship. Here’s a few photos as reminders of just how cute they can be. (More of a reminder for me)

After a few days the remaining buds were blooming! It was a gloomy and raining day. In between rain showers I went out to take pictures of the remaining flowers. By the time I was able to get out there, there was one lone flower remaining and all of the other buds were gone. (I had seen a squirrel run off with one of the blooms.)

Here are some pictures of the last flower. I did some editing to brighten the color of the sunflower, but I think the darker background (due to poor lighting on the gloomy day) adds some drama to the photos.

Hope you like these!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites

Status on the sunflowers: They have really taken to their location. New leaves are showing and even some buds! They don’t seem to be as much of a treat for the destroyers right now (wildflowers are blooming), so I might end up getting those butterflies and bees photos yet!

Thank you for stopping by, checking out my blog and indulging my story of the lone sunflower. 🙂