Rare Morning Reflection

Typically, Garden of the Gods doesn’t have a large, swampy pond. In fact, there’s not really a whole of water in the garden at all. But courtesy of a whole lot of precipitation last week (rain, hail, graupel, and snow), the pond has returned. I drove past the other day but it was in the middle of the day when the sun is bright and harsh. Not very photo worthy at that point. So this morning being one without rain and cloud cover being forecast, my niece and I got up ridiculously early so we could head across town and see the pond at sunrise.

While I was waiting for her to come out, I captured this shot of the moon. Made me pretty happy that she wasn’t quite ready or else I’d have missed it.

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A quick stop at the Starbucks drive-thru (so glad they open at 5:00 a.m.!) and we were off. It was a somewhat decent morning – very calm and 45 degrees. Although the dampness made it a bit chillier. I dressed well, but Bailey might’ve liked longer pants and warmer shoes. But at that point, she was doing well to be there.

It was pretty much a given that we wouldn’t be alone once we go there. The pond being a rarity, photographers tend to swarm around sunrise and sunset. There were only four others when we arrived, so it wasn’t too bad. There was plenty of room for everyone to get their shot without tripods and silhouettes in their pictures. Our timing was good as the sun was just beginning to come up so we didn’t have to wait.

Leave it to me in my gracelessness, I did manage to slip on some damp, muddy rocks and weeds, but nothing was hurt. Just some slightly wet pants. Apparently the guy who trotted down that way right before me had goat feet or something. Or maybe the fact that my shoes have almost no tread whatsoever had something to do with my abrupt landing.

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Oh my word. That morning light and dew is so breathtaking.

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I’ve never been a fan of hauling myself out of bed super early, but scenery like this is so worth that 4:15 a.m. alarm clock buzzing.

We were both getting hungry on our way home – it was all of 7:00p a.m. after all – so we made a quick run through Chick Fil A for those tasty little Chicken Minis. They were delicious and we had a great morning. Pretty sure I’ll be getting to sleep a little earlier tonight.

The Butterfly Pavilion

Even though I’ve lived in Colorado for a very long time, I just never made it to The Butterfly Pavilion in Denver. Technically, it’s in Westminster, but it all runs together. Apparently it’s their 20th year of operation. Not that I expect I’ll be able to see ALL the things in Colorado. Highly unlikely. But it’s one of those I’ve wanted to go to for some time now.

The first Saturday of each month, they allow about 25 photographers in an hour earlier than the general public so that they can use tripods. The space for humans isn’t that massive, so during normal business hours, tripods aren’t allowed. You can stay longer once it’s open to the rest of the world, but no more tripod.

So Hazel*, my fellow photo junkie, and I made a trip north (and a bit west) a couple of weeks ago to check out the butterflies as the sun began to shine in their beautiful, tropically humid world. Of course, we made the obligatory Starbucks stop (we had to meet someplace, after all) before heading out of town at o’dark thirty (aka 6:00 a.m.). When we arrived, it was rather windy, so we skipped out on perusing the grounds outside. The morning light was beautiful, but the wind was just too much to have any photographic fun.

It was a pleasure to be there with only a couple dozen other people who totally understand whatever weird photographer quirks you may have when trying to capture the shot. Having the tripod was a plus, although there were times when you just had go handheld.

I loved getting to see such colorful and interesting varieties of butterflies. So much more than is typical out in the backyard. Some sat still the entire time we were there, leading me to wonder if they weren’t statues put there to trick the other butterflies like the zoo has. Okay, not really. I know they were real. At least I’m fairly sure they were.

I don’t think this one moved one iota the entire two hours we were there. The wings look like velvet when you see them up close. The colors are just amazing!!

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Another “never moved” butterfly.

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Others flew around constantly and landed only long enough for me to point my camera in their general direction before taking off again.

The current featured butterfly. The Owl Butterfly. Pretty cool how their wings look like owl eyes and they can camouflage so well. If you look closely, you’ll see a little snail down on the left side of the tree. Silly little photobomber.

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Little hitchhiker.

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Pretty butterflies. Fun photography. Good times.

* Name changed to protect the innocent. Or at least she who doesn’t know I’m talking about her on my blog.

When There Are No Good Barns

…you drop back and punt. Or shoot other stuff.

My friend and I were out hunting for a good barn to take pictures of. She especially loves pretty red barns. Alas, there were no lovely, rouge barns to be found upon our random journey. So we pulled over when there was a vast field snow beneath a blue sky. And a few other things caught our attention once we actually walked over to look around.

Vast field.

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Trees, for example,

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unusual creatures hanging out,

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an interesting fence segment,

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Or a bicycle fence shot from the road.

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Be Still

A couple weeks ago, I stopped at a local park to take a few pictures and just wander around the pond area. It’s funny how you can not notice things, even though you’ve seen them numerous times. For whatever reason, I was quite aware of this No Fishing sign that day. I wondered about it, because I didn’t recall having ever seen fish in the pond in the first place.

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A nearby rock beckoned me to sit. I enjoyed the view, breathing in fresh air, and taking a moment to quiet myself. Life had been so busy and crazy for the previous couple of months. It was a nice respite.

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I glanced down and realized that there really were fish in the pond. Little, tiny fish. They’re not really visible until you stop moving around and just sit quietly. I moved just a little and they all darted away. So I sat still again and they returned. It reminded me of God. Oftentimes, I go through my day, not really thinking about Him or having any awareness of His presence. Yet when I slow down, sit still, and just BE, there He is. Loud announcements and neon banners aren’t His thing. He’s found in the stillness and the quiet.

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…and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12

In the midst of life – crazy, boring, busy, or mundane – I have to remember that He’s never the one to leave or not think about me. It’s me who needs to be still and listen for His still small voice.

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