Friday, June 24, 2016

Neighborhood Watch

There's something magical about a summer evening when the heat of the day has disappated. Fireflies leave their grassy daytime perches and rise over the ground like twinkling, slow motion pop corn.

Foxes normally work the night shift, but on these long summer days, sometimes we see them before full dark. A mother fox came by in the late hours of the daylight this week, walking the perimeter of the woods, in and out of the fading sunlight, with the confidence of one who was on familiar territory.

Most likely, she was hunting for an unwary bunny, mouse or squirrel. 

She glanced over her shoulder, ever watchful in her role as preditor, and as prey. The light had faded, and she welcomed the gathering darkness.

Linking with Saturday's Critters

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Tribute to Dad

Ray Gustafson, my dad, on a fishing trip

When I was a rookie free-lance artist, Dad overheard a telephone conversation between an art director and me in which I was hesitating about taking an assignment. I finally decided to take the job, and when I got off the phone, Dad asked, “What were you hemming and hawing about?” “Dad,” I said, “I’m not sure I know how to do it.” That’s when Dad gave me the best advice of my career. He said, “Why don’t you just take the assignments and then learn how to do them?”

Dad lived his life that way—without fear or hesitation. When he was pastor of a church in Vancouver, Washington, he took on the task of renovating the church building, and, with the help of some other volunteers, did a beautiful job. Nobody told him he wasn’t a builder.

Later, when Dad was pastoring in Fort Dick, California, he saw the need for a Christian School, so he found a way to get one set up, and served as principal of a thriving school for several years.

More recently, Dad stepped into his most challenging role as caregiver to Mom, when her body and memory were failing, and we saw in him a patience we didn’t know he possessed.

Dad was always intensely interested in heaven, and even more so after Mom went there in July, 2007. Shortly before he joined her, he told me, “I think about heaven all the time; that’s all I think about”. (This was, of course, after the Superbowl and before March Madness.)

Dad loved the words of Jesus:

“Let not your heart be troubled;
You believe in God, believe also in Me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you unto Myself,
that where I am, 
there you may be also.”

John 14:1-3

I am forever grateful that God gave me this father, and I look forward to seeing him again one day. If he could share with us today about what’s really important in this life, he might quote the words of the Apostle Paul:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, 
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Monday, June 6, 2016

Stalking the Grasshopper

Female fox with kits

A more attentive animal mother than this fox I saw recently would be hard to imagine.
She watches over her kits intently, and when she is done training them, they will be efficient hunters.

Fox kit in the grass

Even now, this fox kit is small, but in his heart, he's a lion, lurking in the clover...

Fox kit lurking

...stalking the grasshopper.

Fox kiss

"Well done, my little one."

Linking with Saturday's Critters

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Little Foxes

Lone fox

On the edges of the day we occasionally see foxes, usually one at a time, and briefly, before they melt back into the forest. 
I've always associated foxes with the wild, but, as I learned recently, they're pretty adaptable.

Fox mother and kit

My neighbor called the other day to tell me that they had a fox den with four young kits under their back porch
and asked if I'd like to come over and take pictures.

Does an ant like to go to a picnic?

Little fox

Fox kit

When I arrived, the mother fox was in the open, and her four kits emerged shortly after. 
The first one came out cautiously, peering up over the edge of the porch, and the others followed, tumbling over each other to get outside.

Mother fox and kits

They played much like puppies, chasing their tails, running and fighting and rolling in the grass.
Even on their second day out, they were little hunters. When the fireflies lit their lanterns, a kit jumped up and caught one. 

Female fox with kit

There were licking baths from Mom, which were not aways appreciated...

Female fox and kit

...and plenty of kisses, which were.

So far, the kits stay in their dens for most of the day, appearing in the late afternoon when their mother comes. 

Female fox and kit

All that play can tire a young kit out, and when it was nap time, they piled back into their den. 

Their mother retreated a short distance and watched attentively from behind an old bench, then curled up for a nap herself. 
All of that play supervision can be tiring, too.

I don't know what the kits dream of when they sleep the day away, 
but when my head hits the pillow tonight, 
I have a feeling I'll be dreaming of little foxes catching fireflies and playing under the stars.

There will be more pictures in the near future. 
I hope you'll be back to see them.

Linking with Saturday's Critters