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Where Bloggers Live: Grateful for Nature's Beauty

Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.

Where Bloggers Live

Today's topic is Top 10 Things I'm Grateful For...and as I considered my answer, I quickly realized that my top 10 probably overlap quite highly with anyone else's top 10; things like family and friends, health, security, etc. And while some people could (and no doubt will!) write something very interesting about those common answers, I decided I would tackle the subject at a bit of an angle, thinking about things I'm grateful for just because they bring joy to my life. And I discovered that I could easily generate a list of 10 beautiful things from the natural world I am grateful to experience...and that I have taken photographs of that I can share. So here we go! In alphabetical order...

#1: Birds

My mom always took an interest in birds when I was growing up, so I was in the habit of admiring birds that I'd see, but it wasn't until 2001 that I began seeking out birds and keeping a bird list. I started birding in self-defense. My husband is the birder grandson of a very serious birder, so our "hikes" were more like very short walks punctuated by long periods of him looking into trees and bushes while I looked at the trees and bushes. Finally one spring day in Austin, TX when he just would not stop looking into a leafy tree, I asked in half-exasperation, half-curiosity: OK, what are you looking at? Spring warblers, my friends. He was looking at spring warblers. Which are GORGEOUS. Check out these 20 stunning warblers to look for in spring, for example. Since then, our "hikes" have become very short walks punctuated by long periods of us both looking into trees and bushes...or occasionally, at large birds that sit out in the open as though beginning to be photographed. (For more bird photos, see my Where Bloggers Live: Suitcase post.)

Great Egret
Great Egret - Wood Lake, Richfield MN - 9/11/2016

#2: Butterflies

Thing is, I mostly dislike insects. I mean, I'm good with ladybugs and dragonflies, but most other insects creep me out, and some creep me out bad. But butterflies...well, butterflies are amazing and beautiful, even when I occasionally remember that they are insects. My ability to identify wild butterflies comes down to the categories of: checkered white butterfly, monarch-looking butterfly, and other butterfly. So I am especially happy to visit any kind of butterfly house at a zoo where they provide information about what types of butterflies we're seeing. Am I the only one who has thought that the word for butterfly should instead be flutterby?

Paper Kite Butterfly
Paper Kite Butterfly - St Louis Zoo - 10/2/2017

#3: Fall Color

I know, I's a cliché to love the color of trees in autumn, but come on! Fall color is STUNNING. And looking at peak fall color in the warm, dreamy glow of the golden morning light is basically a religious experience.

St Paul High Bridge in Fall
Autumn Trees in the Morning Light - St Paul MN - 10/25/2022

#4: Flowers

While my appreciation of birds is heightened yet complicated by my attempts to identify the species I'm looking at, my love of flowers is pure, innocent, and almost entirely ignorant. My categories here are something like: roses, tulips, tiger lilies, uh...yellow flowers, white flowers, red flowers, purple flowers, etc. Going to a botanical gardens is a great delight for the eyes, and sometimes I finish the day feeling like my eyes are just filled up with color and shape and texture and can't see anymore. Then later when the overload has abated, I look at the photographs I've taken and am immersed in wonder all over again. This is not a testament to my skill but to how hard it is to take bad pictures of things that are just so incredibly beautiful. And still. The stillness of flowers helps a lot.

Pink Flowers
Pink Flowers - Los Angeles Arboretum - 12/22/2017

#5: Mountains

I spent some formative years of my youth living in Colorado (my sister was born there and my accent/language to this day retains indelible traces of that time), and it was probably our most common vacation destination growing up. My husband spent some memorable time there when he was young, too, so the Rocky Mountains feel a bit like a home away from home to both of us.

Rocky Mountain NP
Rocky Mountain National Park - August 2005 - photo by Mr. in St Paul

#6: Rabbits

In case this is literally the first blog post of mine you've seen (welcome, I'm glad you're here!), it must be said that I LOVE RABBITS. This past spring/summer was extremely exciting because we had two young rabbits living in our "yard" (the area outside our balcony) for the first time in the 9 years we have been in this apartment! I cannot possibly overstate how wonderful it was to see these little cottontails living their lives on our doorstep this way. We didn't see them every day, but we did get to watch them a couple times a week. There are a lot of dogs in this neighborhood (fortunately they are generally out on leashes) so it takes an intrepid bunny to make a go of it here. When the cooler weather came, they moved on, and I wish them well. It's not easy being a wild rabbit!

Cottontail Rabbits
Eastern Cottontail Rabbits - St Paul MN - 6/5/2023

#7: Sunrise

I am not a morning person (I mean SO not a morning person), but on those very rare occasions that I see the sun come up, I am astonished by how gorgeous the early morning sky looks. There's a straightforward explanation of why the sky looks blue during the day and has an array of yellow, orange, pink, and red colors at sunrise and sunset...but it definitely feels magical to see the wash of luscious warm colors across the sky as the sun comes up. It's no surprise that many ancient non-scientific civilizations thought the sun was a god and placed spiritual importance on the sunrise.

Mississippi River Sunrise
Sunrise over the Mississippi River - St Paul MN - 10/18/2019

#8: Wet Rocks

We've probably all had the experience in our youth of seeing a gorgeous rock in a lake or stream, taking it home, and realizing that it's a very normal rock once it's dry (this also has a scientific explanation - a "surprisingly subtle" one). We have to learn to enjoy how pretty the rocks look when they are sitting underwater and to relish that short time after a rainfall when the rocks all around us look darker, shinier, and more colorful than usual.

Wet rocks after a rain
Wet Rocks after a Rain - St Paul MN - 10/19/2019

#9: Wildflowers

Yes, I covered flowers up above but I think wildflowers deserve a separate mention of their own! I was spoiled by living so many years in central Texas where the wildflowers are almost ridiculously abundant from late February through October, reaching peak flower in April. Things in Minnesota are...different. But while the growing season is much shorter and the numbers are smaller, I have come to appreciate the subtle beauty of prairie wildflowers.

Wildflowers - Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, Savage MN - ?

#10: Winter Snow

Yes, winter is coming. We've already had our first snowfall of the year (on Halloween, putting the "trick" into "trick or treat," in my opinion) but it melted quickly. However there is plenty more in store for us in the coming months. Snow can definitely be a pain in the ass but it's also quite astonishingly beautiful as it sparkles in the sun.

Snow-covered tree
Snow-covered Tree: No Foolin' - St Paul MN - 4/1/2023

Thanks for joining me in sharing 10 beautiful things in nature that bring me joy to look at. I do want to give an honorable mention shout out to rainbows (see the end of this post) as another gorgeous gift of nature.

Next month's topic is Favorite Winter Holiday Décor, and my stars, I could do about a dozen posts on Christmas ornaments alone.

In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share about what they're grateful for:

Bettye at Fashion Schlub

Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks

Em at Dust and Doghair

Iris at Iris’ Original Ramblings

Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style

Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After

How does your Nature's Top 10 compare to mine? What did I leave out that you would include?

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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