Represent civilization

Jeff spotted this baby bunny hiding between the begonias and bleeding hearts, June 2007

Jeff spotted this baby bunny hiding between the begonias and bleeding hearts, June 2007

“Be careful how you behave towards wild things – remember that, to them, you represent civilization.” —  Ashleigh Brilliant

One of my favorite memories about my husband’s late father is the way he loved wildlife.  Many a summer’s evening I would be relaxing inside the Tennessee home where Jeff grew up, enjoying one of his mother’s books, and his dad would call to me from the porch, “Julia, come here for a minute!”  I always loved hearing those words, because it usually meant at least one deer was outside, and sometimes more than one, although sometimes it would be a bird’s nest or a rabbit or a turtle or even a snake (but I’m not sure if that’s my memory or my imagination coming up with that one).

Jeff is a lot like his father in that respect.  He can spot wildlife better than anyone I’ve ever known, often noticing a deer hidden in the nearby woods as he drives down the highway going just over the speed limit.  I can hardly ever see what he points out, even when he slows the car to give me a better look.  More than once, we’ve missed hitting a deer crossing the road because he spots it in time to brake.

But he’s also good at spotting the tiniest creatures while he’s out mowing or working in the yard.  I don’t know how he does it, because sometimes it’s a baby turtle about the size of a quarter, or a bunny no bigger than my fist.  Like his father, he will stop what he is doing to come call me, never telling me what surprise is outside, only asking me to come and see.  I’ve learned to grab my camera on the way out.  I can’t imagine having anyone else cut the grass for us, for fear they wouldn’t be so careful to avoid mowing over the critters and their babies.

As springtime arrives, I hope to see and enjoy the new life springing up all around us…and I’ll remember Ashleigh’s words!


  1. me too, BeLOVE Julia, O,me too. To embrace the message that new life brings > Hope Springs eternal.

    • Hi Kate, as I write this it is snowing outside! That’s very unusual for this time of year here, but I remind myself that no matter what, spring is still on the way. YES hope is eternal! Hope you have a wonderful week.

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday Morning, Julia and Jeff. The bunny is so precious. That’s a pretty setting he was hidden in. What wonderful memories you must have of your father in law. Bill’s dad had his 91st birthday yesterday, St. Patrick’s Day, and he also enjoys his home in Tennessee. He always has interesting things to share. Bill told him our gift is being able to converse with him. His many interests have kept him young. I have shared several of your blogs with him.
    A bit off the subject, but I love my father in law. Thank you for letting me share this. Hope you’re feeling much better. Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila, I am feeling much better this morning. I’m glad you shared about your father-in-law. 91 years old! That’s wonderful. I do think being interested in lots of things keeps us young. Hey I wanted to thank you for the very nice note you mailed to me (I just got it last night as we had been at our York home since Thursday). I appreciate your visits here!

      • Sheila

        It always amazes me how God will put us in others lives, as is our connection that evolved through the Upper Room. And I thank you as well.

  3. What an absolutely charming post!…maybe because I also love wildlife and nature so much. I suppose Jeff and my eyesight being better than yours and George’s contributes to our spotting things that would otherwise be missed. Anyway, its fun! We keep our binoculars on the table at the bay window off of our kitchen in order to look at things in and around the creek behind our house. Makes my day!

    • I just love your hummingbird feeder and I’ll bet you get quite a few critters on your land. I used to think it would be lonely living out in the country but I never realized how much the animals will keep you company. I just stepped outside for a minute and heard a bird singing in the snow! Something I don’t remember hearing before. Glad you enjoyed the post about one of “our” bunnies.

  4. Julia, my hubby is the same way ~ and it’s magical the way in which animals respond to him. I love that we can share the blessing of our mates’ special gifts!

    • Yes, I always love to talk with others who can understand my enthusiasm about such things. I am sitting here with a smile on my face just thinking about it! 🙂

  5. Mike Bertoglio

    Finally the hummingbirds have returned. We thought they had perished during the three week inversion of early February. Also have some Flickers- Northern woodpeckers hammering the T.v. antennae on the roof.
    Heard interesting talk by Rabbi Kushner on his new book on Job, ” When Bad things Happened to a Good Person”- this was on Minnesota Public radio if you are interested.

    • Thanks for the link, Mike – I will enjoy listening to it. Jeff read Rabbi Kushner’s well-known earlier book many years ago and found it helpful. I didn’t know Kushner had come out with a book on Job. That character and Bible book are very close to my heart right now. I’m so glad your hummingbirds are back! I have a hummingbird feeder that I keep intending to put out here; maybe this will be the year I get that done. We have some woodpeckers in the wooded lot behind our York home, and one year they actually decided to have a go at the trim on our detached garage until we caught them and figured out how to prevent it. I’ve never heard of one going after a TV antenna! That sounds hilarious although it wouldn’t be if it damaged the equipment.

  6. I couldn’t agree more, thanks for that quote. My dad really loved nature and animals, and so of course I learned from very young. Dad use to take a feather duster and sweep it over his garden pots to spread pollen for the Bee’s that visited, if one got stuck in his shop, he’d carry it out on his finger and put it on a pot. I asked him, “aren’t you afraid of getting stung”, he just said “that’s ok, it doesn’t hurt”. So caring and gentle 🙂 Just one of the things I love to remember. I love your photo so much today Julia, I’m going to link your post to my post for tomorrow if that’s ok. xK

    • I am honored if you want to link to my post. Aren’t we lucky to have had men in our lives who appreciate the natural world? I love your story about your Dad and the bees. What a sweetie.

      • He really was, thanks for that and for your post. My post is about spring (or the lack there of). Hope you and Jeff are feeling better too. mwaaa

        • Thanks Boomdee, I am happy to report that we are both feeling much better. I will look forward to your lack-of-spring post, especially since we had snow today. I am so happy to have you visit us here!

          • Thank you, I’m happy you’re here too Julia! 😀

  7. Scott

    I like the photo. I call it hope. Hope is his best defense, hope that no one notices his presence.

    • I couldn’t help but grin when I saw your comment. You can almost see him thinking, “Maybe if I hold really still they won’t see me…” Thanks for visiting!

  8. Loved that quote. We who claim to be civilized, are so mean towards these innocent creatures. Have great respect for people who care for critters.

    • Bindu, I am so grateful for the many people who care for animals. I have friends who work at shelters, in vet offices and on farms, and I appreciate the important work they do. My father once told me that people who would mistreat an animal would also mistreat a person. I think that’s probably true. I find it so calming and therapeutic to be around animals of almost any kind.

  9. I love how your husband and father-in-law beckon you and you respond excitedly expecting a great surprise. I wish I were more like that. I want to know if it’s worth my time so I ask what’s up before responding. How many times has my Father beckoned me with a great surprise awaiting only to have me ask for a more detailed explanation before responding? Shame on me.

    • I guess it’s partly because I have a heart “too soon made glad” in some ways, or maybe I just like surprises. With Jeff and his Dad, I learned what to expect when they called me outside. You would think that I would learn to recognize when God has blessings in store, but for some reason, that’s a harder lesson for me as well. 🙂 Good point.

  10. Larry

    Wish you could have been with me driving home from work today. I saw a flock of at least 25 turkeys. They weren’t but about 30 yards off the road. Some were strutting around the hens. James was the best at spotting wildlife and enjoyed hunting as much too. Driving around in those state tractors, he had many hours to see wildlife as well. I am also thankful to have all 10 toes on feet. Ask me sometime and I will tell you the story.

    • Hi Larry, I could follow you until you got to the part about the ten toes – Jeff wants to know if it has anything to do with steel-toed boots? We’ll save that story for the next time we are together. Wish I could have seen the turkeys. If my brother Eric reads this comment he will probably tell you that he could show you almost that many turkeys anytime you visit our family! 🙂 Thanks for your comment, it was almost like a quick trip to middle Tennessee!

  11. Lovely post, Julia. My dad was the same way, and instilled a love of animals in all of us.

    • Thanks, Alys! Aren’t we lucky to have had such great parents? The older I get, the more I realize all the things we learn from our parents, and often the best lessons are learned just by watching how they live. I think most people do connect with animals to some degree, but I’ve noticed that some just don’t seem to “get it” where animals are concerned, so I save my overly-sentimental stories and observations for fellow animal lovers! Thanks for being here.

      • Hi Julia,

        Yes, so true. Modeling is the best teacher around. We are lucky to have had compassionate parenting. I wish it for everyone. I think the world would be a better place if all children were loved, nurtured and respected.

        You’re right: not everyone connects with animals. They enrich my life in so many ways every single day, including the cats we live with, the dog of a friend that loves me up every week when we walk, and all the birds, squirrels, lizards, etc. that visit our garden.

        I hope you are doing well.

        • Thanks, I am feeling much better – not 100% but I’ll get there!


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