Ten thousand truths

I almost missed this cute visitor to our Alexandria back yard, March 2014

I almost missed this cute visitor to our Alexandria back yard, March 2014

“There are joys which long to be ours.  God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.” 
Henry Ward Beecher

A year ago my post was about Jeff’s father, and how he used to call me outside to see wildlife he had spotted.  As I mentioned then, Jeff has his dad’s eye for spotting all sorts of creatures I would never notice.  I’ve had so much joy from seeing the animals he shows me.

Yesterday afternoon, just after the heavy snowfall of early March, Jeff called me upstairs and told me to bring my camera.  He was looking out our kitchen window, trying to point out two birds to me, but I could not see them no matter how hard I looked, even with my glasses on.  I finally went up to the third floor of our townhome and used the long telephoto on my camera to find them, but only after Jeff gave me very precise directions where to look.

Sure enough, this cute fellow (or gal) and a friend were perched a couple of feet apart on a branch, looking as if they were bundled up against a very cold night.  I so wished they could fly inside and stay with us until the spring came.  I tried to find out what kind of birds they are by looking online, but was stumped; does anyone recognize them?

I was amazed Jeff had been able to see them from our window as the afternoon light was fading.  Their colors blended into the general landscape so well that I could not possibly have spotted them, even with a telephoto, unless someone told me where to look.  I’m glad Jeff was there, so I didn’t miss this particular joy, or for that matter, the five wild turkeys he had pointed out to me on the side of the highway when we were driving up from York that day.

I know there are joys that I miss every day, ten thousand truths I don’t see because my eyes are not opened to them, or because the surrounding distractions obscure their beauty.  Beecher’s words are a warning and a promise.  May we all have open hearts and open eyes to see the divine messages winging their way to us, bringing us hope, faith and joy.

One year ago today:

Represent civilization

And speaking of birds, I wanted to share this photo of Sheila’s adorable Sun Conure, Walter, who escaped from his cage recently and was hiding out under the dining room table!
I did NOT digitally alter this – Walter’s colors really are that bright!
Thanks for sending this, Sheila!

WALTER! What are you doing down THERE? :-)

WALTER! What are you doing down THERE?


  1. Reblogged this on bigdifferenceoflife.

    • Thank you! I am so glad you shared it.

  2. Raynard

    Julia about 2 weeks ago before the last few snowstorms, my boss sent me outside to talk to someone . As I approached them, they were taking a picture of a large woodpecker. . My though was “i never seen one of them on”This old house helping Norm in his woodworking shop and “does he ever get a headace and How did he pass the time on “Noah”s ArK” I digress. i use to feed birds every morning when I was living on base housing in Hawaii.( They loved that “healthy cereal ” and I use to have a birdfeeder here for the hummingbirds. Guess it’s time to”Play McGuiver or “The ‘A’ Team and construct another one lol be blessed

    • Raynard, I have a hummingbird feeder that I simply must dust off and put to use. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never used it although my intentions are good. The older I get the more I love birds. I guess that is why there is the stereotype of retired people going bird watching. Now if we can just make the time to learn some bird calls…there are wonderful sites online where you can hear the various bird calls and that’s one thing on my “I want to do this someday soon” list (don’t ask how long that list is, it’s totally delusional!!) Speaking of snow, we came home to 6 inches of it last night, but the roads are mostly clear and it does look beautiful.

  3. Ann

    Hi Julia, another beautiful photo and text. Aren’t birds beautiful?! I had no luck trying to identify your bird but I’ve pasted a link below which might help you.

    Jeff must have amazing eyesight.

    • Wow Ann, what a great link! I could spend hours there just looking at all the pretty birds. The other day I was feeling grouchy and I stepped outside and heard a bird singing, and it was like instant transformation. A great blog for bird lovers is http://talainsphotographyblog.wordpress.com/about/ – you’ll find some of the most fabulous photos there, of birds, flowers and other sights to lift the spirit! Thanks for being here!

  4. Sheila

    Good morning, and thank you for featuring Walter, the day he “flew the coop”. I believe the bird that you photographed is a baby Mourning Dove. I fostered a Ringneck Dove many years ago. They have similar characteristics. I’m glad that Jeff has that keen (Tennessee) eye which allows one to see, appreciate, and share. This gives new meaning to
    STOP…. LOOK……. LISTEN!!!! 🙂 Thank you both. Sheila and Walter

    • Sheila, thanks for the bird info – now I can be listening for the sounds. That fabulous site Ann linked has audiofiles of the various different calls from each type of bird. I’ve never seen a site that had more than one audiofile per type of bird; very interesting to hear the different messages and how they sound for a particular bird, since they don’t have the same sound for every purpose. Isn’t the world SO FULL of interesting things? Yes, Jeff’s keen “Tennessee” eye has kept us from more than one accidents with deer, I imagine. Since he has the usual age-related vision problems close up, it’s great that his distance vision remains so strong. I think it also has something to do with seeing motion vs. just the outlines of whatever animal it is. It’s definitely a gift I don’t have, so I’m glad he does. Thanks to you and Walter, for brightening my day – literally and figuratively!

  5. Mourning Doves are very similar to pidgeons. Some have even suggested there is some interbreeding near populated towns. Signs of this are red colored feet on otherwise naturally colored doves. The dove in this photo (identified by body type, head and beak shape, and most of its coloration) has an unusually colored head.

    • Oops, I forgot to mention Walter — Good lookin’ dude!

      • Isn’t he? It makes me want to get a Sun Conure!

      • Sheila

        Eric, that’s quite a compliment. I don’t think Walter’s ever been called a dude! 🙂

        • Oh Sheila, he’s as “dude” as they come! 🙂

    • Yes, I think you may be right on this. Living in the DC metro area, I’m beginning to realize that urban wildlife behaves very differently (which worries me in terms of their tameness, for reasons of their own safety) and I can imagine that you might have some mixtures that result in these interesting colors. If memory serves me, the companion bird to this one did not have the scarlet head. It was more of an orange-brown, quite muted compared to this one. Perhaps it was the red that Jeff spotted first, as he notices woodpeckers too, even when they aren’t making that hammering racket!

  6. Carolyn

    What a beautiful bird! Terry and I were on the porch Sat. and a Cardinal did a lot of singing for us. I am so looking forward to seeing the hummingbirds come back. I love to watch them. They are so funny when they chase each other. I’m glad that spring is almost here. Maybe you got your last snow the other day. Take care and hugs to all.

    • Carolyn, you are lucky to have hummingbirds to watch; it’s like having your own acrobats! Do you plant any flowers specifically to attract them? I just love the Cardinals. Jeff and I recently had a near-miss with a Cardinal that flew RIGHT PAST our windshield on the interstate, so close that we wondered at first if we had hit it. I’ve never seen one fly that low and close to a car. It was just a blur of bright red but it must have been a cardinal because I don’t know of any other bird that would have been so bright. They are our state bird in Virginia, as in many other states. Hope you are doing well today. I am keeping you in my prayers!

      • Carolyn

        I do plant some flowers that will attract them. They like red so I try to put in lots of red ones. I am feeling pretty good today.

        • Carolyn, I like red flowers too, so I will definitely keep that in mind! The bees are crazy about my mint and ligustrum but I am thinking of getting rid of both those plants because they both tend to take over everything. I’m so happy you are feeling well today! You are always in my prayers.

  7. Carlyle

    Not at all sure of the exact name but from the markings i believe he is a small Raptor, about the size of a Kestrel.’

    Back to the post about Captain Eddie; I actually had one on one conversations with the great man on three occasions during my career with Eastern.

    • Thanks Daddy, I am totally unfamiliar with Kestrels but I looked it up on the link Ann provided, and it was interesting to note that it said they are often confused with Mourning Doves, which is the other possibility suggested by readers. As Eric pointed out, the red head would apparently be unusual for any of these birds, so perhaps this one really is an oddball. I didn’t even realize there were such small raptors.

      I was thinking you had met Captain Eddie at least once, so my memory is not off there. Incidentally, I wondered why he was always called “Captain Eddie” even though he was a Major when he left the Army after World War I, and was later offered the rank of two-star general when he was approached by Hap Arnold to re-enter active duty in World War II. According to Groom, he agreed to help with the war efforts, after initially opposing the war, but after Pearl Harbor he changed his mind and realized war was inevitable. However, he refused the two-star general rank, and always wanted to be known as “Captain Eddie” despite having long ago passed that milestone. That tells me a lot about the man right there. He was quite a colorful and plain-spoken character. I didn’t realize that terrible DC-3 crash happened in Atlanta, near Jonesboro.

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        One of Carlyle’s favorite anecdotes about Edward Vernon Rickenbacker was that he said “Captain” was the last rank he had earned! Oh that some of the world’s “honorary” Phd’s would reason this way. (The American Kestral has a raptor’s hook to its beak, even though it is small.)

        • Rickenbacker must have been referring to the traditional military way of earning rank (years of service + outstanding record). In my book, floating in the Pacific for 24 days after crashing en route to a secret mission in World War II would be enough to earn any rank! BTW it’s interesting to note that Rickenbacker survived weeks of intense suffering after at least two different airplane crashes, in neither of which he was the pilot or even one of the crew, yet that didn’t “cure” him of flying as a passenger. The level of trust he had in his fellow professionals is another sign of his modesty.

      • Sheila

        From Walter: ” Juia, did you mean odd-bird? Just wondering!” 🙂

        • Come to think of it Walter, I guess I did! 😀

  8. MaryAnn

    When Paul & I ride the motorcycle, we stay on the back roads. We call them “gray roads”, like they show on maps. On Mother’s Day, years ago, we took my mother for a drive to my favorite place: the beach. As we were driving (in my car) on a gray road; I saw a slight movement in the bushes. As usual, I asked Paul to stop. To our delight & amazement, we were able to watch a lynx walking slowly, in & out of the bushes. He was beautiful with the tufts of black hair on his ears. Mother was overjoyed & talked about it for years. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day “present” for her! Almost every time Paul & I ride the motorcycle to HWY 1, I “find” deer, but that was our only lynx sighting.
    Julia, thanks for the great photo that brought to mind a special memory!

    • Mary Ann, I imagine that bikes are the best way to see most of this country, and I love the idea of “gray roads.” I might even get up enough nerve to ride on one of those, if it wasn’t too near the edge of the mountain! 🙂 But I couldn’t ride a motorcycle on the interstate – cars scare me bad enough there. WOW, a lynx! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one outside of a zoo. I can just picture how delighted Ms. Annie must have been! I never tire of seeing the deer, no matter how many times. Thanks for sharing this story!

  9. Rob Lane

    Julia, the bird is one of the Dove families of birds. The coloration of its wings, the long tail feathers and the shape of its head and beak prove this. I’m not quite sure but it appears to have a reddish head, which I’ve not seen on a dove that I can ever recall.

    So happy to hear that Jeff is home and doing well. I’ve been following his and your journey through your blog and through The Upper Room. God bless you and may he provide a complete healing for Jeff and your son.

    In Christ,


    • Thanks Rob! Yes, the red head is what kept me from being able to find anything close to him on the various websites I checked. The various pigeon photos seemed closest but nothing quite matched the coloration of this little one’s head. I’m glad I got a photo of it. Thanks so much for following our journey through the blog and at UR. I just got word that a devotion I wrote for them literally years ago (before Jeff got sick) is to be published in December. Because of their huge lead time, to allow for all the translations, it’s always quite a while between submitting a devotional and getting word of its acceptance, then another wait time between that and publication. I haven’t written much other than this blog since 2011, but I hope to go back to it one day. Thanks so much for your visits and kind thoughts.

  10. Hello Julia. Beautiful little bird. Both of them! Glad Jeff spotted him for you. My husband, Gerald has a keen eye sight too. 🙂

    • Hi Merry, glad you liked the little birds today. They brighten my day just to see them. It does come in handy having a hubby who can spot such things, doesn’t it? I can see better up close than Jeff can, so we help each other. 🙂

  11. Sheila

    Julia, can warmer days be far away? It has been so cold and rainy here this week. We are so ready for Spring! I enjoyed your blog from one year ago so much. I remembered the bunny photograph, one of my favorites. Hope all is well there in Alexandria. I continue to pray for y’all!

    • Thanks so much Sheila! A good bit of the snow melted today – it’s still on the grass and trees, but the asphalt areas mostly melted. I just love that little bunny photo too. Those little guys are no bigger than a fist when they are that young. We really appreciate your prayers!! We are all OK – meet with Matt’s cardiac surgeon and cardiologist tomorrow, after some testing.

  12. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/red-headed-finch-amadina-erythrocephala/adult-male-0
    My guess is it’s a red headed finch. He/she does look like a dove all tucked in for the weather but the the long tail and red head with white ring around the eye looks like the finch. It’s likely found in your area too

    Walter is so beautiful ! Does he talk? One of my favourite birds on youtube is ‘Disco’ a green budgie who is a real chatter bug. Have you seen this before?

    Maybe most days are a mixed bag and maybe the dark shadows block the light. I think we all have days like that, when the beauty of life seems hidden. But I know it’s always there for the taking. Like this morning, I took the train to a dr. appt. When I went to buy my ticket I found $3.00 in the coin return someone forget to retrieve. Knowing it wasn’t mine to keep, I bought a paper from a vendor that buys them to resell at a profit. Usually these folks are having hard times. She was really happy when I gave her $4.00 and I thought, what a perfect way to start my day. Spoke too soon. When I got to the clinic and had to wait, I pulled out my cell to find my screen wouldn’t light. ???? My darn cell phone quit, done, kaputt. I thought, OH no, more $$$ to spend. It took 2 hours this afternoon to arrange a loner while mine’s fixed (or replaced). So feeling bummed out I thought I’d clean the garage and get some satisfaction of that. I had a lot of water and wine bottles stacked up and decided to drive up the block to where a older fellow sits with his cart collecting them. His sign says, “God bless you for helping”. I parked and walked over to say hi. When I shook his hand, he was so grateful and sweet. My life was good again and right as rain. So I say to someone who’s missing the magic to do something nice for another. It’ll make your own day brighter.

    • You are so right, whenever we give we end up with more than what we started with. I really believe that. One time I was in line at Bed Bath & Beyond and the guy in front of me was buying a radio that cost over $100. I have a huge bunch of their coupons in my purse – more than I will ever use – and when the clerk asked him “do you have a coupon?” and he said “no” I butted in and said “can I give him one of mine?” She said “sure” and I gave him a 20% off coupon that I never missed except that it made my purse a bit lighter, a win-win! He was so happy since for him it was worth more than $20! I just love it when stuff like that happens. It’s way more fun than spending $20.

      Good call on the bird, you got the head color right for sure. Jeff thinks it’s some kind of dove but he did say that the reason the body looks so fat (in his opinion) is that the birds probably fluff up their feathers when it’s really cold, to keep warm. In any case that red headed finch is gorgeous! if nothing else I am learning a lot of new birds this way.

      YES Walter is a star! Sheila, I know I asked you if he ever talked, but I’ve forgotten the answer. Of course I would say that he talks with his eyes. For example, in the picture I posted, he’s saying “Awww – BUSTED!” 🙂

      • You were a doll to help the guy with his purchase. I bet he passed on that gesture at another time for someone else. It’s very infectious 😀 Jeff’s likely a much better birder than I and I would definitely defer to his call on the mystery bird. Hope your weather warmed up for both you and your fine feathered friend. We’re going back into a cold cycle for 4 or 5 days that includes the ‘S’ word and it’s not Sunshine…LOL

        Walter looks totally ‘Busted’. I think people who’ve not enjoyed the company of a bird would really be surprised, they each have their own little personality and they can be very affectionate. Our Tweety used to rub his head on your cheek with his eyes closed and to watch him bath in a dribbling tap was pure joy

    • I adore you.

      • Hey that parakeet Disco is amazing, it’s hard to believe that’s really his voice. I can see why they felt the need to put that disclaimer (“Read up on this before you say it ain’t so!”) It does make me wonder if they put a few tea leaves or coffee in his feed! 🙂 He’s so chatty he’s almost hyper. The Robin Williams of the bird world.

      • Oh you’re over there now, LOL. She’s everywhere 😀

        We do think so alike, cause I also adore me…….no no no, I’m being silly. IT’s YOU….always YOU!

        • What is not to adore about either of you? 🙂

          • (( Julia ))

            • The mystery bird remains a mystery to me! I might send its photo to the Cornell lab that runs that website – maybe they can figure it out. I didn’t realize, until I spent some time around people who had birds in their households, how smart, affectionate and funny they can be. A library manager I worked with had a scarlet macaw that was very fond of snuggling up to her and giving her kisses. I’ve seen more than one bird crawl up under its human friend’s shirt just to be nearer (or maybe for protection?) which is always so cute. My mother’s cockatiel would give her about 15 seconds to come over and greet it after she came home for the day, and if Mom didn’t make the deadline, would start squawking until she got there. My Aunt Peggy’s cockatiel Sweetie takes the cake. That bird loves the spotlight more than any Hollywood star I’ve ever seen. She literally poses. I was taking photos of her one time and when Peggy showed me her Christmas decorations and I started photographing them instead, Sweetie made her objections known! She wanted to be center stage. I am sure Walter is a source of constant amusement but I would enjoy having him around even if all he did was sit in his cage, he is so gorgeous and bright!

          • Oh heavens, a summit, HA! I’m sure nothing I’m doing in the Boom-room will never solve the complications of the world. I’d especially panic if Putin wanted Petals in his lap, that guy is sociopath in a good suit.

            Politics is a thankless job, I don’t know why anyone would choose it. I’ll stick to fun stuff I can do from the comfort and safety of the Boom-Room 😀

            • Somehow I have this idea that if some of these world dictators leaders could chill out in the Boom Room once in awhile they might become a little bit more human. FLOWER POWER! But you’re right, it’s never gonna happen. I’ll bet that Petals can smell a rat a mile off; she would be ready to bounce out of Putin’s lap if she needed to, but maybe she could keep him at least halfway sane temporarily. YES, politics is a terribly thankless job, especially in a democracy where coercion is supposedly not an option. I truly do feel deep sympathy for most of our political leaders in either party. Most of them are trying to weigh many complex issues and no matter what they do, someone will give them grief for it. Truthfully, I’m amazed things go as well as they do most of the time. The world often feels like a minefield or powder keg or other volatile place. I’m with you, let’s keep hiding out in the Boom-Room! 😀

        • LOL! Silliness is welcome, and in fact, encouraged. xox

          • Yes, there is much survival value in silliness!

  13. What a sweet story, Julia. I think the birds camouflage well so that you *don’t* see them (or prey doesn’t see them). Jeff must have very special eyes.

    • Yes, it’s amazing how he can spot these animals and still have a hard time finding the mustard in the fridge sometimes. Hee-hee. 😀 As in “if it had been a snake, it would have bit him…”

  14. I am hopeless at spotting birds too. I hear them singing when we are out walking, but more often than not, can’t spot them. I am generally good at spotting other things around me that others (and certainly my husband) might miss – as you can no doubt tell from my blog.

    • Yes, I think you have quite an eye for nature, including those big spiders! I love your blog because I always feel as if I’ve been outdoors after visiting there. I think Jez and Max probably contribute to that; I doubt they miss much! Walking with my dog helped me become more aware of things. He noticed so many things I missed; sometimes by spotting motion, hearing something I couldn’t hear, or by tracking a scent. When he would stop and freeze and/or lunge I knew there was another animal somewhere nearby.

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