“Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France
Getting Eskimo nose rubs from sweet little Monk!
One week ago today, we were brought a very special package . . . a precious little Abyssinian kitten, named Monk. He was to be ours for 24 hours until we played the part of a “kitty stork” and delivered him to his new owner, our friend Don. It was an instant friendship when Monk’s original owners handed him over to me and within a minute he was contentedly purring while I was contentedly cuddling him. We spent the afternoon playing and I enjoyed petting him as much as he enjoyed being petted! The next morning was the start of his big trip over the mountains to his new home in North Carolina. Our friends Fred and Barb picked us up, and with Monk in tow our journey began. At first he wasn’t quite sure what to think about it all, but quickly became quite content to ride the curvy mountain road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After enjoying a delicious lunch with friends at one of our favorite restaurants in Cashiers, NC, we arrived later that afternoon at Monk’s new home. He was very happy to come out and begin exploring his new abode, and of course play and catch up on missed petting sessions! That evening after a lovely meal out, we all enjoyed homemade cake and chocolate ice cream for Don’s birthday, and of course . . . playing with Monk!
My precious little friend . . . Monk
The next day was spent exploring the downtown area of Brevard, NC, which is quite lovely. It was a gorgeous day with a cool breeze, so upon returning home that afternoon, I took off for a nice hike located near Don’s house. It’s a lovely path leading alongside a stream, which has several gorgeous cascades and small waterfalls throughout. It had rained earlier, so there was a soft mist rising from the stream adding a sense of beauty and mystery to the secluded, lush green setting. The path was lined with loads of soft green moss as well as several stands of beautiful orange and yellow mushrooms. A refreshing walk it was, with the only sounds filling the air being the occasional songs of birds and the natural symphony created by the falling and dancing water in the stream! The remainder of the afternoon was spent playing with Monk, and after the relaxing walk and a bit of playing I decided to lie down for a short nap. Well Monk thought that was a great opportunity to play in my hair, and it seemed as if he was swimming through it, making me laugh and laugh! After he wore out, he decided that a nap was a great idea too, and curled up directly next to my face and laid his sweet little head on my shoulder. We quietly and peacefully lay there enjoying a nice nap, making a very precious memory together! That evening we all enjoyed a delicious dinner at a local restaurant called Jordan Street Cafe. Of course when we got home, I had to go play with Monk some more. The next morning after packing up, we said our goodbyes and headed for our next destination, Cashiers, NC. Needless to say, between playing with my little friend Monk and feeding Don’s resident white squirrels, I stayed very busy!
Enjoying dinner at Jordan Street Cafe in downtown Brevard, NC
We arrived at our friends, Tom and Peggy’s, beautiful home on Lake Glenville that afternoon. As soon as we were unpacked, I headed down to the dock with loaves of bread, to feed my duck friends. In no time there ducks everywhere waiting for a piece of bread to be tossed in their direction. After I had filled them up, and then fed the fish for a bit, I enjoyed just sitting on the dock and reading for a while. That evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner consisting of salad and Tom’s homemade Lasagna and topped it off with a yummy piece of crème brulee cheesecake! After breakfast the next morning, we enjoyed a delightful boat ride around beautiful Lake Glenville. It was a gorgeous day with mostly blue skies overhead as we slowly made our way around the large lake while enjoying the sightseeing tour, and of course feeding ducks whenever any were spotted.
Me by what I call the “X falls” on beautiful Lake Glenville
Wes whispers sweet nothings into my ear!
Later that afternoon, Wes and I took the kayak out for a nice ride, and started our journey by feeding a large grouping of ducks that were surrounding our kayak, and needless to say, I was in heaven! It’s so neat to be at their level and feel like one of the flock! Soon after the bread ran out however, they lost interest and we were on our way. Paddling our way around part of the lake and just escaping getting ran over by an impatient speed boat, we soon found ourselves at the base of a beautiful waterfall, I call “X Falls” as they fall in the shape of a large X. We quietly sat there for a few minutes, enjoying the rhythmic and soothing sounds of the falling water, before starting to paddle our way back. Once back at the dock, we were greeted by the group of now hungry ducks, so after making my way back up the series of sixty-three steps, I went back down with more bread to feed them and then enjoyed just sitting and watching them for awhile.
Returning from our journey in the kayak
Wes and I feeding the ducks
If you’ve never taken the chance to just sit and watch ducks for a while, I highly recommend that you do so, as it is great fun and very interesting to watch them interact. While being fed, things can become, shall I say, a bit competitive and vicious. So after convincing them to attempt this business of being fed in a more organized manner, I tossed one piece of bread at a time to each duck as I went through the group. This seemed to go quite peacefully most of the time, except when one duck would get greedy and grab another duck’s prized piece. At times one duck would fuss and grab onto another duck, and sometimes hold onto it a minute or so before letting go! Then something amazing would happen, both the offended and the offender would flap their wings, thrusting their front half up into the air while the water would roll off their back, as if they were shaking the entire dispute from them. As I watched this interaction, I thought we humans could really learn something from these amazing ducks. That is to learn to simply let insults and disputes roll off of us, like water off of a duck’s well-oiled feathered back, instead of sometimes plotting revenge or letting bitterness grow from our conflicts. Another observation of great interest was how after being fed, they all filtered the water for remnants of miniscule pieces of bread, while they very quickly smacked their beaks barely under the waters surface. When 20 or more ducks are doing this in unison, it makes a very unique and calming sound. As I sat close by watching them preening, bathing and occasionally chatting, something quite amazing happened that I had never witnessed while watching Mallards before. One male dropped his beak to the water and in one graceful and fluid swan-like motion, only quicker, he arched his back and then arched his neck, bringing his head all the way up, while making a beautiful whistling noise. To this another male replied with the same graceful performance. I exclaimed to them how beautiful it was, and to my delight they repeated with an encore performance! It was also quite entertaining to watch as each duck had his or her own following of groupies, consisting of several Bluegills, just waiting for them to drop little pieces of bread in the water below. I do believe I could sit quietly for hours completely absorbed in their world of floating, preening and just being.
A few hungry buddies
Patiently waiting with his groupies below
Feeding the ducks . . . again
The next morning it was time to pack for our return trip home. I went down to feed and hang out with my duck friends one last time, before telling them goodbye, as they all stood there watching me, hence making me feel like I was abandoning them! We then said our goodbyes to Tom and Peggy, thanked them for a wonderful time and made our way home. I have decided that wherever I go, I leave a trail of crumbs, not to find my way back home, but from feeding all of my critter friends that I make wherever I may go!
Some of my friends floating about on the lake
My “Ansel Adams” photo of a gorgeous stump adorning the beach
Fresh off the easel: Wes finished his miniature painting of Marmot that appears to be on top of the world, which he photographed during a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Rocky Mountain Vista ” by Wes is
3¾ x 4¾ inches
~ Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~
EXQUISITE MINIATURES BY WES AND RACHELLE SIEGRIST at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV (Fifty of our miniature paintings are on display and available for purchase!)
To view all our many exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
Until next time ~ Rachelle