The Many Faces Of Summer

How has your summer been?

Naturally beautiful and uplifting, while at the same time so hot and dry that it was hard to endure looking at the sun’s broiling face and you spent most of the daytime hours in the cool basement or in air-conditioned rooms? Physically and mentally challenging, with reminders of your mortality? Or worse, with the physical or emotional suffering of a loved one about which very little can be done? Filled with incredulity and cynicism about politics? Disappointing with regard to some friendships, encouraging in relation to others? Full of dashed hopes about personal goals, making you feel like a failure? Replete with frustration when planned, expensive projects didn’t go according to plan, dragged on for months, and were still not satisfactorily resolved? Brimming with despair about the state of our planet?

If you can relate to this sad litany, you and I have had a similar summer. But I know that you don’t visit my (or any other) blog to feel even worse than you did before, so I want to share with you—and remind myself of—the good things summer has also held in store.

When disappointment about self and others threatens to drain me of energy and of joie de vivre and makes me lose what little faith I have left in humankind, I take refuge in Nature and gratefully accept all the gifts she keeps giving to us despite our best (or worst) attempts to defile, despoil, or destroy her.

From bovine to ursine faces, and across the meteorological, floral, lepidopteran, mammalian, reptilian, lunar, and avian realms, I keep finding silver linings, glimmers of hope, and moments of joy that sustain me, even when they are fraught with constant reminders of how fragile life is, how tenuous the climate, how questionable our survival. Well, it’s not questionable on an individual level, but the verdict is still out when it comes to the collective.


The above image with cattle shows one of my happy places, Chico Basin Ranch, at the end of June, with very little verdure in the landscape owing to a dry and windy spring. Luckily our “monsoon” season actually brought some rain in July and August (even if it was “hit or miss” and our drought persists), and a photo taken two months later in the same location shows a slight increase in greenish hues (at least by Colorado prairie standards).

Do you adore flowers both wild and “tamed?” It’s a shame they are at their lush and gorgeous best when the hot days are at their worst. Disheartening does not describe the feeling when one heat record after another is broken, and average temperatures are exceeded by at least 10 to 15 degrees.

Seeing Monarch Butterflies on milkweed epitomizes nature’s wonderfully woven, intricate, and balanced webs, but due to loss of habitat, climate change, and our indiscriminate use of toxins their future existence is in doubt and they were listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in July. 😢 Here are recommendations by the Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation about what YOU can do to help monarchs.

Like most of us, I love animals, be they cute and curious raccoons peering at me through a window in the vegetation, endearing baby bunnies born in the neighborhood who make us smile each time we watch their antics for months on end, or colorful turtles plodding along the path only feet away from me.

This year’s third and final supermoon (which I saw) illuminated the night sky on August 11 and coincided with the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower (which I didn’t see). We humans are fascinated with our celestial neighbor (rightly so), and if you would like to see some fabulous captures of the so-called “Sturgeon Moon,” follow this link to the New York Post’s website. I’m sure some of you have taken your very own breathtaking images of Luna in her many and varied iterations.

If you have visited my blog for any length of time you know that it’s birds who most pluck my soul’s strings and make my heart sing. These long-legged, elegant wading birds represent three of the nearly 10,624 avian species who grace the face of earth, according to eBird’s latest data accessed on September 19, 2022 (this number is in flux as some species get lumped or split based on the latest scientific way of thinking).

While we have had bears in our neighborhood for many years (which is surrounded on all sides by busy roads, including I-25), they somehow manage to stay out of sight (and trouble) most of the time. When I was ready to leave for a birding day at Chico Basin Ranch at 6: 40 on a Sunday morning in late August and had just opened the garage door, I saw movement at the end of the driveway. It was a little early for dog walkers and the animal seemed big for a dog anyhow. A second glance let me know that Pooh’s cousin had stayed out somewhat late and was on his/her way back to the daytime lair. Undeterred by my presence, (s)he kept ambling on, through the neighbors’ yard, across another neighbor’s fence, and via their yard on to a ravine where we suspect said lair is located.

Just another day in the ‘hood.

Thus endeth summer. I hope yours was good and wish you a pleasant autumn.

67 thoughts on “The Many Faces Of Summer

  1. Dear Tanja, as you will know from reading my own blog I can indeed relate to several sections of your litany of woes…in so many ways it has not been a good summer! I’m so pleased that you have found some refuge and comfort in the joys of Nature. You have such a variety of wonderful wildlife in your local area, but WOW, a bear at the end of your driveway! I can safely say that, during our many visits to North America, the greatest thrills of all have come from seeing bears at close quarters, so I can imagine how you must have felt when you spotted your secretive neighbour.

    You may be surprised to know that during our trips to your continent we have seen many more bears than racoons, so I’m also mightily impressed by the fine specimen you spotted and captured on camera. And I also love herons, which bring back fond memories of my mother, so I particularly admire your photos of three fine species.

    It’s safe to say that Critter Envy remains alive and kicking at Platypus Towers! 🙂

    I wish you a joyful and peaceful autumn (fall! 🙂), and trust that Nature will continue to offer you some respite from the trials and tribulations of our modern, miserable existence. Sincerely yours, from Mr P.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Mr. P.
      I am surprised to learn that you saw more bears than raccoons during your US visits, but that might have to do with your travel destinations. Tragically, most of the raccoons I see are dead because they were run over by cars. It makes me very sad…

      “Modern and miserable” describes well what we have turned our world into, though some people likely would disagree. I’m deeply grateful that I can still escape some of that modernity and miserableness, and that there is still wildlife to enjoy.

      I hope and Mrs. P. are taking care of yourselves.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Liebe Tanja, du sprichst mir aus der Seele.
    Nur in der Natur, dort, wo wir am liebsten sind, können wir auftanken.
    Du zeigst wunderschöne Orte und Lebewesen.
    Dir und ihnen wünsche ich alles Liebe und Gute.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the way you presented your photos in this post. The circular form is a reminder of the cycle of life: always turning. Your bear is the second one I’ve seen in a post recently, and both fascinated me. There are black bears in Texas, but they’re few and geographically limited. I’m never surprised to see a raccoon or opossum — or even a coyote — but a bear would stop me in my tracks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I have used the round format a few times and also like it (if you would like for me to explain how to do those on WP, please let me know). I love that it made you think of the circle of life–thank you for sharing that impression.
      I have seen bears somewhat regularly, but they still make me stop in my tracks each time. A possum would be a new animal for me and I hope to see one of these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a summer of so many emotions and frustrations, but I’m glad to hear you were able to find the beauty in the season as well. I can very much relate to escaping into nature when things get to be too much. Looks like nature found you as well with the bear… that’s a big fat one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment and kind wishes, Diana. I think for most of us the world isn’t in the state we would like for it to be. I’m extremely thankful that I have the opportunity to escape into nature and to have “wild” experiences still. That bear was definitely well-fed and I suspect it had been eating all night and was getting to have a digestive sleep for the remainder of the day.
      Best wishes,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve reminded me of the way Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Liebe Tanja,
    anscheinend hattest du keinen schönen Sommer und somit wünsche ich dir einen schönen Herbst!
    Ich hoffe, dass du genügend Zeit finden wirst, um deinen Hobbys nachzugehen und um genügend Zeit in der für dich ( für mich auch) wohltuenden Natur zu verbringen.
    Als Bärenfreund kannst du dir sicher vorstellen, dass ich dich um die Begegnung im letzten Foto glühend beneide – wobei ich jetzt gerade dabei bin, mir vorzustellen, welches meiner Gefühle überwogen hätte…. Freude, Erschrecken, Erstaunen, Scheu oder Angst.
    Liebe Grüsse

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danke für den Kommentar und die guten Wünsche, liebe Christa.
      Ich bin dankbar für die “schönen” Erfahrungen, die ich im Sommer machen konnte, aber insgesamt war es kein “schöner” Sommer. Dazu habe ich und hat die Welt einfach zu viel Probleme, und leider belasten die mich alle schwer. Das geht Dir sicherlich auch nicht anders.

      An dem Morgen meiner Bärbegegnung war ich hauptsächlich überrascht und leicht aufgeregt, hätte aber schnell die Garagentür zugemacht, wenn er in meine Richtung gekommen wäre. Aber wann immer ich Bären in Gegenden sehe, wo viele Menschen leben, mache ich mir Sorgen um sie, denn oft gibt es Probleme, weil sie ihre Scheu verlieren und Abfall fressen oder sogar in Häuser einbrechen. Das geht dann meistens für die Bären nicht gut aus… 😦


    • Thank you for your comment, Peter. We tend to see bears more during the spring and summer, though they will be out for the next month or so to eat as much as they can before finding a spot to hibernate.
      I’m grateful for the good moments the summer has brought.


  7. Dear Tanja, here exactly the same. You really described the summer as I feel it. I was very surprised to find such a connection with you. Thanks a lot!
    Yes the summer was dry, very dry. In many different ways it was a hard summer, we got a lot of sun and at the same time we enjoyed the warm days an evening outside. But we know that everything, like summer, will have an end.
    I find a lot of energy thanks the love of my family, working in my garden, in the nature, looking at the sea (during holidays) and hiking in the mountains.
    Do you know the “Canticle of the Sun” by Saint Francis of Assisi? It’s a very moving poem.
    Strong hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Adriana,
      Thank you for your comment, for sharing your sentiments and for reminding me of the “Canticle” which I once knew but had forgotten.
      I’m sorry to hear that the summer has been equally challenging to you. I think we are bombarded with news about negative and very concerning global events all the time and we are simply not made to deal with that, especially when we are already stressed with our own problems.
      I’m glad you find refuge in your family and nature as well and I hope you will continue to do so.
      I’m gratefully returning your hugs. 🙂


  8. Summer heat and intense sunlight drain me more and more the older I get. As a result, my lawn doesn’t get mowed as often as it used to, trees and bushes are pruned less regularly. Anyway, I’m definitely looking forward to autumn, my favorite season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m also getting less tolerant to the heat, Neil. But because I love to be outside, I find those stretches difficult when the heat precludes spending time out-of-doors.
      I hope your favorite season won’t disappoint you. 🍂🍂🍂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It was definitely a summer for the record books. Hard to believe it is over, but the temps are slowly cooling. I like the cooler weather and colors of fall, but I will be sad to see the end of my garden. Winter is not my favorite season!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are good records, and then there are bad records…
      In many ways, summer is a lovely season with its plant and animal life at its most vibrant. But when one can only spend a few hours in the morning and the evening outside, because the remainder of the day is too hot, it turns into a dreaded time.
      I’m with you when it comes to liking fall and not being so crazy about winter, but the arrival of waterfowl makes the latter a lot more tolerable, at least for me. I love watching ducks, geese, and gulls. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello dear friend… You have described my summer perfectly. It has been filled with highs and lows (mostly lows, unfortunately) and the suffocating heat did not help. However, you wisely reminded us of the good things of summer and what glorious moments you have captured.

    Autumn has finally arrived in Japan – with much welcome cooler weather, which certainly helps raise our spirits. Our planet continues to amaze me with the changing seasons – faithfully doing its job despite or in spite the damage humanity incurs upon it.

    Thank you for making my day. I pray for better days for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Takami.

      I know I’m not alone in worrying about the challenges facing nature and humanity, while remaining incredibly thankful for the wonders we get to experience every day.

      I’m glad to hear that things are finally cooling off a little for you as well. It’s been a long summer.

      Take good care,

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Danke für die schönen Bilder, einen Bären werde ich hier im Wald nicht treffen, aber wir haben Wölfe und schon ganz schön viele. Jedenfalls in Niedersachsen schon mehr als im Yellowstone und leider wächst nun die Schiesswut der Wolfshasser. Mal sehen wie lange die Rudel noch geschützt bleiben. Ja, wir hatten einen guten Sommer, trotz Dürre, jetzt hat sich alles wieder erholt und es ist grün – der Herbst kommt.
    Liebe Grüße

    Liked by 1 person

    • Daß es bei Euch Wölfe gibt, ist etwas Besonderes. Auch hier gibt es viele Gegner gegen die Wiedereinführung von einst etablierten Arten, wie Du Dir sicherlich vorstellen kannst. Für manche Menschen existieren wilde Tiere anscheinend nur, daß sie getötet werden können. Das werde ich nie nachvollziehen können.
      Es freut mich, daß sich die Natur etws von der Dürre erholt hat und ich hoffe, der Herbst hält vieles Schöne für Dich bereit.
      Lieben Gruß,

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My summer was a sad litany just like yours, What turbulent times we live in. The little critters keep me grounded and happy. Your photos are so pretty and I love the little raccoon. Our squirrel with half a tail, “Half”, was chasing all his kin. I opened the back door and scolded him. “Half, do I need to smack your bottom?” Wonder what the neighbors thought about my mistreatment of Scandinavian children. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A lovely reminder of the joys of nature – but that bear must have been some surprise! Summer here was way to hot at times but we also had some beautiful evenings sitting out in the garden, just enjoying the peace and watching bats flit overhead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Donna, I appreciate your thoughts. I, too, could not survive without nature. Nobody can, even though some people don’t seem to know, or at least act as if it didn’t matter to them.
      I’m sure your bear sighting will come, and that it will be very special. 🐻

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Dear Tanja,
    I totally agree-what a trial of a summer it has been for me on all fronts, as well. It sounds like you are carrying on, and I’m glad you are finding solace in nature. I’ve been so enlivened by a bit of cool weather lately, and am smack in the middle of “pumpkin and apple time”, which is my favorite time of year.
    I’ve spent a lot of time considering my blog, and how cheerful and upbeat it should be, given the way the world is today. I’ve decided that the balance leaning toward positive is the best idea for now, although I’m trying to speak to ecological concerns whenever possible.
    Your pics look beautiful, as usual. I love the circle frame! Hmmm…..I think I might try that!
    Stay well, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, dear Julie. I’m sorry to hear that you have had your own trials this summer, but it’s not really surprising, considering everything that’s going on.

      I’m also relieved that the days and nights are finally starting to cool down and look forward to autumn.

      I love the fact that your blog posts are upbeat and full of beauty. In theory, I want mine to be positive as well. But at times, I have allowed myself to vent my anger and frustration, which might not be a good thing.

      Let’s keep sharing all the beauty and happiness nature holds for us.

      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Tanja – I am so sorry that the summer has been such a tough one and for so many disparate reasons. It must be hard not to feel overwhelmed, and nature (even while we are anxious about its human-wrought fragility) can provide significant solace.
    There is much to be anxious, fearful and depressed about – globally, nationally, locally – in addition to personal challenges. I suppose we all have to try to find our own ways through, and thanks for sharing how your summer has been. Sometimes just sharing can help relieve a portion of the strain. Thanks also for sharing your photos of your lovely sightings in nature. The bear sighting in particular is remarkable.
    I hope that autumn brings you some kinds of respite and joy in spite of everything. Sending best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Carol,
      I appreciate your kind thoughts and good wishes. The global, national, and local challenges each of us faces can be very overwhelming. I find it challenging to find the right balance between being well-informed and getting crushed by all the bad things over which I have absolutely no control. There are times when I do a news fast and I do feel a little better.

      I’m grateful that I can still experience these other realities that seem to exist apart from the human world (even though they are obviously intertwined).

      I’m glad I could share some of this other reality and that you enjoyed my sightings. I think many fellow bloggers were impressed by the bear as it’s not an animal we get to see often.
      I’m gratefully returning your good wishes,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tanja
        I know what you mean about the difficulties of balancing being reasonably informed with being overwhelmed by all the bad news in the face of which we are helpless. I do try to ration my exposure but also find that for me news reading can be addictive in a way that is not healthy.
        I think a ‘news fast’ – a good way to put it – now and again is essential to one’s mental health.
        It is good to get outside and in more natural surroundings and immerse oneself in those other realities when one can.
        It is lovely to be able to share our sightings – many fellow bloggers seem grateful to share in interesting or simply lovely sightings and so get some respite from the onslaught of bad news. But also one has to balance that with acknowledging the harsh realities that constantly threaten the natural world that sustains us.
        I suppose we are constantly trying to find some kind of ‘middle way’.
        Thanks for your good wishes and take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Taking refuge in nature is what keeps me going much of the time. Thanks for this reminder to stay tuned to Nature’s grace.

    I’ve tried to get some milkweed started here for several years now. Natives, of course! Looks like I may FINALLY have some success, but it didn’t seem to flower this year… still hope springs eternal… (I’ll need to check out your link once I send this.)

    Speaking of bears…. my partner has been finding signs of a bear not far from our house. He’s still muttering about not having the trail cam set for an encounter with a dead deer carcass up the creek. We’ve managed to catch really quick glimpses of a bear (much like the one you posted), but I’ve never been ready with the camera. My first and most memorable sighting was a cub that tumbled down a hillside, landed on the road in front of the pickup, bounced and headed on down the rest of the steep hill… me, too excited to manage to catch a shot… but it was THRILLING!

    Wishing you a lovely and pleasant autumn. I seem to be clawing my way out of the funk I’ve been in lately… 💞🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • That definitely sounds like a thrilling bear encounter. I’m glad the cub and you were both ok. Even if your camera had been right next to you, it would have been a long shot to capture that moment. I only hope that once you have that hoped-for encounter, it will be from a safe distance! 🐻

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for reminding us there are brighter spots than what the media keeps trying to depress us with to get more clicks and of course the distaste of current politics – life got a lot better for me when I stopped getting trapped by gotcha headlines and curtailed just about all my wasted TV time. Enjoyed your uplifting post!

    Liked by 1 person

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