Saturday, December 27, 2014

Destruction in My Hometown

On December 23, 2014 at approximately 2:18 p.m., an EF-3 tornado carved a path 12 miles long into our small town.  There were two people killed, a young mother and an elderly woman.  Dozens were injured.  The destructive tornado destroyed or heavily damaged 108 homes and 43 businesses. The path began a few miles west of the Lampton community, where several families resided in wood framed or mobile homes. Many of those families had little, now they have nothing.  It then carved into the heart of major businesses along Highway 98, ripping apart brick and steel buildings. Construction businesses, oil companies, retail stores, gas stations, hair salons, pharmacies, gift shops, auto parts stores, an auto detail shop, medical supply company, welding shop, storage buildings and a dialysis center were destroyed or received major damage.  As it stormed into the east side of Columbia, it took down dozens more homes, ripped the tops of aged oaks and toppled some of them onto grave sites in the Woodlawn Cemetery, heavily damaged churches, a mobile home park, more businesses and a major garden center.  The deadly tornado changed the landscaping of our town and did more structural damage than Hurricane Katrina, back in August 2005.  

How does a community recover from such widespread destruction?  Where do they begin?  They begin with HOPE and FAITH in God and in their ability to work together to restore what has been taken.  People from our community, state and beyond have banded together to help each other begin the process of recovery.  I've witnessed some amazing scenes the last few days!!!  It will take some time, but our tough little town will survive!

My husband and I saw the tornado from a distance as it spun its way northeast, missing our property. I'm relieved that we didn't take a hit.  We lost a few things from the storage room we rented in town, but the things most important to me were spared.  Still, my heart is heavy to see the scale of destruction in my hometown. Friends and relatives have lost their homes and/or businesses.  The beautiful cemetery that holds my mother's grave, as well as other relatives, is hardly recognizable. It breaks my heart to know that there are 65 families who are now homeless.  On the other hand, I'm touched by the way the community has come together as a whole at this time of need.

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, please remember the people of our community...Thank you and God bless!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Frisky Fox Squirrels

I spotted a couple of frisky little fox squirrels while walking near the lake yesterday.
I smiled as I watched them scramble up and down and around the tree.
They were quite hilarious, and absolutely adorable.
I wanted to bring them home with me...

Photos taken at Lake Bill Waller, Marion County, MS

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Backyard Birdies

Remember when I was whining a couple of months ago about
the lack of birds in our back yard?  

Fortunately, things have changed lately...

American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Mockingbird
Blue Jay
Chipping Sparrows
Pileated Woodpecker (sooner or later, I'll get a better shot of this one)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Another Red-bellied Woodpecker...see him peeping from the hole?
Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers (there are 3 in this photo)
Female Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker again

Because my back yard is so shady, I need to practice shooting 
in lower lighting conditions.  It would also be great to have
the 400 mm lens I've been dreaming of for those close ups ;)

Linked with Stewart at Wild Bird Wednesday

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Welcome Back, Winter Friends!

Winter is quickly approaching.  Leaves and pine straw blanket the lawn.
Summer plants slumber in their pots, tucked beneath layers of mulch.
Mornings greet us with a shot of cold, brisk air.
A fresh season of birds are making their appearance...

Ah, yes, the birds of winter...
among them the American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, some of my favorites.

They love the berries produced by this one large tree in our back yard, 
the same berries the squirrels have indulged in.  When the berries are gone, 
the robins and waxwings will move on, so I'm enjoying their company while I can.

Finally, there are birds in our back yard...
I've been waiting for them.

Welcome back, winter friends!!!

Linked with our wonderful hostess, Eileen

Monday, December 8, 2014

Frisky Little Visitors

Lately we've had some visitors to our back yard- specifically, to a certain tree.  I'm not sure what kind of tree this is, but the squirrels love the small berries it produces. It's fun to watch their acrobatic performances on the smallest tree limbs...

Whatever it takes, the rewards are delicious!

Yum yum!

Yes, I'm watching you watch me...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mississippi Gulf Coast: Jones Park-Gulfport Marina

I wrapped up my trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a visit to the impressionable Jones Park-Gulfport Marina.  Although Jones Park re-opened in May 2012, this was my first visit. This facility is located on 60 acres at the very south end of Highway 49, the center of the City of Gulfport adjacent to the Mississippi State Port. Not only is this park/harbor facility a signature facility for the City of Gulfport but it is the “Front Yard for the State of Mississippi”.  Amenities include a 319 slip harbor and promenade walk, splash pad/playground area, replica lighthouse, large pavilion, amphitheater stage, educational plaza, fuel dock and bait shop.

A Great Blue Heron stood attentively near a fisherman who was casting his line.  Was he waiting to receive a "treat", or was he planning to snatch and run?  I had never been so close to a heron, so I took advantage of it.  He tolerated my staring and shooting briefly then tried to get away from this crazy woman with a camera.  

But he would have to travel further to escape my obsession with him...
just a few close ups is all I wanted.

Moments later, he flew across the parking lot to the shore.  Yes, I stalked him.  I had to have a few shots of him with the beach background...

"Come on, lady...don't you have better things to do?  
I'm not the only bird around here!"

Okay, okay, I'll leave you alone.  Thank you for your time, and great photos ;) 

A while later, I captured a shot of this beautiful Great Blue Heron in a grassy area.

Other birds I observed at the marina-

Black-bellied Plover

Ruddy Turnstone

Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls

It was a great day and I was pooped by the time I returned home that evening.  I took over 500 photos- thank heaven for digital photography!  Otherwise, I couldn't afford to take so many!  And I wouldn't want to "waste" so many photos if they were developed on photo paper.  While going through those 500 photos, I deleted all but 132. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast as much as I enjoyed writing about it.  Your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.  Have a wonderful week!  

Linked with our good host, Stewart at Wild Bird Wednesday