Monday, August 30, 2010


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Skipper on Mimosa

Einstein once said that there are only two ways to live your life.  "One as though nothing is a miracle.  The other as though everything is a miracle."  Let it be said that I belong to the second group.  When I look in any direction, I am left in awe and wonder at the miracles of life.  They rise from the earth, they dance upon the wind, they sparkle in the night sky, they are anywhere and everywhere.  They are freely given, they are manifestations of grace, and they ask nothing of us in return, except perhaps that we find time to pay attention to their resplendent, life-affirming beauty.

During the past couple of days, I have tried to slow down and pay more attention to the miracles occurring moment to moment in my own backyard and places nearby.  What I have discovered is nothing less that miraculous — life unfolding in more colors and more varieties than one can ever quite imagine.  Enjoy!

Common Buckeye

"The world is full of wonders and miracles but man takes his little hand and covers his eyes and sees nothing."
Israel Baal Shem 

Blue Dasher Dragonfly on Arm 
of Chair Against Background of Blue Bucket

"To me every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."
Walt Whitman 

Common Buckeye

"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one.  Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own.  It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle."

Paul Coelho 

Sugar Tyme Crabapples

"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Silver Spotted Skipper

"The visible mark of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of creation."
John Locke 

Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Female)

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on the earth.  Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes.  All is a miracle."

Thich Nhat Hanh 


"Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand; life itself is the miracle of miracles."

George Bernard Shaw 

Great White Egret

"There is nothing that God hath established in a constant course of nature, and which therefore is done every day, but would seem a Miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done once."

John Donne 


"All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every second."

I still haven't identified this creature, which appears to be on its way to becoming a butterfly.  Any help would be most appreciated.

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."


 Zebra Swallowtail
"The age of miracles is forever here."
Thomas Carlyle

 Silver Spotted Skippers

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

Albert Einstein 

Great Blue Heron

"Everything is a miracle.  It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar."


 American Bumble Bee

"Thy life's a miracle.  Speak yet again."

King Lear

Common Buckeye

Have a wonderful day
expect miracles!


  1. A true blog of miracles today George! All the shots were stunning. I especially enjoyed the perfect positionning of the twin silver spotted skippers on the delphinium. (How did you persuade them to pose like that?!)

    The miracles are all around us, as your post proves. Key, as your quotes indicate, is the simple act of paying attention. When we don't attend to what is before us we miss the miracle. In all relationships attention is key.

  2. What a gorgeous post, George. The command to seek, expect and find miracles is well taken and so well supported by the quotes you have strung together. I especially like the one by Donne: the 'commonplace' things happening all about us constantly, everyday, would be hailed as miracles if they happened just once.

    But there is nothing miraculous about the photography... surely that is the product of patience, loving attention, experience, skill, a steady hand, a knowing eye, tenacious efforts and a deep engagement with your winged and other 'neighbors'. And for that I thank you.

  3. To Bonnie,

    Thanks for the wonderful comments. I'm grateful for the reminder that attention is the key in all relationships. I often forget the "all" part of that equation.

  4. To Lorenzo,

    Thanks for the generous comments, Lorenzo. If the truth be known, the greatest of joys for the photographer is the observation that takes place through the lens before the shutter is even pressed. The thought I often have in the photographic process is that I am not just taking a photo; I am reading the Universe's answers to all of my questions. There it is before me — stardust doing its magic in every moment of every passing day.

  5. I have no idea how I "stumbled" onto your blog, but here I am and delighted by it. What a find! I am particularly fascinated by, "Seeing With New Eyes," a wonderful way to shake things up a bit, with eye-popping imagery and words to match.

  6. I, like you, am surrounded by miracles George. I never cease to marvel at each and every one. Each photograph I came to on your post I thought was my favourite - then I saw the next one and changed my mind! I think my two favourites are possible the crab apples and the great white egret.

  7. To Teresa,

    Hello, Teresa Evangeline, and thanks for the lovely comments. I'm happy that you've stumbled upon my blog and hope that you will return soon. During the meantime, I will be checking out your own blog. Have a wonderful day!

  8. To Pat,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, Pat, and I'm really delighted that you like the photo of the crab apples. There was something about this little gathering of apples, radiant in the morning sun, that caught my eye and charmed me.

  9. What a common post! What a miraculous post. The wondrous truth of bringing the two together in this haven of photos and words is filling up the universe. Right here.

    The skipper with the little bug in tandem, so precious. The final common, oh so common, buckeye, in a photo that seems impossibly beautiful.

    I bow. I sit. I stare. I weep a little. I thank and hold my hand to my heart. Such a world as this is all around. Who needs to go to Paris or the Grand Tetons?

  10. A wonderful post, my friend…such extraordinary images and so befitting of the notion of the "ordinary miracle." I try and embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly. Life sets its daily table with miracles large and small, a feast for the soul if only we'll open our eyes and heart. One simply cannot live well—with passion and appreciation—without recognizing the wealth of wonder all around.

    BTW, I love your photo style—the crisp images and clean backgrounds. I'd hate to pick a favorite from this bunch, but it just might be the mirrored pair of silver spotted skippers; the crabapples and perhaps the topmost common buckeye would be close seconds, though, or maybe…nope, can't pick a second.

  11. To Ruth,

    You flatter me, Ruth, but flatter on—I'm man enough to take it.

    I'm glad that you like the photos and you get extra points for noticing the small bee beneath the skipper. You're right, of course, we are surrounded by miracles every day, every place, but please: Do go back to Paris or the Grand Tetons if you get the chance.

    Thanks for the lovely comments.

  12. To Grizz,

    Thanks for the wonderful comments, Grizz. I must tell you, however, that I was sure that you, being the well-informed naturalist that you are, would be able to tell me what I have captured in the eleventh image, the one of the caterpillar-type creature that appears to be on its way to becoming a butterfly. If you see this response and have any opinion , I would welcome your sharing it with me.

    Thanks for the compliments on the photography. Whenever possible, I try to get a clear background for my shots. Distractions can destroy the subject matter, even when it is in clear focus. All of these shots were taken with either my 105mm macro or my 300mm, both of which are Nikkors. Most of the butterfly photos were shot with the 105, but the photo at the top (tiger swallowtail and silver spotter skipper on mimosa) was taken with the 300. I was pleased with the way the long focal length of the 300 was able to create a dark green monotone behind the the swallowtail.

    As you know as a photographer, there is so much more to the camera than the pressing of the shutter. Most important are the moments of just observing what one is seeing — the magic and mystery of the world, unfolding before one's eyes.

  13. Hi George, I am very often in awe, sometimes at the most everyday and ordinary scenes. I am in awe of people, too - such as yourself - who can find the miracles and convey them so beautifully to others. That unidentified creature is something to look at!

  14. George—I originally began this reply by protesting your flattering but (I assure you!) misplaced belief in my prowess as a riverbank oracle. I still know my limitations, which are legion…but, I believe what you have there is a ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva punctella). Check out this pix and see if you don't agree:

    After being first swayed by your thoughts that it might be a butterfly in mid-metamorphosis, I thought—hummm, why couldn't this just be an adult whatever? And so I began looking at butterfly-like whatevers.

    See, no magic; no real expertise. Just a lucky guess. (BTW, you owe me a glass of your favorite wine one of these days. We riverbank oracles don't perform for free, but we're reasonable.)

  15. The strange bug may be Alianthus Webworm Moth. I had them on my Virginia Mounyain Mint earlier this summer! My favorite photo is of the crab apples, even more because of the two shriveled ones hanging at each side!

  16. To Grizz,

    Many, many thanks. You have absolutely nailed it! It is most assuredly an ailanthus webworm moth. I researched the creature online several times myself, but could never find a match.

    Thanks for your spot-on guidance. I do, indeed, owe you a glass of the best, probably a bottle or two at this point. If I can ever return a favor, please let me know.

  17. To Wanda,

    Thanks for the comments, Wanda, and you are right about the identification of the ailanthus webworm moth. Grizz sent me a photo and it matches perfectly with the little guy I photographed.

    I'm glad you like the photo of the crab apples. Sometimes nature can arrange branches, leaves, and fruit with the same delicacy that one finds on a butterfly wing.

  18. To Barb,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. The previously unidentified creature has now been identified by Grizz and Wanda as an ailanthus webworm moth. Quite an amazing little creature, I would say.

  19. I am so glad I discovered your site. What a beautiful post filled with meaningful reflections.

  20. To Paul,

    Thanks for the kind comments, Paul. I'm delighted that you have discovered my site, and I hope that you will make a return visit. You're always welcome to participate in the conversations that take place here. Have a nice day.

  21. George, your pictures are so beautiful and fill me with a sense of renewed peace. The past couple of weeks have been especially crazy for me, and this is just what I needed. I am in awe of your skill as a photographer. You have a true artist's eye.

    I love the creature on its way to becoming a butterfly! If you find out what it will be, please let us know. It is so beautiful in that it is "becoming." It doesn't fight or agonize or worry what it looks like or what others will think. It just becomes. We can all surely learn lessons from that.

    I also love the blue heron on the stump. They are all amazing, though. Each creature and flower is a true miracle. The quotes you included are perfect. What a great lifting up this is. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty here!

  22. To Julie,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. The unidentified creature has since be identified as an ailanthus webworm moth. Oh well, what is a moth but a butterfly with a bad reputation? Have a wonderful day. I'm delighted that you were lifted by this post.

  23. Well, George, these photos are just astonishing! Simply that.

  24. Hello, Robert!

    Great to hear from you. I trust that your return to the world of comments means that you are now home, having completed your coastal path walk. Like many others, I'm sure, I am looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

  25. I arrive here via our mutual friend Ruth, who is a miracle in the blogosphere. She first sent me here with your miraculous wabi-sabi post earlier this summer. I see that you live by your words because your blog exudes a joie de vivre that is magnetic. Thank you for your beautiful words and impressive photos. My personal favorite is the unidentified butterfly on the agapanthus. You may try asking Ken-ichi at for an id.

    I will now go on and start my miraculous day.

  26. To Dutchbaby,

    Many thanks for the kind and thoughtful comments, and welcome to my site. I hope you will make a return visit at some point.

    I've taken a quick peek at your site and plan to return. The photos of the Oslo Opera House are simply stunning!

    The previously unidentified creature has since been identified as an ailanthus webworm moth, a poor cousin of the butterfly. Thanks, nonetheless, for recommending the naturalist who might have undertaken this task for me.

    Thanks again for the lovely comments.