The Quintessential Christmas Bird

by Beth Shepherd
( December 10th, 2014 )

Of all the birds who visit our garden, I think the hummingbird is my favorite. He buzzes around the garden like a bee. His petite size belies his alpha bird personality—for a tiny bird, he is fierce and determined.

During the winter months I miss some of my feathered friends, who packed their tiny bags and headed for sunnier climes. But we always have a few devoted Anna’s Hummingbirds who are “regulars” at our backyard diner. With his green cloak of feathers and bright red cravat, Mr. Hummer (as we call him) is the quintessential Christmas Bird.

Anna's Hummingbird

Hummingbird coat of green

Hummingbird red cravat

Hummingbird on snowy branches

Hummingbird against the light

The draught of understanding; wisdom, peace and love is ours.
Hummingbird don’t fly away, fly away. Hummingbird don’t fly away, fly away.

~Seals and Crofts


Take the road less traveled, Beth

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An enchanted Christmas tree adventure

by Beth Shepherd
( December 5th, 2014 )

Two years ago, at Enchanted Winds Tree Farm in Issaquah…

First Christmas tree not happy

First Christmas tree really unhappy

Still really unhappy

Our first trip to cut down the family Christmas tree was memorable, but not in a good way. Our little one, at  1-1/2 years old, was very unhappy, so the following year we went to a tree lot instead. This year, we decided to try again. For one, the Seattle area had recently received a dusting of snow, a first in nearly two years. Plus it was a clear, cold and sunny Sunday, perfect for  Christmas tree shopping. I am thrilled to report, this year’s adventure was a home run in every respect.

Enchanted Winds Tree Farm

And we brought Bunny. If Bunny was having a good time, then Little Bird was having a good time.

Enchanted Winds Tree Farm

Our arrival on this particular day was fortuitous. Just the day day before, a Hallmark representative visited Enchanted Winds and left a sleigh-load of reindeer antlers. They were giving them away. I think the antlers put a touch of pizzazz in our hunt for a Christmas tree.

Big Papa donned his antlers, grabbed a saw and off we went. This was serious business now.

On the hunt for a Christmas tree

We searched. Up and down the rows of trees. Too tall. Too short. Too fat. Too skinny. Where was our tree?

Searching for the tree

We ate some icicles (Little Bird), got a noseful of snow (Bunny), took a lot of photographs (Mama), and felt a bit impatient (Big Papa). And we all got a little tired.

Sitting in the snow

Just as hope began to fade, and a meltdown seemed imminent…there it was! Christmas Tree 2014.

Our Christmas tree

Big Papa got busy with the saw, Little Bird and I yelled “TIMBER!” Down came our tree. Thankfully, Bunny approved.

Our Christmas tree bunny approved

We carried our prize back to the barn. After a good shaking, our tree was netted and tied to the roof of our car.

 Christmas tree going home

A few snowballs were thrown in celebration. And then we were homeward bound.

SnowballSnowball 2Snowball 3

Take the road less traveled, Beth


International Day: People with Disabilities

by Beth Shepherd
( December 3rd, 2014 )

In too many countries, what we take for granted here in the United States

has never been granted at all.

~John Kerry, International Day of Persons with Disabilities

A friend sent me a moving video and a reminder that today, December 3, 2014, is International Day of People with Disabilities. As a person who grew up with two disabled family members, I am so aware of how far the U.S. has come, and how far we still have to go.

Growing up, there were no stalls big enough for wheelchairs, no curb cuts, no mechanical prosthetics, no accommodations in schools or work places. The attitudes people held about those with disabilities were astounding: fear and ignorance, misinformation, lack of compassion, and the assumption that if a person was less able physically, or cognitively, they were less of a person.

When I travel, I am always saddened that very, very little of what we take for granted in the United States, is available to disabled people around the world. I still remember seeing a man in Lhasa, Tibet without legs, on a skateboard, using his arms to maneuver himself around and it struck me how few disabled people I saw—anywhere—in public. I’ve commented on this fact to Big Papa many times. I thought about it a lot when we were in Armenia. I never once saw someone with an obvious disability, never once someone in a wheelchair, never once even someone on crutches…other than within the confines of an orphanage.

And the lack of services for disabled people internationally doesn’t even begin to touch on the attitudes held in many countries about being disabled. Even though more than one billion people – approximately 15 percent of the world’s population – live with some form of disability they are viewed as an embarrassment, pariahs. Disabled people have poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without. People with disabilities are also at higher risk of violence, are frequently stigmatized, discriminated against, and ignored. There is virtually no support for someone with a disability, and certainly a lack of social support for those who care for them.

I’m not sure what it will take to raise awareness, increase understanding, educate, and foster change. But change we must.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Take the road less traveled, Beth


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