Haiku by Issa

macro shot of a snail on the edge of a wall

the life of a snail
he goes to bed and gets up
just the way he is

– Issa

macro image of a snail between leaves

Watching this snail move through our garden I had to think of Issa’s haiku and thought I’d share it with you here.

Wishing you all a blessed Monday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/160 – ISO 100 and f/3.5 – 1/125 s – ISO 100.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #43

Looking Back at 2019 – Thank you for the Magic

Looking back at our tenth year in the Scottish Highlands we are once more so humbled by the beauty of nature and grateful to share a few favourite moments from the places we love.

We have enjoyed our walks along the river, the pond and the shores along the Moray Coast. It was early January, when the last grown up cygnets flew the river nest and began the next stage of their journey. The pond swans were fortunate to have cygnets again this year, with one them surviving into adulthood. The river has been abundant with wildlife, with merganser, heron, redshank, goosander, and a record number of ducks. The mild Autumn brought a second wave of ducklings, who are still thriving today. We’ve seen many migrating birds pass our shores, especially geese, greenshank and dunlin. In the forests, we enjoyed peaceful encounters with raven, each of them inspiring a poem.

Raven’s Call became our most popular wildlife post of the year. A few other popular posts featuring wildlife were Summer Cygnets and Autumn Equinox featuring the pond swans, Two Herons and Mountain Frog.

With our mild Winter and plenty of rain during the Spring and Summer, 2019 was a good year for flowers, bumblebees and butterflies. The mild Autumn that followed saw many flowers bloom for a second time.

Hoarfrost became our most popular post featuring macro photography, posted late November after our first overnight frost. Flowers in the Detail, Fuzzy Blue and Cuckoo Flower also feature in the top ten posts for this year.

With the weather so much kinder than in 2018, we were able to travel North and West a few times. The beautiful landscape inspired many poems. In addition to haiku, haibun and tanka I revisited the villanelle and experimented with the lai nouveau and rubaiyat.

Our most popular post on the blog Fragrant Breeze was inspired by the wonderful landscape of Assynt in the Spring. Five other scenic posts feature in the top ten for the year, including Loch Broom, Forest Lake and Where Ducks Fly. We were delighted when our photographic post Castle in the Rain inspired a poem by a fellow blogger in Castle Ardvreck.

We want to say a very big thank you to all of you who take the time to visit and comment on our blog and to those of you who share your experiences through your own posts, photographs and poems. You are all an enormous inspiration and help make this world a better place.

A very big thank you too to all the lovely bloggers who host regular prompts and challenges. With so many photographs and impressions to chose from it’s a great help in finding a focus or different angle from which to approach a subject.

We look forward to what 2020 holds in store and wish you all a great start to the New Year. May this new decade bring new understanding and greater care for our natural world with increased compassion and peace among human beings.

macro shot of a painted lady butterfly on a purple lilac

You can see the 2019 highlights from our sister blog Whippet Wisdom in
2019: Favourite Moments Through the Seasons.

Wishing you all a Happy Hogmanay,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #77: Favorite Photos of 2019

Wordless Wednesday: Fleeting Rainbows

a young Aberdeen Angus in a field with a rainbow coming out of the cloud behind him
a young Aberdeen Angus in a field with a rainbow coming out of the cloud behind him

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/400 s – ISO 160 and f/4 – 1/320 s – ISO 160.

Wordless Wednesday

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #75: Nostalgic

Wordless Wednesday: Farm on the Hill

Three Aberdeen Angus grazing under a tree in autumn colours beside the Kyle
A young Aberdeen Angus bull in a field looking at the camera

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5 – 1/640 – ISO 200, f/4.5 – 1/800 s – ISO 160 and f/5.6 – 1/100 s – ISO 500.

Wordless Wednesday

Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge: Slope

Tanka: Mountain Frog

a golden striped frog sitting between stones, grass and wildflowers

side by side
letting each other be
the frog and I
his eyes a lake of gold
high up in the mountains

© Xenia Tran

a golden striped frog sitting between stones, grass and wildflowers

Wishing you all a wonderful Tuesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/125 s – ISO 100 and f/2.8 – 1/320 s – ISO 100.

Sunday Stills: Close Up

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Spacious

Silent Sunday: Serenity

one grazing sheep and five sheep relaxing in the grass
four sheep relaxing on a grassy hillside, one is sleeping

Wishing you all a serene Sunday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/320 s – ISO 200 and f/5.6 – 1/400 s – ISO 200.

Silent Sunday

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #52: Serenity

Wordless Wednesday: Exploring a New World

a lamb following his mother across the beach towards the rocks and cliffs
a lamb climbing the rocks behind his mother
a lamb climbing the rocks behind his mother and looking over his right shoulder back to the ocean

This sequence follows on from our earlier post I’ll Show You the Sea.

Wishing you all a very happy Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/800 s – ISO 100, f/4 – 1/1000 s – ISO 160 and f/4 – 1/250 s – ISO 100.

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday Stills: Veering off the Path

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Two Items or the Number Two

Haibun: I’ll Show You the Sea

a ewe takes her lamb to the beach for a stroll

Let me show you the turquoise sea, how deep and soft the sand can be. You’ll see the gulls glide on the wind and catch a fish. There will be people here on the nicer days. Some people are tall, some small. Some will bring a bucket and spade and build us a castle.

circle of life
a lamb follows his mother
at first light

© Xenia Tran

a lamb following her woolly mother on the beach
a lamb trotting behind his mother on the beach

Here in the Highlands sheep will often be free to roam from pasture to cliff, from cliff to beach and back again. At this time of year the ewes will show their lambs where to go.

You can see more images of the ewe leading her lamb back up the rocks towards their pasture in our post Exploring a New World

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/1250 s – ISO 100.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #48: Wild

Cee’s Fun Foto Challange: Smiles

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Line

dVerse Poets Haibun Monday: Lost and Found – Nature’s Magic

Haiku: Lands of Dream

Loch Fleet

snoozing and sleeping harbour seals and grey seals on a sandbar in Loch Fleet

snoozing seals
in their wild lands of dream
the road vanished

© Xenia Tran

a grey seal on the edge of a sandbar, tail fin in the air, and another grey seal snoozing
four snoozing harbour seals on a sandbar

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/.6 – 1/160 s – ISO 100, f/6.3 – 1/160 s – ISO 160 and f/5.6 – 1/640 s – ISO 400.

Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge: Surface

Twiglet #114: The Road Vanished

Our First Year in Review

As 2018 draws to a close we look back in gratitude for all the magic we found in nature.

We followed a pair of swans as they raised their first brood together, watched herring gulls dive for fish, were greeted by friendly mallards on our walks by the river. We saw squirrels and seals. We met oystercatchers, curlew, redshank, goosander, turnstones, wigeon and pigeons, sometimes as curious about us as we were about them.

We enjoyed the magic of macro, looking closely at blossoms, flowers, at ripening fruit. Raindrops captured the light and a reflection of our world. Ice crystals shimmered on the edge of an evergreen.

We saw clouds wandering across a pond, the first leaves of Spring, a mountain inside a stone by the river. The snow fields were slow to leave the higher ground, even when the water lilies were blooming. Our Autumn was glorious and the mist over the Kyle on Solstice day guided us into Winter.

A very big thank you to all our followers and fellow bloggers for their kind comments and support since we started this blog.

We really appreciate those fellow bloggers who host challenges too. A special thank you to Cee Neuner for hosting her Flower of the Day, Frank Jansen for his wonderful prompts at Dutch Goes the Photo, Patti, Amy, Tina and Ann-Christine for hosting the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge, the team at the Rag Tag Daily Prompt for their Daily Writing and Photo Prompts, the team at dVerse for their poetry prompts, Frank J Tassone for his Weekly Haikai Challenge and last and certainly not least, Kristjaan Panneman at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai for hosting the haiku prompts and retreats that we have supported throughout the year.

Thank you again for all the love. We wish you and your loved ones a blessed and very happy New Year.

a cob swimming in the pond and the pen and two cygnets in the foreground

The annual review on our sister blog Whippet Wisdom can be found here.

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #26: Photographic Review of 2018