Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Poet's Desire

Try to feel these (my) words
as they gather momentum,
bend around the curves,
flow along a course.
Water touching (caressing) earth.
Earth determining (guiding) the route.
The path (fate) of water within,
seeking (pursuing) its destination.
Growing more of its self.
Sustained (contained) by the earth,
teasing (pleasing) the land.
From the (masculine) mountains
coming, eventually, relentlessly,
into the (feminine) sea of desire.

Photo Locations:
Crested Butte,  (Crested Butte)  Colorado
LaJolla,  (LaJolla)  California

Friday, April 26, 2013


long legs wade the edge
where oceans greet continents
food in abundance

Willet - Tringa semipalmata
Photo Location:  Point Reyes National Lakeshore,  (Point Reyes)  California

Monday, April 22, 2013

Return of the Red-wings

Master of the Marshes

The Red-winged Blackbird's slow, stalling flight, with epaulets exposed, tail spread, and head downward... ends with a glide to a perch within his territory.

The male spends his days affirming his presence inside his claimed portion of this wetland.

Proclaiming space along the edge of the lake. His colors looking good among the Weeping Willow twigs.

Glossy black plumage brings greater contrast with his bright wing decorations. This breeding black male has scarlet epaulets bordered with yellow or buff.

"The redwing flutes his O-ka-lee"  -  Ralph Waldo Emerson's description of the song.

Calls: a loud "check" and a high, slurred "tee-err"

Song: a liquid, gurgling "konk-la-ree" or "o-ka-lay"

Female Red-winged Blackbird is smaller than the male, with heavy streaking on her breast and abdomen. 

Leaning over and fanning his tail. Showing constant vigilance in his territory. The male selects the site and defends it against other males.

Nice profile of the female: brownish, with sharply pointed bill, eyestreak, wingbars, and well-defined streaking on breast.

Nice landing on a vertical perch; the ever-present cattails. At home in the marsh.

Female may have a slight pinkish tinge on her throat. She arrives a few weeks after the male;  accepts the site, and the male.

Fabulous display; the male flashes and quivers his spectacular red and yellow epaulets, while fanning out his tail.




Calls of the Red-winged Blackbird from Cornell Labs: (Cornell)

Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus

Photo Locations:

Cannonsburg,  (Cannonsburg)  Michigan

Rogue River,  (Rogue River)  Rockford,  (Rockford)  Michigan

Pickerel Lake Park,  (Pickerel Lake)  Kent County,  Michigan (Michigan


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Rookery

I cannot, I will not, disclose the location of this Great Blue Heron Rookery. My secret will keep them safe from disturbance, and help ensure their productivity.

 Perhaps you are fortunate to know of a rookery near you. Possibly, you've seen one and didn't know who the builders of these big nests were. Placed so high in the tree canopy, they look precarious from a distance.
Do they remind you of a Dr. Seuss landscape?

Great Blue Herons nest in colonies with other Great Blue Herons, or herons of other species.
Rookeries are found far from human settlements. They prefer this isolation and being away from disruptions. I photographed these from a distance of about 80 yards.

They nest in tall trees, usually at the top of vertical branches. Rookeries may be used for decades, and contain many nests. The one I observed contained about 20 nests, in various states of repair.

The nests are used over and over; and over the years become substantial in size. To accommodate these large birds, the nests are 2 - 3½ feet ( 61-106 cm) in diameter.

A few days after their initial spring arrival, herons begin to claim their nest sites and defend them against other heron pairs.

Sticks are gathered from the ground, from trees, and from old or even active nests. Sticks are 1 - 1½ feet (30-46 cm) long and about ½ inch (1.5 cm) in diameter.

Generally, the male brings in nesting material to the female, who greets him with a "stretch-display" (sticking her head vertically upward), then places his offerings in the nest.

It takes a few days to a few weeks to complete, with some nest-building continuing into incubation. Renovation of old nests is common, with finer twigs, leaves and grasses lining the inside.

During incubation, the incubating parent gets up, stands on the rim of the nest, and flies off for another food search, as its mate arrives. The arriving bird settles carefully over the eggs, occasionally turning them.

Eggs: 3-5, bluish green to pale olive, 1½" x  2½" (4cm x 6.5 cm) in diameter.

Incubation: 28 days, by male and female.

Nestling Phase: 7 - 8 weeks.

Fledgling Phase: 2 - 3 weeks. One brood per year.

I've changed my mind, and decided to tell you the location of these nests after all:
About 200 yards north of this southbound heron, and 50 - 70 feet above the ground.
A special thanks to Luke for permission to walk his land and photograph these gorgeous birds.
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
Guide to Bird Behavior,  Volume Three -  Donald & Lillian Stokes  (Stokes)  © 1983


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Heron Dreams

Heron Dreams

Twilight takes its slow turn
at pulling down the sun.
Finished feeding for this day,
broad wings stroke the evening air,
rowing steadily through the gathering dusk.
Color fading during the long flight home.

Great Blue Heron

will arrive at its roost
to start another dark night
wading in dreams of stalking prey,
or waiting for the slow turn of the earth
with a simple faith in tomorrow,
the next rising of the sun.

Always tomorrow,
to return again
as we await
the blessed hope. 
© 2013 Richard Havenga

Photo Location

Friday, April 12, 2013

Holes in the Sky

white clouds build to gray
skeletons of juniper
pierce holes in the sky

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Photo Location:  Colorado National Monument,   (Monument)   Fruita,  Colorado  (Colorado)


Monday, April 8, 2013

Sacramental Rain

Sacramental Rain
which is your true love
knowledge or mystery
where to place value
ponder or perceive
the essential message
seeking direction
shaped with elegance
stirring new life
in our hibernating senses
words emerge
silent as seeds from soil
wrapped into sentences
like gifts from within
the spirit urges
deep vision and dreaming
wishing to grow
into a humble poem
baptized like a sacrament
inside the song
of this soft spring rain

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Journey of a Journal

Journey of a Journal

Sarah's gift to Mom and Dad - Christmas 1995

My Journal:  cover page - April 2, 1975

My Journal: first page of text; April 2, 1975

The following is a page from my Journal, written one year ago; dated April 2, 2012.

April 2, 2012 is also the date I began my blog: "Walk With Father Nature".

April 2, 2012       Aaron's (would be) 37th Birthday.                  High 56°, Low 35° 

Today is April 2. This is the day that Mary, Sarah and I call "Aaron's Day". We do the same on November 20, each year, the date in 1994 that Aaron died.

This evening, I sat on a boulder, and leaned against the Red Oak in our perennial garden. As the sun streamed down on me, tears streamed from  my eyes as I read the booklet Sarah composed for us as a Christmas gift in 1995.

Early Volumes:  1975 -1980

On the inside of this little booklet, (composed of photos of Aaron and Sarah, and quotes selected by Sarah) on the inside cover, are these words:

The volumes accumulate:  1975 - 1991

" Dear Mom and Dad,

I began this collection of quotes, passages and song lyrics the month Aaron died. They all remind me of his presence and his absence. Overall, they give me hope through the pain and joy of remembering. Now I want you to have them.

I love you guys so much!



November 20, 1994

I will always treasure this gift. Sarah called this evening, and we talked, shed a few tears, laughed a lot, and thanked Sarah again for her gift of memories of Aaron.

I love you Sarah. I love you Aaron. I miss you buddy.

(end of entry April 2, 2012)

The years roll on:  1992 - 2007

Although I am pleased with my commitment to this Journal; (one page a day, every day) over these 38 years of writing, I still have a few regrets. I regret that I didn't begin earlier in my life.

Aaron and Sarah "helping" Dad in the garden.

I should have started my Journal the day Sarah was born;  December 1, 1973.

Or the day Mary and I married;  June 5, 1971,

Sarah and Aaron: family fun at Lake Michigan beach.

Or the day I enlisted in the U.S. Army;  March 15, 1968.

Or the day I graduated from Forest Hills Central High School;  June 5, 1966.


Six volumes since retirement:  2008 - present.

Now, in my mid-sixties, I'm thinking about how, and when, and where this writing journey will end. I thank God for my abundant blessings of good health; good eyesight to read and write. Persistence, commitment, and hope in the future encourage me to continue my writing journey.

I have a humble pride for
this long line of Journals,
this wealth of words,
this volume of volumes,
this body of work,
that expresses two thirds
of my life lived thus far.

12 of 28 shelves in our Library.
These Journals will become my memory when I am very old.

Hand-made Father's Day card, and birthday cards from Sarah.


Dedication page of Sarah's booklet to Mom and Dad.

Aaron Havenga's last Journal entry,  October 23, 1993 : 

"The only important thing in this world is love, and spreading love, and positively influencing people."

Aaron made an impact through his love of life, his life of love.

"I was shown the "ripple effect." I saw myself perform an act of kindness, just a simple act of unselfishness, and I saw the ripples go out. The friend I had been kind to was kind in turn to one of her friends, and the chain repeated itself. I saw love and happiness in others' lives because of that one act on my part. I saw their happiness grow and affect their lives in positive ways, some significantly. I felt the love they felt, and I felt their joy. And this from one simple act of kindness."     - Betty J. Eadie

"Are You Kind?"

* A Special Thank You to Sarah Havenga for the gift of:
     "A Book to Remember Aaron By© December 25, 1995

A blessing of fatherhood: the tender, trusting grip from that little hand wrapped around your finger.

Aaron and Daddy out for a walk in the evening sun. All their dreams are on their way.

Photo Locations:

Home  "Library"  -  Cannonsburg,  Michgian

First Home,  Cascade Township,  Michigan

Lake Michigan Beach,  Pentwater,  Michigan

Photos of Aaron and Sarah (1977-1979) compliments of Mary Havenga.