This weekend, the whole east of the US is gripped in a strong cold front; the Northeast is submerged in severe winter storm and under tons of snow. Meanwhile here in Florida, temperatures have plummeted to overnight freezing and we are struggling with what we consider freezing temperatures.

I guess it is all relative. I have tried explaining how cold we are to people in tougher climes and I get no sympathy when I moan about cold hands and nose.

But when the weather hits freezing, even if it is just a day or two of the year, all talk turns to the weather. It becomes a dominant issue in conversations and it alters how we go about our day.

Yesterday morning, I decided to brave the cold and head to Circle B and wander down a trail. Being this cold (temp was somewhere in the 40s) I knew two things; firstly there would be blue skies overhead from the clear skies, and secondly there would be very few people there.

And I was right on both counts.

It was perfect for photographs with the bright blue skies and there were so many times when I was on a section of the trail without a single person anywhere in sight. It was truly idyllic.

It turned out to be a day for the birds … alligators were nowhere to be found as they sought deeper and warmer waters.

Great Blue Herons abounded and they present a good target for a camera. They move slowly and stay perfectly still while stalking their prey. And their size makes them easy to spot from a distance.

Less easy but nonetheless wonderful to try photographing were some of the small birds that flitted in and out of trees and bushes. I got some beauties and they are at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove away and when feeling began to return to my lower extremities, I began to think over how we elevate certain things to importance only when they change to a point of being unusual.

For example, here in Florida on a typically warm, blue sky day, nobody even mentions how glorious the weather almost always is here in the sunshine state. Drop the temperature to where we have to wear a jacket and all of a sudden it becomes a common topic of conversation.

You see, us humans have an innate ability to take good things for granted. We only give attention to something that isn’t quite right for us and ignore all the wonderful gifts in our everyday life.

For example how much consideration do you normally give to the fact that we humans are not part of the normal food chain any more? We are one of the few species that don’t have to worry about that.

Yes, we find a myriad of ways to kill and mutilate ourselves, but being eaten by a higher order predator is not normally part of our existence.

Now imagine being a fish. Every day someone is trying to catch and eat you. This elevates your daily survival right up there along with finding something to eat so that you don’t starve … which is another thing that most of us humans don’t have to worry about. Unless you are unfortunate enough to live in a famine-level area, starvation isn’t likely to top your attention span for very long.

Close observation of the natural world gives great insight into some the material aspects of what we humans take for granted and it extends into other immediate areas (like having a home and a family and friends) very quickly when you begin to look at the lives of those little creatures all around us.

But what isn’t so immediately apparent in that environment is also the number of emotional or mental aspects of life that we take for granted. Like, how can you tell if a bird is happy? And do they experience hope and anticipation? Do they experience love? The answer is likely yes to most of those questions, but without the expressive face and the ability to shed tears, laugh, or moan, their experience is invisible to us.

So when we live in a state of happiness, contentment, or even just normality, we only notice when one or more of those states alter and we have to deal with a change. Otherwise, we rarely acknowledge when things are good. Although yesterday in passing by a photographer who was heading in the opposite direction, I did comment to him how this was such a perfect “happy to be alive” moment and he acknowledged the same.

And I guess, that is my point … it is important to acknowledge when we are having a good day. To acknowledge that we have some food in our belly, a place to rest our head and even (occasionally) that we are no longer part of the food chain.

We should also acknowledge that someone loves us, that we are fortunate enough to share moments with friends, and that we are enjoying ourselves, even if just for the moment.

To not do so, not only reduces our own life experience but it belittles those that are not as fortunate as we are. And make no mistake about it … we are indeed fortunate.

… just a thought!