With subtle changes that are easily missed by those who know and expect something different, fall is nothing but a big tease down here at the edge of the glades. It's still very much summer, but when morning lows dip into the upper 60's and leaves from the sweetgum trees begin to twirl down into crunchy piles in the grass, I long to be outside with my camera.
It's only been a week since surgery when I share that hope with my physical therapist, but he thinks I'm making great progress, so he takes me for a walk outside with a cane - around the scrub oak lined circular drive and through the fresh-cut grass. I prove that I can at least walk to a chair and sit.
So I promise to do just that - sit and not try to walk about - as Louis puts a camping stool in front of the folding chair he's placed outside for me in the shade of the back porch. He helps me prop up my right leg - the one with 30 staples in a line down the center across my knee - and leaves me with my camera.
I watch the warblers hop from seedpod to seedpod in the sweetgum trees overhead, but the light's not good and the warblers are too quick for my camera to focus. A hummingbird darts around the honeysuckle vine along the fence - but it's too tiny and too far away for even my longer zoom lens.
I begin to feel rather foolish and laugh out loud when I realize that a wasp sipping water from the birdbath is likely the best photographic moment I'll be given on a day when I can't move from where I'm sitting.
Remember when it hurt too much for me to move from the backyard swing? I remind God. And you brought birds to me when I asked? But I stop short of asking for his favor again - afraid of appearing to test the limits of God's goodness.
A mockingbird flies into the flame bush on my side of the fence, but I'm not that impressed. I have a gazillion mockingbird photos, and this time of year one or two mockingbirds are always fighting over the bush's ripe berries. Though I'm too far away for a great capture and the photos I take will likely end up in the trash, at least the mockingbird's a more interesting subject than a wasp.
When the mockingbird leaves, I'm ready to call it quits, but as I snap on the lens cap, I catch a glimpse of another bird in the flame bush - a smaller bird that's dared to snatch a berry while the mockingbird is away. I can't quite identify her in the poor light, but I zoom in to capture a few frames before putting the camera away and Louis helps me move back inside.
I upload the photos, bring them up on the screen and scroll past the mockingbird to the unknown little green bird in the flame bush, and I'm speechless. It's a painted bunting - a female or still green first year male - weeks before I've ever seen a bunting on Pollywog Creek.
And I'm in awe of God's goodness to me - even when I was afraid to ask.
For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!