Thursday, September 26, 2013

Small Wonders

It seemed like a usual Thursday.  Little did I know that I would encounter so many small wonders along the way home.

I left Al Akhawayn University's front gate at 11:30 to walk home.  The sun was hot on my neck as I neared the Zerouka lake across from the ONEP building just a little way down the street from the university.

This lake is always full of life, even when there is snow on the ground.  This bright fall day was no exception.  Here are the first small wonders I came across:

A baby, mummy and daddy terrapin.  These are turtles, not tortoises.  In fact, "terrapin" is the Algonquian (a Native American tribe's) word for turtle.  

Turtles often live in murky water and these had just climbed out of the plant clogged pond to enjoy some rays and get a turtle tan.  This turtle seemed so happy in the sun that it even seemed to smile:

God made these creatures especially for water since they have their own built-in snorkel noses. Take a look:  

How wonderful for this turtle that it is built specifically for its habitat.

Just a few feet away from Mr. Terrapin was this strange looking bird:

I wonder why it has a pair of shiny red testicles on the top of its head?!  Just kidding!  Those aren't testicles.  Both the male and female of this species have these eye-catching decorations.

This bird is called the red-knobbed coot, and those nodules on the top of its head are biggest during the mating season.  I guess they make it look attractive to the opposite sex.  As for me, I would want to pluck them and see if they taste like cherries...

These berry-like balls rapidly shrink after the breeding season and become quite hard to see.

Here is the mama red-knobbed coot looking quite content on her scraggly nest:

Not far from this pond, I came across two of God's much smaller flying wonders.  Here they are:

Both of these butterflies were smaller than my fingernail.  Such delicate beauty is sure to inspire wonder in any childlike heart.

I crossed a clear, rippling stream...

...and wondered at the submerged mosaic of fallen poplar leaves:

I more closely inspected a leaf that had fallen on the richly verdant grass and marveled at the intricate vein-work speckled with fall color:

Beauty can be found in the simplest of things if you are looking for it.

As I left the pond and entered the woods, a curious sight met my eyes.  Someone had neatly piled up leaves, twigs and dirt behind a stone!  Take a look:

Have you ever seen anything like it?  No, it wasn't done by a bored Middle Atlas shepherd.  It was a deluge of rain water that washed this forest floor detritus down the trail.  The leaves, twigs and dirt became plastered behind the stone that obstructed their path.  The trail was filled with these columns of piled up fleeing forest fertilizer.

A sudden flutter in the treetops made me glance into the crown of a tree where I saw this bird hanging upside down....and right side up:

This is the great spotted woodpecker, a common visitor to the Ifrane oak forest.  It is often heard rat-tat-tatting against a tree before it is seen.  

Did you know that a woodpecker's tongue is so long it is wrapped all the way around its skull?! And its brain is specially encased to protect it from the severe g-forces it endures with each peck of the woodpecker's sharp bill?  


Just as I left the Source Vittel park, I spied another flying miracle of nature--a tiny dragonfly as thin as a single piece of straw.  Here it is:

Not impressed?  Then take a closer look!

If you look closely, you can see where the wings attach to its thorax.  Its as if the dragonfly's back is cut open so that you can see every muscle and sinew and tendon!  

And why did God bother putting that one dark spot at the end of each wing?  Why make this dragonfly a gorgeously iridescent green?  Just for camouflage?  Or was it so we would stoop to wonder at God's glory in the humblest of creatures?

You don't need to travel the world to see the wonderful.  All of these photos were taken within a 15 minute walk from my university.

The next time you wander around your own back yard, keep your eyes open for those small wonders and keep your heart soft enough to marvel at the little treasures of God's creation.

If you would like to see more of my photos of nature's small wonders in and around my hometown of Ifrane, Morocco, then please click on the "Kolin's Travels Facebook"tab at the top of this blog page.

Thanks for visiting Kolin's Travels!  See you next week with a new article on Brazil!

No comments:

Post a Comment