White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Sunday, May 9, 2010


(May 9, 2010) It was a BLUE world on the Riverwalk this cool Sunday morning. The sky was cloudless reflecting on the river making the river look sky blue. Nearly all pictures taken this Mothers Day morning had blue backgrounds with water or sky.

As we entered the dark woods round 6:45, all was quiet and dark; an occasional squirrel was bouncing about catching Sadie's attention, but other than that . . . nothing. As we exited the dark woods, the world seemed to take on shades of blue. The tree swallow, perched on the long branch over the river, had a blue background; the beautiful cedar waxwings (I counted a half dozen this morning) provided a pinkish-brown contrast against the blue sky, and the bluebird, perched on a wire, was close enough that I could almost touch it - it posed, I took my shots, and then it flew away.

This morning I was actively looking for a mother-type photo (you know, with the geese and goslings or the ducks and ducklings), but I didn't see one single baby bird this morning. Against the smell of honey suckle, we did see adult geese on the shore and standing on the debris under the bridge near the train station. We also saw a Baltimore oriole in the thick trees, but the light was not adequate to take its picture and he proved to be a very shy bird. But, there were no baby birds.

As the result of looking for mother/child pictures, my mind was constantly on Mothers Day. I thought of Anna Jarvis, the "mother" of Mothers Day first celebrated in 1905 in Grafton, West Virginia. Having been born and raised in West Virginia, I knew about Anna Jarvis from my West Virginia history class. She is the lady who invented the day the year her mother died and then campaigned to make it a national holiday. It provided joy of celebrating and honoring motherhood. Mothers, in return, celebrate their children on this day.

So, how does blue relate to Mother's Day?

For some people Mothers Day is not a joyous day. Many women who are not mothers view this the same way that single individuals, without a significant other, view Valentines Day - with depression and a sense of feeling left out. Others have lost children and view this day as a cruel reminder of that loss.

Yesterday on the Riverwalk, I met a couple feeding bread to geese. I was taking pictures of the geese. I said, "You have made some new friends there." They smiled and affirmed that comment as I continued taking pictures.

We began to chat, and I discovered that the lady had been a student of mine when I taught in the local high school over 30 years ago. We discussed children and life backgrounds. I mentioned my college alma mater, and the lady commented that their son had gone there to play football for a year.

Then, the blue part of Mothers Day, soon to be celebrated, came into this Saturday morning. With tears welling up in her eyes, the lady mentioned that her son had died two years ago in a violent way. She said that this event has changed Mothers Day for her, and Mothers Day has become a very difficult day. I expressed my condolences, and we went in different directions.

This morning, Mothers Day, on the Riverwalk was a very beautiful blue place to be. It represented the feelings of many mothers celebrating their special day. But, for the woman who lost her son by a violent act, the bright blue is overshadowed by a darker blue that makes this day not as bright.

Perhaps she and her husband came to the Riverwalk this morning and saw the beauty of the blue sky and the blue water and the bluebirds. There are various shades of blue - some good and some bad.

It was a very blue day on the Riverwalk this morning.

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