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


Friday, July 23, 2010


(JULY 23, 2010) The English poet John Donne wrote:

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see . . .

Donne wrote about things impossible to see - strange things, strange sights. Each day on the Riverwalk, Sadie and I are "born to strange sights."

This morning, as we were walking in the dark woods, a bright white object caught my eye. The woods were dark, with shadows of trees, but this one object lit up like a light bulb. As we walked closer to it, I realized that I was seeing a perfectly shaped white mushroom growing out of the side of a tree. It was like many I had seen growing on the damp floor of the woods, but never have I seen one growing out of a tree.

Further along, I was looking at a damselfly when I noticed a spider's web. While looking at the web and trying to see the spider, I saw a small winged insect flying toward the web. "DOOMED," I thought. But, much to my surprise, the insect hit the web, bounced off and flew over the web into the woods. It seemed like a small miracle.

At the 3/4 mile mark from Dan Daniel Park, I had been missing the cormorants that had, for years, frequented the large tree that was down in the middle of the river. This morning I saw that two of the creepy black water birds had returned. As I watched the two birds spreading their wings to dry off in the warm sun, one spent several minutes staring down into the river at what appeared to be . . . himself. He was quite intrigued by the bird that was looking back at him.

Inch worms always fascinate me. The fact that they just seem to hang in mid-air is intriguing. This morning I saw an inch worm that had dropped a thread so thin that I couldn't see it, and the camera couldn't pick it up - the inch worm seemed to hang in space.

And finally, as we were returning, we had arrived at the bridge which marks one mile back to the car. Beside the bridge something had attracted Sadie's attention. As I was talking with some people who had wandered by, she was zeroing in on a damselfly. She inched closer and closer until she was about two inches away from this clueless insect.

I could tell that her breath was below her perceived prey since the foliage below the insect was moving, and the damselfly seemed to have no idea that Sadie was there, until . . . the damselfly did something I have never seen one do before. Though the insect had remained stiff and straight, as Sadie approached, the body was bent into an upward position, perhaps an impulsive defense to warn away any predator. Sadie wasn't threatened and crept closer and closer until . . . the damselfly flew away, completely unharmed, and Sadie looked at me with the look I often see that says, "Well, another one got away."

A perfect mushroom growing out of a tree, an insect not ensnared by a spider's web, a narcissistic cormorant, an inch worm suspended in space with no apparent support, and a damselfly that used a defense mechanism unsuccessfully, but survived anyway, were some of the "strange sights" Sadie and were born to this morning.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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