I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning watching a robin enjoy the hanging planter full of garden refuse that I left for the birds as a kind of discount store or bonanza.
We had already cleaned all the old dried leaves and winter garden refuse from the ground, and Mark covered it all with a rich, crisp layer of mulch, leaving slim pickins’ for nest-building birds.
I patted myself on the back. If I wouldn’t have created this hanging basket for them, what would the robins have done?
As I watched out the window, I noticed a rustling in the leaves near the top of a tree. A little squirrel emerged with a leaf-laden twig in its mouth and scampered across a few limbs, then up the trunk of a dead tree where I saw she was happily building a nest. It’s a dead ash tree, technically on our neighbor’s property. They plan to have their dead ash trees removed this year. I don’t believe there is anything I can do to save the squirrel, the nest, and any babies that arrive, beyond hoping that the tree-cutters won’t come too soon.
Yesterday I walked out into our garage and was startled by a small bird in there. I think it was a juvenile wren. One of the two garage doors was open, but the little guy couldn’t seem to find his way out. I spent the next hour or so trying to help him leave. I adjusted both garage doors to try to give him space above and below the door to leave. I moved the car out of the garage so it wouldn’t get in the way. I talked and chirped to the bird, showed him the way out, chased him around the garage with a broom to try to direct him out, and tried to catch him in a sheet.
At one point after I had gone back inside for a few minutes, I found two other wrens in the garage. They left immediately upon my return and my hopes that one of them was the little guy were soon dashed when I heard him chirping. But I was encouraged that I was not the only one trying to rescue the baby.
Eventually I was able to lower the window blind behind him, reach in and catch the little guy in my sheet-covered hand. I patted myself on the back for returning him to the wild.
What would he have done if I wasn’t here? I wondered.
If I wasn’t here at all, then maybe my house and garage wouldn’t be here either. And the natural progression of that kind of thinking led me to the question, What if all the humans left?
The birds would still be here. The robin would find nature-provided nesting materials all around.
The squirrels’ new home would not be in jeopardy.
And the little bird would never have found its way into a place it couldn’t leave.
When we were driving to Hocking Hills a few weeks ago, we passed an abandoned property on a country road. I first noticed the rusted, decaying car near the road. Then I saw the decrepit house further back in what was becoming woods. The rectangular property lines were clearly discernible where the neighboring properties, still being tended, ended and this abandoned property began, as if a surveyor had pounded in stakes at the corners and strung a wire around. The grass was long, trees and bushes were sprouting up throughout. The semi-hidden car and the house were falling apart in pieces on the ground. The earth was reclaiming its own.
I don’t know how long the abandoned property has stood there, but my guess is that it hasn’t been all that long in the whole scheme of things.
If the humans left, the earth would reclaim its own in short order most likely. And the birds, the squirrels, the deer and all the creatures would have their paradise without us.
Although we were walking beside fascinating geological features and cliffs that rose as walls around us on our way to Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park, I often found myself gazing at Roots.
Over the years park authorities have incorporated human-man structures to assist the population in experiencing the wonder of the park’s features. This bridge is actually a series of free-standing, unconnected concrete steps with small gaps in between. It reminded me of Robert Jordan’s concept of “the ways” in the Wheel of Time series where characters got on and traveled through the dark without clear guidance or expectation of destination. A lot of bad stuff could happen in the ways, especially if you encountered traveling trollocs. I’m just glad we were traveling here in the light of day.
We took the low road. It’s a long way up to the rim trail.
It’s difficult to convey the immensity of the surrounding landscape. I was Enchanted with the green mossy growth on the walls.
The ferns growing out of the base of a tree looked like someplace you might find magical forest dwellers living.
And of course, the Water Runs Through It. Largely because these geological features were created by water dissolving way the more soluble minerals leaving behind the hard structures, like in Ash Cave.
The cave itself does not look overly impressive from a distance. It appears as a dark horizontal crevice in the face of the cliff.
Another human-made structure helped us get to The Main Event.
Some people think that this profile of a face in the rock is the Old Man. Not so. The old man was a recluse named Richard Row who made this cave his home in the 1800s. The face in the rock looks like something out of the time of Cleopatra to me. Do you see it?
It was fun to watch fearless Arthur boldly go . . .
and even cross A Bridge Too Far. Nothing seemed to deter the little guy out there. He was, however, afraid to jump off the bed at the cabin. It was a wee bit too high for his liking.
Inside Old Man’s Cave Richard Row clearly had A Room with a View.
The green mossy rocks transform the landscape into a Paradise Lost.
Without a doubt this cave was big enough for a whole clan and their cavebears.
Tomorrow I’ll show you the brick house, or was that the rock house?
I never know what I’m going to see next. I think the mallards that were checking out the yard last week are trying to capitalize on this find.
I’m pretty sure he’s up to no good.
My last post about spring was two weeks ago when I was Looking for Signs of Spring.
The tree with the swollen buds outside my kitchen door, is in full bloom. Last year this little tree only had one solitary flower. It’s interesting to note that I photographed and posted about that single bud on March 19th last year. We are nearly a month behind on spring this year. That’s the last time I pay attention to Punxsutawney Phil.
Last year on March 19th, I took a photo of the magical green veil as the leaves in woods begin to unfurl. I called it “an elusive green mist where fairies play.” I’ve been waiting and waiting to see it this year, and the mist has finally arrived. It is rushing forward into full-blown leaves. The trees are trying to make up for lost time.
Here’s a sad part of the story. Last year from my window view as I sat at my desk, this little tree was blooming brightly across the lane on our stretch of property there.
About a month ago, I was sitting here typing as I often am in the morning, and I heard and then saw about 5 or 6 township workers with chain saws working across the lane clearing things out. This wasn’t completely unexpected because the manager had stopped here last fall to talk to us about cutting down a big dead ash tree up on the hill. We own the majority of the hillside, but the township owns the top where there is a small pioneer cemetery that is overgrown for the most part. But as I sat and watched the workers, I saw a man come up to the little tree that was not yet in bloom but beginning to bud. “I hope he’s not going to cut that down,” I said to myself. And no sooner were the words out of my mouth than the deed was done. Some things just don’t have do-overs.
Mark was not a happy camper. He loves his trees.
As you may be able to see from the above photo, there was a LOT of honeysuckle over there.
The workers managed to decimate about half the dense growth over there before Mark and another neighbor put a halt to it, resulting in a half thick, half bare view across the way. We had them finish the removal of the honeysuckle from our property.
But Mark had them mark the small trees they were to leave standing. They had been removing the smaller diameter trees as well as chopping down the honeysuckle. The yellow tags around the trees indicate they are to be removed, the pink means they are to be left alone. Our neighbor had them completely block off his property with yellow tape. Now it looks like some kind of marriage of a crime scene with a used car lot across the lane.
After much to-do, several emails, and a township trustee meeting over there, the township will be replacing our blooming tree that they leveled with a comparable one. Mark marked the place for it so they could check on underground utilities.
Being something of opportunists, with the removal of all the undergrowth, Mark and I went out yesterday and bought then planted a peach tree shown above
and a cherry tree. They are both self-pollinating, which is an interesting idea if you stop and think about it. I’m thrilled about the cherry tree because we grew up with two cherry trees in our back yard. My mom made cherry jelly.
“You won’t be making cherry jelly with these,” Mark said. “We had trees like this at our last house and we never reaped a harvest.”
“I’m going to make cherry pie,” I said, undeterred.
“The birds got all the cherries,” Mark said. “You won’t get any.”
I can taste that cherry pie already.
Meanwhile, a robin kept watch.
“And peach pie too,” I added, “I can’t wait.”
Wednesday morning I was stumbling around the kitchen before I managed to ingest my daily dose of caffeine in the form of hot tea which isn’t nearly as potent as the caffeine I used to get in a day’s worth of coffee. Alas, another compromise as I have grown older.
I looked outside and saw a big bird in the trees. Over time I’ve gotten used to finding them amidst the camoflage of the tree branches. They look like a big blob interrupting the natural flow of the branches.
It was a red-tailed hawk.
Our bird feeders have been frequented this winter by a rather bold sharp-shinned hawk who likes to hunt there, but the larger red-tailed hawks don’t come around as much, and when they do, like some of the other more skittish birds, they tend to stay back and within the protection of the woods .
I recently read about the benefits of green smoothies from my blogging friend Marion at Figments of a Dutchess and have been trying them out all week. I poured my green smoothie made with an apple, pear, banana, and spinach, into a large glass and sat down at the table beside Mark. It was an April morning and for some reason the wood ducks we saw last year came to mind. “Do you think the wood ducks will be back this year?” I asked Mark. “I haven’t seen them yet.”
“I saw them yesterday,” Mark replied. Unlike me, Mark doesn’t rush to announce his nature observations to me or the world at large.
“I hope they come back again.”
From my lips to the universe. I looked outside and spotted the female wood duck perched on a sycamore branch.
She and I were both looking all around. I was looking for her mate. I didn’t know at first what she was looking for, but I found out later.
There he was. Just a few trees away, perched on the limb of another sycamore.
You’ll have to take my word for the next part because I wasn’t quick enough to catch a photo. This is not as easy as it looks.
The female duck went into the hole in the sycamore tree. I circled it for you. I was stunned to say the least and not certain. But then I saw a cascade of dried brown leaves shoot out of the hole and flutter down. Then again. I became hopeful. Like the chickadee I told you about earlier, the wood duck was apartment-hunting.
She poked her head out to check out the view from her front porch.
Meanwhile, her mate was waiting patiently.
And then not so patiently as he quacked at her, “Well, make up your mind, Mabel. Do you like it or not. I’m not going to stand here all day.”
She took one more good look around and then darted out of the hole and flew right past her mate who immediately took off and followed behind. Again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
But that wasn’t the best part. Later in the day a movement through the woods caught my eye. It was a large black bird with striking white stripes on its wings sweeping through the trees. It landed on the trunk of a tall tree near the top and I saw the tell-tale red plummage on the top of its head. I enjoy all the birds I see from the smallest wren to the largest owl or blue-heron, but some birds really thrill me because of the rarity of their visits. And the pileated woodpecker is one. It moves quickly through the trees with a flash of white, landing here and then there. A true wonder to see.
Yet again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The shadows are long at the start of day
when the earth moves to greet the sun once more.
At the edge of the night filled with dreams and desire
the rays of the sun strike through
and light up the earth
and shine through the leaves
and shoot past the trees.
The shadows are long when day first begins.
By noon they will be gone.
I can see a spot of color from my view outside my kitchen window.
Swollen buds, I don’t know if they are leaves or flowers, are visible on the tree outside our kitchen door.
The cheerful pansies I planted yesterday beckon me outside to look for signs of spring.
I marvel at the contrast between the soft bright color of the pansies as they catch the morning sun, and the barren woods behind with its long shadows.
Mark’s garden below the deck with its freshly turned rich brown soil is a sign of spring. It hides the seeds he planted yesterday. They wait for water and sun, like little parcels of power from which green shoots bearing vegetables will appear.
My St. Francis Garden is showing signs of life shooting forth from the brown dried leaves and stems yet to be cleared away. Perhaps I’ll do that today.
The irises are inching upwards on schedule for their May parade.
Bunches of daffodils are ready to turn, one morning, into a riot of bright yellow.
Soon. Maybe today.
The hyacinths with their sweet, at times piercing, fragrance are preparing to bloom.
The bright spot of color I saw from my kitchen window is in fact daffodils, as I suspect you guessed. The first to bloom. They are the best harbringer of spring in my garden because, unlike tulips which never made it past a few inches of green before being eaten, the deer won’t touch them.
This year I outsmarted the deer. I planted tulips in a pot on our deck. One of two things will happen. The deer will walk up onto my deck, or I will have tulips.
Are you seeing signs of spring?
While sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner yesterday, I thought I saw something moving in my woodland garden.
Even though we cleared a lot of the dense overgrown honeysuckles from the woodland garden since we’ve been here, the deer wears its camoflage well and is not readily visible.
It’s rare for us to see only one deer. The deer that frequent our yard are typically a mother with two fawn, now yearlings.
I spot what I think is a deer lying down through the fence of our neighbor’s yard. I’m not sure, but there may be two deer over there.
You can make at least one out a little bit better in this cropped version of the previous photo, in the upper left corner. The second may be between the visual “v” created by the evergreen tree.
The deer in our garden is nosing around in the clearing we created at the top of the small hill.
Oh. She’s dropping to her knees.
Well, look at that. She’s lying down for a bit of a rest.
She looks quite comfy and content, doesn’t she? Although she’s keeping an eye out for me and the little light that flashes when I shoot a photo from inside the kitchen door.
Aww. She’s sleepy.
Whoops. Something spooked her. See how her ears are perked up?
Never mind. She needs a nap, and this is a good place to take one.
I don’t know how long she slept. When next I checked she was busy pruning my stella doras.
You probably think she’s a nuisance and is in it only for herself. But not me.
I can tell she’s trying to be helpful by the way she systematically nips off the tops of each and every stella dora plant, working her way down the garden.
Who can complain? She’s a sweet little darling.
I’m happy to have her around.
I was only kidding when I said it was the last snowfall on March 6th. Today is actually the last snowfall.
And it’s been a nice snowfall so far, if snowfalls can be considered nice and not-nice. It’s not sticking to the roads yet, as you can see in the top left corner of the photo. And we didn’t get nearly the 4 to 7 inches the weather forecasters were predicting.
The snow is blanketing the trees and ground with a soft white layer,
turning the views from our windows into picture postcards. Mother Nature isn’t finished painting with white apparently.
And that’s okay. I have the flag my mother made that I found at my parents’ house, still on the pole, and that I hung on the first day of spring to remind me what season we’re in.
I’m going to enjoy the snow while it falls. It is the last one.
Although March heralds spring, technically it is still winter until March 20 at 7:02 a.m. according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. And today Mother Nature gave us a very clear reminder.
Isn’t it beautiful?
We need to keep the bird feeders filled for our little friends.
But I don’t mind the snow.
Daffodils aren’t up yet to have their backs bent by the weight. And the trellis is empty still.
This wet, heavy snowfall colored my world bright, white, peaceful and calm. From my view out of the kitchen window to the office where I sit as I type.
Like so many other things in life, the trips we take, the people we love, the snow will be gone soon. I’m soaking this one up as if it is the last one, like a last hug, a last smile, a last word. For lasts do come, most often without an announcement.
This is a beautiful snowfall, and it is the last.
Or maybe not.