In preparation for hand-feeding the hummingbirds, the ranger at Lake Hope, Ohio said, “Bees will be attracted to the sugar water. Let them be. They don’t want to sting you, they want to drink the sugar water. If you flap your arms and carry on, you will never get a hummingbird to come.”
This woman was the picture of patience, and it paid off. I wish I could have reached her before she left. I would have sent her the photo.
Whoah. Incoming. She sure kept her cool. I’m not sure I could have.
When the first hummingbird I ever saw, years ago, as it was zipping through my garden, buzzed by me, I ducked, thinking it was a very large insect.
What do you think? Insect or bird? Maybe insect.
No, definitely bird.
Or maybe magical, winged, woodland creature dancing with the fairies.
I didn’t have to take my 10-pound hunting dog, Arthur, into the woods to search out the fox den after all. The kits cames to me.
About 45 minutes after they left, the vixen came trotting by. She doesn’t look too good. It kind of reminded me of how I looked some days when I was raising babies.
No wonder she’s tired if she has to chase these kits down every day.
Do you know where your children are?
The first time I saw a red fox in the wild, or anywhere for that matter, was shortly after we moved here in January of 2010. I was looking out the kitchen window at the snow-covered, wooded hillside beyond the creek that runs across the bottom of our backyard hill. The red fox was jogging through the bare trees of the woods, parallel to our yard. It crossed the creek, and then jogged back across our yard. It was beautiful and stunning against the white winter landscape. I was afraid to leave the window to get my camera for fear of losing sight of it.
Over the next couple of years, we had the occasional surprise visit by a red fox. One morning as I sat at our kitchen table, I saw one in our garden right below the deck outside our kitchen door. It was moving towards the front of the house. I grabbed my camera from the kitchen shelf and raced through the house to the study where I caught a shot of the fox before it disappeared from sight. They’re usually on the move and don’t stay around very long.
This red fox was lurking behind a bush in my garden. A doe and fawn were nearby. I had heard from neighbors that we had a fox family with kits in the area last summer. I never saw the family. In the fall I was lucky enough to see two young foxes right outside my study window one morning. They looked more like young adults to me, than kits.
This year the fox activity has picked up even more. According to National Geographic, “Red foxes are solitary hunters who feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, and other small game—but their diet can be as flexible as their home habitat. Foxes will eat fruit and vegetables, fish, frogs, and even worms. If living among humans, foxes will opportunistically dine on garbage and pet food.”
Should I put out some of Arthur’s food for it? Probably not.
One day in January I got lucky when I happened to look up from typing on the computer where I sit in my study. Outside the window, in the wooded hillside across the drive, I saw these two foxes. I watched for a while, thinking I didn’t have time to retrieve my camera from the kitchen. But they were just kind of hanging out over there so I took the chance, ran and got my camera, and shot a few pictures.
One of the foxes has a bushy tail, and the other a long one.
If you look at the bushy-tailed one, you might notice that it looks a little thick around the middle. My theory is that this is the female who may already be expecting babies at this point.
According to All About the Red Fox, “Red Foxes are often mates for life. Mating occurs between mid-January and March, depending on the climate they live in, and the babies (called kits or cubs) are born about 58 days later.”
Does this look like a tired papa to you? He’s starting to look a little gaunt.
A fox can have from two to ten kits in a litter. According to National Geographic, “Both parents care for their young through the summer before they are able to strike out on their own in the fall.”
The mother stays with the kits constantly for the first two weeks and the father hunts, bringing food back to the vixen. After a few weeks, the parents give the kits regurgitated meat to eat. Then later they bring them small, live prey. (All About the Red Fox.)
One evening, Mark and I were sitting on our screened-in porch, that looks down on our back yard from a second-story level, when Mark taps my leg and points down to the yard. A red fox was trotting past with a dead squirrel in its mouth. Arthur started barking. The fox dropped the squirrel and ran into the woods. “That fox will be back for the squirrel,” I said. I had my cell phone in my hand, and sure enough, the fox came back out, grabbed the squirrel and high-tailed it across the yard.
A short while later, we saw it run past again with what looked like a small rodent in its mouth.
Then we saw the stubby-tailed fox jog by a little later. Arthur barked at it. It ran faster. Then it stopped, looked up to see where the noise was coming from, and stared at Arthur. After a short while, it turned and went on its way. This one seems a bit more bold than the other.
They sure are busy. They must be trying to feed hungry babies.
That hard-working fox just ran past the front of our house as I sit here typing this. I believe it was the male.
A couple of days after the squirrel incident, I saw a fox in our garden. Looking for a nice juicy chipmunk, no doubt. I am convinced there is a den nearby with kits in it. When I take Arthur out on our screened-in porch some mornings he stares at a point in the woods where it seems he senses something. Dogs have a good sense of smell.
I think Arthur is a hunting dog.
Maybe I should take Arthur for a little hike in the woods to find the kits. I’ll be sure to take my camera if I do.
Last Saturday, June 13, Mark and I attended the 25th Annual Fort Ancient Celebration: A Gathering of Four Directions, sometimes referred to as the Fort Ancient Pow Wow, with our photo group—Scoot and Shoot.
It was a two-day event filled with activities and demonstrations like talks about Herbs, a Dream Catcher Workshop, and Women’s Drum Demonstration:Struck by Lightning.
Two food trucks sold some traditional food, and not-so-traditional, food.
Frybread was a big item on the menu. I tried some with cinnamon and sugar and it reminded me a little of a thick, soft, cinnamon funnel cake. It was tasty, and no doubt fattening, which brings me to my next point.
I was given a short history lesson about frybread by the owner of the food truck I visited. When the US government forced the Indians to relocate to New Mexico, where their traditional crops of vegetables and beans wouldn’t grow, they gave them canned goods and the ingredients to make frybread: white flour, processed sugar and lard. By today’s standards, we all know how poorly this serves as nutrition.
“Frybread is revered by some as a symbol of Native pride and unity,” but it is also “ blamed for contributing to high levels of diabetes and obesity on reservations,” (Fry Bread, Inc). The Fry Bread link is interesting and worth a quick visit.
Generally, I like to take candid photos, following the implicit rule that if you are in a public place, you are fair game to be photographed. If I want to sell a photo I’ve taken of someone, however, I have to have signed permission. As a sign of respect, at this event, we were requested to ask permission before taking a photograph. We were granted permission to take photos of the Grand Entry with exception of a few particular times that included the veterans’ flag and honor songs.
I spoke with the woman in front, in this photo, who told me she is 50% Native, but when she is not attending special events, she lives as the rest of us do. She is the mother of the young man with the long head dress in the above picture. The head dress was a gift from her. She is proud and happy that her son chooses to participate and honor his native heritage.
This tiny dancer captured my heart. I also photographed another young girl, a little older than this one, who I overheard was participating for the first time. I snapped a shot of her as she was lining up for the Grand Entry. She was standing, very attentive and solemn, beside a woman who was teaching her what to do. I neglected to ask for permission before I captured that moment, so I am not sharing it here.
Fort Ancient, the site of the gathering is located in Warren County, Ohio, on a plateau above the Little Miami River. It is a prehistoric site built during the Hopewell Culture from 100 BC to 500 AD and consists of earthen walls and mounds built and used by prehistoric people to mark the movements of the sun and moon. Fort Ancient was primarily used for ceremonial and social gatherings on certain days of the year, as identified by solar and lunar movements.
“Today the structure is considered to be the largest and best preserved prehistoric Indian enclosure in North America,” (Ohio.com, Celebration a Gathering of the Four Directions).
The people who built Fort Ancient mounds were of the Hopewell Culture, not a specific tribe. Beginning around 200 B.C. archaeaologists noted a new Native American culture developing and spreading throughout the Midwest. They named the culture Hopewell. Tribes that identified as being part of the Hopewell culture had an agricultural lifestyle and complex trading system and tended to reside near major waterways. In Ohio, the Hopewell culture in strong in the Ohio Valley, the Scioto Valley, and the Miami Valley, (Ohio History Central, Hopewell Culture).
According to Indian Country Today, The Native earthworks in Ohio: in Newark; Serpent Mound, in Peebles; Fort Ancient, in Lebanon; and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park/Mound City, in Chillicothe—are being considered for UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites,” (Indian Country Today, Ohio’s Magnificent Earthworks – an Ancient Astronomical Wonder).
You can read more about how the earthworks were made and function here: Ohio Earthworks.
The early morning sun strikes through emerging iris blades and sets them aglow.
The Lenten roses, true to their name, are blooming again.
Larger daffodils are beginning to flower.
Pink hyacinths begin to bloom, their fragrance yet to make itself known.
The garden is coming up green.
And periwinkles carpet the woods across the way.
Even after the coldest, harshest, longest winter, spring, at last, comes again.
It’s been a long, cold winter here. But the month of March always gives me hope for spring. And this year is no different. Even though white patches of snow still dot the ground, I know winter’s days are numbered.
Yesterday I saw squirrels running through the woods hopping from limb to limb in a kind of feverish ecstasy that enters all of our souls to one degree or another with the coming of spring.
Our first robin is back. (A quick google search will tell you that some of the robins never leave. We, however, have not seen one solitary robin at our feeders the entire winter until the past few days. You can judge for yourself.)
And a red-winged blackbird has been visiting our feeders. (Websites like the Cornell lab of Ornithology will tell you that these birds are here year-round. It also states, “In the North, their early arrival and tumbling song are happy indications of the return of spring.” Again, you can judge for yourself.)
Spring is coming. I can see it in the birds, and feel it in the air.
This planet we’re on and the plant life on it never fail to amaze me. Right now a storm just kicked up outside my study window where I sit at my desk. The rain is pouring, tree limbs are moving violently, thunder is booming, and my little dog Arthur is hiding behind the recliner shaking. I’ll have to go get his Thunder Shirt.
Storms amaze me. But that isn’t what this blog is about, just a timely coincidence.
I want to talk about new growth. New life.
You might remember last spring when I came home to find our red bud tree in the back yard lying down on the ground in full bloom, like a carelessly tossed aside bouquet.
Mark went out and cut it off at the ground. I brought in a few boughs for a centerpiece, a floral arrangement to mourn the loss of this herald of spring.
And if you’ve followed my blog at all, you probably know I like to take Arthur for walks at the Voice of America park where I often take photos of the birds that frequent the lake and surrounding meadowland. What you don’t know is that they have had a problem with beavers there in recent years. Even if you’ve never seen the results of a beaver’s work on a small tree, you will know right away if you ever do.
In March of this year, this is what was left of a Cleveland Pear tree planted in memory of a individual named Walsh.
And this is what was left of a Swamp White Oak in memory of Dan Fleming.
I thought the trees were goners.
But here’s the amazing part.
In the beginning of June, the Walsh pear tree started showing signs of life.
By the end of June, the Swamp White Oak had a lot of dense new growth.
And finally, our red bud tree is growing again. It looks like a little bush beside the chairs.
I think this is amazing.
What are we to make of it?
Well, some might say, that’s no big deal. The trees have an extensive root system that stayed alive even in the absence of limbs and leaves.
Yes! My point exactly.
It is all underground. I can’t see any of it. There is life pulsing beneath the earth, within the soil. Isn’t that amazing?
This is an incredible beautiful bountiful planet.
Don’t miss it it on your short stay here.