Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Start

Days are getting longer and moods are getting brighter.  Birds are noisier and whole flocks of robins and cedar waxwings fly over, pause for 20 minutes in my skeletal tree branches, clean out worms from the lawn or holly berries in the woods and then like Black Friday shoppers race on to the next yard or field.  It is beginning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Early Birds

The early bird gets not only worms but some of the best lighting on the river.  And way at the top of that tallest tree mid photo, that you probably cannot see, sits a bald eagle in proud form being watched by a nearby crow.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Weather or Not

Climate Change, that crazy cousin of Mother Nature, has been dancing around the edges between winter and spring for weeks now. He is like a precocious child that has been given a wind machine and an air heater and he viciously flies up and down the coast raising the air temps on one side and then running up the wind machine from across the farmlands on the other pushing the colder air into a fight with the warmer air.

Then when he gets a good thing going he sits back and laughs at the wet lightning battle

We watched wide-eyed as 100 foot trees were flung back and forth and the smaller branches ripped from their hold to be flung into the air like crazy missiles.  We frowned as the river climbed high over the dock and pushed its way up the stone path toward the lawn.  We watched the sky turn angry charcoal as the sun began to set.

The rain that was released was nasty and flooded roads and lawns.  The lightning was frightening forcing all the creatures into shelters as the dark approached.  We sheltered down in the basement sitting near the storage room which is solid concrete block on two sides as the land line and cell phones rang over again and again and the TV sirens went off warning tornadoes were on there way.  Fortunately few touched down and none near us.

It was over in less than an hour and the Climate Change cousin got bored with the game and decided to fly over the Atlantic and play with the big boats.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Yesterday Back in the Saddle

There are many ways to tell we are just over 26 days from the turn into spring as I write this post. This past morning was cool but not cold. I noticed this as I went outside in my stocking feet to take the photo below.  The sun was pushing these clouds ahead of its golden warmth.

We had a high of 56F by mid-day.  Rain is, of course, predicted as this warm air moving in meets the colder air.  I rushed to put on gardening clothes and spent several hours cutting away the dried stalks of perennials and pruning back the smaller shrubs.  I pulled dead annuals such as last summer's zinnias and saved the roots for this summer's class with children about root structure and size.  I took a hoe to the small annual cut flower bed and had to remove 80% of the chickweed that carpets the entire bed in lime green.  There were dozens of small larkspur plants from last year's seeds fighting for space with their ferny leaves.  I will have to go back in a week or so and hand pull those chickweeds in between.  I was ruthless in removing the black eyed Susan as they grow everywhere in other beds.  

While weeding near the hellebores I noticed that the sapsucker had braceleted the sugar maple's trunk sucking up the returning sugars.  I made a note to try and hide somewhere to get a photo. 

By noon the storm was moving in from across the river, and I was tired.

I had not I finished 50% of what I had hoped to complete but two and half hours of work was the best type of exercise I had had all winter.  I was glad to see the disturbed ground worms as I pulled up the excess of fennel plants.  I worked to the rhythm of the woodpeckers drumming in the tulip trees.  The only thing missing was the smell of earth, maybe not warm enough yet?  I did not rake the leaves and detritus as we usually still have ground freezes ahead of us.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Winter Warrior

All  Much of what I do in the winter months is play with bird photos.  Then I photo-paint the photo. I thought I would share a few of these "warriors of the winter" with you. 

Northern cardinal
House Finch
Female Black Bird

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I have spent 95% of my time this past week indoors. Yes, I went food shopping and to a weekend seminar on soil science and to a play and out to dinner on Valentine's weekend, BUT I really have been mostly indoors in front of the computer or the TV or an open book. 

I did do some running on the elliptical so my guilt would not totally depress me, but mostly I have been hiding. I do not like cold weather. I use it as an excuse to eat carbs, drink wine and bundle. NOT HEALTHY.  Yesterday after a large and wet snow storm I went out for a walk in my neighborhood and just to prove I can still walk in snow boots I took some photos to share. (By the way, temperature is now above 50F and it is raining like waterfall outside and the snow is ALL gone!)

The first two are photos of my neighbor's driveways; one family is in Florida!

 I caught a snowfall just from the branch as I passed another neighbor's house.

This neighbor does not live here and this small well-landscaped mansion is lonely.   (Not everyone in my neighborhood is a millionaire but we have a few tucked here and there.)

 When snowflakes started landing on the lens  and only wet mittens to wipe with I knew it was time for me to head back home.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Deer Me

I have dears and deer in my life.  Lately with our extremely cold weather, the four-legged dears in my life have been hanging out at the bird feeders.  They have not been eating at the feeders as I have seen in other photos, but they are curious about all the activity.  The photos are not in super good focus as these deer were close to the house and very skittish.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Waxing Beautifully

The nights have been unusually cold this week with just a a little snow and a little hail.  This morning as I was finishing the last of my coffee and being thankful for not have to venture outside in the 30 degree weather a flurry of wings and shadows crossed the deck at the bird bath.

 I was very excited to see waxwings in with the flock of robins.  I rarely see them down this low.  They usually hang high in the tops of the trees like sooty colored cotton balls and I cannot identify them without my binoculars.  In the above photo the waxwing clearly is confused about the dish of birdseed.

In the photo below the waxwing is looking at me as if wondering what on earth I am thinking putting out seeds and nuts!

These birds  are so exotic with their masks, dash of yellow on the tail tip and red wax on the tips of their wings!

Maybe you remember reading my blog post about saving a waxwing's life one very nasty winter.  If not go here and here

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Yin and Yang

Winter has visited us like a tired boxer, maybe like Rocky Balboa, a bit past its prime, still looking good and able to spread white dust everywhere, but unable to go the distance, unable to make us sit up and notice for much more than twenty-four hours.   

Winter was not able to kill the weeds this time around and my work will be long and arduous as spring brings longer growing days soon.   

The hellebores are a tease calling me to get down into the mud on my knees or to sit on the cold hard brick which edges the raised bed beneath my sugar maple and squeeze off a camera shot or two while cold winds whistle at my collar and shake the blossoms gentlyThis milder weather will make them glorious against the grays but it will stress my maple because it has not had a long enough rest.

 It is always a trade off, is it not?

Friday, February 05, 2016

After Midnight

It is past midnight and something has pulled me out of my light sleep. Some evenings sleep comes like a full sedative and other evenings it hangs in the air over my bed taunting me by blowing air in my face each time I start to go under.

I watch the moon's light dance across the bedroom that what aroused my senses?  Clouds mask the pearl and the room darkens once again.

Then I hear another sound outside the window. It is the geese convention that meets here in February.  It is a large convention of strutters and flappers and hearty laughers.  There are hundreds of them tucked all the way to the end of our finger of the river, and all it takes is one tip-toeing fox to set them off on a chorus line of brassy musical crescendos faking bravery.

I wait and once again comes the hush of night,  the sound of an appliance whooshing softly, the air ducts clicking with the warmth pushing into the room.

Then I hear another sound more clearly.  The sound of rain washing against a skylight in the other part of the house, rain that in minutes changes to pattering hail, tossing tiny orbs of ice as if in some ball game, a tapping so gentle that it should put me back into sleep, but it does not, because I must go back to bed and I am now up.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


At the small cove off the river the ice was broken and tossed ashore as the warm winds came up this week.  It looked like the remainder of a bar fight.  Maybe an argument over how long to leave the vodka bottles in the freezer?

Then just around the corner to the beach the only remaining sign was the big dog walk.