Monday, April 25, 2022

And She Is Up and Running

I told you to pay attention or this sweet young thing (Spring) would have grown up and matured before you even made it around the side of your house. She is very promiscuous and does not think about those humans who are enthralled and behave as paparazzi. I visited the nearby County Park which has a wonderful marsh created by those industrious beavers who think spring is a short marathon.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Just a Breath

Spring, although filled with tasks and events, does creep in so slowly and yet so determinedly.  Each day some minuscule change happens and unless you are measuring, you do not notice.  Soon the season will be mature.

While I have several native dogwoods that bloom white in the understory of the woods, I have a cultivar of a dogwood in the front yard that seems as beautiful to me in the small first bud of early spring as it does when mature.   Its "blossoms" are symbols of love, luck, and rebirth throughout the world.  It also has religious meaning for many.  The beautiful part of the bloom is the bracts or leaves outside the blossoms.  We think they are the petals of the flower because they are colored and not green, but they are not.  Inside are 20 tiny blossoms...the actual flowers.

Below is what my tree looks like this week...such a tease.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Famous and Popular Event with Nature

I visited Washington, DC last week to enjoy the cherry blossoms. We picked a Thursday hoping that crowds would be smaller with people at work. It was also a day after heavy rain and the areas where people walked were muddy. Alas, the crowds were there in full force and the rains had knocked only a very few blossoms to the ground. Some of these are digitally painted and others are right out of the camera. I hope you enjoy the visit virtually.  The last photo has a quote from FDR (Franklin Delanor Roosevelt) taken at the FDR memorial.  

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Even Birds Get Nasty Habits

The birds have been intriguing all winter, but now that the weather is warmer I can stay outside longer to catch them when they drop their fear and shyness.
The White-throated Sparrows are very common and feed on the ground. They turn leaves throughout the woods, but also collect in a group of a dozen or so under my birdfeeders. According to Cornell their sound is "Oh-sweet-canada-canada" or "Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody". This prior text was a direct cut and paste, so not sure why the capitalization is off. The words are not something I can hear out when I listen. This is primarily their mating call in the spring. They are full opportunity feeders eating seeds, insects and even buds of certain trees in the spring. Like the majority of birds, they feed their young insects. I guess that is why they are so abundant. This Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) above is storing her cache of seeds from my feeder. I do not think this is a nest since I see no entering and exiting. Below is our common Northern Cardinal. They have ganged up on me and gone from one bird who pecks at a window to three or four that peck at ALL the windows around my house! I can no longer take an afternoon nap! I fear it is a genetic anomoly and they will reproduce even more of these birds with a nasty habit.

Sunday, March 20, 2022


Spring is here. Oh, there could be the errant snow that only falls by the window and never covers the lawn for more than a second or two. The weather here is sometimes sporadic. But I took a walk around the yard with my camera and this is definitely evidence that spring is here.  Yesterday was in the 70sF!

Male House Finch in mating colors.

Bumble bee checking out the dead nettle flowers.  Notice his orange pollen?

You can wipe that  pollen off your nose and go back to drinking your nice warm beverage now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Taking Liberty with Botanicals

I had fun "painting" the California outdoor botanicals. Spring is in full swing there now.  Below a cherry tree in the Japanese Friendship Garden. Some textured bark, cactus in bloom, and a Southern California coral tree.
Then there was this little forest that took me by surprise. Needed no changes/painting to enjoy the abstraction! Even the crow was fooled!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Rush Hour

It is just past 7:00 in the morning and the sun is starting to peek over the horizon through the woods in the East.  Temperature is a challenging 39F and will hit 40F by this afternoon. It was almost 70F yesterday and that has been the state of things. Winter followed by summer followed by fall all in one week! 

I saw a flock of robins flying in and turning the leaves in my backyard as I sipped my morning coffee.  This means to me there may be the rarer flock of Cedar Waxwings nearby.  They tend to move together. It is that time of year.

I go to the front window, near the holly, and as expected, I see the silhouettes of Cedar Waxwings against the bright morning sky in the tall tulip tree. I go outside very quietly and stop just at the second porch step. I sit slowly on the cold flagstone in my flannel pajamas and lean against my cold stone wall and slowly lift my camera to the tops of the nearby tulip tree. There are dozens and dozens of the Waxwings!  My photo is backlit, and therefore, a harder challenge for this amateur photographer.

There are 40 or 50 silhouettes of Cedar Waxwings surveying the front yard!  I sit for several minutes taking photos.

The Waxwings remain quiet.
Because my angle is so low, the close-ups do not show the beauty of these bandits.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Hungry visitors

It is that time of the year when a birdwatcher, if careful, can catch a waxwing at the holly berries. They, the berries, are something like fine wine and have to be frozen and thawed and then frozen and then brought to the exact correct temperature before the birds will begin to gorged. The waxwings share with the robins. Below was taken at an angle through a hazy window, because that cold weather just did not make me eager to stand with camera in hand and attempt to quietly get close enough to them. They are shy if I go out the front door and if they fly away, there is no telling when they will return.  I would be a popsicle by then.

If you look closely at the waxwing photo above, you can see another waxwing below hidden by the evergreen holly with just the flash of its' yellow tail showing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Just Listen

The master painter had painted the land crystal white 
 As the night painted a black sky
When the timid gray dawn crept in
 I was in awe and asked what to do
 The elder said to “Just be, simply listen.” 
But you cannot hear the snowfall 
 You cannot hear the white shadows 
 You cannot hear the roots of the trees as they hang on
“They are all talking to you 
 But you have to shut the door behind you 
 You have to hold your breath 
 You have to close your eyes 
 You have to empty your mind
Come sit on the bench with me 
Do you hear?”

And, yes, I heard the geese 
as they lofted the snow from their backs 
even though they were a mile away
as they traded war stories

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Slowly, like a Hibernating Bear Disturbed by Those Waterbirds

When the early morning is below freezing, I see the sunrise through the trees to the east fighting its way forward like some sleepy and confused bear wondering why it must get up so early. The Sun starts its morning fire which looks as if it is struggling to ignite. It grows into a baby pink and the clouds get their bottoms slapped with it to let us know that Old Man Sun is trying to warm the winter side of the earth.

I try to encourage the Old Man with a smile.  The winter shadows cling along with the crusty snow that outlines the skeletons of the trees.  

Eventually, the sun hits the dark bark of the big oak tree and I feel like I am seeing some rare and beautiful episodic painting that lasts only a few minutes and then melts into day,

Here, at last, my side of the earth is awakening. 

I have been sleeping on and off all night.  There are four or five pods of Canadian geese that shelter in our finger of the river.  They erupt in cries and cackles periodically.  Loud and arguing through the darkness of night, perhaps over whether they are far enough from the edge of the river to avoid that beautiful rust-colored fox that lives somewhere in the ravine.

Every year in the darkest of the night it sounds like a wild frat party across the stillness of winter.  For Canadians, they are not all that well-behaved, until the sun makes their white breasts glow like searchlights, and then they get quiet and start their quick regimented paddle to the more open river.

There are four Mourning Doves that hang out near the bowl of seed and the heated birdbath on my deck.  Some winters they just wait on the edge of the bath and enjoy the warmer air. They do not coo at this time of year.  They are patient and can wait for their turn at the food, although I have seen them argue among themselves as to who will get that last sunflower seed.  I do not see them chase others of a different kind.  Maybe because they know we make them the symbol of peace.  I think that dove above is flirting.

Well, now that bear is fully awake, I need a second cup of coffee.  Thanks for reading.