And a young robin—probably born in this back yard early in the year—is hanging around the fountain. He’s still a bit scruffy, still getting those breast feathers sorted. He eats at the bird table, too, but he really likes the fountain. We run it year-round (an aquarium heater works wonders in the winter) for this very reason.
I did some more work in the secret garden this morning. I walked across the deck and when I got close, I startled a bird up to the top of the fence. It was a young dove, and I stopped immediately and spoke quietly to it. Then its mother flew up to the top of the fence, too, and we all stood there quietly, having a moment. Then mom flew off, and her teenager followed. And I carried the shovel down into the garden and got to work. #secretgarden #gardeningmoments
It’s 34° outside at 1pm, 39° when we left the house for the farmers market at 7:30 this morning. On our way home from the market we saw a homeless man, staggering down the Church Street overpass in the wind. In shirtsleeves.
While we had a late breakfast, this little squirrel sat outside near the fountain and feeding table with its front paws folded up close to its chest, no doubt wondering what had happened to spring and did we skip summer, for Pete’s sake?
Now Gerry’s outside covering up the rose bushes, and I’ve dragged the potted herbs up into a little nook by the back door. It may be April seventh where you are, the joke goes, but here it’s January ninety-seventh. Brrr.
We’re warm inside, but this will be a long night for many of God’s creatures. #enough #grateful
I love “my” birds. Even when they’re molting. Actually, especially when they’re molting.
They look a bit pitiful—but really, they’re just getting on with it. There’s probably a life lesson there, yeah?
Last week I met “in the middle” with a client, which meant I found myself in tiny Nolensville, Tennessee. This one was made easier because sometime in the last year or so Veterans Parkway was completed, which means if I’m headed west, I can get to the interstate (I-840, which will cross I-65 and eventually hit I-40) without ever going into town.
I always enjoy a new drive, and this one, in particular, had some items of interest that caught my eye. So I took Gerry back a few days later.
We bought a pair of Amish-made Adirondack chairs at Smucker Farms (delivered later). They’re made out of “poly”—recycled material (including some wood) that will last for decades, we’re told.
And then we stopped at Fast’s Nursery in Arrington because I couldn’t resist the vast array of pumpkins.
Just look at these things! A vast array indeed!
Yes, I bought a couple pumpkins. Who could resist?
The days are cooler, and the nights are definitely cooler. We’re heading into autumn, y’all.
In my real life (as opposed to my travel daydream life) I edit books for a living, and I recently edited a wonderful book about a family who spent the better part of a year traveling around the world. (With young children! And it’s not science fiction!)
It inflamed my wanderlust. My wanderlust is off the scale right now.
The stories in the pages of the manuscript made me want to go places I have never, ever had any real desire to see. (China? No. Whiny music. Too much fish in the food. And, you know, evil empire. Someplace in Africa? No. Too hot. Special medical requirements. And I like my creature comforts. But the author made these locales sound appealing, interesting, desirable.)
The travelogue about the young family really moved me.
And this one too: An American couple who lived (separately) in Amsterdam, met, married, and had their child there, return after a stretch of years for a visit to a place they’ve loved well. They spend their vacation living along one of the canals in a home owned by friends. Which is the best way, really, to experience what a place is really like. A hotel can be very sterile, but a private home or apartment drops you right into the life of the place. This New York Times article is a lovely commentary on Amsterdam, and it makes me want to go.
Now, dagnabbit. I’m ready.
Then just this morning a good friend sent me a tweet. “What was the name of that book (from, like, two years ago) set during the war? You loved it.”
Now, I’m good, but I read a lot of books. “Ummm,” I tweet back. “What war?”
“Balkans, orphan girl, hospital, doctor woman—”
“Oh, of course!” The tweets are flying fast now. “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.” I loved that book. Loved it.
Turns out my friend had just spent two “magical” days “in DC in an Airbnb Georgetown flat hosted by the warmest, most interesting woman who lived through the Balkan war. If you and G ever get to DC, stay here! She is now an interpreter and expert in war-conflict resolution.” I read the comments in the link—the owner of the flat gets rave reviews.
Why the Marra? My friend wanted to “imagine her world.” Clearly this Airbnb host made quite an impression. And clearly this is a bedroom I need to sleep in, yes? I’m already wondering how soon we can start planning a visit to our nation’s capital. (We have a couple trips, short ones, already planned. Watch this space.)
In the meantime, I am trying to discern what it all means, the convocation of the manuscript, the article, the message from my friend, all in the space of a couple days. Since, you know, I can’t just quit work and take off every time I get bitten by the wanderlust bug!
The family of a good friend of mine has some farm property (she calls it a 150-acre deer sanctuary) out in the country. They’ve set up a wildlife cam to see what happens by the nutrient block (when I was a kid we called it a salt block); my friend says they see the deer, but also turkeys, rabbits, raccoons, and, once, a bobcat.
Every so often, something purely magical turns up on the feed. Like this.
What are they doing? My friend tells me the does are sparring for territory. I say it’s just proof they dance when we’re not looking. 🙂
My sister lives on the West Coast, in a small town. The house she and her husband live in is not far from the beach, and every day she goes down to the water. To walk the dog. To get some exercise and fresh air. To meet up with friends. (To meet new ones, too, but you can’t exactly plan that.) And so on.
She often takes photos of the things she sees. Usually the dog. Friends. Her kids. Or beach art.
Beach art takes many forms. Sometimes people make something with the sand. Sometimes seaweed arranges itself artfully. Sometimes there’s a stack of rocks.
My sister has a whole collection of these photos. I didn’t realize that rock-balancing is a thing. (But then, I work too much.)
Stacking rocks, of course, has been around for centuries. A human-made pile of rocks is called a cairn; they have been used as landmarks or signs, trail markers, even as gravesites. Probably a lot as burial sites.
And as art.
It’s a creative outlet. People go down to the beach just to do this.
If I lived near a beach, I suspect I might try it too.
Sometimes my sister participates; sometimes she just photographs.
The tide, of course, washes most of them away.
And yet, every day … another stack of rocks appears. Think about that.
New every day.
And then sometimes … there’s something different. My sister didn’t know what this was, but thought it was special. Perhaps it was someone’s swearing-in ceremony.
What do you do when you go to the beach?
NOTE: All photos taken by my sister, Jill.
We were just finishing breakfast and Jesse looked out the window. “Is that a hawk?” he said. It was. This is not something one sees in one’s suburban backyard.
So I grabbed my little camera (Canon S120—just a point-and-shoot but with a powerful zoom; I use it to take photos of the songbirds birds at the feeder from inside the house) and started shooting through a window with a SCREEN on it (thus the soft focus! ha).
The hawk was eating something—a small bird or a mouse—holding it clamped against the fence as he tore it into pieces. He ate all of it. Then he cleaned his beak and feet, stuck one leg up under himself, and rested.
He sat there so long I snuck onto the deck and took a few more. He was very comfortable there, and I have a couple dozen shots taken during this time.
Then I thought—duh—I should get out my big camera (Canon EOS 70D). Well, the battery was dead. And it’s brand new to me so I haven’t actually used it yet. So I frantically changed the battery, switched lenses (to a 300mm zoom), and snuck back out onto the deck.
He was beautiful.
I know now that this was a sharp-shinned hawk—and a juvenile.
Later, I walked out on the driveway to see what I might see.
It was a bird from my feeder, probably a sparrow. I’ve learned that the sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks commonly prey on feeder birds, and there’s always lots of activity at our bird table. Easy pickin’s.
Three days later and it seems we may, indeed, have a lurking hawk. This afternoon I found all the feathers and nothing else of a something larger than a sparrow (a mockingbird, I think) on the lawn, right under a tree branch where the hawk would have sat, pulling it apart. It was almost a perfect circle of soft gray. This was not a feline-induced death, which does sometimes happen in this yard; the cats leave the body, though—for them, all the charm is in the hunt.
I’m very much of the opinion that all God’s creatures gotta eat … but … I’d prefer that this beautiful young hawk go out to the fields that surround our subdivision and eat mice and voles and other rodents. I may have to stop feeding for a while while he forgets us.