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Posts Tagged ‘woodpeckers’

young robin Wood’s Edge seems to be forever white and icy this year. Just when I thought I saw grass, more ice and snow arrived. The heather beneath the front window made a valiant attempt at blooming last week, but its purplish blossoms were encased in ice, and I fear they’ll not flower again.

Though white themselves, the snowdrops usually make an appearance in late February or early March. Alas, I don’t think they’ll be able to poke their pale heads through the thick layer of ice on top of the inches of snow this year. Still I hope to spot their delicate blooms.

Hundreds of blackbirds descend daily to my birdfeeders and quickly empty its contents. Their loud chirping and astounding numbers chase away the blue jays, cardinals, finch, and woodpeckers who add just a bit of color to the white and brown landscape.

This winter, eight deer regularly wander through the woods and into my yard. As they browse the underbrush, their fur shines a golden brown when the late afternoon sun slants through the tulip poplars.

Still, my world seems colorless as children with their bright jackets, mittens, boots, and hats sled briefly, then go inside on such wet, slippery, cold days. And so, I turn to John Steinbeck for a cheering quote.

“How can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?” – John Steinbeck

How right he is! The bitter cold of this winter will make me appreciate the warmth of late spring and summer. And I would hardly notice the small heather blooms, nodding snowdrops, the brilliant patch of red on a woodpecker, the beautiful brown of a deer’s fur, or the brilliant blue of a hooded jacket in the lush green of June.

And for a writer on this bitter day, the arrival of an acceptance letter is all the sweeter because many rejection letters have preceded it.

 

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152 Long before recycling became common place, my family was carefully sorting our trash. Cardboard, paper, clear glass, colored glass, aluminum, etc. were separated in our garage, adding to the general disorder one finds in the garage of a family of five. Then, we’d transport the bags of recyclables to the local middle school and place it in the appropriate bins. But we didn’t mind.

We planted trees and native plants. We only cut down trees that had to be removed, even leaving some deadwood so the woodpeckers and other birds and animals could use the hollowed trunks for homes.

We planted a vegetable garden and used natural bug repellants, mulch, and fertilizer. We also planted sunflowers, black-eyed susans, and echinacea to not only enjoy their cheerful blooms, but to allow them to go to seed so the wildlife would have food. Coral bells, bee balm, hyssop, and other hummingbird and butterfly friendly plants were added to our flower beds. And at the end of the season, we left the spent vegetable garden for the wild animals to enjoy.

And with a well as our water source, we’ve always been conservative in our water usage.

Were those “be friendly to the Earth” lessons of long ago worth the effort? I believe they were. My children realize how precious our planet is, and are passing that belief on to their children.

Al Bernstein wrote: “We treat this world of ours as if we had a spare in the trunk.” I know there’s no spare, so I try to leave a small footprint on Mother Earth. This beautiful blue and green planet is a gift, and I celebrate Earth Day every day.

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As another ice storm approaches Wood’s Edge, I haul seed out by the bucketful to the wild birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs at the forest’s edge. Even with coat, hat, boots, and gloves, I shiver. I glance up at the heavy gray sky before filling the feeders. The chickadees, juncoes, wrens, cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, and tufted titmice (titmouses?) bravely swoop down and clothespin themselves to the perches of nearby feeders as I fumble with the first suet basket. Crows caw from the fence rail, several woodpeckers hop down the tree trunks, and a solitary hawk watches the goings-on with much interest.

 Meanwhile, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur is bounding through the drifts, grabbing mouthfuls of snow, and rolling with abandon in the loose, fluffy snow in the corner of the yard. Joyful is the only word to describe her behavior. She looks at me, eyes bright, muzzle whitened by snow, tail wagging so hard the rear half of her body has joined its back & forth motion, and woofs. A playful woof that seems to say: The world is wonderful and isn’t it great to be alive!

Last winter seemed to be a long string of snowstorms. This winter appears to be much the same. I get lots of writing and drawing done it’s true, but I miss morning walks. Ice is not something I choose to tread upon when trying to manage an enthusiastic 60-pound dog. And tonight we expect more ice. 

But even as I cringe at the thought of another month of bad weather (and I suspect we shall get another month’s worth of frozen precipitation whether or not that famous Pennsylvania groundhog sees his shadow) — I think of crocuses and the sound of spring peepers. And since Sandy has only been with me since last June, I secretly wonder what she’ll think of frogs!

 And so, I share a quote from Anne Bradstreet: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Indeed!  And if we had no winter, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur would surely miss the snow.

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