End of Season

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The summer season is winding down.  With all of the pressure to prepare for winter it is still my favorite time of year.  Maybe it’s that sense of urgency, the knowledge that every single day will have to be packed full of projects because that cold, snowy weather is right around the corner.

It’s so subtle, it sneaks up on you really.  Mid August you begin to notice it getting darker so much earlier and the day doesn’t begin with the sunrise until after 5:00 AM.  The birdsong is changing.  The insects you encounter are different as well.  You’re listening to crickets, huge grasshoppers leap in front of you on that afternoon walk about.  Huge caterpillars are making themselves known with their size and color.

The leaves are changing to my favorite palette.  Gone are the bright, cheery greens of spring, the steadfast greens of summer. Now comes the olives, golds and rusts.

The photo above shows the reality of my vegetable garden.  It was so beautifully taken care of until August when I went on a week-long vacation.  It got away from me and at this point there’s no going back.  It hasn’t stopped producing.  The blogs I read show immaculately kept gardens but in the back of my mind this is how I imagine they really are.  The realities of doing anything agriculturally – especially by yourself – is that things are not as tidy as you wish them to be.  So you pick your battles.

The fall party this year has turned into a family baby shower.  I will be holding my first grand baby in my arms around the beginning of November.  The grounds will be as tidy as they can be – Bill takes great pride in his lawn.  The messiness of the chickens and that overgrown garden will be here in all of their glory as well as a building flattened and not yet moved and a back forty full of goldenrod taller than I am.

But you know.  The goldenrod is in full bloom and it is the loveliest shade of yellow.

Birds and Snow

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You can always tell when the weather will be bad by the number of birds on the feeders.  The chickadees demanded I put them up about a week ago while I was doing a walk about.  I relented figuring it was cold enough so the bears might have entered into hibernation.

Yesterday the activity stepped up and we all knew it was because a storm was coming.  They are much better forecasters than any human being (that and the joints were screaming).  This morning the snow started in earnest at about 9:00 and it went from nothing to blizzard almost instantly.

The birds continue to come, all varieties now, loading up.  Their feast for the holiday.

We have people travelling from all over.  Some are beginning to arrive, some I’m hoping will wait until tomorrow with the snow coming down the way it is now.  They predict up to 12 inches and at the rate it’s falling now I wouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe this coming long weekend and enjoys time spent with friends and family.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Birds, Bees and Butterflies

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This garden was one we put in about 3 years ago (time all melds together at this point – maybe it was four years, maybe two).  It is pretty spectacular this year.  All of the plants have matured and I put in a few annuals that Bill brought up.  The best part about this garden is its attraction to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

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If you are within sight of this garden you can see it is a hub of activity.

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I was thrilled to see honey bees on a lot of my flowering plants this year, it’s been a while.

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There is always something to watch.

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I originally planted this for the color it would give our view of the back forty. When I sit in the Adirondack chairs and look over this garden I realize I planted the perfect wildlife garden.  There’s a hummingbird feeder that I have to fill every few days and I have seen finches in and out of it all day long.

There are also a critters that I could do without – chipmunks, red squirrels and woodchucks.  Although, truth be told, I love watching them too. They don’t really bother anything, they do dig holes all over the place.  If and when they get into the vegetable garden I might have a change of heart but for now I’ll share this beautiful space with anyone that wants to visit.



How Things Change

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I don’t sleep much these days.  I wake up early in the morning (often very early).  I squint at the clock to see if it’s too outrageously early to get up.  My rule is if it’s before 4:30 AM I have to stay in bed.

Getting up really early affords you the opportunities to see the sun rise.  It seems like I take a photograph from the same spot looking out the living room window a lot but in doing so I’ve seen some amazing sunrises.  Yesterday was a perfectly clear beginning to a beautiful spring day.  Finally!  It has been one long winter.

With spring also comes some huge life changes for me (all of my family really).  After spending the past 30 years travelling from Enfield to Rowe and back I will be moving there full time in May.  Unfortunately I will be moving there without most of my significant others.  They will continue the weekend commute.

This was not an easy decision to come to.  Dad will be coming home and I will be staying with him.  Every single person that hears about it has asked me the exact same question, exact same words “So, how is this going to work?”  I tell them all the same thing – “I won’t know until I’m in it”.  You do what you have to do.

It seems as though everyone I know my age is dealing with the same issues that we are.  We are all caring for our aging parents in one way or another. I’m not sure most of them are living separate from their spouses for days at a time but our relationship is strong and we look at it as another thing to work through. I am fortunate that my father is pretty capable at this time.  His health has stabilized.  He’s pretty sharp as well.  Throwback Thursdays could take on a whole different tone with him telling me the stories behind the photos.

I think the loss of sleep comes when I wake up and start thinking about what I take with me and what I leave behind.  I look at it as leaving things behind because I will be leaving a large piece of my life in Enfield.  Don’t get me wrong, I will not miss Enfield for a minute.  I will miss my home, my bed, my furniture, my tchotche.  This is the part that has almost immobilized me.  I wander around the house at times and think “Should I take this?”  I packed a few things and brought them to Rowe at the beginning of the week.  When it came time to unpack the box I just wondered why I packed what I did.

My life has been so different in one place or the other.  I guess I didn’t realize how different each life was until I had to think about walking away from one.  I moved to Enfield when I married Bill. My kids were born and raised there.  They are grown and I went through the empty nest thing years ago but I will be leaving the Mom part of my life in Enfield – at least the biggest part. Not sure that makes sense – suffice it to say that this will probably be the biggest change I have ever made.

Time will tell.  I was horrified when my father was in rehab and then moved to assisted living.  I couldn’t imagine my health being bad enough for someone to move me away from a place I loved and had lived in for 50+ years without so much as a discussion.  I knew that if his health stabilized I would bring him back to Rowe.  He’s counting the days, for different reasons I’m sure.

I take comfort in the fact that I will be able to garden more, walk in the woods, sit and soak in the birdsong, play with Chester.  Compensation for being put into a somewhat difficult situation. I will also be able to see the sun rise from the same spot every single day.

Spring Has Begun

unnamedFor those of us now anxiously waiting for spring yesterday was not what we needed to see.  It snowed, it snowed like crazy.  Those torrential downpours you see in the summer?  Yeah, that’s what happened here only snow.  Six inches in less than three hours.  We just cleared away four or five in our yard on Sunday.  I’m just tired.  And cold.

This morning the sun was shining brightly, it was 18 degrees.  I opened the door to take Chester out for his walk and the first thing I noticed was birdsong.  Not just any birdsong but spring birdsong.  Robins, woodpeckers, chickadees all singing their spring twitterpated songs.  A robin was sitting on a branch of the cherry, a flicker was chipping away at an old maple in the backyard, cardinals were fighting over territory (there’s nothing more beautiful than cardinals in the snow).  Chickadees were singing their spring phoebe song.  Sigh, they know.  Even though there’s over two feet of snow in my yard today and most of the tree limbs are covered just hearing them makes me smile and think warm thoughts.

Time to stop listening to all of the bad weather hype and listen to the birds in your backyard, they’re telling you that spring is just about here.

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Little Thief

131228 Finches (1)The finches love this seed sock filled with a combination of nyjer seed and sunflower chips.  They flock to it in droves.

It was hung on an S hook on a line going across the patio in full view of the kitchen window.  I would drink my coffee with camera waiting.  Well, last week we had snow, then rain and ice.  What was on the roof came down and the feeders on the line were bounced off when the snow came to the ground.  Yeah, yeah, not the best plan for hanging feeders but hey, live and learn.  I arrived to all the still hanging feeders empty and went out to gather them in to clean and refill.  The sock was nowhere to be found – gone.  The S hook was laying on the ground.  There were telltale tracks though and I thought it was the little red squirrel that I had seen the previous week.

I filled the feeders and brought out the fruit and nut mix for the top of the pine stump.  The jays really love it there and it keeps them from bugging the other birds on the feeders.  Once they were all filled and hung back up the birds returned.  All the time I’m out by the feeders you can hear them singing, just waiting for me to get far enough away to feel safe.  The chickadees don’t wait long.

Back indoors I made the usual cup of coffee and sat by the window.  Guess what I saw?

140112 Squirrel (2)Yup, and so innocent looking too.  I don’t usually see gray squirrels here.  I know they are around but they aren’t the huge, pesky hoard I have in Enfield.

So now I know who the culprit is and I’ve ordered another sock that I will attach to the line in a different way.  I will also put it up as high as I can.



Finches on the Feeder

131226  Goldfinches (1)We are having a beautiful, light snowfall taking away the ugliness of mud that we had for Christmas eve and day.  The trees are dusted and the air is still.  The birds are taking advantage of the feeders today in large flocks.  I watched them make their way to the ash tree that is next to the feeders 10 and 20 at a time then fight for position on the perches.

Initially I just had my camera on automatic but the more I watched them flit from tree to ground to feeder I decided to up my shutter speed to photograph them in flight.  To stop the action of their wings.

131226  Goldfinches (2)Amazing.  I could do this all day.  Sit by the fire, drink a nice hot beverage and watch the birds and the snow.

The holidays are over – today is for me.  As much as I love having family surround me for the weeks around the holidays I really enjoy the day after when it’s quiet.  It’s a time I savor and today has been perfect.



If You Feed Them They Will Come

100918 Birds (6)I’ve posted an older, warmer photograph today because this is really where this starts – feeding the birds.  Each year I try to be mindful of what I’m planting to bring the birds and butterflies to my veggie garden.  I always plant sunflowers because the finches always seem to know they are there and wouldn’t frequent my yard much without the food to entice them.

I don’t feed the birds otherwise until winter hits – and it has.  I hadn’t put feeders out in a few years because of the bear population and their affinity for bird feeders.  I heard somewhere that anytime after December 1st in our area it’s safe to put feeders out so I put out a small one the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I was surprised at the number of birds that were on it only 3 days later and at the number of different kinds of birds that were all vying for the seed of this one feeder.  I was thrilled.

Last weekend saw flocks of birds at the feeder at most hours of the day.  A surprising number of woodpeckers were visiting as well including two Red Bellied Woodpeckers.  They are the real stunners so far – large and flashy.  They are there everyday so now we just wait to see them.  It’s quite the colorful group as well – House Finches looking so rosy and Bluejays on the ground mixed in with the Goldfinches, Juncos and Chickadees. It seems like they all visit at different times of the day, each species taking its own turn.

Last night I decided to make something special for the woodpeckers to eat and proceeded to process suet, peanut butter and a nutty, fruity mix into self hanging feeders.  I mixed the ingredients warm, packed them into large paper cups that I had threaded a looped and knotted piece of twine through the bottom.  Once filled I put them in the freezer overnight.  This morning I peeled away the paper from the cup and hung one out on the hook next to the feeder.  We’ll see how this goes.  I’m also looking at other types of feeders and seed to try and cut down on the congestion at the one little feeder.

Cornell has a wonderful bird guide on line if you decide to feed the birds in your yard this year.  It’s a fun activity that brings life into your yard through the doldrums of winter.

So my camera is ready, the food is set out and all I need a little time to just sit and watch.