Red-tailed hawks are
warming to togetherness, indicating, more accurately than that four-legged
critter from Punxsutawney, that the weather also is soon to warm. Of course,
most Red-tailed hawks do not have television cameras staring at them to record
whether they see their shadow while swooping down on an unsuspecting breakfast.
Starlings are back. Murmurating clouds on snack break turn
large sections of local lawns black where they hide what is left of last week’s
L ast week I reported finding a hawk’s nest. Or maybe an eagle’s nest; I had not been close enough with the camera I had in hand to get a good enough look.
The mouse traps were empty when I slid out of bed to check. I’m glad.
I know about disease vectors and the bother of the little critters nibbling into the sleeves of saltines crackers, leaving a carpet of tiny black pellets on the pantry shelf. But, really, they don’t eat much.
I lived for awhile in a cabin in a wood. On a winter evening, we would watched a tiny critter appear on one side of the living room, scurry around the top edge of the tongue-and-groove knotty pine sheathing to the pantry – where he (or she) – knew a tube of Ritz crackers waited. He took one, then retraced his path to his family.
The eldest granddaughter graduated from college Saturday, first in her familial generation to be so accomplished. Even the gods were joyful, judging from the graduation eve celebration and fireworks. The rain started Friday evening as the celestial band tuned up, beginning with a soft breeze and a few drops, growing rapidly progressively windier and wetter with each hour. Then suddenly, amid the cloud-to-cloud arcing, the lights went out, as though one of the young gods, overcome with his own revelry, had stumbled into the switch.
I saw something last weekend I’d never seen off television. Tens of thousands of Snow geese covered a rather large pond near Kleinfeltersville, occasionally lifting off en masse to create a low cloud of white over the water. The birds were enroute their Arctic birthing grounds.
At rest, they virtually blanketed large portions of the pond, mostly paddling around in small circles filling the air with a sound like hundreds of playing puppies. Here and there, a pair would actually move from one side of the crowd to another, but mostly they stayed where they landed.
It’s spring, and young men’s fancy turns to thoughts of attracting young women’s attention. One may be the best at what he does, but it’s of no consequence if first he doesn’t gain the attention of prospective suitors. Watching the spring show at the lake is all about the boys striving for attention.
I was reminded last weekend of a certain young man of my brood who exhibited much the same activity when spring called boys and girls to doff their furs and leggings in favor of more demonstrative attire. He did have a physique I had never enjoyed, and would daily go to the gym on Main Street to pump iron and build rivers of sweat. Girls, their hormones telling them to pay attention, stood at the plate glass window and admired his effort.
It’s downright balmy out as I consider these thoughts. The thermometer claims about 45 F, and there’s a breeze blowing across what is left of a 30-inch blizzard that blanketed us just over a week ago. The raised-garden frames, themselves only about 10 inches high, are well exposed. There is weather outside my window, and it’s not bad.
My mother used to watch the weather forecast every night. She would announce, “It’s time for the news,” and take her place on the end of the couch.
But it wasn’t the news that interested her. She would talk through the news. In fact, one could say when the news was on TV was the time for news of the family and people we knew. One might call it “back fence time,” only we didn’t have a back fence, and if we had, there were no neighbors close enough to lean on it.
I, and my faithful companion Grady the Golden, wander along our favorite stream, among the vestiges of the Spring Transition.
Water gurgles and splashes over stones and boulders into a pool where a pair of Mallards paddle lazily. In a few weeks, they will be leading a brood of youngsters.[pullquote]… an owl hoo-hoo-hoooos. I flatter myself to think he’s laughing at me …[/pullquote]
Around another curve, a sextet of Canada geese hurry away. They are shy, sort of, like a group of prima donnas that want to be seen, but not looked at – and certainly not photographed.
(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/18/2014)
The world is coming alive with the warmth and light of Spring – this week’s below-freezing day notwithstanding.
A little bit ago, there was a bird singing loudly in joy at the edge of my back yard. I couldn’t find him to discover his name or photograph his appearance, but it was enough to hear his robust love song.
(First published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/26/2013)
Outside my studio window stands Mary Lou, a dogwood tree now in bloom, given my wife by her fellow nurses when her mom departed the planet. A colorful variety of feathered creatures bath in the stream, then fly up to preen themselves dry in Mary Lou’s outstretched arms.
At least one of the shrubs surrounding our house has become, or soon will, a nesting place for a robin family. I think it already has because when I approach a robin on any other side of the house, it flies away. But on the one side, it merely hops a few feet, in a more or less straight line, it’s back pointed to the evergreenery where I suspect it has taken up housekeeping. I take that behavior as an invitation to follow, knowing full well I’m being led away from the future baby bed. Continue reading
(Originally published in Gettysburg Times, March 8, 2013)
When I awoke Wednesday, entirely too early for my morning breakfast with a friend, I found about four inches of the white stuff on the backyard picnic table, and still coming down. Already it was falling off the Jeep, leaving behind rivulets of melt. By noon, it was almost gone, mostly turned to water.
A nice “now you see it, now you don’t” springtime snowfall.
It put me in mind of the storm we had in mid-to-late March 1998. I’d only been in Gettysburg a couple weeks. Continue reading