Sunday morning, I woke to a blanket of snow across the landscape. Maybe 5 inches. Not a mega storm, but enough to cover the branches of the trees, the lawn, and the forest floor.
I went out to take some pictures. Maybe it was the time of day … it was just a little past eight in the morning. There were dozens of little birds heading for the big forsythia bush. The birds love that bush. They love it in summer and spring and fall as well as in the winter. I don’t know if there is something there which they eat, or they just feel safe in its twisted branches.
We used to try to control it, but in recent years, it has quite gotten away from us, completely hiding the chain link fence that is the demarcation between our yard and the woods.
I was able to get some pictures of the little birds, something that usually eludes me. I don’t know what they are. Some kind of wren or finch. There are so many and they look very much alike. Our garden birds, sharing our world.
Become a Citizen Scientist. Click the link to read about Project Squirrel and to tell us about squirrels near you. Project Squirrel has been operating since 1997. During this time, over 1000 people have offered their knowledge, provided observations, and filled out the forms. We have been able to learn a great deal about these squirrels, particularly in the Chicago Metropolitan Region. Observations from other parts of the country have also been welcome and interesting.
In honor of National Squirrel Day …. What, you didn’t know? Well, today is National Squirrel Day. Project Squirrel gives you the opportunity to participate in … well … watching squirrels. Taking pictures of squirrels. And sharing your squirrel stuff with other squirrelly people.
Cee’s Which Way Challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails on which we move from one place to another. You can walk, climb, drive them, and ride them, as long as the way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is good, as are all signs.
The wild birds always know where they are going. In the air, on the water, and or marching across land … they have a built in GPS that is close to flawless. In this valley, the rivers and ponds are their highways. They swim in rows, like a flotilla. The herons fly over the waterways, watching for fish to eat. The swans and geese nest along the waterways and raise their young.
We have gone through several very hard winters in a row. The population of swans and geese is smaller than it has been in all the years I’ve lived here. Nature rules. We can only watch and hope for the best.
So far, this winter has been kind to them. The waterways remain unfrozen. There is food for all. Perhaps this year we’ll see an early spring and many ducklings, goslings, and cygnets to repopulate our streams and ponds.
YOGI’S BLOGOSMOSwrote an entire blog analyzing the pictures in this post. Please check him out. A thoughtful blogger with a devotion to nature and beauty.
For once, our weather forecasts were dead on. They predicted a little bit of snow. Less than an inch. I’m always suspicious because so often, they predict “a little bit of snow” and I wake up in the morning and we are buried under two or more feet of white stuff.
But this time, Wunderground predicted snow would start falling around 9 in the morning and end an hour or two later.
Indeed it did. When I got up at eight, it was overcast, but nothing was on the ground nor was anything falling. I went back to bed. I got up an hour later. It was snowing. I grabbed a camera, took a few pictures. Always trying to capture the falling snow. It’s easier to see the flakes at night than it is during the day, but you can judge for yourself whether or not I succeeded.
Bonnie thought I was offering her a rare opportunity to explore the deck and had to go out and poke around, so her paw prints are all over at least one picture.
Bonnie was a Christmas puppy and her natural habitat is snow. I remember housebreaking Bonnie during one of the snowiest winters we ever had. Up to my hips in snow, with more of it falling and the wind blowing. It was dark and so cold. There I was, saying “Bonnie, please just go already.”
And Bonnie was playing with the snow, making tunnels. Bounding through drifts. Rolling and digging. Never mind poor mom who needed to go inside to defrost.
She still loves the snow, although these days she is equally happy with piles of leaves that drop from the oaks every autumn. Anything in which she can dig and tunnel. Terriers. Earth dogs indeed. But also, snow dogs.
Patricia was a silver-tipped Persian cat. Although she was not an outdoor cat, she managed to slip past us where her fans, the local toms, were eagerly waiting for her. She was unspayed because I had hoped to breed her. She apparently harbored the same hope, but had her own ideas about who would father the next generation.
Not surprisingly, Patricia (she was so patrician) showed up pregnant. It was not the first unplanned pregnancy among our felines, nor would it be the last. Fortunately, we had plenty of friends who were more than happy to adopt one of Patricia’s progeny, purebred or not. When her day came, it turned out she was carrying only one enormous kitten who barely survived delivery. Breathing, yes. But that was all. Too weak to nurse and likely doomed. Patricia was fine, but utterly uninterested in the entire business.
A friend and his girlfriend were visiting at the time. She and I were fussing over the kitten, trying to convince it to nurse, or take a little formula from a doll-sized bottle. It wasn’t going well. Patricia was ignoring her kitten, a sure sign she did not believe her offspring could live.
Bob commented: “That kitten is going to die. Don’t get all weepy about this. Death is just the ass end of life.”
It’s so many years later I can’t even count the decades, but that really stuck in my head. “Death is the ass end of life.” Not very romantic, but then again, there’s nothing romantic about death. It’s the final part of the cycle of life. Beginnings, endings, and there’s some stuff in the middle.
I have not died yet (what, you didn’t notice?) but I fully expect the day will come. Maybe sooner rather than later. I always hope for the best, but you can only play dodge’em with Death so many times until he outwits you.
Meanwhile, a few observations.
It’s not just that every creature born will die. It is that everything ever created — by nature or man — will eventually disintegrate. End. Stop working. Disappear. Need replacement. From your expensive kitchen appliances, to the even more expensive car you drive, to the pyramids in the Nile Valley. The trees and the flowers in the garden. From the day of creation onward, everyone and everything is marching to a final destruction.
Let’s not worry about the future so much. Despite what happens along our individual paths, our end will be the same regardless. The ass end of life awaits. I plan to have as many laughs as I can on the way.
Our cat, Big Guy, was a very smart feline. Beautiful, sweet, funny. We lived in Boston back then and he was not allowed outside. Between the traffic, disease, and stray dogs, it was not a world to which I would expose our gentle boy. Of course Big Guy wanted out. I could not blame him, but there was no way he was setting paws onto those mean streets.
Yet, every once in a while, we would have the door open, bringing in packages, or coming, or going. Big Guy, tail at full mast, would walk out the door towards the street. No running. Measured steps.
“No one will notice,” he must have thought. “I’ll just casually stroll out and inspect the neighborhood.” Of course we noticed. When his attention was called, he looked at us as if to say, “What? Don’t I do this every day?”
Then there are the dogs. Bishop, the size of a small, but extremely furry pony, calmly walking out the back door. Like it’s an everyday occurrence.
Or Bonnie, with her long black claws clacking down the hallway, in her ongoing attempt to get into the laundry basket, or Nan, trying to steal the mouse from my computer. They are sure no one will notice.
Last night we were watching Castle. The bad guys were trying to kill them. The last of the good guys had been shot and was in the hospital. Castle and Beckett decide to interview the guy — secretly, in his hospital room. Except … you mean … no one will notice this famous author and his cop partner going into the room of a heavily guarded near-victim?
Beckett and Castle were working under the same fundamental belief as Big Guy. No one will notice. We’ll just casually stroll into the hospital room, no problem.
Sure enough. When the scriptwriter is on your side, anything is possible. Of course, it got the guy killed, but he was merely a guest star, so it didn’t matter.
In real life, everyone notices. I have never successfully snuck anyplace without someone hailing me, asking for my identification, or deciding they need to chat about something. Maybe it’s me. I do not seem to have a stealthy bone in my body.
Sad, but true. Despite the premise in so many television shows and the belief of my dogs that no one will notice whatever they do … not even that big furry butt skulking towards the forbidden exit … I never get away with anything. Ever.
Probably it’s time for me to give up my plans of becoming the next great international spy. You think?