The Changing Seasons, February 2021
Astronomical spring begins (here) March 20th but meteorological spring starts tomorrow. I’m not sure what the difference is, but I will take spring any way I can get it. I will also get my first vaccination tomorrow, so it will be a beginning on at least two levels.
It has been a month of frustration and loss, and also of hope and the beginning of change. There has been fresh bread and Indian dishes with na’an. It has snowed, warmed up, gotten very cold, snowed again. Snowed again. And snowed. Again. Garry got both of his vaccinations and tomorrow, I will get my first. I’m looking forward to a bit more freedom and maybe the beginning of a better world. So much is still “up in the air.”
All will fall down in the coming month and I hope we will be happy with the result.
I’ve been sleeping poorly. I’m sure when life settles down, I’ll be able to sleep better or so I hope. Last year began the day after my birthday. My birthday is March 11th and we went out for an amazing steak dinner. The following day, the lockdown started. I remember — early on — being on the phone with an old friend, making plans to get together after a long absence. Then there was no world, nowhere to go, no one to see. It was okay in the beginning and even for the first five or six months, but has become increasingly wearing as the months have continued.
Maybe this is the end of the middle or the beginning of the end. Who knows? The world is changing, has changed, will change. I can’t feel the solid earth under my feet. Instead, I float and hope.
About The Changing Seasons
The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken that month. For many of us, looking over these photos provides a structure and narrative, so each month is different. Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.
In the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you. There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.
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Categories: #Birds, #ChangingSeasons, #Photography, baking, Life, Nature, Wildlife
I love your bird photos, Marilyn – they are always a treat! Good luck with your vaccinations – we’ve had ours and only had mild symptoms for about a day. My arm itched near the site for a few days, but I attacked it with rash cream, which I have lots of because I tend to get rashes, especially in summer.
It seems that everyone around the country is talking about an increase in coyote sightings. We have seen them also – a couple of times, we’ve seen one running across the back of our house! No one in our community lets their pets out except when they take their dogs for a walk.
You have a wonderful dialog going which is great to see! I am as concerned as you about climate change and destruction of our natural environments. I thought at first that the pandemic would ameliorate some of the traffic pollution, and I guess it has, but with everyone getting take-out meals or having them delivered, there is now an increase in plastic waste, including styrofoam and plastic bags that escape and fly into trees. Last summer, a photographer here took a photo of one of our swan pairs curious about a plastic bag – one of them had put the bag into its mouth! Fortunately, the swan realized in time that it wasn’t something to eat and abandoned it. I don’t mind the styrofoam, although it can’t be recycled usually, but fortunately we have a company in a western Chicago suburb that takes recycled styrofoam, because they are the company that makes it! Well, at least it gets used and reused, if someone is willing to drive to this company – a bit far from here, which I don’t mind. Most people don’t know what to do with this stuff and throw it out. I see lots of discarded masks (the paper kind you throw away after one use) which is also a tremendous waste.
You mentioned people in the Southwest hoping to get water from the Great Lakes – well, we Midwesterners are on to them, and won’t let them have our water! I love the Southwest though, and its desert landscape. Lots of people there have cactus gardens instead of trying to grow flowers that aren’t native to the area. I’m not a fan of winter but have lived in the Midwest most of my life, which I didn’t plan! If we could afford to be snowbirds, we probably would have gone that route, but we decided to spend our extra money on traveling instead, which of course we can’t do now anyway. But no matter what happens, we are going to take a road trip to New England in the fall of this year. Last time I was there was many years ago, on my honeymoon with my first husband. It was early October and the day we left Boston it had started to snow. We got a glimpse of fall colors in the countryside, topped with a layer of white!
Ah, that must have been two or three years ago when we had a pre-Halloween snow storm. You really have to tell me when you are coming. We don’t live in Boston, but this is the OTHER part of Massachusetts that visitors never see because it’s not on the “tourist route.” When we lived in Boston — and Garry was working — we gave GREAT Boston tours because he could walk up to the Governor’s office and knock to see if himself was there to chat. Back then, the Statehouse was surrounded by SWAT, of course.
Meanwhile, out here, no governors. No government, for that matter — but rivers and birds and woods. Lots of dams and waterfalls. And us, too and The Duke. We are also very conveniently located to Sturbridge Village which is a museum of 17th century rural life with shops and people in costume and all that kind of thing. It’s a really fun place to visit and it’s just a half an hour from our house. They also have some really good restaurants, which is not something you can say about Uxbridge. I think my kitchen may be the best restaurant in Uxbridge.
This valley is also one of the ultimately most fantastic places to see fall colors — IF we have a good fal. Last year was really really good. It started slow, but it was incredible and lasted for a solid three weeks before beginning to fade. But, as you already know, not every October is equal. We live in hope. I’m pretty sure we could clear out the guest room and turn it back into a guest room. A year without any company tends to wind up with a lot of accumulation in empty rooms.
I did try to explain to my beloved Arizonian friends that their plans for important the Great lakes was not necessary so much a plan as wishful thinking, but they are SURE that’s what will happen. That’s how come they just keep BUILDING AND BUILDING AND BUILDING.
It actually gets HOTTER in Phoenix at night these days because the cement and asphalt reflects the heat back up. I love the cactus gardens, but they’ve so over-paved the area, it hardly matters. At least they have mountains.
Best wishes to you, Gary and the small creatures, Marilyn. I hope this spring and summer you are able to have a social life again and enjoy the animals free of worry.
With the arrival of the third vaccine (today), I think the future looks a lot better than it used to!
That would be wonderful.
You are lucky you don’t dry out, but the Ohio is a very big river and what we have is a complex of rivers that forms a watershed that feed most of the state and Connecticut too. We also have a strong aquifer. Maybe less strong since we’ve been in serious or moderate drought for a decade.
We have a lot of predators and not nearly enough prey. I love our pretty little creatures, but I understand that there’s a food chain and everything needs to eat. I’m sad for the small creatures who are killed by larger creatures, but that’s how nature works. We have a fair number of deer, too and I have to assume that’s part of what the coyote hunt. We used to have rabbits and chipmunks too. LOTS of them. I haven’t seen a rabbit in years. Since the bobcats arrived, all the rabbits are gone and all the big chipmunks as well as a lot of hedgehogs.
The Blackstone was horribly polluted for a long time. It has taken 50 years to make catching trout safe for people who eat them. Only in the past couple of years have parts of the river become safe for swimming. This was the home of the American Industrial Revolution, so all the original mills were built here, on the Blackstone River. We are a National Corridor. Not a national park because a lot of people already lived here, but we have lots of museums and parks and historical areas. But that industrial revolution used the Blackstone to dump all its poisons. Modern poisons are NOT more powerful tan ones they used a few hundred years ago. The earth is so poisonous in some areas they dare not remove the dams because the earth beneath them is hazardous and would re-pollute the river. So we live with the dams. They were able to remove a few of them, but most are still in place and probably will never be removed.
I don’t know then why bird life would have deserted you unless too many people have cleaned up the weeds around the fields where the birds used to eat. It also might be changing climate. We have lost more than a billion birds in the past decade and are still losing them by the millions every year. Those of us who’ve gotten serious about feeding them do it partly for the joy of it, but also as our personal contribution to trying to keep the planet a place where not only humans can live, but also other creatures. There are pockets where wild things live — like your area and mine too — where there are woods and natural areas for wildlife. But most of America is paved. A huge amount of this country has become uninhabitable for anything that doesn’t buy its food in a grocery. I think we are lucky that we still are able to get a sense of what the world used to look like before we “fixed” it by cutting down every forest and building endless roads and malls. We’ve got a lot of dead malls now that I suspect will never be used again. I don’t think those old days of mall roving are coming back. The miles of countryside that were destroyed to build those collapsing structures — what a waste.
Ironically, we haven’t gotten any smarter, either. We don’t plan development. We don’t develop based on available resources. The whole southwest is running out of water because they’ve built huge cities in arid areas. I have friends who live in Arizona and they keep assuring me that they are going to pipe water down from the great lakes. Really? I haven’t heard about THAT big dig. Also, the people who live near those lakes might not be willing to see them pumped out so Phoenix and L.A. can grow bigger forever.
I’m so glad we live in the country. I think this past year we would have choked in the city. But I don’t know what the future holds. I won’t live forever and who will feed the creatures when I’m not here? It’s expensive, messy, and time consuming. I just hope more people will realize we are not the earth, but just a part of it.
Your bird photos are lovely as always Marilyn. I’m so pleased that you and Garry have been/are being vaccinated.
Thank you. Me too! I actually looked for crocus today and all I found was mud and ice. I guess not yet. It has been raining all the time for the past week. It has cut into my photography considerably. Snow is interesting and can be beautiful, but rain and watching the snow turn black and melt? We call this time of year “Mud Season.” As the snow melts, every thing is really kind of ugly. In a few weeks, it will begin to look better. Cold rain, mud, and melting ice. THAT is what WE call spring!
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It has been so dry here for so long, I am envious of mud.
There’s mud now, but our dry season is summer. Sometime during May, things start to dry up. Last year, it was REALLY bad. The rivers had no water which killed the fish and the water fowl flew away and haven’t come back. Also, because it was so dry there weren’t a lot of seeds. The only reason we have so many birds is because I spend more money feeding them than I spend on feeding me.
We had some snow this winter, which helps because last year, we didn’t have any snow at all. Spring is our wettest season, but we used to get at least SOME rain in the summer. Now, we often go without any rain from May through September. It’s very worrisome. The climate is changing. It can be hard to tell around here since New England weather has always been erratic, but these long, very dry summers are dangerous since the water in this area is the watershed for much of this state and Connecticut. If we go dry, everyone goes dry.
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☹️ we’ve been in drought for over a year. Our lawn has huge cracks in it from the 2019-20 summer that didn’t heal last winter and have only got worse
For all those climate deniers, I think they must all live in cities. They don’t see the rivers. They don’t watch the birds or see if there any squirrel babies showing up. They are afraid of mice because they don’t get that we are only a part of this world. Garry and I were just talking about birds and how he first thought I was just being annoying and crazy, but now HE watches the birds and feels when he feeds them that he is participating in their lives.
Our river beds developed cracks last year. The snow has helped heal them, but I have learned the hard way that just because you got some winter snow and a bit of spring rain, that won’t last through the summer. The swans left our ponds and rivers because the trout died. Last year, they tried really hard to feed the river enough water to keep it alive, but by the time we got to the fall and there was still no rain, they had to tighten up the dams. We have 46 dams along the Blackstone and each one is individually controlled. You can release a lot of water or hold it back, depending on the weather.
And I have been here when it flooded several towns, including ours. But that was 20 years ago and the rain stopped about a dozen years ago. 8 years ago, we had NO rain from the end of April through mid-September. If you didn’t notice the rivers, it was a perfect summer. It wasn’t even humid. Now, though EVERYONE notices. We get drought graphs from May until we see the snow fall.
We used to get 8 to 10 feet of snow. Now we get maybe two or three feet . No one waters their gardens anymore and you don’t see a lot of gardens — not like you used to. If you can’t water them, you can’t grow much. Half the farmland has been sold — not to developers, but because the farmers gave up.
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Your photos are phenomenal, Marilyn. So many birds of so many species! I live too high up for the birds to visit, but even when I was on the farm we never had that many different species. Mostly blue jays and the ones we called chimney sweeps. The jays chased the dogs and the sweeps fell down the chimney and into the house. I love farm life! For real.
Last year on March 11, sometime around 2 a.m., I fell and broke my leg. At that hour all I could do was lie on the cold floor and wait for someone to wake up other than myself. At a few minutes after six the paper was delivered and the carrier heard me when I called for help. The world was normal when I was taken to the hospital for surgery to fix the leg, two days later when my son picked me up for two weeks in rehab it was so eerie outside. No traffic, no sound except our own conversation, no sign that we were not the only people left living in the world. And when he returned two weeks later to take me home things were even worse. I wanted a strawberry shake before having to begin making my own meals again and there was only one drive in restaurant open. And we were the only people driving up to it. Even worse was arriving at my building to find everything empty, doors to common rooms locked, bars at the office windows, and not a single other person in the halls.
Normal now, at this time? Being alone all the time, doing laundry after midnight so I can avoid the great unmasked who continue to argue that it is all a hoax. They should tell that to the families of the people who have died from the hoax.
I hope your shot is as easy as mine were. And apparently as easy as your husband’s. Good luck!
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I think this region has a very large number of birds. Maybe it’s because we are not in the mountains or on the shore, but heavily wooed. But we do have a lot of varieties here and we get a lot of transients heading up from the south to Canada, too. Maybe it’s just the region itself — or maybe it’s that this area (New England) has about 70% trees throughout except where it’s shore or mountain. There are several kinds of birds we never see, but I know live around here and a LOT of hawks, including the Bald Eagle. We have herons and Canada geese and white Ibises too. It depends on where you are. If you are along the river, you see more hawks and water fowl. Here, you see “garden” birds. Seed eaters and a LOT of woodpeckers. And red squirrels and gray squirrels and a couple of types of chipmunks (minis and fullsize). Coyote, Fisher cats, bobcats, raccoons. So far, no bears. I’m counting on no bears!
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We do have brown bears in some areas here as my son could tell you, He and some friends were out on their 4-wheelers a couple of years ago when they saw one, gave chase to try for a photo op, and one of the boys got swept over the side of a pile of slack at the strip mine area they were riding on. He was more frightened than injured, but after that they all looked around for cubs before they chased another bear. We also have cyotes, red fox, raccoons, squirrel, doves, red-winged bkackbirds and on very rare occasion the mountain bluebird will have a nest in a fencepole. Hummingbirds have become rare here but used to be spotted all the time in the area. As for the geese, we are surrounded by four rivers and so many creeks it;s a wonder they don’t all have resident waterfowl present year around. I did see some finches once, but only one time. Wild turkeys at times, but hunting season takes most of them. One of my grandsons once tamed the two wild turkeys that were supposed to become Thanksgiving dinner, so they went with beef roast instead that year. Nothing in the world beats going over and being greeted by a two year old sitting on the back of a wild turkey!
Brown bears are big. Our local bears are the black ones — about half the size of brown bears. If you are up north, that would account for the lack of birds. It was a bad season for making seeds. There was a serious drought over much of the northeast and even worse in Canada. We have four feeders up and when it isn’t freezing, I also put out water. It’s like baseball: build it and they will come.
There haven’t been almost any water fowl this year. The rivers went all the way down to mud last summer and fall — which meant no fish or other small river edibles. If we don’t have another summer drought, things might improve. I think to get hummingbirds, you eed flowers they love — fuchsias were their favorite when I was growing them — or feeders. They don’t eat seeds, so they don’t come here, but there are a lot of them where there are feeders and flowers.
We had to make some decisions about what kind of birds we wanted to “invite.” Bird seed costs a LOT more than I imagined possible, so I declined to buy food that’s more popular some of the bigger birds. At some point, the price of feeding everything gets to be a bit much.
We do have foxes. I forgot about them, but we see them fairly often I though foxes were smaller than that, so I was surprised. Those foxes were as big as our dog.
I know that a few towns over, they have bears and bear tracks have been spotted here, but I’m hoping they don’t move in. They can be very destructive and that would mean taking down all the feeders, too. You can’t leave food out and our deck is in need of repairs anyway. I don’t think bears would help much.
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Here in Kentucky I live inside the bounderies of about 5 or 6 rivers and creeks. for some reason the Ohio Valley seems to keep water on the ground all the time, or so it seems. My two boys farm close by Owensboro and they have been hard pressed to find a dry day at times. Fortunately they mostly run cattle now, and the farms are near forests and creeks so the water tends to remain in places. We have ponds on the farms that are stocked with fish so a lot of people go in to fish, most of them tossing the catch back for the next time, but I’ve been truing for years to get my grandson to catch some for me. He just laughs at me. The foxes have been seen in the woods on the farms, as well as deer, rabbits, squirrels and raccons and opossums . They occasionally see eagles but mostly hawks are around the farm, with the barn owls as well. I’m not sure how they got here but one day a parking lot near me was filled with seagulls. We have to be close to 1000 miles from the ocean, so I’m not sure how they arrived here, unless they followed the rivers from Pittsburg. I guess we will never know that one, but the local paper had a great time while they were here.
I’ve only seen one red fox, most of them are the greyish ones, but coyotes are all around the farm. It’s eerie to hear them at night, knowing we have cattle and they are probably after the young ones. There’s a bounty on them most of the time but not sure how many have ben taken off, hopefully all, but that’s too much to hope for.
The son who encounntered the brown bear was closer to the eastern bounderies of the state, up in coal country. We live in western KY, on the banks of the Ohio River and surrounded close by with Panther Creek, Rough River and the Green river. There are several smaller creeks and rivers around but those are the main ones. I’m sure they all look like main ones while in flood though. We are probably gearing up for the next 20 year flood now. They are bad for everyone.
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