Between a few days ago and today, the Columbine bloomed — and started to die. I mean literally, two days. It usually hangs around for a while, but we seem to be hurrying into summer. It seems to be that when spring comes late, the garden starts to hurry towards summer, skipping the usual pieces.
There are endings … and then there are final endings. This particular cemetery is in the middle of town, right across from the waterfall. It predates the Revolutionary War and many soldiers through World War I are buried there.
Our Commons is also full of memorials to those who died in the Civil War, World War I and II … and more. If we have many more wars, there will be no space left on the Commons. It will be entirely composed of war memorials.
That’s a thought to ponder, isn’t it?
Photography: Garry Armstrong
Is it really the last sunny day? I don’t think so, but it’s the last one until sometime next week. At least it wasn’t bitterly cold and it only rained for part of the day. That’s good, right?
I am sure the sun will return. I can only wonder when that will be. Maybe we’ll get a surprise. You just never know.
When we moved into this house, there was one bedraggled Azalea trying to stay alive in front of the house. It never got any sun and it was too close to the foundation, so it didn’t grow and never bloomed.
This year, for the first time, it actually bloomed with more than a single flower. It’s not brilliant, as Azaleas go, but it has come a long way since we transplanted it. It’s a full-sized bush, even if it doesn’t produce a lot of flowers.
It’s gray, rainy, cold and the world is made of mud. No hope of flowers because it still feels like the end of winter.
Then, suddenly, the sun appears and you get a couple of warm day and the world explodes in color. Breathtaking barely describes it. It’s like a new world, a new planet. The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Of course, the squirrels are still eating all the seeds, but the lawn got mowed, the dead bushes are gone, there’s a tall fence to keep Duke in the yard where he belongs … for today, at least, the world is just perfect.
Garry went out and took pictures yesterday. Me too. I got serious about birds. He got serious about Uxbridge. There are so many pictures, I have barely had time to scrape along the edges of the more than 200 pictures from just yesterday. Call this “Breathtaking Sample 1” with more to follow!
From Garry Armstrong, the village and neighborhood:
From Marilyn Armstrong, more birds and a squirrel.
I don’t usually get to take a lot of pictures of favorite birds, but this guy really settled into the feeder today and he didn’t flutter off the moment I had the camera up and ready. That’s not entirely true. He flew off a few times into the tree, cracked open some seeds, then came back to the feeder. Sometimes, it just takes patience. And waiting!
The following four pictures were taken from wildlife groups.
Before everyone points out that this bird has a red head and not a red belly, I know that. But there already is a Red-headed Woodpecker who looks a lot like this guy, but his entire head is solid red, not to mention the Pileated Woodpecker who has a red topknot and is about the size of a medium-gauge hawk and a beak you wouldn’t want to mess with. I’m pretty sure he’s the bird the creators of Woody Woodpecker had in mind.
The following are pictures I took this morning. Even though this bird looks (to me) as if he has an orange rather than a red head, I have been assured that he is a Red-bellied Woodpecker and not a Gold-fronted Woodpecker.
The only difference between the two is the color of their head. Worse, they live in the same parts of the country.
However, this is quite a thin bird and I’m pretty sure he’s recently fledged so possibly has not fully developed his colors yet.
I’ve been going eyeball to eyeball with our local squirrels. First, I thought we had just a few squirrels, but lately, I realize we have all of them. The entire woods full of squirrels are part of our world.
They all come, hang around, decide they need to wrap themselves around the feeder and suck the seeds out of it. Garry fills the feeder in the evening and by the following morning, more than half of it — about 3 pounds of seeds — are gone.
They used to get spooked when I tapped on the window. Then they only got twitchy if I opened a window and yelled at them. Eventually, that didn’t work either. Now, I have to actually go out on the deck and they sit there, on the rail, staring me in the eye. I’m pretty sure that eventually, I’m going to have to physically remove them. By hand. I’m not looking forward to that. I have a feeling these little guys bite.
It isn’t that I mind them having a meal. I mind them eating everything and never stopping. How can such small furry creatures eat so much and so often? It seems to me that their appetites are never satiated. There’s no such thing as enough … or if there is, there’s another one waiting on the rail to take over.
This morning, our midday squirrel was back. I know they are supposed to be crepuscular — feeding early in the morning and just before the sun sets. But this one likes noon. Just about as I’m setting up the coffee, he’s hanging on the feeder.
So I opened the top of the Dutch door and said: “We’ve had this discussion before. It’s time for you to go home to your trees. Eat acorns. Find plants to chew.” He looked at me. I’m pretty sure he smirked at me, too.
I reminded him that I was getting weary of this conversation. I could see him thinking. “Shall I buzz off or shall I jump into that flat feeder? Hmm.”
Finally, he decided I was NOT a force to be reckoned with and he launched himself into the flat feeder. But this once, the flat feeder fought back and tipped sideways.
All the seeds spilled down to the ground below along with the squirrel. I nearly caught the shot on his way down, but all I got was the fuzzy tip of his tail as he fell to the ground. Which wasn’t so bad because he landed in the forsythia bush, then on the ground where there were pounds of seeds he was now free to eat.
You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Surely humiliation would stop him from further depredations.
You would be wrong. In fewer than five minutes, he was back on the rail.
I had to go out and forcefully explain that it was past feeding time and he was going to let the birds have a go at the feeder. They sit in the nearby tree limbs, waiting for the squirrels to move on and for some reason, they seem to know I’m yelling at the squirrel — not them. How they knew this, I have no idea.
I ultimately convinced him to go travel amongst the trees and give the birds time at the feeder. The first arrivals were a couple of Cowbirds, a few Goldfinches, and a big Red-Bellied Woodpecker plus a young Cardinal. I actually got some pictures.
I’m sure he was back as soon as we left to go to my son’s birthday party because when we came home, the hanging feeder was nearly empty. We are running out of seeds and have run out of money, so everyone is just going to have to survive on their own for a while.