Monday, February 1, 2016

False Spring

It doesn't take much to get everybody's hopes up. We get a few days of nice weather, and even nature starts thinking, "Spring!" 
Yesterday, when it was still January, there was a fly and a cricket in the house, a small snake on the front porch,
and two ticks rode back from the woods on Barley. 

The trees have not capitulated to the siren song of spring yet, but some of the fields have already turned green...

 ...and the snowdrops, though always early, were swaying in a springlike breeze today.

Of course, it's only February 1st, and even if we didn't follow Kevin on channel 10, or Ron and Abby on KY3, 
we'd still know that these balmy days won't last.

About this time every year, I'm reminded of the ancient promise God gave to Noah:
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.” 
Genesis 8:22
The promise has never been broken, and I believe we can safely say that, sooner or later, spring will come.

Don doesn't even like to hear me breathe this prayer, but Barley and I can't help asking:
"Please, God, can we have at least one good snow first?"

Linking with Saturday's Critters,

Skywatch Friday

and Wednesday Around the World

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blue Skies

It was beautiful yesterday, with skies as blue as Paul Newman's eyes.

I visited the Theodosia Marina, where a mature old sycamore stands tall, its white branches bright against the sky. 
At my feet, a piece of sloughed off bark caught my attention, the back side crisscrossed with insect pathways. 

When I was a kid, my neighbor friends and I used to pretend that these were ancient maps that would tell us the way to hidden treasures.


We don't always get blue skies in this life, nor clear maps to guide us. 
One of my Mother's favorite songs, by Annie Johnson Flint, was "God Hath Not Promised Skies Always Blue". 
It holds great truths for any generation:

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

Perhaps we've found those hidden treasures, after all.

First published 1/29/11

Linking with Skywatch Friday

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cleanup Crew ll

They come at first light, announcing their arrival. Acorns from the large pin oak in our yard carpet the ground below the dogwood tree, and bluejays have been enjoying the harvest.

I watched one bird pick up an acorn and fly up to a sturdy dogwood branch.  Pinning the nut between his feet, he drew himself up to full height, and then, with a swift motion, he brought the full force of his beak down on the acorn.

It took several blows to crack the nut before he was able to extract the bitter meat and gobble it down. His mini-meal finished, he discarded the empty shell, and went to find the next nut.

If things go as they have in past years, the acorns will be gone long before the lawnmower comes out of the garage.  It's good to have a cleanup crew.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Helping Hands

yellow-shafted flicker at birdbath

The birdbath outside our kitchen window had several visitors this morning that we don't often see. Two fat Robins drank opposite each other; the water droplets on their beaks sparkling like diamonds in the early sun. They were joined by a Flicker and a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. Waxwings are such beautiful birds, and aptly named. I had the impression this morning, that before they left the shelter of the cedars, they had dipped the tips of their feathers in large pots of hot red and yellow wax. They came as a group, eating a few winterberries from the branches propped by the birdbath, and they left together, moving in one long, synchronized formation.  

Our birdbath has a small device that prevents it from freezing in the winter, and when the pond is frozen over, as it is now, the birdbath becomes a magnet for birds. Eight bluebirds came next and lined up close around the rim, enjoying each other's company.  

A loud thump scattered the birds, and we saw a Flicker that had just crashed into a window, flopping on the cold bricks. It didn't look good. Don was out the door in a flash, scooped the poor bird up, then cradled it in his warm hands. Before long, the Flicker raised her head and life seemed to surge back into her body. Then she lifted off and flew away.  Woodpeckers seem to have a pretty good recovery from such mishaps; their heads must be tough considering all the jackhammering they do.

Don and I have both held a number of birds over the years, cheering them on, and when they make a recovery, we feel like we've gained a friend. We'll keep watching the sky, and the next time we see a Flicker, we won't be surprised if she tips her wings in our direction.

First posted on January 9, 2011

yellow-shafted flicker in man's hands