Choose Your Side

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

There are red states. There are blue states. Why can’t we just be United States? I’m beginning to think this divisiveness is taking over.

While looking out the kitchen windows into our backyard, my husband began laughing, “Come here, you have to see this!” he exclaimed. The cardinals were gathered on the left side of the yard. The blue jays were on the right side of the yard. Keeping their backs to each other they flitted from one limb, to the ground, and back to the trees, occasionally pecking at some tasty morsel. They did not cross bird-lines, however, a redheaded woodpecker arrived. First he hopped up and down the tree on the right, tapping here and there. Not finding enough on the right, he flew to the tree on the left, repeating his dance from the previous tree. He paid the cardinals and blue jays no mind. He took care of his business, then left.

I wonder if the cardinals and blue jays took notice that it is possible to live harmoniously even when not every one is just alike. Did they discover they can cross the bird-lines in the yard?

Stanley, the Roadrunner

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

An umbrella propped in the corner of a covered patio has become an evening-through-the-night roosting place for a roadrunner at my brother-in-law’s house, outside of Phoenix.

Every afternoon between 3:30 and 4:00, a roadrunner wanders in from his (we think it is a male) day of hunting for food. He ambles about the patio, freezing into position if he senses movement behind the glass doors. When he feels safe, he continues his patrol of the patio. My brother-in-law reports that occasionally, he will tap on the glass doors. Sadly, he was not in a tapping mood during my visit during the holidays.

After taking stock of his surroundings, he may fly up to the back of a chair to study his final destination, the top of the propped umbrella. Or he may decide to fly right to the top of the umbrella.

Stanley is all puffed up trying to dry off. Believe it or not, it rained the days were were in Arizona.

Stanley is all puffed up trying to dry off. Believe it or not, it rained the days were were in Arizona.

Once perched, he faces out so he can keep an eye on his surroundings. His tail is straight up and flush with the wall. That is his pose until he leaves in the morning. Departure is usually around 8:00-8:30.

Since this bird has been roosting on my brother-in-law’s patio for several months, he was given a name, Stanley. Stanley does not take flight when you go out to view this curiosity. He views the intruder with an unblinking steely stare.

Stanley, settled in for the night. He has become the finial of the umbrella.

Stanley, settled in for the night. He has become the finial of the umbrella.

This is the tidiest bird ever. He has never left one dropping on the umbrella or patio. Now, I find that amazing! I’ve never known a bird not to leave a little disgusting reminder of their presence.

Every morning, the patio corner is checked to see if Stanley stayed the night. Each evening his arrival is anticipated and noted. It will be a sad day when Stanley decides to relocate.

A Moment Caught

Before I retired, Friday evening was my favorite part of the week. The weekend hours stretched like a slinky. So many options to fill those moments, but like a slinky, time snapped back and the routine of school filled the days.

Now that I am retired (but working part time in schools) Fridays don’t have that same magic. Instead the special time is mid-April into June. These days I savor just like a working-life Friday, but the joy of time lasts longer.

Here is the time I get to play with my crafts, read, and read some more. No guilt lingering in my mind that says you have work to finish. I stop by the library with my list of book titles that I culled from various posts and walk out with a stack to last me for a while.

I carry my  sweet tea with a touch of lemon to the patio. Pull the chair into the sunshine, prop my feet on the ottoman to become lost in the world of the book.

I hear it before I see it. The vibrating thrummmmmm hovers six inches from my face. The wings create a breeze, as the hummingbird scans my body looking for the nectar portal. I am as still as a marble statue, I relish the closeness of this contact. Moments later, it zoomed away searching for something with more nutritional value than my peach colored shirt. This moment caught in my mind, sadly not on my camera.

Wherefore Art Thou?

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Last year a cold snap destroyed all the potential blossoms on my peach tree. Somehow four peaches managed to survive.
In the fall we had the tree pruned. The arborist promised this action would create a plethora of peaches, plus it would allow the tree to develop to its greatest potential.
I guess this means one peach. How sad!

I guess this means one peach. How sad!

Eagerly I waited for the tree to burst into bloom. Then the leaf buds appeared, followed by leaves. Concerned, I studied my tree. A single blossom was all that I could find. My heart sank. Another year, no peaches in my yard.

 

These are the blossoms I expected. This is from March 2012

These are the blossoms I expected. This is from March 2012

Baby robins are now feathered, so soon they will be on their own and the tree will be removed.

Update on bird status: Baby robins are now feathered, so soon they will be on their own and the tree will be removed.

If She Only Knew

An Alberta spruce at our front walk.

An Alberta spruce at our front walk.

A pair of Alberta spruces flank the step to our front door. They should never have been planted there, the arborist informs us. They are too close to the brick. In the summer, the heat of the brick will scorch them. Why did no one tell us this ten years ago when we began landscaping our new house?

The view from the house. Not so pretty.

The view from the house. Not so pretty.

This tree looks presentable from the front. However, the backside is another story. It is dead and each year more branches in the back turn brown, become brittle, then break off.

IMG_0949These trees are slated to be removed, but now we have a problem. A robin discovered an abandoned nest. It was just what she would have built herself, but she was running short on time. She moved in and immediately laid three eggs.

Daily, I check the progress of the eggs. Will this brood be hatched and raised before the tree removal crew arrives? Hopefully the rain has put the tree company behind in their work.

This mama robin has claimed her nest. If she only knew this tree is living on borrowed time.

This mama robin has claimed her nest. If she only knew this tree is living on borrowed time.

Feathers?

I was summoned to the backyard to weigh in on landscaping options. The color red catches my eye. Its hue is in juxtaposition with the surrounding colors.

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I examine the surrounding area. This is what I discover.

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More feathers! I follow the path of feathers. Tracking like an Indian. Take a step, study the ground, move slightly to the left, then to the right. Continue forward until this!

IMG_3531And this!

IMG_3530 (1)Horrors! Slowly it is dawning on me that someone feasted in my yard. I’m puzzled because I remember this from the last snow fall.

IMG_3503The tracks indicate was a scuffle of some sort.

IMG_3502But there were very few feathers scattered on the gleaming snow. Is someone using our backyard for their own personal dining room? Could it be the hawk?

I will have to keep a better lookout on the activities of the backyard.

 

A Hawk Among Us

Wings spread wide, floating on air currents high above our roof, the hawk surveys the land below looking for dinner. Tired of scanning from the sky, it settles in the maple tree. Head slowly turning left, then right. It rests on this perch for some time. Eventually soaring off to better hunting grounds.

Waiting and watching

Waiting and watching

The hawk continues to reappear over the course of several weeks. I only see it from a distance, always in a tree or circling the sky, until Wednesday.

My husband and I were backing out of the garage, on our way for a dinner out when I noticed movement at the neighbor’s walk. The hawk was standing on the sidewalk pecking and pulling, dinner was served. Bits of something were flying in the air, I didn’t know if it was fur or feathers.

I wanted to jump out of the car, run into the house to fetch my camera. But alas, I did not. It was dusk and I was afraid the light would prevent a good picture. However, when I got home, I wandered over to see what was left. Feathers were scattered all through the flower bed and into the grass. I think there was also some internal organ left behind. (If I had to guess, I would say it was the intestine. It resembled a long pink worm.)

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In the morning, I went back to snap a few photos of the scattered feathers. I skipped the organ (I know you are saying, “Thank goodness!). Our neighbor, Dan, has declared it must have been a dove because of the gray feathers mixed in with the white downy feathers.

We have a couple of small puppies in the neighborhood. I hope the owners keep a watchful eye on them.