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.

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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.

“Not On Our Pole!”

Saturday morning found me sipping coffee, scrolling through emails on the iPad, wondering how the day would unfold when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, a movement in the backyard made me dash to the window to verify my suspicions. I think I saw a squirrel!

Side note: I know many you are thinking, what’s the big deal? We have squirrels and they are annoying. Let me explain, we moved to this house about ten years ago, and we have never had a squirrel in our yard or trees. Our house was built on a farm field, so there were no trees, therefore, there would be no squirrels.

I caught a glimpse, but quickly moved to another window to get a better view. I could not find it. I looked for any motion, but all was still. In my fuzzy pink bathrobe, I went out to the patio hoping to discover where it went. I was just curious to see what the squirrel would do. No luck. I returned to the house.

A few minutes later I glanced out the window to discover the squirrel was checking out the bird bath. This time I had my camera ready, but it quickly scampered from the bird bath to the viburnum bush. I watched the bush, zooming in, but could not find the rascal.

Suddenly it leaped to the top of the fence and headed across the green space behind our house. Sadly I thought there would be no picture of this fuzzy fellow, but wait! It is climbing the power pole! Up, up, up it climbed. What will it do when it reaches the top?

Up, up, up, it continued until it passed a bar where two birds were resting. The birds immediately attacked the squirrel. The squirrel didn’t know what was happening! The birds flew and screeched. I’m sure the message was loud and clear, “You are not climbing our pole!”

Immediately the squirrel retreated, scampering down about six feet. There it froze, head down, spread eagle on the power pole. It stayed in that position for at least ten minutes. It got the courage to try again, but the birds fought it off. More birds came to help the original two. The chatter was quite loud, I can only imagine the language they were using.

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Finally, the defeated squirrel abandoned its idea of climbing the pole. It scooted down the pole, shook its tail, and scampered off to the neighbor’s pine tree. The squirrel’s attitude said, “I didn’t really want to climb that pole anyway.”

Close up of the squirrel trying to decide what to do.

Close up of the squirrel trying to decide what to do.

 

Finding the Celebration

Each Saturday, Ruth asks us to take a moment to stop and reflect on the week. What do I have to celebrate? I begin the day thinking I have nothing to celebrate this week. I’m not going to post this Saturday. Then I read celebrations and my mind starts to spin. Yes, there are celebrations I can share from my week.

1. A walk around the yard leads to discovering the new growth that was not there a week ago. Hostas have sprouted, the hydrangea is breaking through, and the peach tree now has baby leaves. I know the blossoms will soon follow.

 

My asparagus! There are thirteen shoots , more pop through every day. Maybe next year we will have enough to eat.

My asparagus! There are thirteen shoots , more pop through every day. Maybe next year we will have enough to eat.

 

2. Time to spend creating a gift for a friend.

Used an idea from Pinterest to create this necklace.

Used an idea from Pinterest to create this necklace.

3. A friendly face who wants me to step outside.

Someone is tapping on the window.

Someone is tapping on the window.

4. Sunshine and warm temperatures to allow me to sit on the patio to read and capture pictures of friends who sing to me.

The birds sing loud and strong, echoing through the yards.

The birds sing loud and strong, echoing through the yards.

5. On Wednesday, my husband uttered some of my favorite words, “Do you want to go get pizza and a salad?”

Just when I think there is nothing to celebrate, I discover I was mistaken. There are so many moments to celebrate, I just need to look.

 

Bluebirds

A shadow flits across the yard, catching my eye as I sit at my desk working, but also viewing the street. I’ve been waiting for these shadows to appear. They are the bluebirds who come to feast on the holly berries on the shrubs right outside my window.

A maple stands in the center of the yard. A river birch anchors a corner of the yard next to the house. Bare branches beckon the bluebirds to come, observe, and plot their attack on the bushes.

Horizontal blinds cover the double window. The slats interfere with my vision so I raise the blinds all the way to the top. Screens blur my view on the lower half of the window, but the top half is clear. My camera sits on the desk, waiting for the fluttering activity to begin.

Prior to raising the blinds, birds were flitting and flying back and forth. Quick motions difficult to capture through the blinds. Patiently I continue to work, looking up to see if I can spot the bluebirds. I work all afternoon. Not. One. Bird. Appears. Slowly I lower the blinds, as dusk begins to descend. No photo today.

I wonder if the birds saw something in my window that scared them away. Perhaps the window reflection was too bright. I just know I was sorely disappointed not to capture an image.

Days later, I was once again working at my desk. One bluebird sat in the river birch pondering the berries below. Stealthily, I crept to the window. Placed the camera in between the slats, zoomed the lens of my camera, snap, snap. I caught him, this time. I wish the colors were brighter, but I am happy to have this image. I will keep trying to get the next best shot.

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bluebird 2

A Few Views From the Bike

Biking opportunities are rarer now that fall chased summer away. Since the landscape changes between bike rides I am on constant alert to notice the differences. So here I share a few pictures and thoughts.

Early in the fall this vine grew on many trees. It made me think of flannel underwear for trees. Of course it faded away after the first frost.

Early in the fall this vine grew on many trees. It made me think of flannel underwear for trees. Of course it faded away after the first frost.

Not quite sure what to make of this scene. Are they going to have a bonfire and they want comfortable seating? What about rain? This has been there for a couple of months.

Not quite sure what to make of this scene. Are they going to have a bonfire and they want comfortable seating? What about rain? This has been there for a couple of months.

I love, love, love spotting the hawks when the trees are leafless. They are so regal surveying the land below them.

I love, love, love spotting the hawks when the trees are leafless. They are so regal surveying the land below them.

They are also camera shy, so it is rare that I can get focused to capture their image.

They are also camera shy, so it is rare that I can get focused to capture their image.

Some leaves are just not ready to drop. They wear their colors proudly.

Some leaves are just not ready to drop. They wear their colors proudly.

And then there are some who jump ship at the first opportunity. Of course a few hang in there to see what life is like in winter.

And then there are some who jump ship at the first opportunity. Of course a few hang in there to see what life is like in winter.

I guess my next view won’t be from the bike but from two feet.