Archive | March, 2011

Birds and birthday

31 Mar

Several days ago there were tracks of two turkeys in the last remaining snow bank, which is still hanging on in diminished form.  A pair of wood ducks flew off a depression holding water just inside the wood and I saw them fly into the woods another morning.  The blue birds have been singing and checking out the box Jay repaired and rehung out by the grapevine.  This morning I put another chunk of suet up for the woodpeckers–the third or fourth this winter into spring.  On the side of the road this week, raccoons are prominent.

Yesterday was sunny and up to 40F. I cut stems for about an hour in the chilly sun. Today is overcast and drippy–snow again, now mixed with rain.  Marsha and I walked in the sun from Cayuga Heights over into Collegetown for lunch at the Carriage House and then back.  The streams and falls are full and running. Then went to visit the three little red poodle puppies she is caring for.  After a quick supper, Jay and I went to the graduate lecture/recital of our friend Sarah, a lyric soprano.  She spoke about “Love-Madness in Early Nineteenth-Century Opera”. One thread she spoke about was how English novels were translated into French, became play, and then were translated into Italian, becoming operas. So the idea of an hysterical woman who goes mad because of lost or jilted love is essentially a British notion which was accepted in Europe. After an intermission she performed Elvira’s Mad Scene from the Bellini opera I Puritani (1835) with two baritones.  There were a coterie of friends attending from church which filled out the crowd to quite an acceptable number of persons.  Sarah’s singing and acting was magnificent.

Friends made the day special!  And may God grant all their generous, good wishes and prayers for this new year.

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Snow and Sew

25 Mar

Since it has been snowing I have been sewing.  All the circles for the big quilt are done.  Now must cut out the interstitial pieces and join them together.  Pounce was too lazy to move and so is helping in a quick display:

Something starting with H found the carcass of the grouse that was not-too-successfully hidden under the tens of bushels large raked pile of chaff from the lawn and threw it around until finding some other smell more interesting.  It is up high in wild cherry tree branches now, like an Indian burial.  Except the crows may find it there.

This morning the gray-green background of hills covered with pines and cloud below, a bright mild face of spring sun peeping from her gray cloud scarves above served as backdrop and illumination for the dropping air dance of a host of shining snow sparkles.  A happy dog ran back and forth in the diamond shimmers; dead brown remains numerous small markers of last summer poked up from the white and crystal speckled snow.  How is it that such simple sights enlarge my heart to bursting for their beauty?

Spring Sounds

22 Mar

In the mornings now the birds are singing.  At dusk the birds are singing.  In between some are singing.  It is wonderful to be able to welcome the different species return based on the songs  heard.  The Killdeer are back.

This morning as Hawthorne and I walked in the dark we heard at least one male American Woodcock.  And you will too, if you click on the link.  They eat worms and hunt them with their feet and bill.

These beautiful little birds have a fascinating way of drawing attention to themselves: “The male American Woodcock has an elaborate display to attract females. He gives repeated “peents” on the ground, often on remaining patches of snow in the early spring. After a time he flies upward in a wide spiral. As he gets higher, his wings start to twitter. After reaching a height of 70-100 m (230-328 ft) the twittering becomes intermittent, and the bird starts chirping as he starts to descend. He comes down in a zig-zag, diving fashion, chirping as he goes. As he comes near the ground he silently lands, near a female if she is present. Then he starts peenting again.”

Since one bird gives a variety of sounds and moves about it is difficult to determine if there is more than one male in the field.  But it is a sure bet there is at least one female.

It is funny to think that both the Killdeer and Woodcock are classified as shorebirds. I have been to the shore less than ten times in my life.  Yet these birds, to me, are birds of the plowed fields (Killdeer) and scrubby wood patches (Woodcock), for that is where I have met them my whole life.

Spring All Sorts

20 Mar

Not liquorice, though.

On the morning’s walk there were small spider webs in odd corners of soil and vegetative matter.  Within those webs were caught snowflakes in true suspended animation.  In the woods some snowflakes were gathered in the hollows of small deeply cupped leaves.  Otherwise they had all disappeared with the sunrise.

March carrots.Sweet and wonderful raw or cooked.  Have quite a few more to dig. The variety is incredibly long–some were over a foot, though many broke off and had to dig out the rest.

Petra called and thought there might be a Fisher in their ditch.  It was a mink.The numbers that get hit this time of year must be astoundingly large since this is the fifth I have seen this month.

Yesterday saw the first big tom turkey of the year crossing from a neighbor’s lawn to the woods on the other side of the road.  Removed the first mites from myself and Hawthorne.  Jay spotted an immature bald eagle on the ground in a field with wheat test plots. Several kinds of crocus are up, but not all are open.  The moon was full and deep orange when it came up last night.

A Grouse

18 Mar

Years ago when Isabelle and I took walks we would note the (mostly) insects and birds dead on the side of the road.  Angela wished back then I would keep a dead journal.  Walks now are not usually on the road.  And I don’t get out driving much. But this week there are more dead animals along the road than there were the first week of March, which was the previous high week.  That week I saw the first minks, a raccoon, and skunk of the year all dead from car strike.  Deer–there are one or more each week.

Sunny, warm yesterday I noticed the first opossums (2), another couple mink, another skunk,  and a grouse.

The grouse came home with me.  It was freshly killed.  The deboned breast meat weighed  four tenths of an ounce less than half a pound.  It was cleaned and parboiled and then fried in butter.  Since it had not gone through rigor it was chewy.

But tasted wonderful with buttered vegetables.

Saw also the first live woodchuck of the year out of its den in a pasture.

Whitewater

17 Mar

Angela sent us this link.  Some friends of hers made these runs yesterday in the high water.  The first falls (Broken Dam) is in Fall Creek.  Jay almost died there running it alone when he was 17 years old in an old style kayak.  The boat tip got stuck in a hole underwater.  Jay managed to get out while upside down underwater under the heavy fall of water.  He had not informed his family or friends where he was going or what he was planning to do.  It was in May, when the water is considerably warmer.  These guys are all wearing wetsuits.  The second falls is near Sackett bridge on campus and is where Jay and friends fish for trout and bass later in the spring.

Jay and Brian have also had police and firemen come and assume they are planning to commit suicide during their fishing expeditions.

Speaking of Flowers

16 Mar

Two new species of flowers are out today.  At the edge of the melting snow are two tiny purple pink flowers; the first spring cyclamen.  Still in the snow are buds of other blooms to come.

 

 

And on the southern slope of the bank north of the garden, a pink tinged Hellebore is just about to pop open.

The Snow geese came and went last weekend stopping for a day or two on their way in north.      Jay could hear them flying in the night; their honks have a different timbre than the Canada geese.  The bluebirds have returned; they were singing in the mountain ash and the spruce yesterday.  A fat red squirrel is using the spruce tip highway between trees outside our bedroom window in the mornings; an even fatter gray squirrel came to the bird feeder today.

Most of this post was dictated using speech recognition software.  Until I got fed up with it and just typed the rest.  Including this bit.  It is arduous; one gets a better appreciation for how dumb the machine that masquerades as a smart tool really is; also the very small specific steps ones self needs to use it orally.

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