Saturday, June 25, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
It may have been the longest day of the year, but it still wasn't quite long enough.
Millie and I mowed our trail. Then, we walked it.
And, she took a dip in the pond.
And the tanager sings his summer songs.
Monday, June 13, 2022
How did we get here already? The longest day of the year is right upon us again. To my way of thinking, the longest and shortest days of the year should be holidays. If you'd care to walk with me over the hill, I could show you the point where the sun will set next week on that longest day. It's the most northern point the sun will reach before heading back south. Millie and I know it well. If the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, we will be there to watch it set on that day.
Things are happening in the garden. The first of the shaggy zinnias are starting to bloom. I sowed only seeds that I collected from all my favorite colors. Hopefully, there will be fewer yellow ones this year. We are off to a good start with the first ones being pink. Pink was not always one of my favorite colors, but over the years, I have developed more of a liking for it in the garden.
A couple of years ago, when I enrolled in a Karen Ruane's class, we did a color study journal in which we selected five of our favorite colors to work with. Since that time, I have been more acutely aware of those colors and work at fitting them in wherever I can, even in the garden. Pink was not included, but I think a bit of it works out just fine.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
When the weather is nice on these May evenings, Millie and I go walking over the hill late in the day just to hear the whippoorwill's call. My how that brings back wonderful memories of when I was a child visiting my grandparents. It seemed there was a whippoorwill in every tree. I loved those lonely calls then, and still do to this day.
Dan keeps warning me to watch for bears when Millie and I are out walking through the woods. (A couple of weeks ago, my son saw a mother bear and her two cubs making a bee line straight toward our hill.) But, of his warnings, I just reply, "There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain." (The kids loved that story when they were young. Of course, as you might guess, there actually were bears on Hemlock Mountain.*)
The Summer Tanager still makes regular visits to the backyard to sing his sweet song when I am out and about. A little earlier, when I was out hanging sheets on the line, the ruby-red male perched on the fence and put on quite a performance. He seemed totally unconcerned that I was shaking out wet laundry. I think he likes me!
I have seen the female only a couple of times. I love the orangish coloring on her underparts and the olive on her top with olive brown wings and tail. Her taste for dressing is exceptional, I think.
In the picture to the right, the Tanager has come to serenade me as I feed the hummingbirds. It was another excellent performance. He is, for sure, running a close second to Merle Haggard and the whippoorwill, two of my other favorite performers. (And, of course, I should mention the oh-so-beloved mockingbird that delights us every day.)
Before the Tanager heads south to Mexico or beyond this fall, I hope to get at least one good picture of him, and hopefully, one of the pretty female Tanager too. I would also like to record that pretty song the male sings so well. (I already have several of the whippoorwill's song recorded on my phone.)
And, finally, another small garden, which is pretty much a work in progress, has a mix of veggies and flowers. And blueberries. Most of the flowers are marigolds and mints planted to keep away the deer and, hopefully, the aphids that have had a field day with the tomato plants the past couple of years.
Saturday, April 30, 2022
"The Harivansa says, "An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning." Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them. I was not only nearer to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those wilder and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely serenade a villager, - the wood thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the whippoorwill, and many others." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Throughout the cold days of winter, I sometimes thought of the Summer Tanager who had so beautifully serenaded me on the warm days of the previous summer. Oh, how I hoped he would be back for another summer to sing at least just one more song. "Chick-tucky-tuck, chick-tucky-tuck..." much like a Robin's, but softer and sweeter. And, wonder of wonders, this week I have seen him several times, perching in all of his same old favorite spots. It is a good omen, I think. Or at least, I hope it is!
The precious little Hummingbirds are back. Some days there are more than on other days, so I suspect our backyard is a migratory pit stop for those on their way farther north. It's hard to imagine how these little birds, and in fact all birds, like the Tanager, find the exact same places year after year. I am humbled that, that same spot is my own back yard.
I don't feed the songbirds during summer, and sometimes question the practice of feeding them at all. But, by doing so I have become better acquainted with many of the little birds that I would have never known had I not. One of my favorite pairs that come to the feeders regularly are the House Finches. They are so friendly and unafraid of me, and love their sunflower seeds, which actually tempts me to leave up the feeders all year long. I know they are still here now for I recently saw them drinking at the bird waterer. Come to think of it maybe just a few seeds wouldn't do any harm!
My list of favorite birds is a long one. I have chased after the Great Blue Heron for many a long mile trying to photograph that elusive fellow. The mockingbirds, however, haven't been so hard to catch up with. One year, I took a good scolding from the Missus every time I got close to a certain honeysuckle vine and finally found out why.
The bluebirds are nesting in the boxes now, and most already have their first brood of babies. Those pretty birds must catch a million insects before summer's end, for they are almost constantly carrying some poor critter in their beaks to the boxes to feed their young.
The winds are still blowing here almost every day, but at least those winds seem to be getting warmer. I think someone forgot to change the calendar from March to April. Take care and enjoy the warm winds of May! ~ Mary
Saturday, April 2, 2022
My favorite little bird with my favorite flower - the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and Monarda or Red Bee Balm. This photo is from last year's files. There's a story behind the photo that tells how it came to be, but I won't get into that now. It doesn't matter anyway for I love how it accidently turned out.
Earlier today, I checked the Hummingbird Spring Migration Map and realized that these little birds are getting mighty close to our neck of the woods. It is definitely time to get a couple of feeders out.
Linnie Butts & Co. finally got together for a final photo shoot. If you'd care to take a look just click on the old sewing machine near the top of this page.