Friday, January 2, 2015

How to enjoy Now and Then

As much as I enjoy the holidays, I'm kind of glad they're over. Now I can get back to paying more attention to who's at the bird feeders than what's under the Christmas tree. Looking forward to opening presents at Christmas is part of the fun of looking under the tree before Christmas. Annie Dillard alluded to some of what I'm referring to with her great phrase: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." One of the great challenges in today's world is living in the present. But, think about it this way, the present is a seed that grows into the future. With the forecast return of snow and cold, I think the future will bring a greater variety of birds than the usual suspects we've had so far this Winter.

northern flicker feeding on suet
northern flicker feeding on suet
Photo by J. Harrington

Last year about this time we had had some visits by a flicker or two. None have shown up this year so far but the local black and white and red all over folks (see the downy in the right corner of photo) have been around enough that I recently double-checked the differences between downy (smaller bird, shorter bill) and hairy (larger bird, longer bill) woodpeckers. The bird feeder that arrived at Christmas came with a bag of mixed birdseed which seems to be noticeably less popular than the straight sunflower seeds and the suet, especially when all three are available at the same time. Another reason to watch the feeders, to see what the clientele actually want. Then, as we move through the days of January toward February, I'll start to watch for signs of Spring's life, including red osier dogwood brightening up.

red osier dogwood "brightening"
red osier dogwood "brightening"
Photo by J. Harrington

Come March there's (hot house) forsythia to enjoy and it'll be time to look for returning geese. Don't think this is all about living in the future, though. I also intend to return to some spots I photographed last Spring and Summer to get a sense of how different they are at this time of year. But, when we're faced with the kind of bone-chilling, tree-bursting cold that's forecast for much of next week, I'm grateful for the books I have to read, some baking projects I want to try, and the fact that the new Son-in-Law person and I are going to sort out some flies and fly-fishing gear this Winter, so we'll be ready for Spring. Maybe we'll also look for some squirrel recipes that might be worth trying so we have better reasons to follow up on today's Strib story on hunting those critters when the temperatures get closer to freezing than to zero.

The Season's Campaign

By Joyce Sidman 

I.  Spring
We burst forth,
crisp green squads
bristling with spears.
We encircle the pond.
II.  Summer
Brown velvet plumes
bob jauntily. On command,
our slim, waving arrows
rush toward the sun.
III.  Fall
All red-winged generals
desert us.  Courage
clumps and fluffs
like bursting pillows.
IV. Winter
Our feet are full of ice.
Brown bones rattle in the wind.
Sleeping, we dream of
seed-scouts, sent on ahead.

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