Monday, March 13, 2017

Daffodils and Spring


 

Daffodils and Spring

The mini daffodils were peeking out of the earth in our backyard, teasing the big daffies beside them to open up and greet the day. They are always a sweet next reminder after the crocuses that Spring is peeking through the end of Winter. The temperature was warmer and so it was easy to forget that sometimes Winter plays tricks on us.

The mini daffies in this tiny jar are not from my garden, though. They were given to me by a friend as a remembrance of my sister who passed away last year. It was my sister’s birthday. My friend knew how close we were and wanted to honor her and our relationship. It was a small momento but a compassionate one. I put it on my counter and smiled each time I passed by.

Later in the week the temperature cooled down and Winter came back. The minis and the regular daffodils outside are wilting on their stems. Tonight the weather prediction is for 8 – 1- inches of snow! All the daffies will be covered in white. I don’t know if they will be around when the snow melts but that’s okay, they’ll be back next year; they have a lasting power.

The minis in the jar lasted most of the week. They, too, have a lasting power, in my memory. Friendships come and go and some hang around regardless of the different seasons of life. I am grateful for my perennial garden that is there for me year after year, sharing its bounty, and I value my friendships that flower so beautifully in my heart.

Planting and caring for mini-daffodils:
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/care-miniature-daffodils-72982.html

Monday, March 6, 2017

Squirrels - Enough Already!


Squirrels - Enough Already!

I realize that I have written about squirrels several times before but they keep presenting new things to address. This time it’s cars. Yes, cars. A squirrel has been squatting in our car engines, munching on the wires and causing quite a bit of damage. Both our cars, my husband’s and mine, have been victims over the last couple of years. There is nothing like rushing out in the morning, getting into the car, going to start the engine and nothing happens. No lights are on showing an electrical problem. Flip the hood and there is the evidence – disconnected wires, tooth gouges on the brake fluid reservoir cap and even dried grass and branches formed into a cozy nest.

Our cars have been towed to the service station. They were repaired and returned in good working order. But squirrels are persistent. One car was damaged, fixed, and a day later was back in the shop! When we tell others about our squirrel problems, more often than not we hear of other stories about the damage these critters have done.

So now we are on a squirrel discouragement program, asking around for natural squirrel repelling options. We were told that bird feeders are great attractions for squirrels. As we have several in our backyard, we are experimenting with not feeding the birds, at least for a while, to see if that keeps the squirrels away. We heard – and read – that cayenne pepper is a deterrent but when we sprinkled it under the feeders to test out the theory, the squirrels just ignored it and continued eating the seeds that had dropped to the ground. Maybe they like a spicy meal.

We placed net containers with mothballs under the cars and under the hoods. That smell should drive anything away though we aren’t certain it bothers you-know-who. We bought Squirrel Stopper, a spray meant to keep squirrels away from plants. It contains mint oil, rosemary oil, rotten whole egg solids, and vinegar among other natural ingredients, which was sprayed in the engine compartment to repel them. Does it? There is some evidence that the area has again been entered and perhaps some bite marks evident though not damaging. It almost sounds edible.

And now we’re bringing in the heavy-duty stuff, applying fox urine powder. If I were a squirrel and caught a whiff of this I would definitely keep away. Foxes are not squirrels’ friends.

I appreciate all the help we’ve been getting. I just hope one of the suggestions works. I don’t want to hurt the squirrels; I am a believer in every being having the right to exist. But come on, what about Live and Let live? Hear that, squirrels? Keep your distance and we can all be happy.

Some suggestions:

More suggestions and some cautions:
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/groundhogs

Monday, February 27, 2017

Crocus Alert!


Crocus Alert!

It is still winter but the crocuses know what is coming and they want to be first to celebrate. They pop out in lovely bloom sometimes pushing through a dusting of snow, though this week has been a weather surprise, for them I suspect as well as for us. We have been having 70 degree days in February!

I wrote about a similar uptick in temperature in 2012. The weather seems to be changing and not just seasonally. There is evidence of a rise in temperature in many directions; sea levels are rising, glaciers are retreating, extreme weather events are happening more frequently. There have always been shifts in temperature but this seems to be man-influenced. The atmospheric carbon dioxide is the highest it has ever been, keeping in the earth’s heat.

It’s hard to deny the evidence though some people do try to. I think it’s better to work with science than to deny it. Our planet is such a beautiful place, I hope we can respect it and protect it. Soon many flowers will bloom and remind us of the seasons ahead. Right now, however, it’s the crocuses’ job to alert us to Earth’s offerings and encourage us to value what wonders we have.

Lots of crocus info on planting and care:

Climate change evidence:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tea Time!


Tea Time!

Winter is a funny month in the northeast. This weekend I was bundled up against the near freezing temperatures each time I went out, my scarf wrapped around me and my gloves constant companions. Today I am wearing my spring jacket, unbuttoned, and enjoying the sunny day. There are advantages to all seasons, each offering its own personality.

Sunday was that kind of day. After doing chores in the morning, we lit a fire in the den in the afternoon and settled in for our version of British tea. The logs in the fireplace were aged and burned nicely. We primed them with kindling from the branches that fall from the various trees in our backyard throughout the year using the older, seasoned wood.

When the fire was burning nicely, I set out two mugs of steaming water for our tea. We prefer green but black tea with a tad of milk is delicious, too. We enjoyed chocolate cake with chocolate icing as we sat by the fire, feeling its embracing warmth outside as we relished the pleasing snack inside. After our tea we settled back, my husband with his book and me with the jigsaw puzzle I was doing, and savored the rest of the afternoon.

There will be no fire on this warm day but the memory lasts. And as the seasons change and I experience each in its own way, I hope to bring moments like this with me, to treasure nature’s differences.

Tips for building a safe fire:

For an easy step-by-step for a beginner:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holidays and the New Year


Holidays and the New Year

We were taking a drive to nowhere on Christmas Eve, looking at the lights that call attention to the holiday, and came across a small house with a simple display. It almost felt like a coloring book illustration. When we returned home, my husband put his photo of the house through a painting app and came up with something that plays on the simplicity and, like the light at the front door, draws you inside. I like the creative way it makes me think.

This year three holidays come at the same time: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. There is a sense of community within each holiday. Family and friends gather to celebrate, sharing food and fun. There is often an atmosphere of caring among people. I see more smiles and courtesy among the adults, and a joyful excitement among the children as gifts are anticipated.

Much has happened in our country these past few months, but not all has been positive. Nasty things have been said, people have been demonized, beliefs have been dismissed. Our world is too broadly populated for such non-acceptance to be the norm. America is based on the melding of people and ideas. I hope that the holiday season shifts some of the animosity that has developed.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy, expansive 2017!

Brief holiday descriptions:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hawk Sighting


Hawk Sighting

This has been an interesting time in my backyard. Last week there were three deer sprinting through the bushes on their way to who knows where. I live in a housing development but there are a few woodsy places not far away. Why would they venture out of those beautiful areas to a place with houses and fences?

Then this week, there was a hawk hanging out under the leafless redbud tree out back. It just stood there for a while, seemingly checking out its surroundings. I’ve seen hawks circling above my yard and occasionally swooping down to grab a bird or chipmunk but this one seemed to be just hangin’ out. Then it flew to a branch on the tulip tree and there I could see the white under-feathers of a catch that hadn’t been obvious before. Later it returned to the ground and really chowed down, not my favorite thing to see though I realize that every creature needs to eat.

I imagine we’ll be seeing more hawks around here in the future. As the land gets more developed, the wildlife become more visible. We take away habitat. Even as more land is set aside for green preservation, it doesn’t undo what already has been used for human purposes. I wonder what incredible sightings will come next. I hope we all can learn to live peacefully with each other.

More hawk photos and info:

Hawk facts:
http://theraptortrust.org/the-birds/hawk-facts/ 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Supermoon 2016


Supermoon 2016

Did you get to see the moon last night? It is the closest and brightest of 2016. It is also the largest since 1948. It won't come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034. It is called a Supermoon as much for its brilliance as for its size.

The full moon has always had a mystique about it. It has always captured our imagination. A full moon has its romantic side as a moon for lovers. It has the reputation of bringing out craziness in people. Vampires come out when the moon is full, don’t they? We see faces in it and it sparks our imaginations for stories and poems. Many cultures have moon myths.

Whatever interpretations we apply to the full moon, it is good to just allow its glow to wash over us, to be awed by its beautiful presence. Our November 2016 may be a special one but it doesn’t negate all the others. Let’s allow ourselves to take a moment to feel the wholeness of the universe and the oneness of humanity. Especially in some difficult times, let the full moon help us to take a deep breath and allow its beauty to remind us of the joy of life.

2016 Supermoon:

Moon myths:

Science debunking some myths: