Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Anyone?

I was working in my office when I heard a determined chip-chip-chip coming from the tree outside the window. There was a daddy cardinal calling for his mate. Later, on the bar above the bird feeders, a male titmouse was calling, too. The finches that flew in didn't interest him. His call was plaintive. When it didn't get the desired response, he flew off to find a more enticing venue. Several of my friends have spotted robins. Something is definitely in the air. The calendar says February but nature seems to be sensing spring's imminent arrival. It warms the spirit though the temperature hovers around freezing. The daffodils are working their way up through the snow. Lovely, this display of anticipation and hope. I expect the squirrels to be zipping about the yard any day now, in a boys chase the girls ritual. The buds are beginning to pop up on the trees, a crocus or two comes out of hibernation, and the wind is letting out its breath. What a time to be alive! Spring, anyone?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Wonder-land

This winter is teaching me about the hidden aspect of things. The snow covers so much of the familiar world that I find myself looking deeper and wondering about nature’s nuances. What kind of bush is under that mound of frigid white? Where are the squirrels when there are no footprints leading to the feeders? What is happening internally to the shrub that allows it to survive and return in the spring? The snow-covered hedges in my yard look lifeless and yet there are thriving communities within them. Sparrows flit in and out and back in again. But even though I know they are inside, I still can’t spot them. The forsythia on the side is packed with finches but until they take off, the bush seems uninhabited. This hidden quality keeps me alert to what I see and helps me stay open to what there is yet to discover – about nature, about others, about myself.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Can Be Hard

Winter can be hard for those who live outdoors. Ice and snow coat the feeders and limit the birds’ access to the goodies inside. The storms that walloped the east coast these past couple of weeks have made it even harder for the ground feeders. The squirrels have taken to diving into the snow trying to get at snow-buried seeds. Sometimes all that is visible is a tail – and then the squirrel will pop up, triumphant, with the coveted sunflower seed between its paws. I braved the last foot of snow, which came up to my knees, to toss out some extra food. Every creature should have enough to eat whatever the season. I wish that every person on earth did. I am grateful that I do.

Monday, February 8, 2010

BBQ in the Snow

There’ll be no barbecueing for a while it seems. We had over 27 inches of snow this last storm and more is promised from another one gathering up speed for mid-week. This is a blow for a few of my friends who BBQ all year round. But I have to say that this past weekend was a very welcome respite from my usual frenetic activity. Most of Saturday was spent watching the snow accumulate while sipping tea in a cozy den. Even shoveling out was a break from the ordinary. Sunday I took a walk through the neighborhood, shifting in and out of the streets depending on the state of the sidewalks, and discovered some wonderful sights. The sky was incredibly blue with wisps of clouds that look like feathers. One tree had blobs of snow in its branches so that it looked as if it was getting ready for a snowball fight. The snow was so pristine that even the squirrels respected it and the backyard remained trackless for most of the day. Despite the work and the inconvenience, the storm felt like a gift.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ducks on Ice

These ducks have mastered the art of walking on water – at least when it is solid. This year they have had lots of practice on the ice. We are having an unusually cold winter with an abundance of snow. I know that the planet is experiencing the effects of global warming with ice caps shrinking and oceans rising but it is hard to think of now. Even Istanbul in Turkey had snow! Perhaps global changing would better describe what is happening with the weather.