Sunday, January 30, 2011

Out of My Rear Window 1/30/11

Just an ordinary day.  It is very still, and there is a light snow falling.  I haven't seen a critter at the feeder all morning.

So, cheating a bit, here is a picture of some white-tailed deer at the feeder last night.  Yesterday, it snowed off and on all day.  When it is snowing, I put the food out in piles, rather than scattering it.  I have noticed that the birds seem to be able to find it better and, by rooting around in it, they also keep it clear.

I haven't seen any deer at the feeder all winter.  They usually come late at night, to gather any small pickings that the squirrels and birds have left.  Don't ask me how they knew that there were easier than usual pickings last night, but, there they were.  So, these four got nice full bellies to face the winter night.
And, if you have time, here's a short video of the same deer.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ye'll be Doin' it Yerself, Then.

In 1912, my Grandfather did a very dumb thing.  He was a shoemaker in the city, and he decided that he was sick of it and wanted to farm.  So he bought a small farm in the town where I now live, though it wasn't the house where I live now.  What was so dumb about that?  You see, he did it without consulting my Grandmother.  The first she heard of it was when he told her that they were moving.

I remember my Grandmother well, because she lived with us when I was a child.  She was a bit of a spitfire even then.  And, back in 1912, she was, apparently, not one to be ordered around.  "Why sure," says she.  "I'll go to the country with you.  But, you're going to have to do all of the moving by yourself, because I'll be takin' the boys back to Ireland for a long visit while you're doin' it."  And, yes, to her dying day she carried just a bit of an Irish accent, just a faint lilt, at times, but I remember the music of it as she read to me.

So, off she, and my Uncle and Father went to Ireland, to Ballydehob and Skibbereen, where her family still lived.  My Dad was nine, and he had a grand time on the ship both coming and going.  He was the only one who didn't get seasick, and, while Grandmother and my Uncle were trapped in the cabin, in misery, he had the run of the ship.

They spent the summer in Ireland, and Dad often talked about how beautiful and green it was.  I think that it remained a bright time in his memory, for his whole life.  In the fall, they sailed back to New York, and took up residence in their new home, where Dad made himself right at home, with his new pet crow and cow.  But, those adventures are for another time.

They brought this little bowl back with them,  and it still remains, sitting on the what-not, where my Grandmother had placed it prominently, to remind Grandfather that she was a partner in their marriage, not someone to be ordered around.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

North Ponds Park

Today was a beautiful day.  It was fairly warm, around 32 degrees F, and the weatherman said that we wouldn't get any snow.  So, I decided to go to North Ponds Park and do some walking.  It's flat there, so I figured it would be a good place to see if I could get my walking legs back.  I did some playing with a lot of these pictures, because they all came out very blue, from the snow, I think.  I've got to go through the camera manual and see if there is a setting that will compensate for that.  Let me know what you think about my fooling around. 

I'm glad I went.  It was a wonderful day for walking, even if the weatherman proved to be dead wrong.  Here's what it looked like when I got there.
 Right away, I found these beautiful weeds.
And that was the last picture free of snowflakes that I got.  It started snowing like crazy, big, fluffy flakes that drifted down without any wind to toss them around.
I found a tree that really puzzled me.  The bark looked like evergreen bark, and it sure looked like pinecones on the branches, but, where are the needles?  I'll have to remember to keep an eye on this tree, to see what happens with it in the spring.

Edited to add that I did a little Googling and found out that this is some kind of larch.  I'll have to wait until the leaves come out in the spring to see if I can narrow down the variety.

And, I saw this old robin's nest.  Hopefully, all of the babies grew safely and are now enjoying life in the Southern states, before they head back up here in the spring, to start families of their own.
But, mainly, I just walked and enjoyed the snow and the deep quiet.  No words, just pictures here.  I hope you enjoy them.

I'm very glad that the weatherman was wrong, and I got to walk in this lovely snowstorm.  And, I'm very glad that I seem to be able to walk outdoors again.  I didn't realize how much I missed the walks, until today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Just Had to Get Out!

The leg is feeling better, and I have lessened the amount of Advil that I am taking each day.  It still is not anywhere near 100%, however, and I don't want to push things.

But, yesterday, I thought I was going to go stir crazy.  I seem to have become addicted to getting out and walking.  I need to see what is going on in the natural world.  So, I decided I would go, but I would only go to places where I didn't have to walk far.

The first place I went to was to the spit of land that separates the Bay from Lake Ontario.  The lake was cold looking, with an ice shelf extending several feet out into the water.  I saw an occasional bird flying fast across the water, but I couldn't get a picture of any, and they were too far away for me to tell what they were.

The bay was entirely frozen over.  It was warmer yesterday, but, not nearly warm enough to undo the effects of days of frigid weather.

There was a lone ice fisherman huddled over his hole in the ice.

I decided, from there, to take a quick swing over to the Big Meadow.  I hadn't been there since fall.  From the looks of things, neither had many other people.  There was a small trodden path leading to the Big Woods, but, other than that, things were pretty pristine.  Cold looking, but pristine.

Kind of desolate looking, isn't it?

But, if you look closely, you can see the trail stretching out around the meadow.  It won't be too long now before I'm out there, looking for spring flowers.  I'm getting anxious.  This has been a hard season, even for those of us who are used to winter weather.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The King's Speech

I just heard that this movie was nominated for 12 Oscars.  I hope it wins a whole bunch of them, but especially best picture, best actor and best supporting actor.  Honestly, this is the best movie that I have seen in ages.  Your emotions are totally involved, from beginning to end.  The story is uplifting and the acting is wonderful.  I'm not a modern movie person, but this one will be a classic.

OK, ok, and Colin Firth is one handsome man, but, honestly, he could have looked like the real King George and I still would have loved this film.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Poor Birds

Yesterday was bitter.  And, the poor birds must have been suffering.  They were at the feeder all day long.  I had to keep going out and replenishing the supply of seed and corn, all during the day.  All told, I went through two day's normal supply of sunflower seeds, and four day's supply of cracked corn.  I'd no sooner put more out than this would be the scene at the feeder.
I saw a few squirrels, but not as many as I thought I would.  They mainly came in ones and twos, not in the nines and tens I have seen at the feeder at one time.  I suspect that they were curled up in their winter nests, maybe eating the emergency supplies that they had stashed.  Then, too, I think that mammals can go for a bit without food, unlike the birds which carry no extra fat.
But, the ducks!  Usually, they come just at dusk, but, yesterday, they were here all day long.  It started with one lone Mallard.
But, he must have gone and told all of his friends because it seems that, every time I looked out, this is what I saw.
They're very interesting birds who seem to have some kind of flock awareness.  There are always some watching for danger, as the rest eat.

Such beautiful creatures.  It's a pleasure to have them around, even if they do eat me out of house and home.
They came right until dusk, some even sitting in the snow, just waiting, even as the sun set.

It's negative six degrees here right now.  After I finish this, I'm going to suit up and put the first batch of food for the day out.  I wonder if I'll have as many visitors today as I did yesterday?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Out of My Rear Window 1/23/11

It's snowing a fine, fine snow, and it's bitter cold.  The weather gadget that I have on my computer says 9 degrees F, but my back steps thermometer says it's 4 degrees F.  There is not a creature stirring outside.  Tonight, the temperatures will go down to the negative digits.

These pictures out of the front window show the conditions a bit better.

I have to go out and shovel in a while.  I need to get the bird feeding area cleaned out so that the poor little creatures can come and get food, if they venture out of whatever warm haven they are in right now.

Normally, I would be quite eager to get out there, cold or not.  But, a few days ago, I bent over and felt something go in my back.  It hurt like blue blazes for a day or so, but what's got me a bit concerned right now is that the pain has moved down to my right leg.  It really hurts to walk, and shoveling is going to be interesting, to say the least.  Fingers crossed that it goes away quickly and doesn't turn out to be sciatica.

Edited about an hour later to add that I just looked out of my window to see this.  I have the greatest neighbor.  And, he doesn't even know that my leg is bothering me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Remembrances of Another Season

My Aunt used to make the most beautiful arrangements of dried flowers, when she was younger.  She called them Williamsburg arrangements and hydrangeas were always a predominant feature.

Late last summer, I got the urge to try and dry some for myself.  There's a trick to it as you have to cut them at just the right time.  Cut them when they are too young, and they won't dry well. Cut them too late in the season, and they will have begun to turn green.  As you can see, some of these flowers were cut too late, and do have a green tinge.  But, all in all, I'm quite pleased with this first effort.

She told me that the blue hydrangeas dry better, and retain more color, so I think that next year I'll get some of that stuff that you can add to the soil that will give you bluer flowers.  And, I think I'll do some research and see if I can find out what wildflowers dry well.  If I remember correctly, yarrow is one of them, so I'll see if I can get permission to gather a few from the Great Meadow.  Then, maybe next year, I can try my hand at creating my own Williamsburg arrangement.

In the meantime, these few flowers remind me that spring and summer will come again, in the endless cycle of life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snowy Day Visitors

It's been lake effecting off and on all this afternoon.  The feeder has been busy, as the birds stoke up their furnaces for a cold winter night.
The Golden Finches (really Goldfinches, but I like what Jim from Ocean Breezes called them better) are out in full force.  Look closely and you'll see that they are starting to yellow up.  Soon, they will be their lovely Gold color again, all set for spring and courting season.
A Cardinal waits his turn in the lilac bush.
While a House Finch hogs one of the black oil sunflower feeders.
And, in the nearby Locust tree, the female Red-bellied Woodpecker tries to find a bug sleeping somewhere under the bark.
It's supposed to get very, very cold this weekend, so I'll have to make sure that there is plenty of food in the feeders, and on the ground.