Wednesday, March 4, 2009

blue jay feather in the ice After eight straight weeks of having my weekends tied up with various obligations and travel plans, I was finally free to rest and recuperate last weekend. Sunday dawned sunny and bright, albeit cold, around zero degrees Fahrenheit, but I was determined to get out side. The bird feeder needed filling, there was a little shoveling to do after the 8” of snow that fell last week, the dog’s path had filled up again and I needed to snowshoe pack it back down, and just generally get outside. It’s been a long cold winter this year, and cabin fever is really starting to take a hold. new snowI bundled up and grabbed my snowshoes from the garage, stepped outside and sat on the step, strapping them tightly against my Mukluks. Soon I was ready to set off on my adventure around the yard. I filled the bird feeder, then made one pass around the perimeter of the back yard, stopping by the sliding glass doors to stomp the dog trail, then realized on my way back I had not grabbed the camera and there were lots of cool things I had seen already. So stomping up to the house I opened the door and yelled to my beloved, who was kind enough to find me my camera and bring it over to me so I wouldn’t have to unstrap the snowshoes.

copper topped bird feederChores out of the way I headed back around the house, looking for the tracks that had caught my attention on the first pass. I spotted the first set – probably a red or grey squirrel, and then some more, very small ones- mice perhaps, or some other small rodent. I followed them as they led over to our retaining wall, then looked at the wall to see if I could tell if they climbed up. When I stopped to look at the edge of the retaining wall, I couldn’t believe how the snow on each brick had been melting outwards.

tracks - mice?After my investigation of the snow tracks and brick wall was complete, I returned to the steps in front of my house and took off my snowshoes. I sat still and listened for a long time. The birds seemed to be echoing my cabin fever, and were out in great numbers. They were already invading the bird feeder I had filled, and the little downy woodpecker that loves the suet was pecking away in the crab apple tree.

snow melting off bricksI could hear cardinals and chickadees practicing their spring songs, which differ greatly from their winter noises. They didn’t sound completely sure of their voices yet, they were mostly tentative songs, but so sweet to the ears after a long quiet winter. Sitting there with my eyes closed, I identified blue jays, nuthatches, juncos, finches, gold finches, the red-bellied woodpecker, I even heard, but did not see, the pileated woodpecker. I sat as long as I could before the cold seeped in through my Carhart clothing, then decided I should head inside and see what Kelly was cooking up for breakfast.

cardinalNext Sunday marks the return of Daylight Savings Time, a time which seems to signal to my spirit that spring really is returning, the days are lengthening and warming, and soon new life will begin popping out all over. Laura Erickson, prominent birder in Duluth, MN, tells us that the spring chickadee song is “Hey Sweetie-Sweetie.” I like that. I almost can’t help myself and whistle right back to them, ‘Hey Sweetie-Sweetie” in return. Many Spring Blessings –

Victoria

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