Carpe Diem


Although the calendar says, “January,” today’s temperature will top 60 degrees. Yesterday, it was nearly the same with warm winds whispering inspiration through limbs of bare.

Opening a door to the sunroom on the back of my house, scents of mixed seasons seeped through wire screens. Musty leaves floated across blades of wheat colored grass blanketing the ground. In contrast, a lone birch tree of peeling white stood tall and proud among trees bathed in cocoa bark.

Sweet sounds of morning songbirds greeted me as I sat to soak the rare gifts of a winter respite. Suddenly a crow dipped in black ink made his presence known. Caw…caw…caw, he cracked in the silent sky above. I’ve neglected nature’s gift of birds during the last few months. Their songs have been missed by the ear of my soul. Perhaps I was too busy to notice their feathered beauty? My ears and eyes, deaf and blinded by busyness….

Last fall, trees were planted off the patio in the back of my yard. Bradford pear, purple plum, birch and the dark jade of pine. A sweeping willow, long and weeping is waiting until spring. Feeders will dance from boughs and branches. Covered shelters, short and tall will soon house nesting families. 

Before retreating, treats of tweets beckoned me to scan stark limbs. There, a lone robin, his red breast splashing against a sky of gray, sang “Goodbye.”

I shall not miss nature’s beauty in this New Year. Being busy is no longer an excuse. The joy of living here and now is fleeting, with postcard pictures disappearing in seconds.

Seize today for tomorrow is never promised.

 

*photo of robin courtesy of Google Chrome

Miracles in the Merry Month of May


A short time ago a new resident moved into a little house hanging from a tree outside my office window. It is so pleasant to know that my new neighbor is near. Whenever I glance outside my turret window glass, there is a tiny gray house trimmed in blue with a “Welcome” sign for me to see.

Before pulling into my garage over the weekend, I noticed tail feathers of royal blue and black sticking outside the entrance of a bungalow. In the past, the round of the door was clear and open, allowing no feathers to be seen. Often, the beak of Mama Bird could be seen slightly sticking through an invisible screen. There I presume, she sat on a nest keeping her gorgeous blue eggs warm until it was time….

Parking my car quickly, I ran over to the tree where the little house hung for me to see. So excited at the thought of what was to be! Grasping a rough gray branch to steady myself, I climbed atop the flat surface of a limestone boulder. Swinging slightly under a canopy of freshly blooming leaves smiled the familiar Welcome sign.

Swoosh! Tail feathers abruptly flew away. My heart pounded while I held my breath…1-2-3, before I squinted to see. The whole of the house was dark and quiet to the outside world, surrounded by wall to wall warmth. All hand-made by God’s miracle of nature. One tiny beak had created an artist’s masterpiece to prepare for birth. How many days had it taken her? How many hours or minutes or seconds? How long had she labored before and afterward? https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Bluebird/lifehistory

Too dim to capture a photograph, I can only describe what my eyes did see. Three itty-bitty newborns, barely hours old, scrunched together in order to remain warm. They were wrinkly, bald and beautiful. Tufts of fluff seemed to be patched here and there. On top of their heads, near wings and underneath. Their oversized eyes remained shut while they slept like any newborns would. I was in awe!

After going back inside to work, I opened a window. Just then, Mama bird landed on a branch with a wiggly worm between her beak dangling in chestnut color. Her newborn’s first meal perhaps? Seconds later, she flew to join Father Bird who waited patiently above, before they chirped cheerfully.

Since then, I’ve seen the parents every day, working together to feed their brood. Their songs greet me morning, noon, and night in a lyrical melody that captures my heart.

Miracles in the Merry Month of May.

*three photos to the left courtesy of Google Chrome

A Room With The Perfect View


http://www.mowildlife.org/

It’s early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my Doodle dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or snuck a nap before the kids awakened me.

Under the covered patio sat a natural rattan chair next to a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were, the beige of the chair next to the radiant red of blazing flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. Building a nest, I surmised. What to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would their featherless babies be born?

Motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to continue. Before long, I tip-toed to the nest nearly every day, discovering yet another egg of robin blue safe within its refuge of brown twigs, twine, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both Mother and Father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift bald heads or stretch wrinkled necks. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm.

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side! Nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them often, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even coddled soft feathers with a tip of my finger after their mother flew away. The Wildlife Rescue Center had told me it’s a “Myth” that birds can smell. I brought them no harm and was careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the growing balls of feathered fluff. They were miracles to me, teaching me wonders never found in a book.

Eventually, the day came when Mother Bird taught her babies how to fly and leave their nest. I saw them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view. One by one, each feathered friend stepped on the edge of my geranium plant, using it as a perch. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun, in winds that only God can kiss, they fought to stay in the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like miniature biscuit colored balloons. Up, up, up into the sky. Squinting, I saw patches of orange-red breasts flying toward heaven. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of red flowers and yellow leaves, I saw one last little bird perched, afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, wanting him to stay, yet knowing he too, must leave the nest. In the distance, his family called to him. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, he flapped his wings fast and hard, jumping off into the unknown while I cried my eyes out.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again to have a room with the perfect view…..

 

*Photography courtesy of Google Chrome

No Vacancy!


Only a couple of weeks ago, there were abandoned homes in my neighborhood. Small, empty shells of former families. Mothers and fathers and babies too, who lived there until nature ran its course.

I’m happy to say this has changed. Spring seems to be the reason. It’s the season. Signs of activity are everywhere. Sticks for rehabbing lay near a bungalow of blue. A few onlookers too. Suddenly there aren’t enough homes to go around.

Yesterday, two women were arguing over a wooden house freshly painted in green. It was a sight I wouldn’t have believed, yet there they were, only a few feet away from me. One seemed to be the bully. She was bigger than the other, and it was obvious the house did not fit her needs. She barely could get through the front door! With head and body poked all the way inside, her tail feathers swished on the outside. Back and forth in colors of royal blue, black and white. They seemed to be ruffled and shook like a fan from side to side. She squeezed with all her might. “I think I can…I think I can.”

I watched as the smaller gal put up a fight. It was, after all, her right! She was pretty and plump. Beautiful too, in shades of sky blue with a bright red breast. The house seemed to be a perfect fit for her. She moved in with ease, staking a claim on what was to be her own. Within seconds, the bully gave up, flying off to find another house before all of the local real estate was swallowed up.

Last night I woke to a sound of banging against the tree outside my bedroom window. The new neighbor was busy building her nest, making sure all would be right for the eggs she would soon lay during the day or night.

I smiled a sleepy smile to think of the wonders of nature. New couples have moved into abandoned homes throughout my neighborhood. Hints of spring are everywhere. Before long, babies will be born.

No, I don’t believe there is a vacancy anywhere!

*pictures of birds courtesy of Google Chrome

Contrast


A Solitary Sunday.  With my spouse under the weather, the house is as quiet as a mouse.  Yes, it’s true.  I hear nothing.  Not even the scampering of soft fuzzy gray.  No grown children visiting today.  No toddlers to chase or grand-babies to rock.  The sound of silence is all around me.  Life is full of contrasts in this way.

The past week has been an unusual one.  Nearly every day the sun shined bright in the sky only to contrast at some point with the threat of foreboding storms.  Often when I looked up, charcoal gray skies floated above while blustery winds blew by.  Eventually, sheets of rain screamed sideways, this way and that.  Afterwards, silence befell before various sounds were heard.  Cracks of lightening followed by SNAPS.  Brushes of tree limbs fell to wet blades of emerald grass.  Swishes of leaves swept the air before landing in a loud crash.  Finally, rushing water flowed toward a cement street drain.  Gurgles of liquid dropped down..down…down.

The last several days have been full of contrast.  Clear blue skies altered with islands of darkness.  Eventually, clouds parted, allowing sparkling sun to peek from behind sounds of brief silence.  Minutes afterward, favorite feathered friends of mine began to sing sweet, familiar songs while flying to patio feeders.  Red cardinals, canary yellow finches, florescent blue buntings, cinnamon sparrows and red-breasted robins.

Life is full of contrast.  Eventually the glory of light brightens darkness while sweet sounds begin to snuff silence.

Contrast….

 

A Room With the Perfect View


It’s so early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my ‘Doodle’ dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or sneaked a nap before my children awakened me.

Hung from the ceiling, near a natural rattan chair, was a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were; the boring beige of the chair next to the radiant red of the beautiful, colored flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. They were building a nest, I surmised. What was I to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would future feathered babies be born?

My own motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to build their nest. Before long, I’d tip-toe to the nest nearly every day, where yet another egg of robin blue lay perfectly within its refuge of brown twine, twigs, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squealing and squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both mother and father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift wrinkled necks and bald heads. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm. Day after day, I grew enthralled by all of this. Yes, my plant of beautiful red geraniums was dying, but look at what I was living and learning!

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side because nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even pet their soft feathers with a whisper of a tipped finger while their mother was away. Before doing so, I called the Wildlife Rescue Center who told me it was a “Myth” that birds can smell. I was bringing them no harm and careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the fluffy, feathered balls. They were miracles to me, teaching me something new in ways one can never learn from a book.

Naturally, the day comes when a mother bird teaches her babies to fly, to leave the nest.  I could see them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view…plus an added tear or two. One by one, each feathered friend stepped to the perched ledge of my geranium plant. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun in winds that only God can kiss, they lifted into the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like little beige balloons. Up, up, up into the sky.  I squinted high above against the sun to see patches of orange-red. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of my geranium plant, there at the edge of the ledge was a last little bird afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, knowing in my heart that he too, must leave the nest. Off in the distance, his family called to him. They were not far, just a few feet away. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, the last little bird took the plunge. First down before up, until he soared off into the sky to meet his mother and father, sisters and brothers while I cried at my babies leaving the nest.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again that I’d have a room with the perfect view…..

Better Than New


Today, it felt like spring was officially here!  It was time to clean the garage of cotton cobwebs, sweep spiders from hidden corners and hunt for colored clay pots to fill while the weather is warmer still.

After tidying up, I drove to visit my favorite hardware store.   Where everything imagined is sold!   From skinny rubber bands all wrapped in bouncing balls, to single silver nails dropped to the bottom of a brown paper bag…plunk.  The store is nothing like you’d think. It’s not a chain store like, ‘Lowes’ or ‘Home Depot.’  No, a trip to this hardware store is akin to stepping back far, far in time to a very distant land.  A different time and place.

The building is made of all wood and tin, a “Freight and Grain Elevator” that was built way back in 1877, by a small family.  It was their business then and hasn’t much changed since then.  Pulling into the gravelled parking lot, my car wheels made a crunching sound as they slid by the side of a red pick-up truck.  Near-by, a sign spelled, “C.H.I.C.K.S- for- S.A.L.E” in big, black letters.  Hand-printed by someone very young.  I could tell.

Wide, wooden planks of grey greeted me the moment I stepped outside my door.  Perhaps long ago, they were painted emerald-green to match the grasses all around?  If so, years of hot St. Louis summers had completely bleached the color from every board.  So old and worn, they were.  If I kneeled down, could I blow wooden dust through uneven cracks to the bottom?   A ramp led to a long covered ‘front porch’ of sorts.  Under its ceiling, I found bags of musty mulch in all sizes.  Mmmm…..the earthy scent seeped from within allowing me to breathe it in deeply.  A favorite scent of mine.

Much like I thought it would, the old screen door squeaked and creaked when it cracked open.  Behind the short counter (people were smaller, years ago), I asked the smiling young man if he would help me load my car.  “Of course,” he said, before tossing chocolate-brown mulch into my trunk.  To the side, he added burlap bags sewn in red.  Chock full of seeds they were.  For flying feathered friends waiting in trees of pine near bricks of my home.

Before leaving, I couldn’t help but notice a brand new furniture store being remodeled right next door.  Modern and ‘state-of-the-art!’  What a contrast to the nostalgic hardware store of 137 years old.   Nearly the same as the day the original doors opened.  Sighing, it gave me pleasure to know of something old that was better than anything new!  One day in the future, perhaps my grandchildren will tag along with me for a visit.

There, we can buy fresh earth to scatter round trees that grow towards heaven.  Or fill pockets with seeds to fill feeders for wings of wonder.

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