Wednesday, March 28, 2018

First Signs of Spring - Maybe - - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Glorious contrails with first light earlier this week.
(Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

The "early bird" migrants are returning - last week the turkey vultures and red wing blackbirds arrived. Today the cedar waxwings were seen high up in the trees waiting for the go ahead to swoop down and pick last summer's viburnum berries which have been waiting all winter for their arrival.


I don't know what this is. We found it growing by a creek and took a very small "pocket-sized" division. I liked it because it had very large leaves and must like wet places because it was by a small waterfall. I planted it by my goldfish pond and WOW - it really took off. Imagine my surprise when it flowered last spring. Early. And with small flowers close to the ground. Yellow is such a great, great "welcome to spring" color, isn't it.

Species Crocuses

Species Crocuses

Species Crocuses and Spring Irises

Spring Irises

Spring Irises

Winter Aconites

Winter Aconites


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sunny, Breezy Saturday, March 24, 2018

Even though it's still wintery-cold, there are at least two sure signs of spring: the boats are back and so are the turkey vultures. That's a tug pulling a barge.

 Monsieur Renard has lost his shaggy and well worn winter coat and now is sporting his, well, courting fur. He doesn't let me get close so these are a tad blurry. He's looking for small mammals along the long driveway. You can almost see him getting ready to do the "fox pounce" on a mouse or vole. Yes, we still have snow.

I love winter aconites. Can't get enough of their bright happy yellow faces actually and they spread so easily by seed too.

The first early crocus have now joined the earlier blooming winter aconites. These are small wild crocii. (Crocusses??)

Even the crows are doing their aerial acrobatic nuptials and are stalking the grass for food and/or nesting materials. I'm hoping this pair will nest again somewhere close to the house so they can annoy the dogs and pleasure me.

I think I enjoy seeing the colors of the emerging rhubard leaves almost as much as rhubarb pie and stewed rhubarb with cream for dessert after the stalks are mature.

I have a pair downy woodpeckers (below) and a pair of hairy woodpeckers scouting for suitable sites in my trees to create nest holes. Again, I hope they stay close. Normally I've stopped feeding birds by this time of the year but winter persists.

Iris has tempted me to add an owl nest box to one of my dead trees. The winter winds from Lake Huron blew down four dead trees in my north forest. I always leave my dead trees up so that the nest hole building species have places to carve new nests.

There was a five year old male Icelandic Sheepdog in need of a home; I offered but "they" refused me because, apparently, I'm a multi-dog home and that's not suitable. I've been a multi-dog home since forever and know how to acclimate and handle dog "issues". Is it "Che sera, sera" or "Que sera, sera"? I've seen it both ways but the Italian makes more sense, pronunciation wise.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Morning and First Light

Yesterday two wild turkeys were perhaps looking for a nesting site. Two hunters came by soon after and asked permission to hunt - I told them that our neighborhood association rules forbid hunting. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Thank you Nettie and Fred -

Remember to look up at the stars and not
down at your feet. Try to make sense
of what you see and wonder about
what makes the universe exist.
     Be curious.
And however difficult life may seem,
there is always something you can
do and succeed at. It matters
that you don't just give up.


Wise words to an inveterate feet-looker - 

Bulbocodium vernum

Eranthis hyemalis 

Eranthis hyemalis 

Eranthis hyemalis 

Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis

Although it's still too cold to work outside, we smell amazing moldy, musty, earthy odors, wander through the woods, and look at emerging plants and flowers. Somehow these small but determined flowers are more important, at least to me and early species bees, than the blatant gorgeousness of bee-competitive summer blooms. The rabbits brazenly court this spring's litters blithely unaware of hawks' appetites and angry dogs.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Yellow "Brick" Road

I can't imagine why this shot made me think of the Munchkins!! 

It's still very cold here, twenties this morning. Overnight the surface of the lake forms a thin sheet of ice in places where the water isn't roiled by waves leaving a few patches of very, very thin ice. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Male Red-Wing Blackbirds have returned to stake out their territories this year - perhaps they came a bit too early this time. They're competing with birds like cardinals, juncos, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red headed woodpeckers, brown creepers, mourning doves, et cetera. who've been here all winter for the seeds, yes, SEEDS. Only males have the red bar; females don't and look a little like large sparrows. Males display the red band when announcing their territories but as you'll notice, they can also almost hide the patch at moments when they are in close proximity and not fighting for nesting spots. (There's also a narrow band of yellow.)

Soon the view through my north forest of Lake Huron will be hidden by leaves - so it's important to enjoy it now while the lake's still visible. Much of the snow from last week's blizzards has melted  - again. I'm anxious for my little evergreens to start growing their spring candles again. I've already trimmed off the lowest ring of branches from each tree in an attempt to spur upward growth. I even trimmed one of my horse chestnuts seedlings hoping for the same result. Some of my young rhododendrons flowered last year; maybe there will be more flowers this year. I lost four trees this winter. I leave them on the ground to serve as food for many little creatures and so the nutrients trapped in their trunks will enrich the soil for the next generation of plants and animals. Ah, the circle of life.

Stephen Hawking died this week. I believe he was right - humans must leave this planet and begin living in space. Of course, most of the billions and billions of us will remain behind. There are way too many of us and we are inevitably, and faster and faster,  destroying life as we know it on earth. Fortunately the earth will survive the anthropecene era and continue on its merry way racing through the cosmos.

Monday, March 12, 2018

On Golden Lake (Huron)

With apologizes to the makers of "On Golden Pond" I thought this morning's sunrise evoked the old movie. (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

For me late winter flowers are more appreciated than later arrivals perhaps because they bring hope after a winter's worth of snow, long nights, and short days. These few, and perhaps to most people, unspectacular early (or late?) arrivals lighten my heart and attitude.

The early pinkish flowers of Bulbocodium vernum resemble crocus but they are not related to them. Flowers arrive first followed later by rather long untidy leaves. You have to look closely for these harbingers of spring among the detritus of last year's leaves, twigs, stems, et cetera to find the flowers but they are worth it in my opinion.

Bulbocodium vernum

Bulbocodium vernum

I've always loved witchhazels. Is it because of their name? Or maybe because they arrive while winter is still in full force. Or because everyone looks for and admires the flashier, more common, but much later Forsythia. The species I'm most familiar with is Hamamelis virginiana but there are many hybrids now so it's kind of a guessing game - unless you just want to enjoy the small bouquets like I do.

Hamamelis virginiana

Sometimes, somehow the dogs end up on the wrong side of the fence. Here are three Icelandic Sheepdogs: Korpur, Bear, and Kria wondering once again, "Why?" Piteous canines.

I've been reading Louise Penny's marvelous series* based in the (mythological) Quebec city of Three Pines (Trois Pins?). I am addicted. I loved the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter books; and I loved these even more. When I saw this metal "sign" I had to have it. French Canadian cities often planted three pine trees in their city squares or parks to indicate that they were sanctuary cities for people fleeing during and after the American revolution. These days I want to leave too. I'm unsure whether I will hang the sign outside near my front door or inside somewhere. (Fortunately I have little room left inside.)

Lyn and John came by Sunday afternoon with a great surprise and stayed for an adult beverage - tea, of course. It's almost impossible to take a photo anywhere, inside or outside, without at least one dog sneaking into the photo. There's a word for that now with selfies but, as with many "new words", I've momentarily forgotten it. Could it be "photo bombing"? If So, Bear has photo-bombed this one.

* I highly recommend the Louise Penny books to my reading friends. I read a lot and I don't often or usually recommend books I've read but these are special. I think they should be read in order - below:
Still Life
Fatal Grace
Rule Against Murder
Cruelest Month
Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
Trick of Light
Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
Long Way Home
Nature of the Beast
Great Reckoning
Glass Houses