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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Jonathan Swift - 1667–1745

A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General - 
Jonathan Swift

His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old
As by the newspapers we're told?
Threescore, I think is pretty high;
'Twas time in conscience he should die
This world he cumbered long enough;
He burnt his candle to the snuff;
And that's the reason, some folks think,
He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears,
Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears,
Wont at such times each heart to pierce,
Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say,
He had those honors in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, 
He made them weep before he died.

Come hither, all ye empty things,
Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings;
who float on the tide of state,
Come hither and behold your fate.

Let pride be taught by this rebuke,
How very mean a thing's a Duke;
From all his ill-got honours flung,
Turned to dirt from whence he sprung.

Plus ca change,
Plus c'est le meme chose.

Friday, March 2, 2018

"The Icelandic Sheepdog"

Jaime Hansen is the author of "The Icelandic Sheepdog" and is a life-time member of the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America, an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a semi-retired volunteer all breed dog trainer at the AKC affiliated Sportsmens Dog Training Club of Detroit, Michigan, and an American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit. He has been training, showing, breeding, and raising dogs for about forty years, eighteen of them with Icelandic Sheepdogs. He is retired and currently lives in Michigan's Thumb with his Icies.

His current book was published in 2018 and features several dogs he has owned, bred, and shown in performance and conformation events. The origins of Icelandic Sheepdogs date back more than a thousand years to the early Norse settlements in Iceland. Their history is commingled with the history of the Vikings. Icelandic Sheepdogs have been Canada and the United States for about fifty years and have been recognized recently by both the Canadian Kennel Club and the American Kennel club. Copies of the book are available by contacting him via email.