Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Days barely creeping above the forties, my focus has turned from what I can observe from our open-air, front-facing porch, to the feeders out back.
The grassy field across the road, now quiet.
The maple branches, empty of nesters.

I close the door firmly against the chill beneath a heavily clouded, gray sky.
And reluctantly fold the canvas chairs.

Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus

From behind glass, I watch at the edge of the woods,
through bare branches that reveal what summer keeps from us.
The dense scrub of honeysuckle, now a moth-eaten covering of pale green.
The red tinge of Burning Bush, almost past.
All upon a carpet of brown, rolled from one end of the woods to the other.

Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca

Beneath the feeders, a Fox Sparrow scratches in deep leaves—the light and shadow on the curled forms, the tones streaking his breast. He is of the colors all around—rufous and gray.

Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger

So, too, is this very large Fox Squirrel, pausing to peel a hickory nut, his luxurious red tail catching autumn light. His feet and face, the color of fallen leaves. His back, like tree bark.

What nature has revealed in bare branches, she has covered on the ground.

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KGMom said...

The land readies for winter--and all the creatures of the land likewise.
I love it--love the march of the seasons through the year.

bobbie said...

Don't you love burning bush?

The fox sparrow is really well hidden from enemies. That is one very fat squirrel.

Kallen305 said...

What pretty photos. Yes the fox sparrow certainly does blend in well with the leaves. I had to search to find him for a second or two.

Speaking of squirrels I am wondering if any of you know if squirrel activity will diminish any with the cold weather. I read in a book that they are at their most active in November because they are storing food in preperation for winter.

I am hoping they calm down some because they are eating all of my food. I have to go out and get a couple of baffles because they are getting into my feeding station which I thought was somewhat squirrel proof due to the chicken wire I have around it. I purposely bought the type that had holes large enough for birds to slip through, but I didn't know the squirrels could do it too. I don't mind feeding them and I give them their own each day, but it's not enough obviously.

I don't want to go broke here so I am hoping they calm down some with the colder weather approaching.


Sandy Maudlin said...

Reading yur prose is like watching a watercolor emerge. I love the way you pull me through your day in such vivid colors. Thanks.

Deborah Godin said...

Your writing is so lovely - "prose poetry". That one sentence about folding the canvas just has volumes of emotion in it! And wonderful photos, too. I really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. It's as if I can actually see the scene that you're painting with your words.

I would love to have that gift!

Debbie said...

I didn't mean to be anonymous!

Gail said...

What a lovely post...thank you for taking us along.

Appalachian Lady said...

I have not seen a fox sparrow yet. They usually come here after the first snow or the middle of winter. I enjoy watching them dig. As always, you write very eloquently.

dAwN said...

Just Lovely...thanks..

polona said...

your words feel like an impressionist painting and the photos complement them well (had to look hard for the fox sparrow)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You are a lucky lady to have a fox sparrow in your garden. I don't get to see Fox Sparrows every year. They are hard to come by around here. We do have one fox squirrel that comes to our feeders. It has to compete with all the gray squirrels that come around.

KatDoc said...

You have Fox Sparrows already?!?!?!

Jeez, that seems early. Does this mean a bad winter is coming?


Robert V. Sobczak said...

Leaves do obscure, that's an interesting metaphorical twist. My parents always comment how the only good thing about winter is it gives them a better view into the valley of trees below. But that's the only good thing.

Annie said...

Thanks for visiting my abc Q post..lovely to come here and find your blog...lovely photos and stories..thanks for sharing so much of your life and world with us.


ps I am sure i will be back is so nice to hear about other parts of the world, isnt it?

nina said...

Katdoc--Do you think not?
Song sparrow? It's not like our others, tho.

nina said...

And this is noticeably larger than the white-throated that feed along side it.
(I hate sparrows)

Brenda@View From The Pines said...

I sure love how your mind works! Like sweet poetry rolling to the page!

Leslie: said...

Oh my goodness, I just noticed that brenda said exactly what I was going to say. Your writing is like poetry flowing off the page! :D

Mary said...

I haven't seen a Fox Sparrow yet this year...I need to go out and look for them. I've seen many of them on campus.

Your photos despict fall so well with great shades of brown and shadows. You are out at dusk, right?

Reader Wil said...

Hi Nina, how clever animals can disquise themselves and take camouflage colours! Thanks for your comment and ...yes my daughter's ducks quack a lot!!! But I can use that Q word for round 4!

KatDoc said...

Oh, no, Nina - it is a Fox Sparrow all right. Didn't mean to debate the ID. I just don't usually think of Fox Sparrows as showing up till later in the winter. Did a search on the CBC web site, and they are found in our area in Oct and Nov, so I guess it is only the calender in my head which is off.

How can you hate sparrows? Lovely little brown jobs that all look alike and torture us with brief glimpses, LOL! That's where the fun comes in!


nina said...

Oh, okay!

It's just that any creature having in its description, words such as "confusing," "easily confused with," or "may be confused with" makes my mouth go dry.

Put my name right at the top of the "Easily Confused" list!!


Julie Zickefoose said...

I had a fox sparrow show up this day, too, and exclaimed because I'm used to seeing them in February. Having said that, I had seven last winter, from Feb. on. So maybe there's been a fox sparrow explosion in Ohio. What a nice thought.

Never quail at sparrows, Nina, you have only to send a jpeg my way and we'll get those little boogers ID'd!

Kallen 305, I'm afraid squirrels only get more ravenous as the cold weather clamps down. They don't have the grace to sleep it away like the pesky raccoons...

Pretty post!

Kathiesbirds said...

Nina, this is off the subject but I was just perusing your site and noticed your library books below. I see you have a book about Opal Whitely! I have an original copy of her book, "Opal Whitely, the Journal of an Understanding Heart." that I bought from a library discard sale 20 years ago. I have not met anyone else who has read about her! Don't you just love her writing style and her story! I was amazed at all the books that have been written about her recently and will have to get some of them to read myself. I do have a children's book made from her story with illustrations by Barbara Cooney. It's called, "Only Opal." It's lovley if you haven't seen it.

Nice fox sparrow by the way.

nina said...

Julie--yep, Ohio must be "where it's at," if you're a Fox Sparrow. I took pictures of one last year on Feb. 13--easier to ID against snow!

Certainty with bird IDs (or any other) follows a predictable course with me.
I am sure what I see until I talk myself out of it.
I don't even need anyone else's help!
Confidence might be easier if one were dressed in fewer feathers!

Kathie--I can't remember how I discovered her--but I bought a copy on Amazon last year.
What an unusual child she must have been! "Gifted."

Texas Travelers said...

Great shots of the fox sparrow hidden in the leaves.

Thanks for the visit,
Troy and Martha