Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hunter I

The covering of soft snow has stayed with us all week.
Yesterday's tracks becoming whispers, as they are muffled by a light, fresh blanket--bold, new trails left in their place. Nighttime's stories for sunrise readers.

This morning's sun on a clean white world was the cheer much needed.
In the story of the tracks--the promise of spring.

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These pictures capture the activities of a fox in our fields and woods last night.
The story they tell and the promise they reveal is yours, if you want to read them. I've tried to shadow the photos in order to accentuate the tracks--images enlarge if you click on them. Look closely....there's a happy ending!

(Read the accompanying words, here.)

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If goats could speak, the tales they'd tell.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Snow, again.
The heaviest single accumulation of our winter, by my recollection. Still, only 3 inches--fluffy and light in the cold, cold 19-degree morning.
Despite my dreams of an early spring, the lure of walking through fresh snow at first light made me reach for my boots and heavy jacket.

At the edge of the field, I came across the tracks of our fox again and followed them back into the woods. Winding through the undergrowth, I followed his path of footsteps past the mighty old oak, and over small bubbling creeks--almost as far as the field beyond. A large fallen tree stopped me abruptly. The fox had gone over—and onward. I decided my trail ended there.
Last night’s storm had begun earlier in the day as rain, changing to snow which fell quickly as we slept. Even in the woods, the wind had carried the snow, deeply blanketing everything. But, beneath this log, the brown ground was dry and leafy. A fresh, strong skunky smell made me wonder if someone had crawled in for shelter from the wintry night—or perhaps was still there. I decided it best not to investigate further, and walked on, toward home.

Later in the day, I heard from a friend.
In last night’s storm, her husband had gone outside to check on the cat as they always do before locking up for the night.
Reaching his hand into her shelter to be sure she was there and say, “Goodnight,” he was badly bitten on the hand.
Kitty had not been able to snuggle into her little house last night—a raccoon had beaten her to its snug, warm interior.

The winter night is hard on all.

Wood Pool in winter

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Bud vase

I recall the moment I spotted him—sitting in the grass, cross-legged, the summer heat shining strongly on his field. I had stopped for a moment to rest there, catch my breath, wipe my brow—reluctant to end my time outdoors, but wilting in the sunshine.

Out collecting images—as if picking blooms for a bouquet. Pictures to snip and crop, adjust or discard—arrange into an artful offering for others.
Finding each lovelier than the one before—my hands became full to overflowing.

He seemed unnecessary at the time—an extra, though his small size and spirited manner held me there watching him.
Perched at the edge of a single blade—his world.

Reserved for a day when he can stand alone—
to bring a smile that will melt winter snow.

Click on photo to enlarge!

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There is a thin crust of ice covering the 2 to 3 inches of day-old snow.
The birds feeding on the ground out back seem to enjoy it—hopping and sliding to a stop with each bounce, their toes splayed on the glossy surface.
Such feather-weights, leaving not a trace.

I am a different story.
Thumping along the trails, each step resounding as it breaks through the surface and drops.
It’s an unusual irony—
my noisy, plodding, hollow steps spoiling the quiet stillness,
as I trod along seeking the delicately iced remnants of the fields.
Leaving in my wake, large, irregular holes.
It seems I've taken more than pictures.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoreau's thoughts

"In the bare fields and tinkling wood, see what virtue survives. In the coldest and bleakest places, the warmest charities still maintain a foothold. A cold and searching wind drives away all contagion, and nothing can withstand it but what has virtue in it, and, accordingly, whatever we meet with in cold and bleak places, we respect for a sort of sturdy innocence, a Puritan toughness. All things beside seem to be called in for shelter, and what stays out must be part of the original frame of the universe, and of such valor as God himself."

from A Winter Walk
~Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter wonders

The pause in spring’s progress has me caught indoors again—watching school closings and weather bulletins roll across the base of my TV screen, while newscasters film spinning cars and glazed windshields.

Of all the snowy days and wintry forecasts, those arriving after we’ve begun to taste the seasons’ turn are the hardest. We grumble about its inconvenience, insistent upon keeping up the pace of our lives. And fight against the impediment nature has thrown in our path.

As I watch through the window, I wonder about the lives I cannot see.
Tucked into dens and burrows, sheltered in nests and crevices, waiting patiently for winter’s end. And wonder if we’d be more content—had we lives like theirs.
Following nature’s lead—not fighting it.

I have a bag of Black Walnuts that I gathered in the fall.
It sits, forgotten, in the laundry room—while I scurry past with every other activity of my life.
Today, I will sit down and crack them.

It is what nature suggests would be best.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunar eclipse

One of our coldest late winter nights--the thermometer reads 9 degrees.
A couple of inches of crunchy snow beneath our feet, we stood and watched the brightness fade.
And listened to our owl under a dusky orange moon.

A night to be remembered.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter blooms

Another snow.

Beneath the covered branches, single flakes caught in the finest strands of a summer spider’s thread, hang—
the lightest load on the strongest line, weightless in winter air.

Fluffy piles like feathers, grow
tall in the still morning.

Although I long for a warm breeze through this field of wildflowers,
today the winterflowers bloom.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Breezes blowing

Yesterday, between snow squalls from slate gray skies and bits of sunshine from blue, I roamed our trails slowly.
This is the season of change, almost daily—
leaves burst forth from buds, and birds’ feathers brighten.
Like the clouds, changing moment by moment.

A pair of Mallards has been spending time on our pond.
Each time I approach, they fly off. Maybe it’s best—the tracks I’ve seen back here suggest a hungry neighbor patrols often.

A handful of small, white feathers floats in the center across the surface of the muddy water —the breeze pushing each little vessel to the edge where it is caught, moored on grasses in the shallows.

They appear to be breast feathers—each delicately curved, splashed with a brown tip.
It seems unusual that so many have fallen here. Were they preened, or did something happen in the sky above, dropping them onto the pond?

By the time I return past, they’re barely visible—faint spots scattered and hidden in the weeds.

Spring breezes move life quickly past.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents and salamanders

I think about politics as little as I can.
And politicians, even less.

Their world seems to stand in such contrast to mine.
Their language scripted to represent what they want us to hear. They stand shrouded in words they hope we recognize to be what we seek, their bodies dressed to impress.
Seeking strategic friendships.
Each act contributing a piece to the image being built for their purpose.
It all seems so unnatural.

I’ve spent much of this day studying salamanders. A commitment to monitor my vernal pool has given me the realization that I know very little about this microcosmic place.
The books stand high on the kitchen table—pictures and pamphlets I’ve collected to educate myself about the creatures that live and breed in these waters.
So much to do, so little time to get ready.

The Jefferson salamander, I’ve learned, is a mole salamander similar to the spotted salamander, first discovered in the 1800's in Pennsylvania on the grounds of Jefferson College.
It is indirectly named after President Thomas Jefferson, an avid naturalist.

This most sensitive of all amphibians and reptiles to the impact of development, requires intact habitat of about 1000 acres in order to survive long-term.
A tender small being, I will most likely never see.
His world altered.

But it made me wonder what the world could be like if it were led by naturalists.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ice to water

Sandwiched between last week’s days of snow and the coming week’s promise of clouds sat a perfectly blue-skied day.
We drove an hour north, up the highway, while hawks sat on every occasional tree, wire and fencepost—sentinels watching this resting farmland and Big Darby Creek.

The dark, cold water runs swiftly, several inches below the ice--now capping only the rocks and rims of the creek.

In the finest lace--an image of the western sun

whose rays reveal the sandy shore.

The melting droplets hesitate--

unsure if they belong as ice
or water.

Click previous image to enlarge.
Ice sculptures formed beneath.

“The Darby Creek watershed is the healthiest and most diverse aquatic system of its size in the midwest. It is among the top five warm freshwater habitats in the nation. The Darby Creeks wind through a landscape that includes remnant prairies and savannas once part of a tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The quiet waters of Big and Little Darby harbor 103 species of fish and 38 species of mollusks.”
Excerpted from The Nature Conservancy

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Friday, February 15, 2008

My count!

The feeders are well-stocked with the latest from the bird pantry. Tally sheets in hand, binocs firmly planted next to coffee cup on table--we begin.
It's Day 2 of the 4-day GBBC.
And although I won't be sitting and counting for this entire time, I'll be sure to practice my counting skills whenever able.
And not just on the birds.

Mary at Mary's View has given me the "You Make My Day" award--how did she know this pat on the back would be so perfectly timed?
I've been finding my blogging a challenge these days, especially with some newly acquired technology and different sites I'm adapting to--for me it's become more cumbersome, unlearning my previous, easy ways, while learning the new.
And until the learning catches up, I silently say, "Phew!" and breathe a sigh of relief to see it posted as I'd like.
The thought comes full circle, though, when responses come back--and I find I've made someone's day!

These bloggers make mine:
1. Jennifer at A Passion for Nature always has the loveliest photos--she's a pro--they're lovingly composed.
2. Diane at Alberta Postcards shows the western side of Canada--wild, beautiful--a great escape for me.
3. Caroline at Crayons is an artist. Her view in crayon drawings is amazingly insightful.
4. Lisa at Greenbow seems like a neighbor (in Indiana)--and it's nice to compare across the state.
5. T.R. at From the Faraway, Nearby always has great encouraging comments and captures some thoughtful places in his travel. A wise soul.
6. Mojoman at Moosehill Journal is a thinker. I carry his thoughts long after reading his posts.
7. Christine at Possumlady Place has a heart for all animals--in her sweet observations there is love.
8. Sandpiper sees the world in beautiful pictures. Always a treat for my soul.
9. Marvin at Three Steps Forward enjoys his land and shares his love of it and all things in it with much detail.
10. Kate at Kate Smudges always has pretty flowers and a happy spirit. I feel good there.

If you're "game," pass this on to 10 who, through blogging, make your day.
Whether it's by their inspiration or encouragement, it's a way to say, "Thanks for what you do!"

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