I was making monthly visits to see my mother last year when I noticed that one of her bluebird boxes was occupied. She was in and out of hospitals for a while, and I was in and out of state. But I managed few peeks at them now and then.
Dad or a sibling seemed always to be on the lookout. Whether they were looking for danger, or searching for bugs, I wasn’t sure. But they usually saw me and my camera, and weren’t afraid to let me know it.
Aside from all the people watching the bluebird family engaged in, they were just as busy catching bugs. Crawling bugs, flying bugs – I’m not sure how they found them all.
I wanted to see the fledglings, but I had to leave, and when I got back a week later, the family had moved on.
I did manage a tiny glimpse at one of them, though.
Mom has loved flowers for as long as I can remember.
Every spring when we were young, she would take us to little flower shops up the road from the hill we lived on. We would pass by rows and rows of blooming plants, inhaling the rich scent of flowers and dark brown soil. After we brought her favorites to the house, she would dig some holes in some of her existing flowerbeds and introduce each plant to its new home, where it would thrive.
After we grew up and left, Mom’s love affair with flowers continued. She and Dad put up a chain-link fence, and she planted bushes of hibiscus all down one side. There were more flowers surrounding Dad’s free-standing shop, and her front flowerbed was always full. Last spring and summer, after giving the plot a good weeding, I camped out near the flowerbed and took pictures of hummingbirds, who were drawn to the sugar-water feeders we hung.
We brought Mom to live with us in North Carolina last August (under protest, she will tell you). But before we left, I took pictures of some of the flowers she had to leave. This way, she can always remember what they looked like.
The snow started yesterday morning, but the birds knew about it before it came. The regulars (the titmice, nuthatches, chickadees and cardinals) all showed up, along with the dark-eyed juncos that found my stashes of black-oil sunflower seeds a few weeks back.
But the cold and the white stuff falling from the sky also lured a number of new visitors to our yard.
I was startled when a large, handsome bird flew into the tree that shelters a few of the bird feeders. When I zoomed in with the camera, I discovered a brown thrasher. He wasn’t shy about eating from the feeder, either.
I took a walk around the yard to see how things were faring as the flakes continued to fall. The nearby pines are pretty anyway, and they look very nice in the snow.
It snowed through most of the night, and by morning the feeders were full of ice. The birds were plenty hungry, so I set out some temporary feeders, and the neighborhood goldfinches seemed to like them.
I tried to spread the food around, but a few squabbles ensued, anyway.
The temperature will rise tomorrow, and what hasn’t melted will likely be gone by Saturday. Some nice, thick powder on the ground, an abundance of birds, and weather near the 60s by this weekend – that’s what I call a perfect snow.
Two-thousand seventeen has been a busy year for us, with all the moving around. I relocated to West Virginia for five months to take care of Mom, while my husband worked on assignment in South Carolina. On weekends, we met in the middle to house hunt. Our old place wasn’t practical any more.
In between doctor and hospital visits, we found a new house. Bill moved onto a new job site, and in August, Mom and I and her cats moved into the new house, bought with her in mind. We’ve been learning to live with each other again, and working on settling in, ever since.
Some days we find a lot to laugh about, and on others, we move to our respective “corners,” but we try our best to make things work. Bill was home this week, and after I finished working on an online project, I went outside to try to talk Mom into taking a walk. Bill had beat me to it. I found him escorting her through the woods.
She had a great time viewing the fall colors, being “back in the woods,” and managed the dips and hills in the uneven ground much better than I thought she would.
I went back to the house to grab her walking stick my brother crafted for her, along with my camera. Some of the trees have lost their fall foliage, but others have just joined the show.
We came in and ate some lunch, then Mom and I went out for another look. She sat and took a rest while I marveled at the color all around us.
I read this week that the Japanese use a term we loosely translate as “forest bathing” to describe a relaxing time in the woods. I think it’s a great term, as our souls were soaking up the beauty of all those colors today.
Mom said she has had enough walking for a few days, but the trees are not far from the house. I bet I can talk her into another session of forest bathing over the weekend.