It’s that time of year again: the Great Backyard Bird Count! I’ve been putting out extra goodies for the birds and faithfully counting–or trying to count–each feathered friend that drops by. It’s as much a challenge as ever to get an exact count of juncos that blend into the winter ground and chickadees that flit in and out, so that I can’t tell if the one at the feeder now is a new bird or the one I just counted. The big birds are easy–the jays, flickers, varied thrushes. But those little gray and brown guys–whew! And then there are the “missing in action”–the birds I know are around somewhere, but that won’t come by to be counted. The cute little bushtits haven’t dropped in yet. One downy woodpecker visited the suet feeder today, but the hairy woodpecker hasn’t been by. I only have robins because I took a walk and saw them down the street.
There’s still one more day left, so if you want to take part, throw out some birdseed and see who shows up. It really is great fun watching the birds interact as they gobble down the food–some of them are real characters. Give it a try! And here are some of the ones I saw today, filmed through the window, so please excuse the blurriness.
Posted in birds, Nature, winter | Tagged birds, bushtits, chickadees, juncos, nature, robins, winter, woodpeckers | 2 Comments »
The first tiny flakes danced and twirled across the sky like dust blown by the East Wind. After awhile they began to settle into little drifts in sheltered areas where the wind couldn’t blow them about. By evening the wind died down, but the snow kept coming, covering the brown winter earth with a cool blanket.
Morning light reflected off the whiteness, all fresh and new. I ventured out before work–glad that I work at home–to take pictures and enjoy the magic. It rarely lasts long around here. We threw out extra sunflower seeds for the birds (and nuts for the jays and squirrels), trying to find places where the seeds wouldn’t just sink into the soft snow. The flower boxes on our porch worked pretty well, once the little sparrow types noticed.
Then came the ice. Sleet, then freezing rain, coating everything within its reach. The fluffy snow gained a crunchy coating. Every twig and bud became encased in crystal. And again the birds gathered–the shrieking Steller’s jays, varied thrushes, flocks of juncos and sparrows of various types, energetic chickadees, and, of course, the squabbling starlings. Two Anna’s hummingbirds chased each other in and out of the porch area, battling for control of the hummingbird feeder. It was quite a show!
Life goes on in the snow and the ice. And I watch as the fire in the woodstove merrily crackles and pops, and water for tea heats up in the kitchen. Beauty comes with the cold, but I’m still glad that I’m not a bird.
Posted in birds, Nature, sparrows, winter | Tagged beauty, birds, chickadees, juncos, nature, sparrows, weather, winter | 2 Comments »
I did not want to go running this morning. Due to the holidays, weather, work, and a nasty virus that kept me indoors for quite some time, I had not been out on streets or trails for a month and a half. And it had become much easier to sit at the computer than move my feet. Still husband was urging me on, and I knew my body could use some exercise. So I plodded back to the bedroom, changed into my running clothes, and joined my ready-to-go hubby. We drove a short distance to Boring, Oregon. (Yes, there is a Boring, Oregon, and yes, it really is kind of boring… But it does have a Sister City: Dull, Scotland. Honest! You can look it up.) Anyway, we drove to a newly-paved section of the Springwater Trail in Boring. It was a good choice, a chance of scenery to get me started.
I wish I could say that I started down the trail excited to be running again and full of energy. No, I’m afraid my run was a slow, very slow jog, and the walk breaks were eagerly anticipated. Still, I did like being out in nature. The clouds billowed above me, and the sun managed to shine through at least part of the time. Yellow catkins dangled from the filbert trees along the path. The white bark of a crowd of aspens stood out against the browns of winter.
I think I annoyed my husband, who likes to keep his running rhythm going, by stopping to pull out my phone and take pictures along the way. But he’s learned to put up with it. I see beauty and I want to capture it. The photo is never as good as the real thing, of course. But it’s like a sign along the way, taking me back to the realness of the moment and helping me remember its fullness.
I made it almost three miles, not bad for my first time out in so long. It was almost fun. And perhaps the spell of inertia is broken, and I can get back into the routine. We shall see. At least I have my pictures to remind me. :-)
Posted in Nature, special places, winter | Tagged changes, clouds, life, memories, nature, winter | 4 Comments »
I hate goodbyes. I dropped my son off at the airport this morning, knowing I would probably not see him again until next Christmas. We hugged, and I watched him pull his suitcase toward the revolving doors. Around me, other people hugged their goodbyes, grasping that last touch, one final memory to hold them until next time.
Why do kids have to grow up and move away? I remember how excited I was when I went away to college. Did my mother cry as they drove away from my freshman dorm? Did a hole open in her heart that only my return could mend? I never thought about it much at the time; I was too busy living my own life.
At my age, goodbyes become more common. A little over a year ago I whispered goodbye to my father as he lay silent in a hospital bed, his spirit perhaps already flown. That farewell was even more wrenching, tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t see him again until eternity.
And yet I go on. The sun shines through the fog and brightens the morning. I smile through my tears. Tomorrow my husband and I will be the ones leaving, off to see our other son and his wife. The hugs will be ones of gladness, as we reconnect after many months. The time will be all the more precious due to its brevity.
At the end of every hello is a goodbye. It’s just how life works. But the pain carves passageways for joy, and every farewell increases my longing for that day when goodbyes will be no more.
Posted in changes, Christmas, Family, love, Perspectives | Tagged blessings, changes, joy, life, memories, winter | 2 Comments »
The dark gray haze of early morning is beginning to brighten, but the grass is still covered with frost.
“Time to go!” husband cheerfully cries. I look out the window and sigh.
The chill air makes me shiver as I step onto the porch.
“Didn’t we run later in the day last fall?” I ask, zipping my fleece as high as it will go.
“Maybe, but I like to get it done first thing in the day.” Husband is already jogging in place, patiently waiting for me to get warmed up. I take quick walking steps, easing into the run. Why was it I wanted to run anyway? And so early, when day has barely arrived?
Then I look up. Ah, sunrise. I had forgotten about sunrise. We run a bit, then I whip out my phone and take a picture. Further on, I stop again. Mt. Hood silhouetted by brilliant golden clouds. Yes, this is why early morning is the time to be out. Husband patiently waits. (See a pattern here?) I move on, inspired and beginning to warm up. And I keep watching the sky as the colors change and fade into streams of sunshine. A glorious fall day!
Funny how life always seems better when you look up.
Posted in autumn, Nature, Perspectives | Tagged attitude, autumn, beauty, clouds, nature, weather | Leave a Comment »
Our last day at Mt. Rainier was like so many fall days in the Pacific Northwest—wet and gray. Clouds moved in, muting the greens of moss and leaves, the reds and blues of berries, the gold of fall’s last blossoms. I hid my camera in my pack, bringing it out only briefly to capture some quick moment of beauty.
When the rain stopped for a bit, I ventured out again. Firs towered over me, grown tall in the moist soil. The river rushed by, energized by the added water. And all around me, pictures of nature’s magnificence in miniature beckoned. In the days past we had enjoyed the grand vistas—wide, blue lakes, majestic peaks, hills rising above the fog. Today I focused in on the little things.
Leaves speckled with raindrops. Oregon grape nestled against a tree trunk. Lacy leaf patterns in the vine maple. Miniscule forests of fungi. Amazing beauty that is so easy to miss in our hurried lives.
Gray days can be depressing. Clouds surround me and the rain beats upon me, forcing my eyes downward. However, if I keep my eyes open, I can still discover those small blessings that make each day special.
Posted in autumn, blessings, camping, clouds, Nature, Perspectives, special places, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged autumn, beauty, camping, clouds, joy, nature, rain, September, weather | Leave a Comment »
After feeling that nothing could beat the Naches Peak Trail, husband and I set off on the Lakes Trail in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier and changed our minds.
The night had brought fearsome thunder, followed by a downpour, repeated again later in the night. Morning arrived in foggy gray, which continued to surround us as we drove to the trailhead. When we reached Reflection Lakes, the beginning of the trail, sun broke through and brightened the muddy trail. Behind the lake, Mt. Rainier still wore a gray hood.
The trail up to Paradise Visitor’s Center wandered through the woods, crossing a rocky, chattering stream, with occasional views of peaks behind us. Huckleberry bushes lined many sections of the trail, holding luscious blue fruits that we nibbled on.
The uphill wore me down, as usual, but then we reached the aptly named Paradise. Mt. Rainier still hid her head behind the clouds, but at least the base showed. We took a short lunch break by the visitor’s center—not too crowded in September—and then hiked on. Now views turned spectacular. A new alpine meadow appeared around each bend, and the higher we hiked, the more blooms still lingered on the flowers. Craggy peaks and hills rose in the background with fog creeping into the valleys between. Green fields studded with rocks ran up to touch the mountain.
We stopped to rest in one rocky field by a stream. Soon marmots were popping out of holes to check us out. Later we saw blue grouse. Young ones followed their mother into the brush. An adult male gobbled huckleberries from plants along the trail. He would trot a short distance down the trail as we approached, but then get distracted by the juicy berries. Finally he turned off on a faint trail into the brush where he could eat his lunch undisturbed.
As we hiked back down toward Reflection Lakes, the fog moved in, and a drop or two of rain hit our faces. We walked past tiny alpine tarns and green meadows shrouded in fog back to the trailhead. Six miles completed and truly a gem of a hike! And the rain held off until we were back inside our little travel trailer, cozy and secure.
Posted in camping, clouds, hiking, Nature, special places, summer | Tagged beauty, blueberries, camping, clouds, nature, rain, summer, weather | 5 Comments »