Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Being Still

One thing I've learned from my backyard long-sittings is that when I'm moving fast, the world seems still. Strong, stable, and supportive—but still.  It's not until I stay still and quiet for an extended period of time that the backyard livens into activity I couldn't have seen while crashing through with a compost bucket or garden rake. 

Take this morning, for example. First it was the barely audible tap tap tapping of a downy woodpecker, finding breakfast in the dying hickory tree with industry and determination, resting every now and then to offer its distinctive descending whinny. In the grass hopped a pair of Eastern Towhees—one following the other. At first I thought it was the less colorful female pursuing her more vivid rufous sided lover. Odd, in bird world. But on closer inspection, it appeared to be a disheveled fledgling having a training session with its father, learning the art of towhee foraging behavior.  A chipmunk investigated an old cement planter. The ubiquitous squirrels scampered around the yard—I counted six of them at once. A messy fledgling brown thrasher preened in the holly tree, and tested his wings, flitting from branch to branch before taking off across the yard. 

Then, oh precious then, a tiny furry bunny ventured into the grass to nibble on something. Clover?  I've noticed that rabbit hole in the walk path. Not far away, an adult rabbit nibbled too, so still I almost missed it. Noisily, the cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, and finches flutter around the feeder. Pichickory-pichickory-mew-mew, call the goldfinches. A Carolina wren sits in a ray of sun on the hummingbird feeder pole, singing his exuberant heart out. With uptilted head, open beak, heaving throat, and quivering tail, he throws his entire body into the effort of his chee-boogie chee-boogie song. Soon a female joins him. Off they go together for a tryst in the woods. 

All of a sudden the bluejays erupt into raucous warning. Who knew there were so many so near? Such a flurry in the grass and trees as everybody disappears, and sure enough, a broadwinged hawk soars overhead. I love the bluejays for their vigilance. They are to bird world what journalists are to ours. The hawk whistles and disappears too. Quiet returns. 

In the Wayback, a large branch cracks and falls through the trees. Frightening sound.  Probably a result of our recent heavy rains. I'll investigate when I take the compost out later. Now the crickets begin to buzz, and the mourning doves coo in the distance—lazy summer day sounds. The sun emerges above the canopy, making it suddenly hot. Time to get this day started. 

Usually, I try to choose the single most significant observation to blog about. How could I have chosen today?  dkm

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Coolness of Dew

It's the grass this morning—the lowly grass of home—and the way the dewdrops cling to it. In places gray, in places green—odd patches of color—accentuated when viewed at a slant from a ground level seat on the front doorstep. Quiet. Comforting. Cooling. Inviting.

The sun is not yet above the eastern canopy, yet the day is already warm. After an invigorating walk with the Ya-yas, I'm drenched in sweat—and hot. The grass is covered in dew—and cool. I want to roll in it, but what would the neighbors think?

Moe often tells me he loves to walk through the wet grass in his bare feet when he goes out for the morning paper.  He says its a nice way to start a day.  I try it. He's right.

Now I really want to roll in it. Still, I resist. If I ever saw any of my senior neighbors prostrate on their lawn at dawn, I'd call an ambulance. I envision protesting to the EMT, "No really, I was just sweaty." So I content myself with imagining. dkm

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two in Three Million

It was a soul enriching vacation. Tourists we were, with little time to sit, to be, to reflect; yet awe and wonder is what Moe and I experienced every day we spent in the natural ecosystems of Colorado and Wyoming, even with other tourists around. 

After our nephew's breathtakingly memorable wedding on a big flat rock overhang on Shadowcliff Mountain, above Grand Lake, Colorado, in a wind so high we feared the bride and groom and minister might be blown off their rock, we took a leisurely two-day drive through open range and sage brush flats,


toward Jackson Hole and the fabled national parks of northwest Wyoming, Grand Teton and Yellowstone. In the Jackson Hole area we stayed for eight days in a one-of-a-kind B&B inn, Becker's Teton Treehouse, hand-built on a mountain side, in a lodgepole pine forest by the innkeeper himself from lodgepoles on the property. Built on the ground, yes, but 95 steps up the mountain from Heck of a Hill Road, above Wilson, Wyoming. 

For guests, the steps are the only access to a house so tightly surrounded by trees that from no single vantage point could you see the whole thing. Having six guestrooms on different levels, unique interior stairways, and multiple balconies in the treetops, it's like The Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, only it has way better amenities. A real storybook adventure. 

Each room is named for a different bird, native to the lodgepole forest. Our room was The Hummingbird.

Aptly named. Rufous, Broadtailed, Caliope, and Black-chinned hummers came to the feeders all day every day, dive-buzzing around our heads on the balconies. Of the four hummer species, the Rufous males were the most aggressive, and exciting to watch. They almost looked like furry rust-brown bats, and I thought at first they were, until I got a close-up look at them at the feeders. Since we only see Ruby-throats in the southeast, these hummers were a grand unexpected pleasure and only the first of many during our eight day stay, making me itch to return to blogging. 

This is probably a female Caliope, but not sure because the females all look alike.

The second pleasure was meeting the innkeepers, 
Denny and Sally Becker.

He, a former wilderness guide and artisan builder; she, a former school principal and artisan baker; they were so knowledgeable about how to navigate the touristy areas of Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone, that we never once felt overwhelmed by crowds. Quite the opposite, we felt among a privileged few who had the opportunity to experience that magnificent landscape in a unique and special way via the able direction of a seasoned guide, all the while knowing we were were really just two of the three million annual visitors to the carefully preserved ecosystem. More unexpected pleasures of the Wyoming landscape in upcoming posts, with high hopes to stay more regularly at it, for a while at least:-). dkm

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back soon!

It's not for lack of breathtaking moments in the backyard that I haven't posted for a while.  There was that fluffy fledgling wren on the deck, so new she didn't fly away when spoken to, the new kid twins on the goatfarm, the sun glancing off the creekwater in a way supernatural.

A squirrel with a cut off tail came for help to the door. I swear, he knocked.  Dozens and dozens of redwing blackbirds on their early trek north, the birdfeeder emptying in 1.5 days during migration season, the multitudes of goldfinches. And dare I mention the goddess mothers?

I'm still enjoying your blogposts, but not commenting these days for fear of getting lost in the fun and never getting back to my own stuff.  Meantime, working on writing of another kind. Don't give up on me. Will post regularly again when I finish this cussed little work of fiction. Be back soon! dkm