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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Firsts and Lasts

Our friend Stumpy has not been seen for some months (May 7, 2013, to be exact), and I fear that we have seen the last of our neighborhood's nearly-tailless squirrel. Several hawks have taken up residence in the area.
Our favorite distinctive rodent will be missed (and if Stumpy should reappear, we will be most glad.).

 But many good things have been sighted over the last few days. A stroll along the edge of  Johnson T. Janes Park revealed a Stumpy-like specimen of the Black Squirrels of North Parkersburg, so survivors still walk among us. The park also held the first two butterflies of the year: an azure (and those tiny fluttering bits of blue always seem magical) and what may have been an Eastern comma--something orange and highly marked, but not a monarch. Then a meander up to our favorite Mexican restaurant took us past a creek where something tiny and yellow was flitting about the brushy growth--possibly some sort of warbler as it looked like a slightly-brighter female goldfinch, only about two-thirds the size. Whatever it was (and there is never a camera when it's needed), it was a life bird.

Sometimes Parkersburg is almost too exciting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Today's joys

  • Taking the time to sit in the front yard and just be for a few minutes
  • Four (!) LBBs flitting around in the rhododendron, at least one of them a male finch, though whether purple or house, I am not sure
  • A pair of cardinals hanging around the bird feeder
  • Baby leaves on two roses that had looked dead
  • Serviceberry blooms about to open
  • The iridescence of grackle feathers
  • Sunlight on daffodils
It was more than time for spring to arrive.

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's here

The chipmunks have returned to Chipmunk Ridge, so spring is officially here. I didn't quite get all of last year's leaves cleared from all the flowerbeds, creating a discordant note among the daffodils and muscari, but the creatures of spring don't seem to mind at all.
  •  The grackles are strutting their grackle stuff.
  • The goldfinches are golden again.
  • The starlings are getting their breeding plumage and eating everything in sight. (Note to self: put out more suet.)
  • Robins are hitting the grass gardens and leaving with beakfuls of nesting materials.
  • A pair of red-shouldered hawks is spending lots of time in the neighborhood, though no one has seen the nest yet. (But my, are they noisy.)
Unfortunately, the first casualty of spring has arrived. Yesterday, beneath the American holly favored by a host of our block's birds, a small white egg lay broken on the driveway. Its contents were attracting lots of attention from the season's first ants, but I didn't get close enough to attempt to determine its species (and probably couldn't have, anyway). Definitely not a robin is as much of an ID as I could manage.

he first violets are blooming, and there will undoubtedly be more eggs laid in the neighborhood.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The signs..

that spring is definitely springing:
  • fully-blooming early daffodils
  • the first species tulip
  • buds on the dogwood j-u-s-t beginning to open
  • blooms on red maples in the historic district
  • cardinals making much more racket than they've made in months (Could love be in bloom?)            . . . . . and
  • buds on the physocarpus!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back again

They're here. A glance out the window this morning revealed several of what I at first thought were starlings, but something wasn't quite right: these birds' bodies were too elongated, and the walk was different. A moment's thought (I being on only my first cup of coffee) clarified the situation: the grackles are back from wherever they spend the winter, and a flock/horde/cackle of them had returned to Chipmunk Ridge, where they were pecking around in the mulch and among the dried grasses. Luckily for them and the neighborhood robins, yesterday I broke out the string trimmer and had at the meadow and savannah gardens, leaving plenty of nesting material scattered about.

Spring has officially sprung.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

And so it begins

I went away for a few days and came home to two species of crocuses in full bloom and daffodils--barely visible above ground when I left--in bud, with two showing enough color that I cut them and brought them indoors. The "Tete-a-Tete" dwarf daffs in the neighbor's yard are already in full bloom, and the purple hellbores, which had looked nearly dead a few weeks ago, are at their perky purple best. This seemed a good afternoon to clear away last year's foliage to make room for new growth, so I got a good start.

It's amazing how many leaves had blown in over the winter; I raked up several trash cans full (and had the problem of finding places to put them, but that's another story). Clearing the ground revealed some daffodils that I'd forgotten we had (yes, that's how deep some of the post-autumn leaf piles had gotten) and enough heartening new growth on other things to make up for what looks at this point like the death of our rosemary, at least one red sage, which had heaved up out of the ground under a snowdrift, leaving its poor little roots sadly unprotected, and most of the santolina and orange thyme. We may have lost a front-yard rose as well. The plants that survived the winter, however, seem totally unfazed.

The obedient plant is spreading in a way that promises lots of pink in late summer, and the new growth on the "Fireworks" goldenrod is a lusher green than usual. Several varieties of aster are staking out their territory, and the penstemon is already greening up. Irises and daylilies have sent up fresh foliage, and the Oriental poppy looks to be seeking world domination.

After more than enough winter, it is finally spring in the garden.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Road(s) Not Taken

Back at my favorite Toledo parks today, but they were not their usual selves. This afternoon's temperature was in the forties, and some hardy joggers were in tank tops and shorts, but I was not one of them. (Full disclosure: I don't jog.) The snow in some places at the edges of parking lots was higher than my Honda. (Yes, those are cars off to the right.)

This was the path to my favorite prairie overlook.

A close-up
 Bench-sitting was not meant to be today, either.

This was the path to "Susan's meadow," today only visible from a distance.

This is NOT my favorite weather for park exploration--but at least one robin didn't mind the snow.
 And the fox squirrels were having a fine time at the sunflower seed feeder. The sight of their tails cheered me right up.