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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The beauty of bark

Spring is (finally!) springing out all over, but today it was the tree bark along the river trail that got my attention. The process began with "the dancers," one particularly graceful group of trees along the Muskingum River,

but soon brought out my usual admiration for the utter whiteness of mature sycamore bark.

Sycamores are not my favorite trees most of the year, given that their fluff irritates my eyes and nose and their leaves take forever to break down, but in their unveiled state, they are one of the most beautiful of all trees.

 Tree skin is even more varied than human skin, ranging from this relatively delicate version

to the delightful shagginess of dawn redwood (and don't you love it that the ancestors of this tree shared the planet with dinosaurs?)

or an old crabapple.

Young members of the genus Prunus tend to have a gorgeous shimmer

 but can get entertainingly warty at the same time.

Some bark becomes an ecosystem.

 If the presence of buds is any indication, we are soon likely all to be flower-intoxicated,

but for a few more days, it's all about the bark.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

There's a story there

and I'm not sure I want to know what it was. This scruffy male house finch, obviously the worse for wear,

has been missing a good many of his feathers for at least the last two weeks. He is very skittish, bolting even when he hears the camera lens moving. This was the first time he stayed in place long enough for me to get a picture.

Something happened to this little guy, and whatever it was, it wasn't good. (I suspect an encounter with the cat from next door, who cannot be persuaded to stay out of our yard.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Something new every day

Yesterday was so gorgeous (again--a person could get used to this weather, although Mother Nature is having second thoughts right now) that the spouse and I took another walk along the river and perched for a while on a favorite bench. While there, we noticed squirrels perched out on really tiny branches of trees hanging out, seeming awfully close to the water. Of course, we had no binoculars or camera with us, so it took a few moments of observation to be sure what the little rodents were doing.

They were eating the new leaf or flower buds on whatever this tree was. It had heavy, furrowed bark and so was definitely not a sycamore, but the branches were much too high up (and much too far down the bank for those of us less agile than squirrels to get very close, anyway) for us to get a good look. The squirrels' activity, though, was unmistakable, as they were nibbling their way from branch to branch.

I had no idea that the furry little seed-snitchers were also fond of fresh greens. The cliché was right: it is indeed possible to learn something new every day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lazy and loving it

With work-related documents to finish and an online class to interact with and a talk for Women's History month to write and--oh, yes, a house to clean--there is no time to be lazy. But all immediately pressing tasks were completed by 3:30, so I walked out of the office to a sunny March afternoon with temperatures in the seventies. Given March's sometime caprice of dumping a foot or two of snow on the unwary, today seemed worth celebrating, so I convinced my spouse that a walk along the river trail was in order.

And it was. A delightful assortment of dogs and their humans were out for the afternoon, including a tiny long-haired chihuahua that hardly looked real. A patch of winter aconite and several of crocus were blooming enthusiastically, and one bed of daffodils looked ready to open tomorrow or the next day. (We will have to go back and look.) Whenever a breeze popped up, the river was covered in sun-sparkles, which of course required sitting on a park bench for a spell of admiration.

Back home, there was enough daylight left to begin drafting the talk from my favorite porch chair. The park across the street was hosting lots of activity--runners, gaggles of young people, and a large black poodle-y something bounding along with its accompanying human and a small canine companion of some sort. Closer to my chair, finches and chickadees were tanking up at the nearest birdfeeder, with the first downy woodpecker I've seen in months searching for insects in the crevices of maple bark. Some small, unidentifiable (to me, from that distance) bird was making a racket in the cedar tree--perhaps the first warbler of 2016? Entirely too full of well-being to leave the chair yet, I ended up having a 40-minute phone conversation with a relative in her nineties, comparing the sights from our respective perches. The conversation ended when the church bells audible from her phone reminded me that it was 6:00 PM, and supper was not going to get itself.

A lazy afternoon--but is there anything more worth doing than loving one's beautiful world?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sounds of spring

The weather of this first week of March has not felt particularly springlike (never mind that cold, gray, and spitting snow are what we generally get the first week of March, so expecting anything different is one of those human quirks....). However, spring is definitely on its way, and we know this not just because the daffodil and magnolia buds are getting fat and I am now cooking supper while it's still light outside.

It's the birds! Our feathered friends are singing up a storm, including all those cheerful little songs that we only hear when young birds' fancies turn to thoughts of love, or whatever birds call the urge to pair-bond. Assorted trills, warbles, buzzes, and general cascades of notes are sounding from every tree, bush, and wall around here. (Note to self: take a class on birding by ear as soon as retirement leaves time for such things--hope the hearing holds out for at least the next year as it is not what it once was. Kind of like the eyesight, and the joints, and the memory. . . .)

Hang in there, human friends. Winter will end.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Escaping the Lion

March came in like a lamb, for a few hours anyway, but tonight the wind is roaring. I will indeed take fifty and raining over some of the snowy Marches we have had, but my old bones are ready for genuinely warm weather. Even though today is not Thursday, some throwback photos seem in order.

Tiger swallowtail and out-of-focus bumblebee on an August afternoon

A few favorite daylilies

Tsolka's magical village home

A beautiful meal under the pergola

And one of her luscious roses.