Last week a snowstorm clipped our area as it funneled down from the north. This week a snowstorm is barreling up from the south.
After complaining my way through two mild winters, I’m trying to focus on the happier aspects of a “normal” winter. Fresh snow is pretty, hard freezes mean fewer insect pests in the summer, and icy walks renew my gratitude for warm blankets and hot water.
What do you love best about winter?
The yard was full of birds today. Flocks arrived in waves, flashing in and out of patches of sunlight as they foraged. Rather than braving the cold, I sat in the window with my camera and enjoyed a long, quiet afternoon in the warmth of our kitchen.
The chickadees, warblers, and woodpeckers were too busy to stop for photos, but a small flock of sparrows spent nearly an hour grazing in the half-frozen grass and weeds. They stayed in a part of the yard that had already fallen into shade, pointedly avoiding sunlit areas.
(There were four of these little sparrows, and I’ve had no luck identifying them. Chipping Sparrows? Swamp Sparrows? Am I getting close? Please comment if you can help!)
Tomorrow is forecast to be a bit warmer with lots of sunshine. I wonder if the birds know?
Earlier this week some parts of our area had overnight frost, then temperatures flared into the eighties. Bees and hover flies responded to the summer-like conditions with greatly increased activity, much to the delight of our Fourth of July rose.
Unfortunately, other insect activity also increased. The daisies and petunias were somewhat less delighted.
And this damselfly had to be rescued from an abandoned spider web.
While increasing insect activity gave me the opportunity to experiment with my camera’s macro functions, the yard’s quickening was visible on larger scales, as well. The cardinals’ nestlings fledged last week, which led to a few days of frantic visits to the feeder, followed by conspicuous absence as the little family moved on to explore other yards.
The squirrel kittens never returned, after that one brief visit, but the adult squirrels have been growing more playful and tolerant of each other as they approach the beginning of a new breeding season. Perhaps there will be more kittens, later this summer.
Perhaps there will be more of everything. Especially more long, lazy afternoons with bright pools of sunshine and breezy, open windows.
In a word, more serenity.
(During my spring flower frenzy, I bought the flowers in the above photo because their labels said “Serenity”. They are Serenity series African daisies, and I’ve planted them right beside the front door…)
Despite winter’s lingering chill, the yard is ready for summer.
I’m looking forward to the warm months ahead, to days filled with honeysuckle blooms, nesting doves, and cardinal fledglings…
This week our television flashed image after image of chaos, pain, and loss. I don’t have a personal connection to any of the Boston Marathon bomb victims, nor any of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion victims, and yet my shock and grief feel personal. More and more personal as time passes, as scenes of blood and smoke and flames give way to achingly poignant details about the dead and wounded.
Desperate to escape my growing sense of helplessness, I turn off the television and retreat into the yard, where I find a foraging cardinal, a pollen-dusted bee, and a pair of brave grackles. A hungry tufted titmouse, a half-grown rabbit, and a sleepy squirrel. They remind me that my journey is simultaneously important and insignificant, that I am both connected to and separate from the world. And their company feels like a glimpse of solace, a brief visitation of peace during a week defined by turmoil.