Warm and Cold and Warm Again

Weed Feb 27

The yard is warm and sunny today, sprinkled with blossoming weeds. A few weeks ago it was frozen and snowy.

Snow Feb 12

This year January and February saw days warm enough for house repairs (replacing wood damaged by carpenter bees), followed closely by days too cold for anything but reading and sleeping.

Damage 3


Ice January 18

Snow January 23

Some days were strangely confused, cold with bright sunshine or warm with dreary skies.

Vulture Feb 14

Seagull Jan 8

Bird Feb 20

Squirrel Feb 20

Sapsucker Jan 12

Robin Jan 20

Robin Jan 18

Our annual writers’ weekend at the beach brought a little bit of everything.

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 4

Beach Feb 4

March will likely bring a little bit more of everything, but hopefully it won’t get fountain-freezing cold again.

Town Center Feb 11


Sleep, eat, read… blog

Yard December 30

When I didn’t put together a blog post in late October, I resolved to make up for it in November. After November passed without a post, I planned something for December. And when January loomed with the blog still silent, I finally admitted that I had been neglecting more than the blog. I wasn’t procrastinating. I was depressed. Again.

Yard December 30

My inertia started with procrastination, but, as the days grew shorter and shorter, depression took over. In retrospect, I knew this all along. I tried to ignore the symptoms, but in mid-October I had quit doing most of the things I enjoy. The blog was just my most public absence.

Flowers Nov 9

By November, the yard and I were weather-worn and brittle.

Flowers Nov 9

Flowers Nov 9

Off and on in November I picked up my camera, took a few photos, and thought vaguely of how I would describe them in a blog post. Each time I decided to pay bills or clean out the closet instead. (More often than not, I then decided to put off the bills and the closet, too.) So this photo of spider eggs never posted:

Eggs November 24

Nor this exquisite moth:

Moth Sept 17

I woke briefly in mid-November, when the Yellow-rumped Warblers arrived, but soon drifted back into my sleep-eat-read-sleep routine.

Warbler Nov 16

Squirrel Nov 9

Rabbit Nov 9

As December counted down, I told myself lies about how busy I was with holiday preparations.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

I told others these lies, too, because they were easier than admitting to everyone that the holidays made me feel sad and lonely. That, despite my love for festive decorations, much of my nostalgia is tinged with grief.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

During my lost months, I watched flocks of birds gather and move on, feeling each time as if I had missed an important message.

Flock Nov 20

Birds Nov 9

Crow Nov 9

Then, one bright and unseasonably warm afternoon, a pair of vultures paused over the yard, basking in the sun. These beautiful, under-appreciated birds sent me scrambling for my camera, something I had not done in weeks.

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

And on Christmas Eve, despite dreary clouds and a threat of storms, I enjoyed an afternoon in the yard with my camera.

Starling Dec 24

This time I felt closer to getting the message.

Birds Dec 24

In the after-Christmas lull, I slept and ate and read and slept, but there was a spark of something different in the routine. A current of ambition to do more than sleep and eat and read. As I put away our decorations, I noticed a pot of pansies that I had never planted. And all the empty bird feeders.

Muscovy Jan 3

On the first Sunday of 2016, I took a walk with my old camera. As I photographed ducks and geese and seagulls, my internal dialogue became a patter of possible captions for the photos. That evening I edited the images with extra care, eager to post them. But I couldn’t decide how to post them. The blog had been silent for so long. Now that I was ready to post again, how should I explain my absence? Should I simply resume posting? Gloss over two months fogged by recurring depression?

Merganser Jan 3

If I tried to explain, would I be able to describe depression without being depressing? (I don’t believe I’ve succeeded, but I decided to post this anyway. Too many people avoid talking about depression for too many reasons, which makes it that much lonelier.)

Heron Jan 3

I’ve lived with depression (and its frequent companion–anxiety) for a very long time. Longer than I’ll usually admit. Compared to past experience, this bout was mild and short-lived. Now I’m making changes that should help speed my recovery. Over the weekend I stocked the kitchen with healthier food, started exercising, and spent more time outside with my camera. These are, I’ve learned, my best defenses.

Seagull Jan 3

So as January progresses, along with a more mindful schedule of sleeping and eating and reading, I’ll be walking and writing and blogging. (And renewing my efforts to learn meditation. More on this later.)

Mallard Jan 3

And as the days get longer and longer, I’ll start looking forward to spring. Because spring will come. It always does.

Mallard Jan 3

A Short Walk in New Shoes

Tomorrow I am going on an Adventure! I’m so excited about the Adventure that I bought new shoes, which I decided to test by going for a walk today.

Geese Jan 10

I pulled into Ashville Park barely thirty minutes in front of a line of rain, so I didn’t have time to walk very far. I had enough time, though, to find the resident pair of domestic geese. These geese were featured in our local newspaper in 2010, “Sit back and enjoy the tale of Jack, the lonely goose,” and I’m happy they are still thriving.

Geese Jan 10

Geese Jan 10

Further down the road, I spotted an unfamiliar silhouette on a long, narrow pond. Before I got close enough to try for a photo, a sparrow began sounding an alarm and the slender diving bird disappeared. I waited a while, but the mysterious diver never returned.

Sparrow Jan 10

While I was photographing the sparrow (I believe this is a Song Sparrow), I spotted some unusual activity in a nearby stand of trees. Several vultures were resting together, at least five, and two more joined the group while I watched.

Vultures Jan 10

(The three in the bottom photo are definitely Turkey Vultures, but I can’t decide if the top photo shows a Black Vulture or an immature Turkey Vulture.)

Vultures Jan 10

More vultures were circling in as the rain arrived and chased me back to my car. My camera got a bit wet, as did my new shoes, but both have already dried and are waiting by the door for tomorrow’s Adventure. I may not be able to sleep tonight!

Another Wednesday in the Yard

Another beautiful, warm day. The last thing I really wanted to do was crank the lawnmower. But, as is often the case, my last-choice task was on the verge of critical. The yard was calf-high in places. (In my defense, I think the moths and bees prefer it that way…)

Unfortunately, moths and bees aren’t running things. (Or… Maybe they are?)

No matter who is in charge, the yard needed mowing. So I laced up my grass-stained shoes, slapped on some sunscreen, and charged my iPod’s battery. I was almost finished, tired and grumpy and over-hot, when this little turtle popped out of the grass right in front of the mower.

 I wasn’t able to stop before catching him a bit with the front wheel. (I think I might have been the one who nicked his tail…) But he doesn’t seem to have suffered any lasting harm. Later this evening, I’ll release him near a pond. For now, he’s resting under an open window, safe from the yard’s many dangers.

He’s very small. Probably the smallest turtle I’ve ever seen!

Spring Action

There’s so much going on that it’s hard to know where to look. If I focus my camera on the vultures wheeling overhead, I miss the carpenter bees zooming underfoot. There are crane flies mating and irises blooming and new visitations of wonder in every corner of the yard.

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