Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Creek foam, spring birds and tulips

Crazy foam cake
Finally the sun has come out after lots more days of rain. The creeks are up better than I can remember them in years. I was walking this morning and came to a place where a little creek was flowing that I hadn't remembered and I followed it up to where it just became. Out of the hillside, water emerged and began flowing and formed a tiny stream that only runs in wet weather. This isn't just a stream formed by rain, like the dry wash that runs through our yard and only flows when its raining really hard. This is more like a seep, all the water that falls on that side of the mountain eventually percolates down and comes out at this point and runs on down the hill to join the main creeks. Pretty cool.

Saw the first morel this week so now I walk - eyes on the ground hoping for another. They are so hard to spot, I know they are out there, we have tons of places that fit the bill, may apples under tulip poplars, old growth oak and hickory, but its like looking for a needle in a haystack, looking for a morel in a hillside of dried leaves.

Saw a winter wren this morning too- it's got to be the last of the season. The waterthrushes are back and I've heard the yellow-throated warblers singing in the pine trees down by the pond, but can't ever seem to spot them, though I try and try. They are so beautiful with their bright yellow throats and black mask and white eyebrow. My brother saw an American Bittern on his lawn the other day- how crazy is that? I'll have to add that to my rare spottings list, it was the same day of tornadoes near Raleigh, maybe it got blown off course. He said it looked a bit stunned- as was he having seen it where it should not have been. In case you are not a birder, Bitterns are marsh birds, they live in swamps and around the water, not in the woods or near lawns.

Planted these tulips last fall and they sure are looking pretty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Season column runs on Sunday!

Check me out- I finally rate having my column in the Sunday edition of the Chapel Hill News, after a year of being in the Wednesday edition. Yes, one year I've been writing my "In Season" column for CHN, a milestone of sorts. Now why this article would be posted under "Pets" I can't really say, the Almanac section seems more appropriate, but I'm not complaining.

You can read Morning Sun and the Cry of Hawks by clicking here.

Every day I hear that father hawk, keee-yahhing down around the pond, wanting all to know that's his turf this spring. I saw the mom on the nest the other day, she acted very much like she was adjusting some eggs underneath her. My research shows a 28-30 day incubation, 40 days to brood. The nest is so high in the tree that it's impossible to see inside, so I'll be watching to see if there are any babies lurking around the edge of the nest come mid May.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring's Official

With the passing of the equinox yesterday its officially spring. Might not know it by the cool temps but on my morning walks this week I've seen plenty of evidence that everything is about to burst to life. The whole world feels pregnant, plants lush with all the recent rain and ready to open flower buds and send up new shoots.

I spotted these geese checking out the pond, every year there's a new group of goslings down there, no sign of nest building yet, but I think this is our annual pair.
I'm bored a bit with the winter birds and eagerly anticipating the migration which will be in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I'm rediscovering some of the strikingly beautiful commoners, blue jays, robins and kingfishers. I was studying a pair of blue jays on the drive way this morning, a patchwork of white, and light and dark blue feathers on there tails and the backs of their wings looks almost like a checkerboard. And the robins, oh so ordinary- NOT- speckled faces, yellow eye ring, rusty red breast, they are stunners really.

The kingfishers have been very loud this week both at the pond and along the creek, calling their ratchety cry as they swoop close to the water and then soar up into the trees, their crests erect when they land on a branch. I think they are probably working out some territory issues, who is going to nest in which section of the creek bank, who gets the pond as their turf? Or is it mating activity? Not sure, maybe some of both.

May apples began to unwind this week like so many tiny green umbrellas.

With the extension of the daylight I can feel myself growing too, reaching for the light, everyday a new level of energy for work and thought and writing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Misty Morning Ramble

I woke early, my mind racing, heart heavy, people I love are hurting.
I got up, made coffee and went to the desk, I wrote and wrote and wrote it all down and got it out on the page. Then I bundled up and headed out into the misty morning. Hundreds of these delicate spider webs were revealed by the fog, in small trees and tucked into spaces between running cedar and leaves on the ground.
I heard woodpeckers hammering, kingfishers ratcheting their way down the creek, pine warblers warbling, The red bird calling cheer, cheer, perty, perty, perty, perty, cheer, cheer.

Life goes on, the moss is on the move.
The ferns are unfurling. I must believe that everything will right itself. Eventually.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Squirrel Antics

So I'm standing there making coffee yesterday morning, feeling a little bleary-eyed and see something orange go flying up the side of a tree and wonder if I'm imagining things when I realize, it's a squirrel.
This is not a great photo but if you look close you can see the little guy above the big orange towel on the side of the tree. Yes, this is a full size bath towel that was left out to dry, fortunately, one classified for outdoor use at this point, that the squirrel spotted and must have thought "Wow, all the chicks will be comin' over to my crib when I get it all pimped out with this plush orange lining."

It got hung up and he abandoned it in the branch. This morning I noticed he had managed to move it another 12 feet or so towards his nest, but now that it's raining and the towel is soaking wet I'm betting it won't move any more until it dries out a bit- I was surprised he was able to carry it as far as he did.

Oh the continuing saga/joy of living with squirrels. Last week it was the lawnmower, David filled it with gas only to discover the squirrels had chewed a hole in the gas line and gas was leaking all over the ground. He managed to make a repair but not after a few choice words directed towards our furry pests.

Today I am enjoying a lovely rainy day and looking forward to one more weekend to be inside before getting pulled outside to endless chores which I think should start about wednesday when the weather clears and warms again. I want to put in another planting of lettuce, a few greens, more beets and carrots, the ones I planted in February didn't come up- too cold I guess, so I'll try again. And of course its time to weed and mulch, always time to weed and mulch.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some Winter Veggies are Still Alive

I was thinking my faithful readers might be wondering- what happened to all the veggies under the remay tunnel during the cold weather? Well, the broccoli took it on the chin along with the radish greens- but not before I harvested some very nice large radishes which were a bonus I hadn't expected.

The kale, mustard, tatsoi, spinach and lettuce have continued to perk along, not really growing but still edible. The cabbage suffered some frost damage and should probably be harvested and eaten. When we got ready to leave town for 2 weeks we decided to just uncover everything and let it die if it was going to, but things have just kept going. I harvested a half dozen big leeks tonight to make some soup with, there are still carrots in the ground that are sweet as ever, the collards are a bit limp but still edible.

The cilantro is the queen of the winter garden, never happier. Perfect to zip up soups, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, guacamole, chickpea and other salads, I'm glad to have something green to add to things this time of year.

The new spinach and lettuce is tiny, but starting to grow, in another month- I hope to be harvesting some. Got the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants into flats this week, a bit late, but done. Another season rolls around.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Fickle Too

Don't know if you saw my last Chapel Hill News column, The Push and Pull of Fickle February, but it seems that March is going to be fickle as well. On Monday we woke to 4 inches of snow, it was like a fairyland, piles of fluffy white whipped cream meringue on every branch and twig. I said to David "nature got a pie in the face!" It was bright white and even before the sun was up everything glowed with reflected light. That night it got down to 17 degrees and the high Tuesday was 34 I think. Yesterday and today will be 80! So all the plants are probably feeling a bit schizophrenic at this point. I noticed this morning the tips of the crab apple were looking mighty pink suddenly, hope they don't open and get bitten by another cold snap, by Friday this week the forecast is again cold and rainy.

Tiny twigs piled high with snow