Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Cardinal Pole Dance

For months now, ever since early spring, there has been a female cardinal tapping at each of the windows around the house.  Some mornings she hits the bedroom window just as the sun is coming up around 6:00 A.M.!  She does this several times a week and now we are into August when bird hormones and energy are supposed to be dwindling.  Yet still she and her significant other arrive on the patio, bathe in the birdbath, feed each other, and then, while he rests on the back of the patio chair and cleans his beak or grooms his feathers which now are molting hideously, she lands on the doorknob and taps at the deck window.

Somedays she puts on her crazy hat and rushes at the patio door like a suicide dancer scratching as she claws her way from bottom to top.  Maybe this is the feathered version of the pole dance?  Sometimes she just stops and stares a my interior decoration as if she has stumbled upon some bordello.

I chase her away if I am truly annoyed, but she seems to enjoy the interaction with me and laughs when she flies into the woods, so I have given up.  I wash the bird spit off the windows every few weeks, and try to ignore this aberrant behavior.  If she has built nests and was tending young ones, she must have lots of energy left over.

She seems to reflect this hot and angry summer we have been having with her erratic behavior.  We had good rains in July but now we are into high 90F weather with no rain most days, sometimes only an electrical storm; it is harsh.  Even the cicadas seem to sing with a rusty, scratchy sound rather than their rhythmic percussion and I hear not a peep from our frogs in the rain fed depression down in the ravine...and I am going to kill this bird as soon as I finish my iced tea.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sharing the Peace

Recovering from my second batch of visitors and actually have this weekend free!  Let me share some peace and beauty with you in my photo painting morning!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Sniff, sniff.

Something smells...good?  I am guessing it is not him!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


A few heavy downpours over the early August days break the heat but hold onto the humidity.  Yet, they provide enough to quench the thirst of the tulip trees which in late, hot, summer are dropping an abundance of yellow floating leaves that almost instantly turn to burnt brown on the sidewalks and grassy hillside.  Their scuttling crispness sometimes startles me when a breeze pushes them across the driveway like a large alien bug.  

There are ethereal beauties that catch my eye as well in the small drop in temperature.  Our swallowtails are in abundance this year.  They are selective in which nectar filled trumpets they visit.  They avoid my purple petunias on the deck and go again and again pressing their faces into the verbena blossoms that are just inches away.  They lift like a drunken feather, then sink again to the next blossom.

They look particularly beautiful when visiting the cosmos which are struggling this year against the few pounding rains after weeks of heat and drought.  When these beauties are satiated they float across the yard like zephyrs with tiny silk capes; slow, dipping even, and clearly in some mindless pleasure.  If I could see their faces, would they be smiling?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Who Was Here?

As I watch the storm clouds move in bringing even cooler weather, blocking the gentle sun and making the grasses dance faster, I cannot help but wonder what bear crossed this land just hours before my eyes gazed ahead, what camper shifted her backpack and pushed inland from here just weeks ago, what trapper set a trap at the mouth of that river decades ago, and what miner shouldered his gear and drug himself up that hillside in search of gold a century before my arrival?  What human hoped to tame this land and what human fell in love and surrendered to its beauty and power at this very same place where my feet now are planted?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Strength and Leadership

While homo sapiens, and I use that word loosely, are fighting over the leadership of my beautiful and wonderful and magnificent country right now, I want to post some truly majestic profiles of leaders from the other animal kingdoms that I took on my Alaska trip. 

 Even the majestic ones let their hair down and their rumps up once in a while.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Controversial Weed

Epilobium angustifolium or fireweed was abundant in Alaska. ( Known as rosebay willowherb in Britain as it grows circumboreal in range.)  This is a controversial flower.  How can that be?  Well, read on. 

This photo, a bit blurred, yet does show an egg mass of some insect near the top.

I heard several Alaskans say the did not like the flower.  It starts to bloom from the bottom and works it's way to the top.  When it begins bloom the traditional saying is that this is the beginning of summer and when the blossoms open at the top, then that means summer is over.  It is a ticking seasonal clock for some, it seems.

This perennial is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A if the early spring shoots are harvested.  Slender leaves and buds can also be used in salads.  If the leaves and blossoms are older they are tough and bitter.  The full blossoms are four-lobed trumpet in shape.  The herb is antispasmodic, hypnotic, and can be used as a laxative and tonic.  It also causes tissues to contract.  It claims many other medicinal uses.

It grows at the edges of the woods and in places where disturbed soil is located.  It is cultivated for reclamation of landscapes that have been eroded.  It grew everywhere on the hikes and drives that we took.  I am sure my Canadian bloggers know it well.