Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pip watching those chickadees

Pip stares out the screen seemingly amused by the birds and the squirrel, but doesn't he look just the slightest bit wistful? This must be a little bit stressful for him, on the one hand wanting to get a closer look; on the other hand, comfortable with the security of the house.

Those Chickadees

I'm getting ready to leave for California but wanted to post these pics of this little chickadee.
They're very friendly but not eating out of my hand (notice I provide the best food in town --this seed has cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower, and peanuts!)

Monday, July 28, 2008


This summer the chickadees returned and started another little batch -- two littles ones just outside my door. The one with his head sticking out was the first to leave the nest. The one behind him was much weaker and had a lot of trouble once he left the nest. I often put on gloves, roughed them up in dirt, and popped him back inside where he'd be safe from cats. Once he was so confused he tried flying and landed on my blouse peering up at me. Another time he simply chirped away until I fetched him from the hedges where his tiny wings were caught.
When the birds come back, --after a week in which I don't hear them at all and miss them! -- I think I see only three. The combination could be the two parent birds and one chick or two chicks and one parent. It's impossible for me to tell and I don't know enough about their habits.
When the chicks were young I witnessed both parents caring for them, often calling back and forth in their team work to procure food. They found small worms, caterpillars, and grubby types of protein to bring into the little box. Sometimes they appeared to be teaching the young various songs and calls: chicka dee dee dee, dee dee dee. I didn't hear the whistle -- the relaxed relief sound of their whistling song -- until after the nest was empty.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flowers in the Rain

We've had so much heat this summer that the soles of my feet are used to being scorched on the pavement. There's plenty of pavement here -- sandwiched in the Pioneer Valley between Springfield and Holyoke. Last night I read about the coming rain and went out late with a scissors in hand ready to salvage what I could -- the rain's been brutal. When it comes, it lashes in a torrent -- the lightening and thunder are magnificent.
I cut back the catnip, already in flower, and hang it to dry in the kitchen. I love the bitter raw scent of catnip before it dries. My cats know where it's drying, but the slowest of them hasn't figured out that I've moved it and he continues to stand in a pot next to the batch of Sweet Annie where I once hung the catnip. Now I hang the catnip on the other wall where there's nothing he can stand on. I know he's trying to take in the scent like an ex-smoker out to lunch or at a bar leaning in close to inhale vicariously, or second-handedly.
(I'm like that with Sweet Annie. I love the smell of Sweet Annie and have bunches in my kitchen and in my bathroom. The bathroom is such a small space and she (S.A.) takes on the humidity from the shower. She smells a little like flesh, a warm deep place. If you smell sweet Annie you'll know what I mean.)
So last night I took the Asian lillies into the house because it was a humid night, heavy with the coming rain. The sky was a deep slate color, a little breeze made that caressing sound through the silver maples and phlox. In the dark, standing outside with the hard perfume of the Asian Lilly, the pollen it carries nearly red with a sexuality unlike most flowers, you can't help but let time slow to stop; I am just there with it, in it: the night, the small bit of moon, the smell of warm, exotic perfume, the smell of dirt, earth; my own smell from the day sweating outside in the garden. I don't care. Later I'll go to sleep like this -- and shower in the morning. But at night I feel comforted by the sounds of cicadas and crickets, the smells around me, the warm night, the beauty of the dark violet phlox with an occasional brave white phlox beside it, the lillies standing tall and open like strange stars in the sky.