Farming In Winter: Deadly Cold (Long Read)

Unless you’ve been living underground, you’re probably aware of the disastrous consequences the holiday storm wreaked (yes, wreaked, not wrecked!) on many areas of the country. People have died because of the bitterly cold temperatures, though there are stories of everyday heroism worth celebrating (juxtaposed with stories of shocking callousness). While small farmers may not make the news, I’m sure that many animals – including wild animals – also lost their lives or suffered injury during the brutal cold because this was a cold that had to be experienced to be believed.

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Haiku: Seeds of Hope (Autumn Series #1)

Fall has arrived here in my “neck of the woods”. Despite the last couple of days’ pleasantly warm temperatures and sunny skies, the appearance of summer is belied by the thick carpet of leaves, pine needles, and cones that that now blankets the grass out front. Fall cannot be denied.

And yet, as I open the windows in the house to let in the breeze and I hear the birds singing, it’s easy to forget – if for but a moment – that it really shouldn’t be this warm here right now. That the stink bugs and flies should be gone, and that frost on the grass shouldn’t be a surprise.

Even our flock of molting chickens seem pleased with the upturn in temperatures, laying more eggs. Who’s going to complain about that?

Many of the wild birds, whose presence we enjoyed all summer, have migrated. Just the doves, some finches, nuthatches, titmice, a few blackbirds (cowbirds, perhaps), a few species of woodpeckers, and the ever-present blue jays still visit the feeders. The smaller woodpeckers seem to prefer the suet that we’ve added to the complement of tube feeders. It’s been several weeks since I’ve seen a hummingbird, but we still put a feeder out with fresh nectar, just in case a migrating straggler comes by.

The poplar tree, whence the heart-shaped leaf came, is nearly naked after the weeken’s winds stripped its leaves. I will miss its broad, green leaves and the unusual, spiky flowers that appear in the spring. Finding a little “gift” of this sort seems as though the tree is telling me that despite how it may appear that the transformation occurring now is negative, it’s really not; instead, it’s a reminder of the transitional nature of life, that it’s part of a natural (and necessary) cycle, and we’re moving into a time of quiet strength-gathering. And what may seem “dead” during winter’s austerity is merely dormant, just waiting for the signal to burst forth in all its fresh, vigorous brilliance.

I liked the juxtaposition of the seeds and the fallen leaf in the haiku because it seemed to represent the mixed feelings that arise (at least in me) at this time of year. It feels like the year – and Nature – is winding down, divesting of its earlier finery, and preparing for the solemnity of winter. We can mourn the departure of summer’s visitors – the jeweled hummingbirds, the ethereally gorgeous butterflies – and still celebrate the gifts of this season, as well as each of the others. May you discover the joys of this season, wherever you are.

Haiku: Unfurling

It’s a mercifully cool (relatively speaking) Friday here, and for that I am thankful. I’m also deeply thankful for the support and fellowship of a very special person, my friend S. When I saw this dewy, unfurling sunflower glowing in the early morning sunlight, I thought of you.

S is one of those inspirational people who subtly, unconsciously, reminds you – through their actions – that you can do better. That you can be kinder, more trusting, more patient, more understanding, without being a victim. S has the patience of a saint, something that I struggle with, and I marvel at her ability to accept things that would, inanely, irritate me to no end. That’s really just wasted energy, isn’t it?

S reminds me that, sometimes, people simply need words of encouragement, a joke that makes them laugh, a shared experience or perspective that reminds them of our common humanity and makes them feel like someone (who is not a relative) cares. And this isn’t just obligatory caring.

My wish for each of you who see this post is that you have the privilege of knowing someone like S, who sees and appreciates beauty, including the beauty in you. Unicorns do exist. Keep growing, learning, and sparkling!

Haiku: Remnants

Robins, plentiful around here, are hatching. Finding the cast-off shells from the successful hatches (and this one showed the signs of just that: the shell broken in the upper third, the inner membranes and blood vessels dry) is like finding a small, incredibly gorgeous treasure. Yes, a well-known jewelry retailer uses that hue as their “signature” color, but it belongs to the robins…and that beauty belongs to all of us.

Haiku: Turtle’s Tenacity

It’s turtle breeding season here, when the urge to find a mate and/or breeding grounds strikes, there’s no dissuading them. Even if it means that they must make a death-defying trek across a busy roadway to get to their destinations. We always try to give our wild turtle friends a helping hand when it’s possible to safely do so, even if that turtle has incredibly strong jaws and feet with sharp claws.

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