On my way home from work last week, I stopped in a sports complex parking lot to take a peak at the Monk (AKA Quaker) Parakeet colony where these beautiful birds were busily building and reinforcing the colony nests that look like condominiums. They are busy, very busy right now preparing to procreate their species. They are noisy, messy and fun to watch. And appropriately a group of parakeets is known as a “chatter” of parakeets.
A recent trip to my sister’s home in Burton Texas rewarded me with some beautiful flowers bursting into bloom as Spring arrives in full force.
A short stop at LadyBird Lake found a few year round and some winter residents.
Opportunities to enjoy Spring rituals abound. Turn off the cell phone, take a deep breath, go for a walk, become aware of all the wonders that Mother Nature provides for our enjoyment if we only pay attention. And just like Spring which is a renewal, you will begin to fill invigorated by the beauty that surrounds us all in our ordinary lives.
I decided to make a quick trip to Burton yesterday to play Santa and deliver Christmas and birthday presents to my sister. As with most people at this time of the year, time is short and tasks to be done are many. But the visit also enabled me and my sister to take a quick drive to Lake Somerville to check out any birds that may have preceded the arriving winter blast. And as anticipated, we enjoyed a large pod of American White Pelicans. All the old regulars were present of course…Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, a plethora of Killdeer, the ever-present black vultures and American coots. A short time shared with my sister enjoying the beauty of hundreds of American White Pelicans as they rested on the shores of a choppy lake prior to the blast of arctic air that blew through late last night.
We left the lake and the 80 degree temperatures and returned to her home where Burton Ernie was strutting about keeping my nephew company as he covered tender plants to protect them from the arriving freeze. We enjoyed a wonderful meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant before settling in for a quiet evening of camaraderie. As we visited, her warm snug house was blasted by the arriving storm. Within minutes the temperature plunged and winter had finally arrived to our small part of the world.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and wishing everyone Happy Bird Searching!!!
This past weekend I traveled to Burton Texas to spend some time with my sister and meet up with my friend Kathleen to explore the many wondrous objects being displayed for miles and miles as part of the Round Top/Warrenton Antique Festival. We scoured different booths at various locations for the past two days not really seeking anything in particular, but there always seems to be something that calls to me. I recently began rearranging a room in my home as an art studio and on this trip, baskets seemed to jump out and scream to be added to my studio as organizational tools for the wide array of art supplies that I have accumulated over the years on my artist journey.
Late afternoon we drag ourselves home to my sister’s house to review our purchases, share a meal and fall into an exhausted sleep in preparation for the next day when the scavenger hunt begins again.
A frequent visitor to my sister’s home is a permanent “fowl” resident of Burton. Nicknamed Burton Ernie (a play off of Bert & Ernie I believe), he struts through yards looking for bugs and many times eats my sister’s kale, honks loudly scaring unsuspecting residents, and roosts on a neighbor’s shed roof each night leaving behind a predictable mess.
Early morning coffee on the “front porch looking out” gave me an exciting moment this visit. As soon as I stepped out of the front door onto the wooden porch, I caught a quick glimpse of a very large bird flitting around in a tree in the next door neighbor’s yard. It was very early, sunrise was breaking and there was Mr P.W. (AKA Pileated Woodpecker) out and about early looking for his breakfast. My binoculars brought him up close and personal and once again I was totally captivated by my favorite woodpecker. He flew across the street to another very large tree and off I went in pursuit, my robe flapping, binoculars bouncing and my camera on and ready to try to capture Mr. P.W.. He moved quickly from limb to limb and I had great difficulty trying to capture an image of him. But capture one I did. Not the best lighting and not the best photo I would have liked, but I managed to capture the moment….a moment I had been seeking for many, many months.
The birds were shy this weekend. Using the straggling leaves still clinging to limbs to hide and turning away from the camera shutter, Eastern Bluebirds, Cardinals, Black capped Chickadees, starlings, hummingbirds, red bellied woodpeckers and a squirrel busily collecting pecans to store for his winter’s stash, comprised a steady parade this morning from the “front porch looking out”.
My quest for the perfect Mr. P.W. photo-op will continue. But for this moment, I am at peace….
I visited my sister in Burton again this past weekend. We jumped into my car and headed over to Lake Somerville to do a little birding. Along the way we spotted a Crested CaraCara, Black Vultures and once in the park, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Whimbrels, Sanderlings, Killdeer, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, American Coots, Ring-billed Gulls, Common Terns, a lone Cormorant and a Savannah Sparrow. The lighting wasn’t great, but we captured a few photos as memories of this outing. We headed home and had a lovely dinner…pork roast, sweet potato, vegetables and an apple crumble for dessert. After dinner we drove out into the country and tried to call up an owl or two. Unsuccessful, we went home and reminisced on a good day of birding.
One of the things I love about visiting my sister is hearing some of the stories from our childhood. Being older than I, she has some memories of our maternal grandmother that I don’t share. One of these was of a time when our Grandmother was visiting us at our new house in Southwest Houston. Grandmother had some azalea cuttings and she was determined to plant them all along the front of our new house. Armed with a butcher knife, a bucket of water, those bare cuttings and my sister Linda, she began directing the planting of those cuttings. She used the butcher knife to stab holes in the soil, instructed my sister to plunge the cutting into that hole and pour a cup of water from the bucket upon each one. Our Grandmother had great faith and she must have provided an ample amount that day because those azalea cuttings flourished and grew to be enormous, each Spring bursting forth with beautiful blooms to adorn the front of our modest house. My sister confessed to me that as she was performing this planting ritual with our Grandmother, she had serious doubts about those “sticks” growing. She thought that the effort was pointless and it was a big waste of time and energy. Yet she forged ahead and helped our Grandmother. I believe our Grandmother planted her own seeds that day…the seeds of a master gardener in my sister’s soul.
As we sat on her front porch overlooking her beautiful gardens, listening and watching the resident birds, we were witnessing the transformation of our Grandmother’s faith before our very eyes. Each plant, seed or cutting in my sister’s yard was lovingly planted, tenderly cared for, vigorously protected, and ultimately culminated in a peaceful place of repose. We sit on that porch drinking our morning cup of java, enveloped in the peacefulness of nature that surrounds us on all sides. It is a great place to reminisce, share memories and plant the seeds of our next adventures.