Home Again!

June 1st 2018 and…after five MONTHS of silence…I have returned.  It isn’t that I chose to be absent, but my laptop died and with a family growing as I added our little man…there simply were no finances for a replacement.

But life, if crazy and stressful, is also beautiful and blessed.  We got through the remainder of winter. Saw the first flowers of spring, have watched the mockingbirds build a nest next to the front gate, feed their nestling and seen him grow, fledge and move to the big tree where he is safer and, no doubt, learning to fly properly.  Image result for mockingbird fledgeling

We added a new dog to the brood. There will be an entire post about her soon, I promise.

For now…so happy to be back. So thrilled to be able to share this life journey with you once more.

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Flying through Friday

Where did my week go?  A lot of it went to driving…the inclement weather here in the Lowcountry has really made getting anywhere a chore.  Thankfully it is beginning to move away, and the sun is shining if not warm enough for this hot rock girl.  I am happy to see it.

Since the roads aren’t too user-friendly, today I decided to just hang on the island. I went to the park, walked the trails, sat in the sun and enjoyed peace, quiet…and the wildlife. I didn’t have to look far to find company.

 Marbled godwits marched along a wooden dock.

A sewing machine sound burbling among the reeds said the Marsh wrens were busy.  Active, abundant, noisy little birds they never seem to be still and you can hear them day and night here in the Lowcountry.  It is fun to watch them, each foot clinging to a separate reed, doing a birdy version of the splits.

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photo by Greg Lasley (because my phone just can’t capture them from shore 😉

Along the stream there were raccoon, heron, deer, and fox prints in the mud.  I saw an armadillo trundling along a sandy stretch off the beaten path.  I do so adore the little critters…seemed too chilly for it to be out and about, but I suppose the sunshine felt good to us all today…and ya gotta eat, you know.  Ever since I was a kid growing up in Texas, I have enjoyed seeing armadillos. Such cute and useful little critters.  Amazing to see them swimming in the summer.  Glad they have made their way to the Lowcountry.  

And with my peaceful sojourn at an end, I picked up the kids and trucked on home.

Now for an evening spent with my ‘fellas’ (on the page) and the boys (who are eagerly awaiting spinach ravioli for supper).  May your weekend be filled with peace and small wonders.

Finding Friday

Another week past…hard to believe almost the end of another month….another YEAR!  Where in bloody blue blazes did this one go?!

Considering that the phrase itself is a ‘stand in’ for hell…on second consideration that might not be sooooo far from true. Too much anger, too much sorrow, loss, pain, inhumanity in this year….all across our country and our world. Time passes so swiftly in these difficult times…and yet seems to drag on interminably.

For myself, I choose to hold tightly to the victories amongst the sorrow. The wee, small, quiet moments that assure me that life does indeed go on despite the vagaries of men.  My old dog snoring under my feet, as so long she has. Little A’s smile. Aleah and DJ playing in Peppa Pig’s dollhouse. Visiting the birds at the school. The song of the ocean, as it recalls God singing it into creation so very long ago.

The joys and sorrows friends have shared…that is beyond price.

The stories!  So many stories. Theirs. Mine. Ones we have read. What have you read this year?  What mark did it leave within you?

For now…my dear Khyr and his story are told. Upon the new year I shall edit and revise once more, with fresh eyes and an open heart…seeking to draw from those thousands of words the essence of what and who he is and the story he wishes to share.

And I have Truian to keep me company, so very different from Khyr. I never really imagined that world till now with its air ships and swift solar powered sailing ships, the steam-punk edge but without any of the grit and pollution….eco-punk?  I would love such a world.

He wants to be off sailing now. My heroes and their passion for water…yes indeed. I think I can encourage him to go for a swim yet before this year is over. Now there is a lovely fantasy.

 

The color of things…

Parked at the elementary school today, as usual, I enjoyed watching the waterfowl that frequent the fishing pond at the school. The usual company of Great White heron,  Great Blue heron, Anhinga, Terns, and White Ibis were joined by a new visitor.  A couple of Little Blue herons poked along the shore. So easy to miss, and so lovely to see in their gleaming coats of blue.

We have three bald eagles who live in the trees adjacent to the school: a mated pair, and a single adult we assume is one of their previous offspring.  Today a welcome new arrival at the pond as I saw a gorgeous adolescent perched on the fence still resplendent in its rich brown coat.

I hope the youngster sticks around the area as I would love to watch it grow up.

As it flew off into the trees, the White ibis came marching past, searching through the grass along the edge of the pond.  Their procession is a familiar sight, but today, a newcomer in their midst, the streaked brown incongruous among the pure white of the group.

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I’d never seen a juvenile at the school, as this group doesn’t nest near the pond, so it was a joy to behold strutting among them.

A wonderful continuation of the story of this small pond… the colors of things to come.

Snake birds and sunshine

The sun was warmer today, mid-70s, gorgeous for autumn.  Passing the school pond, I paused to enjoy the many birds that gather there as the cooler days approach. Ibis strutted the lawns, snapping up bugs. Herons…white, blue and green, lined the banks, and stalked through the shallows and reeds. Loons swooped and dove.

What I stayed to watch were willowy, snaking necks and heads cruising through the water, body unseen until a small fish flashed in the late afternoon sun as it was flung upward and snatched in the long, spear-like beak.   Image result for anhinga images

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photo by Phil Lanoue

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Larger ones were speared.

And after a successful fishing ‘dip’, the bearers of the snake-like necks for which they are named came ashore to perch, spread their wings, and dry off.

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Anhinga.  Their name coming from the Brazilian Tupi language and meaning snake bird or devil bird.

Welcome to the pond you devilish beauties.

 

Flights of fancy…

Owls. Today, for quite random reasons, but then again, I am frequently rather random and scattered in where my thoughts take flight…today I kept thinking of owls.

I am quite taken with owls…with the amazing raptor hidden within that soft plumage, the wisdom in their eyes, the way they turn their heads to look back as if it were the most natural thing in the world…which, of course, it IS…if you are an owl. Most of all, I am fascinated by the way they suddenly, silently appear. No wonder they have been  called ‘ghost birds’ and are often associated with spirits.

Great Horned Owl, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, by snooked.

In the ancient live oak at the old house there was a huge hollow in the trunk, a souvenir from Hurricane Hugo. A pair of Great Horned Owls took up residence in the hollow, and I never tired of watching and listening to them. In the daytime they were all but perfectly camouflaged within the foliage and the deep recess of their nest, at night I would spend long hours listening to their calls. At sunset the male would begin his territorial calls…the hoo hoo hoo hoo-hoo we all associate with these birds.  Later at night the call changed, higher pitched, and with a different pattern…sometimes not hooting at all so much as chirruping or screeching. A wondrous thing to fall asleep with the soft scented breeze from the sea drifting through the windows, and the low call of the owls singing the night to sleep.

In Ohio one of my favorites were the barn owls who took up residence in the stable. You don’t really see barn owls so much, as they really prefer the dark of night to do their hunting, but we surely could hear them.  Barn owls don’t mess around with hooting, they shriek, whine, screech, and make all manner of odd noises.

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Late one night leaving the stable a silent blur of white swooped just over my head, and my heart leapt like a rabbit on the run. Just the barn owl making a territorial ‘statement’ about my being on her turf during her watch.

If I choose to believe the wisdom of my Native American lineage, and I do believe they were, and often are, more in touch with the world than we…I think perhaps the owl would be my “spirit” animal.  There’s nowhere I’ve lived there weren’t owls. They are a constant and comfortable familiarity in my life.

I saw an owl in the tree here the night we moved in. Never thought much about it…till today. Some flights of fancy are taken on silent wings.

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Fall takes flight

There are, in case you haven’t noticed from previous posts, LOTS of birds in the Lowcountry.  Which birds changes a bit with the seasons, although there are plenty of year round residents.  The last couple of months have rewarded our watching with a familiar resident, but in a new location. Bald eagles have moved to the pond at the elementary school. October is the beginning of nesting season here, so we were delighted to find they have taken up residence where we can look for them every week.

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The pond is prime territory, open flight paths, but plenty of trees for roosting and nesting, and a gator free pond stocked with an abundance of fish.  By next month the eagles should be laying, and by early spring there will be nestlings to captivate the careful observer.

Snipe may be the stuff of stories and campfire pranks, but here they are among our oddball seasonal shore birds.  Wilson’s snipe are hard to spot, they are so well suited to the area, but fun to find strolling through a local ditch or in your yard.

Snipe-One

After another successful breeding season here in the Lowcountry,  our woodstork population continues to make a comeback from endangered to threatened.  They are ungainly to look at, but amazing in flight or roosting in groups in the trees.

Wood Storks

When you don’t happen to see wood storks feeding in

As fall cools into winter, we are thankful for the return of our seasonal birds. Another year of survival, another hope we can reduce climate change and protect these animals for our children and generations to come.

Welcome home.