Stuck Truck

w/c  sally wickham mollomo  12/2014

I rolled off the assembly line 
a long time ago
I’ve learned a few things over the years
Listen to the weather forecast
Keep the  gas tank full
Don't drink and drive
But I’ve never been at the wheel
Always had to depend on a  driver
So here I am
A stuck truck
On a cold winter night
in heavy wet snow
Nothing to do but sit 
and wait 

White-breasted Nuthatch



There are many things to like about the White-breasted Nuthatch.  He is a little bird of five or six inches, with feathers of black, white and light gray.  There is a smidgen of rufous on his tummy.  His long bill, slightly turned up at the end,  gives him a jaunty air.  His appearance does not change during the year and male and female look very much alike.  You could say that the nuthatch is a constant bird.  

While the species has a range from Newfoundland to Florida, they tend to stay in one locale.  No lengthy migrations for these birds—the Floridians stay in Florida;  the Newfies stay in Newfoundland;  and the Vermonters stay in their chosen area of Vermont at least most of the time.   

Therefore, on just about any walk that I take, I usually spot this “upside-down” bird as he is often called.  In the warmer months, nuthatches are likely to be seen in  or near the woods where they are immediately recognized for their habit of traveling headfirst down a tree apparently defying gravity in their search for bugs and larva in the tree bark.  Their body construction is such that their short tail, long toes and well-balanced bodies contribute to their reputation as acrobats.  

In the winter, nuthatches are common visitors to feeders and can be easily observed from a warm living room.  One day after placing sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet in the feeders, a nuthatch flew up and landed nearby.  The call he made, a nasal “quank” sounded like a human voice saying “thanks.”  I was captivated and that is when I began to really like this bird.  

A Morning Walk I






this morning while it was still dark
I went outside to feed the turkeys
give them water and open their door
they chirp with excitement
if anything in their yard has changed
today it has
because I sprinkled straw to cover the slime
sometimes, I gobble gobble gobble
all ten will gobble back
it makes me laugh
but they will only do it once
and leave me to look foolish
if I try to get them to gobble again 

Poem by LL  October 2000



Dark-eyed "Slate-colored" Juncos

Oct. 24, 2014    Our driveway is filled with juncos.  They are everywhere this year and as I took a walk this morning, I kept driving little herds of them ahead of me.  It has stopped raining but the clouds are still low. It was remarkable how many birds were singing this morning.  I guess, like me, they love a rainy day.  

Crows!!!!

Oct. 23, 2014   There were over 120 crows in the hayfield this afternoon.  We thought that was a lot until I read on VTBIRD that one avid birdwatcher in Stowe counted over "3906 crows streaming down the valley."   I wonder how she counted them?  

Bee Tree

w/c by Sally Wickham    8/14
A hive of wild bees
Lives inside a cedar tree
There a busy business thrives
within the cemetery 
                                      LL



Salem Lake, Derby, VT


May 30.     Sally and Linda spent a night at the cottage on the lake and in the  morning when the sun began to warm the lake and the fog began to dissipate, Sal set up a mini art studio on the table and said "I'm going to capture the morning." 

Mount Olympus

July 26, 2014    R and I took a ride to the top of Mount Olympus.  It was the first time that I had been to the very top which is  2480 feet above sea level.  There are many  bright red elderberries up there.     I saw a monarch butterfly flitting around Joe Pye weed -- the first that I have seen this year. There is an excellent view of the fields that Tom Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm  has plowed and  planted to corn on the Luce Farm.  It was a beautiful afternoon ride with views that feel like forever. 

Last bat?

July 28, 2014   Today was a dark and rainy day and when I looked out one of my upstairs windows, there was a black splotch on it.  Upon close inspection, I saw that it was a bat clinging to the screen.  Fortunately the bat was on the OUTSIDE of the window and flew away after a few minutes.  One evening three years ago, I stopped counting after 32 bats flew out of our attic.  Two years ago, I counted seven bats exiting and last year it was only one. 

Spring!

Apr. 21, 2014    We are late putting up the  birdhouses but today it is finally done.  One pair in the opening in the stone wall between Casa M and Chez Lunna completes a bluebird trail between our homes.  The tree swallows are delirious with so many choices.  The bluebird pair kept flying to the spot where a favorite box stood  for the last few years and so I asked Rich to move one of the boxes back to that spot.  Within minutes, the bluebirds were in and out, sitting on the roof and demonstrating a marked preference for that house in that spot.  Now it's time to order mealworms to seal the deal. 

The Voice

Apr. 22    An early singer perched at the top of the white birch between the house and the garage was positively identified as a Brown Thrasher.  This virtuoso repeats each  whistle-like phrase once or twice creating an endless repertoire and an absolute joy to hear on this overcast spring morning.  Hopefully the rain that is predicted for later in the day  will help to wake up the grass. 

The Apple Orchard

Today is cold and snowy but I decide to take a short walk up the hill.  Apple trees line this section of the road.  A bountiful supply of apples lingers at the top of the trees  even now in the depth of winter.  The burnished copper of their skins make them appear ornamental but their attraction to a daily flock of cedar waxwings and a nighttime herd of deer attests to their appeal as a food source. 


Deer tracks connect one apple tree to the next.   A bird’s eye view reveals a web of trails impressed in the snow—their own map of the harvest.  The map will soon be erased by today’s snowfall but a new one will be drawn when the storm has passed. 



A rumpled circle surrounds each tree where deer have eaten apples from the ground and up into the branches as far as they can reach.  I expect that as winter progresses, snow and ice and wind will do their part to bring the rest to the ground providing a continued source of food when the deer need it most. 



But for now, the deer are tantalized like King Tantalus in the Greek myth whose punishment in Hades was to stand chin deep in a river surrounded by heavily laden fruit trees but never able to either quench his thirst or satiate his hunger.



At the top of the hill where I turn back there is an apple orchard planted over two hundred years ago by the settlers.   Back in those days, each tree had a name--delicious names that roll off the tongue like poetry; Peach, Sheep’s Nose, King David  and Seek-No-Further.  We no longer know their names.  Anonymous, the trees  have been ravaged by the weather throughout the centuries but they still produce.   Neighbors call to ask permission to gather the tiny red apples for pickles.  We pick several varieties in the fall to squeeze out delicious pesticide-free cider.  Deer, turkeys, bear, and birds hunker down here for food and shelter.  The old orchard is a feast for the eyes during all seasons. 



Whenever I see the orchard, I am reminded of Van Gogh’s paintings of the olive groves—there is a feeling   of humanness about the trees.     The branches of both grove and orchard seem to be grasping for the sun or the sky but remain rock steady on their earth bound roots.    Grove and orchard, each twisted and arthritic, possess a spry vitality.  Longing and happiness reside side by side in the tangle of gnarled trunks and quivering branches.  The apple trees were here long before Vincent Van Gogh was born and they will be here long after I die. 



And for some strange reason, that makes me feel good. 


V I P







Immense quiet presides over the scene as I step out for a morning meander one day in early December.  The cacophony of fall colors has been muted and transformed into dull shades of brown, gray and evergreen.  I look and I listen and a feeling of contentment fills my inner self. 

Eventually I decide to vary my normal pattern of walking around the field and cut across it diagonally.  The crow calls again; I turn and see it rise from a spot near a large white pine tree about a half mile from where I stand.

The crow changes its tone and as it flies toward me now repeats a different call every few seconds.  I wish that I could understand the language of crows because I feel certain there is one.  I wonder if the crow recognizes me as the person  who brings out compost where three of them feed early every morning.  I have heard that crows can recognize human faces.  Does she know me? 

I continue to walk and notice that the crow, flying above me,  is following my steps to the center of the field.  I stop to watch as she follows my path across the field, makes a hairpin turn above where I stand and then flaps her way back to the pine tree.

Round trip, the crow flew over a mile just to check out what I was doing. I feel certain that the trip was to investigate me!  Honestly?  The experience made me feel very important even if only to a crow.  

Tracks

Jan. 17, 2014   A coyote passed by Sal's Wild Garden last  night,  circled around to the pond outlet and then apparently spent some time searching in the thick grass that grows on the berm.  It is not unusual to hear their yips and mournful howls in the night. 


Snake Grass

Snake Grass




Jan. 13, 2014   Late morning walk up the road, through the woods and around the hayfield.  Found an interesting segmented plant which I have always called Snake Grass.  Upon returning home I contacted the botanist at the Vermont Fish & Game Dept. for some help with identification of the plant. 

I was surprised to flush a Snipe and posted this on VTBIRD.  I consulted Birdwatching in Vermont by Ted Murin and Bryan Pfeiffer.  They indicate that the Snipe has a rare presence in Vermont during January and February and is “extremely unlikely to be encountered.”  I was reassured when I received an email reply to my post stating that one Snipe was recorded on January 1st in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Norwich/Hanover area. 

Jan. 16   I received an email from the state botanist  concerning the "snake grass."   He wrote: " Linda, your photos appear to be Equisetum hymale, common scouring rush.  It is not protected; thanks for checking."