Saturday, April 30, 2016

The catbird

We have gray catbirds here in the summer.  They do sound like a meowing cat (or perhaps a creaking swing).  I remember the first ones we saw here.  My son was fairly young and had never seen a real-life catbird, though he must have seen them in books.  One day he said, "I saw a catbird."  I could hardly believe it.  He didn't ask what kind of bird he had seen; he just knew what it was the first time he saw it.  I questioned him, of course, as to the description.  (I think he had seen it light on the back of a deck chair, if memory serves me correctly.)  Not long after that, I either heard the bird or saw it myself. 
I suppose I will always remember that incident whenever I see a catbird.  Here are some shots I got this week of the catbirds.

On another note, I did see a couple of the bluebird fledglings in the tree outside my window.  I hastily tried to snap a photo.  It was too blurry, but at least it can serve as evidence that the birds are out of the box and flying about.  The male parent had just fed one of them.  They were only there for a few seconds before they followed Papa Bluebird out of my sight.
It won't be long before the bluebirds start a second brood.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Another hailstorm

We had another hailstorm last night.  I had just yesterday been admiring how lush everything was compared to last year after the major hailstorm we had.  I watched helplessly as the newly emerged sugar maple leaves and sycamore leaves were blown onto the house and sidewalk.  The hail blew in violently onto the covered porch.  You can see the pellets here against the house and front doormat.  A twig of sugar maple leaves lies beside them.

I noticed that a small dead branch from the sugar maple with pock marks from last year's storm was blown onto the porch.  It landed on and broke one of the two tomato plants we bought yesterday.  It almost felt like a divine judgment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Yesterday, I watched the bluebirds feeding their nestlings.  What a noisy, hungry bunch!  I figured they would soon be leaving the nest.
Here is the female feeding the baby birds.
If you look carefully, you can see a nestling looking through the opening in the bird box.
This morning I watched the male bird seemingly try to coax the fledglings from the box.  He called, flew to the box, flew back to the tree, called again.  A couple of times he went inside the box.  I had other things to do and couldn't just watch all morning, so I went on about my chores.  This evening, I could hear the bluebird calling in the edge of the wooded area nearby.  Maybe the birds finally left the nest today.  I will look tomorrow to see if there is any activity at the box.
I've enjoyed watching them raising their brood.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A plant called green and gold

Since childhood, I've enjoyed seeing the little flower called green and gold blooming on a road bank.  I transplanted a little from the road bank at Mom's to my property here.  I planted some under a pine in the back yard and another little dab in front of the porch.  At some point I gave a little division to my neighbor.  Hers thrived while mine all died out.  So I begged a division back from my neighbor.  I tried to baby mine just a little with extra compost and waterings.  It has lived, so I'm transplanting a little to the corner of the sidewalk by the front porch again.  It makes me happy to see the yellow next to the red verbena in the pot my menfolk gave me last year. 
When I was a little girl, I had a tiny doll with a red and yellow calico dress.  I thought that was the most cheery color combo imaginable.  I still like red and yellow together.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mr. Tree Frog is back

A few nights ago I saw the green tree frog on the window.  I wondered if the gray tree frog was around as well.  Yep.  Today when I went to the utility room to put back a wrench I had used, there he was on top of the open door.  Now he should be glad I saw him and closed the door very slowly.  He might have been smashed otherwise.  He sure seemed reluctant to leave his post, and I had to be a bit forceful with him.  I will warn dh and ds to be careful when they open and close that door.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Garden peas

Usually the first thing I plant in the spring is garden peas, or English peas as they are known in these parts.  I put a lot of effort into digging up a place for them.  It's rewarding to see the little plants emerging in a row on each side of the wire pea fence I use.  I plant the Wando variety.  It is a heat tolerant variety, and we almost always have hot weather by the time the peas are producing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The apple tree

The apple tree is in full bloom and the bees are loving it.  I spent some time digging up wild raspberry briars that have encroached on the area under the tree, and I could hear the hum of the bees above me.  The tree is a golden delicious tree, and it usually succumbs to cedar-apple rust each year.  If it does bear, the squirrels vie for the fruit.  But right now, it looks great.  The honeybees are not mine.  I think they are flying in from a farm which is a good ways down the road but probably a half mile or less as the crow flies.

The butterflies were enjoying the blossoms as well.  I saw several silver-spotted skippers like this one (in addition to a few swallowtails).

Monday, April 11, 2016

The ticks are out

Just a little warming in the weather and the ticks are out.  I found one Friday crawling across my shirt.  I had only been walking around the yard.  Saturday I was working in a very weedy area, and I woke up Sunday morning to find a tick attached to the back of my thigh.  I never could have seen it, but fortunately it itched just a wee smidgen--enough for me to reach back and feel it.  Today, after I hung some sheets on the clothesline, I came back inside only to find a tick hurrying across the laundry basket.
It's that season. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring freeze

Wednesday morning we had a spring freeze.  It would be too time consuming to try to cover everything, so I let nature take it's course.  It's interesting to see what can make it and what can't.  I cut a few bouquets Tuesday evening in case some of the flowers froze.  It was a good thing I did.  Here is the azalea bouquet...
...and here is what the azalea bush looked like after the freeze
I made a bouquet of the kerria, but it seemed to fare better than the azalea.
Believe it or not, the Knock Out rose was already showing some blooms this early in the season.  So far it seems not to have fared too badly.
The apple tree looked fine, too.  Of course we have another freeze coming up which may be even colder.
When I walked around the house Wednesday morning, I smelled a unique smell that took me a few minutes to place.  Then I realized it was the distinctive smell of wilted fig leaves.  Poor tree!  It will put out more figs this season, but this first crop is demolished.
Some plants were protected by an overhanging tree and some plants are just more cold hardy.  We have another freeze coming tomorrow night.  We'll see if more things freeze then. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

The white irises

The white irises have bloomed and they are indeed lovely.  I snapped a picture Saturday morning in the misty weather.  I hope they thrive here.  They are off to a great start.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A nature walk with my sister

I recently enjoyed a nature walk with my sister.  She shots some pics of the spring flora and fauna we saw.
The insects--
tiger beetle
little blue butterflies (spring azures?) drawing minerals from the mud

The fungi--
a little brownish gold mushroom and a couple more forming to the right
The flowers--
Carolina jessamine (or as the folks back home call it, jasmine)

loblolly pine


--so much interesting life all around.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mural in Carthage, NC

Recently ds and I rode through Carthage, NC, and I imposed upon him to shoot some pictures of a mural there.  I think this is a fairly recent mural.  It was done by Chapel Hill muralist Scott Nurkin.  The mural commemorates former Carthage resident James R. McConnell.
(all of these pictures taken by Caleb)
We looked at the dates... 30 years old when he died.  I'm old enough to think, "Just 30.''

Ninety-nine years ago, just 5 days after his thirtieth birthday, James R. McConnell died in battle fighting for France in WW1.  He flew with the Lafayette Escadrille.

The mural depicts the statue that was placed at McConnell's alma mater, the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, VA.
I thought it was a good idea to paint a slice of history on a brick wall.  Good job, Carthage!