April 26, 2019

A beautiful spring morning- about 50 degrees, the back yard is greening and filling up with ferns and ginger and lilies-of-the-valley with their delicate smell, celandine poppies, aquilegia, iris, heucera, button bush, ninebark, lots of things we’ve planted over the last few years.

Rain Garden

The wren house has this season become a chickadee house. This morning I watched as Mr. Chickadee went to get sunflower seeds from the feeder, break them open, and take the meat in to his mate, inside sitting on their nest, I imagine, made entirely of soft things (“…leaves, moss, grasses, snugly lined with hair, fur from small animals, and feathers.” from Birds of America, ed. Pearson, 1917), unlike the wren, who build their nests of “twigs, grass, feathers, spiders’ webs, and lined with soft strips of bark, down, or feathers.” On the other side of the fence in the neighbor’s driveway, not 15 feet away, robins are tending a nest built on the structure of a portable basketball hoop, decorating it with long strips of white toilet paper they’ve found somewhere, flying like streamers in today’s swift breeze. Mr. Wren would not stand for that proximity, but the chickadees and robins cohabit peacefully.

Not so much to do in the back yard anymore, which affords us leisure to go visit our wild friends at the arboretum, which we did last Easter Sunday, shown below.

The glade had lots of wild garlic, and some Indian paintbrush
Unfolding hickory leaves
Fire pink Silene virginica)
Bluebells on forest floor (Mertensia virginica)
Celandine poppies

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Arboretum, April 6, 2019

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March 31, Forest Park

Goose on nest, the night after a huge rain. The edge of the island the nest is on was covered by water, but the nest was high enough to escape. A nest onn the other end of the island was not so fortunate.

Papa goose stayed nearby, keeping watch.

Purple martins are back

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Arboretum, March 10, 2019

A walk at the arboretum today, after weeks of putting it off due to ice, snow, frigid temperatures, flu, colds. Because it’s been so cold, not much has happened, visibly, since last time we were there, but soon there will be lots of wildflowers. The ground is grey and muddy from the recent intentional burns and the heavy rains we had last week. This is the slowest spring in my memory, but I may prove myself wrong when I look back through the records.

The glade
Crested iris
Dutchman’s breeches, celandine poppy, harbinger of spring on south-facing hillside

We met this fellow, a crawfish, walking along the gravel path. It wasn’t quite 40 degrees out and we wondered what he was doing out. When I knelt down to see him better, he squared off facing me and raised his claws defensively. Dennis reasoned out that he was a burrowing crawfish (Cambarus diogenes aka Devil crawfish) who got hydraulic-ed out of his hole by the heavy rains and was trying to make his way back to the mud before he froze. We carried him down to the pond where the spring peepers were singing- he’d been headed that way- and put him on the muddy bank, where he rapidly burrowed back into the mud. Likely a once-in-a-lifetime sight. He dug with his front claws.

Back home- witch hazel in full bloom now.
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March snow

And blooming witch hazel
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First Red-winged blackbird of spring

I saw a lone red-winged blackbird in Forest Park this morning, in the cattails by Jefferson Lake. He is early. Perhaps there are others with him- will need to watch this next week. We are in that uncomfortable neither winter-nor-spring period when snow gives way to freezing rain, to rain, to 70 degree days, back to 10-degree days. But there are daffodil and tulip bulbs peeking out of the ground, and our witch-hazel is blooming, almost. And a Carolina wren has been around lately.

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Arboretum, January 6, 2019

Last year this time the temperature was in the single digits. Today it was 60 degrees and the wildflowers on the south-facing bluff at the arboretum were coming up under the leaves, insects were hatching.

Spent witch hazel blossoms by Mary Isabelle’s grave (Hamamelis virginiana)
Beech forest (Fagus grandifolia)
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Full Moon, 12/22/2018 (day after solstice)

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Thanksgiving and Forest Park Eagle

Time is flying by- it’s true what they say, it goes faster when you get older. Thanksgiving at Liz and Chuck’s house was memorable, not least because Chuck shot a deer on Thanksgiving morning, of all times, and so Dennis and Dent helped to butcher it while Liz and I prepared the usual feast. Now they have a rooster named Ted who just happened upon their house and has set up shop with them. He crows in the mornings so it’s good they are early risers.

I hate the news and all our national dysfunction but can’t keep away from it. So to counteract the angst we take walks in the park; I say “we”, Dennis goes with me but he does not suffer from a news affliction like I do, he mostly stays away from it, reading instead more soul-satisfying stuff like The Psychoanalysis of Fire by Gaston Bachelard. So we keep each other informed.

Our holidays are quiet. The office is even quiet now, most folks having gone to join family, or out to buy presents. We just stay home, have a friend or two over, walk in the woods, eat chili or spaghetti or whatever we feel like fixing. But to all, a blessed holiday with family and friends!

This is the eagle who has been frequenting Forest Park. I have seen him 2-3 times a week, in the mornings, sitting in this cottonwood tree at the base of Art Hill.
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Full moon, November 2018

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