Monday, March 27, 2006

What Spring Looks Like From Here

Monday, March 27, 2006
As we walked the kids out to the bus this morning, the chilly morning air nipped and gnawed at our bare hands and faces. A heavy frost came down last night here on Indigo Hill and, although you could feel that the sun would eventually win out, Old Man Winter's heavy hand still pressed upon us.

We stopped to admire our handy work from yesterday afternoon--new bluebird boxes with shiny, snake/coon-proof baffles swaying below them. The bluebirds are already building in two of them. We got them up just in time.

New Gilbertson bluebird boxes are replacing our old, worn-out boxes on our bluebird trails.

Back at the house, an unwelcome sign of spring appeared at the feeders--male brown-headed cowbirds. Not only are these guys pigs at the feeder, they utter these whiny whistles as they gesture threateningly to each other like some drunken and horny frat boys on Ladies Night at Hooters. The real trouble starts in a few weeks when the brown-headed cowgirls show up and the egg dumping starts. The only thing that makes me feel better about the cowbirds' arrival is thinking about the control traps set up around the Kirtland's warbler nesting grounds in Michigan. At least there, in the jack-pine forest, nesting birds have a fighting chance against these parasites. But I digress.....

The cowbirds are back. %$#@!

Blue spruce casting a frost shadow.

Frost stays wherever the sun does not shine. This is as true in nature as it is in life.

On my way home from work late this afternoon, I stopped by Newell's Run to see if any ducks were about and willing to be digiscoped. There were some very shy hooded mergansers and a blase pair of mallards.

Hiding hoodies at Newell's Run.
Tussilago farfara, also known as coltsfoot.

I took the dusty roads home and found one of spring's earliest wildflowers in these here parts, coltsfoot. In my misspent youth, my mom would always quiz us on the name of this small, round, yellow flower and Andy and I would make up names (though we knew it was coltsfoot). "Uh, it's kilt-thistle, right?" I'd say brightly. "No, it's milk-bonnet!" Andy would parry. My mom would bury her head in her hands.

Back to today....

When the kids got home, we snacked, then hit the concrete for a game of Midget 21. In this game we lower the hoop to its bottom setting, "midget height" Phoebe calls it. The normal rules of 21 apply--foul shots net 2 points, layups 1. You shoot as long as you keep making them. First one to 21 (but NOT over) wins. I cut Phoebe no slack and she kicks Daddy's butt about 50% of the time.

Phoebe shoots, she scores!
Is it still a dunk if the hoop is set on "midget?"

We then shifted over to NerfGolf, a game in which I hit tiny nerf golfballs into the air with a 9-iron and Phoebe tries to catch them or grab them (if she misses) before Chet Baker gets them and chews them to smithereens. We only lost a few tonight.

Nerf Golf. In our yard, the divots are an improvement.
Chet knows that Phoebe catches about 30% of the balls.
Fans lined the course to watch the NerfGolf competition.

All in all a good way to welcome in spring. Let's hope it does not snow tonight to crush these tender dreams we're nourishing of spring and its glorious arrival.
And the sun sets on another laff-a-minute day at Indigo Hill.


On March 29, 2006 at 5:54 PM Susan Gets Native said...

"Our" cowbirds are back, too. I get physically sickened every year when we get about 25 pairs that hang around our yard. Is is legal to shoot them, like I want to do to the house sparrows? Or maybe someone will come up with a species-specific laser blaster.

Good luck with your blue bird stewardship, too...I saw how hard Julie worked at the baffles!