Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chilly Chilly Chilly

It is cold outside! The baby sparrows look like feather balls hopping about, trying to keep warm. I had to break the ice on their water dishes again this morning. I was late going out there, trying to avoid the chill, but they are so patient with me. They went to the pond instead. I think they're singing so loud now to keep warm!

I haven't seen the hawk for nearly a week and the squirrels have returned. I now see an obvious connection between the arrival of the hawk and the temporary disappearance of my beloved squirrels. There is a squirrel on the bedroom patio now. He climbed into the tree in the front yard then paused on a branch and turned to watch as I finished my yoga routine. He scampered across the roof and I walked into the bedroom just as he was climbing through the trellis. He poked his head through some vines and paused to watch me. I did the same. I spoke with him in a soft, loving voice and told him how much I loved and adored him and how welcome he is in my home. He continued to watch me for a minute, then climbed onto the table and started to eat.

I have always been attracted to squirrels. When I was young and my family traveled from town to town exploring old Colorado, we always stopped at gift shops and my father would give us each a few dollars to spend. My money went to squirrels, every time. They used to sell these little ceramic brown squirrels in all the gifts shops and I had a collection of all different sizes. I have no idea what happened to my precious squirrels when I left my parent's home, but I do miss them and wish I had them now.

The dogs don't even want to go outside, that's how cold it is. Chewy the chihuahua is hiding beneath a blanket on my lap and Buddy and Holly are creeping closer and closer to the wood stove. I had to move Buddy last night. He dragged his blanket right next to the stove and was trying to lie down on the rock hearth. Right now, they are both cuddled up with each other, leaning against the rock hearth. They are finally adjusting to Texas and missing the warm weather, I think. In the summertime, of course, they park their fannies in front of the air conditioner and whine about how much they miss Colorado!

It is late, and getting dark, but the birds are singing so sweetly that I think I'll go for one last walk before sunset. I wish I knew what they were saying to each other. We've had a few cardinals around lately, but nothing like the first year we were hear when they appeared at food dishes daily. I think the same mated pairs are returning. It's that time of year again when I need to dirty the windows and put stickers on them. During mating season, the males see their own reflection and will attack the windows until they hurt themselves badly. It's heartbreaking. I'd rather have soap smeared on the windows than see harm done to one of God's creations.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Home Again!

We returned from The Woodlands, Texas late last night where we were visiting my son and daughter-in-law. I was sitting in their living room yesterday when I noticed a black and white bird on the tree just outside their window. The bird was tapping at the tree as it hopped up the bark. I looked it up on the internet and sure enough, it was a woodpecker. I don't think I've ever seen a woodpecker up close before. It was a female because it had no red on its neck. Most of the trees in The Woodlands are towering pines that seem to reach to the sky, so it didn't take long for the bird to disappear from my view. My son's backyard is filled with shrubs and trees that have a wide variety of berries. Even though they don't put out seed, their yard attracts a wide variety of birds, as well.

Last year, I was dog-sitting while they were out of town and noticed twin baby squirrels chasing each other along the top of the fence every afternoon. I didn't see them this visit, but I'm sure they're around. There are plenty of trees in the area where they can make homes. Driving through The Woodlands at night is like driving through a corn maze--the trees are tall and very close together.

There is a problem with the trees in The Woodlands, though. Last year's drought attracted a large number of pine bark beetles that are slowly eating away at this beautiful forest. There is approximately 12 million acres of forestland including four national forests and five state forests in East Texas. It's called the East Texas Pine Belt, or Piney Woods, and it has plenty of food for pine beetles, unfortunately. I do hope conservation efforts can keep the problem under control.

Early this morning, the little one-eyed squirrel was on the back table digging through the sunflower seed shells. We arrived so late last night that I didn't put fresh seed out, so I grabbed my bathrobe and ran outside to fill the animal dishes. All of the water dishes were frozen solid and the garden hose was frozen, as well, so I had to fill their dishes in the den. It has been so cold that many people in central and east Texas are struggling with frozen and broken pipes--not a common problem for this area! I am hoping that the ground didn't freeze deep enough to harm the lizards, frogs and toads that bury themselves during winter to keep warm. Our pond was frozen over again, too, but just on the surface. It has already cracked and is working on melting.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Well, we're home from Colorado. It was a long vacation--nearly two weeks--and all the little creatures missed us. There was bird seed in the feeders, so I know our house sitter was thinking of our little friends, but the corn cobs were eaten to the core and the water dishes were empty. They're all clean and full now, though.

This afternoon, I was in the bedroom and a hawk flew onto the bedroom porch again. It was a large hawk with a creamy chest and gray back feathers. It looked from one side then to the other, then it stared straight at me through the window before it flew away. It happened so fast, though, that I couldn't get my camera or cell phone camera in time to snap a picture.

The baby sparrows are all just as I left them, huddled between the mustang grape vines on the side patio. I was walking the dogs this afternoon and they started making quite the ruckus, so I ran back up the driveway, worried that perhaps the hawk was bothering them, but the hawk wasn't there. Perhaps they had spotted her in the forest behind the house.

I woke up this morning to a tap, tap, tapping on the door. It was the cat, pawing at the glass. I could see a small mouse on the patio nibbling on some sunflower seeds. I tried to get the cat to stop, but he wouldn't, so I finally put him in the living room and shut the door. Then he started tap, tap, tapping on the bedroom door so I couldn't sleep. I let him back in and he immediately ran to the glass patio door to tap, tap, tap at the mouse. It was a long morning.

I had to run some errands and walked out to my truck and one of the black and orange butterflies flew up from the tire well and fluttered at my face. They are not particularly shy creatures. I do enjoy having them fly near me. There's something almost magical about having a butterfly's wings fluttering against your skin. Such a precious gift from God.