#178 – Bunny’s Last Christmas?


This picture is my 93 year-old cousin Bunny with her son, John.  You might have guessed it was taken on Christmas Day.  I’ve written about Bunny before. She is a dear person who has reached a point in her life that none of us ever want to see—a vast netherland with no beginning and no end.  It is the Land of Dementia and its population is growing with each passing day.

Bunny seems incapable of retaining recent memory yet she remembers the past very well. I always try to lead her to that land she remembers. It is populated with her parents and my grandparents along with numerous souls from the town of Norton, Massachusetts.  My connection to the town is garbled in her mind.  I did live there in my youth but Bunny was in her early thirties and long gone by that time.  But she talks to me as a contemporary and I do the best I can to sustain the memory.  It always seemed to bring her some joy to talk about “good old Norton.”

Today, however, was markedly different. I couldn’t lead her anywhere.  For the first time she failed to recognize me.  “You look very familiar,” she said.  “It’s your cousin, Alice.” I replied. She nodded but I wasn’t sure the information conveyed very well.  Her usual enthusiasm at seeing my dog Tango was also absent. We attempted a conversation about the recent Christmas celebration but she couldn’t recall it.   Then I told her that her youngest son would arrive tomorrow and that his children—now adults—would be bringing their newborns. That piqued her interest.  “A new generation?” she asked.  “Yes,” I said, “a whole new generation.”

For just a moment the Bunny of old emerged from the gripping fog of her dementia.  Her eyes got bright and ever so sweetly she simply said, “Wow.” ❧

Image #177 – Ghosts of Christmas Past

Alice and Bob - Christmas 1995
Alice and Bob – Christmas 1995

As we age Christmas becomes more and more about Christmas past.  It’s inevitable. Even as we enjoy the love and company of family and friends in the present day our thoughts seem to drift backward in time. Memories–so many memories–abound in the ornaments on the tree, the special clothes that come out of the closets and drawers, the feasts we prepare in our kitchens and the presents we place under a tree. Even if we are fully rooted in the here-and-now the past comes a’calling.  And it’s not a bad thing.  After all, those happy memories are the stuff from which love is made.

This picture is nearly twenty years old and is one of the happiest Christmas’ I can recall. My late husband, Robert, had survived a series of devastating illnesses that year (1995).  Just three months before, on Labor Day, the doctors thought he would be gone in less than two weeks.  But he pulled through and we would have another five Christmas celebrations together.  Each one is dear to me and made this Christmas all the better because of the happy memories.  ❧

Dew on spider web

Dew on web2.2 (1)
Dew drops on spider web

Like a vast number of Americans I have traveled “home for the holidays.”  Last Wednesday I packed up the dog and cat, a few clothes and the usual vast array of tech items (cameras, computers, etc.) and set off for Sarasota, Florida where I will stay for at least three weeks.  It is a bit strange to be back here after six months in North Carolina. The urban nature of this ever-growing Gulf Coast city is overwhelming as is the vast wealth that is conspicuously on display.  It is offset by the warmth and love of family and friends but is, nevertheless, a reminder of why I have made the decision to live full-time in Carolina for a while.

My images for the next couple of weeks will be a hodgepodge of old and new.  I discovered an extensive file of old photos on the laptop and will pull some from that source. The above is an example. This is some of my first serious macro work.  I’m not sure of the date but I think it is around 2006. I had just gotten a Canon 60mm macro lens and went to one of my favorite haunts, Carlton Preserve, early in the morning. The dew had settled on the hundreds of spider webs that littered the trees and shrubs, even on the grass. This is a photo of the dew drops on a web. ❧

Image #175 – Hearty Mushrooms

Image #175

Mushrooms are generally thought of as delicate and fleshy, two traits that do not seem to suggest a wintery existence. But these two little fellows have poked their heads up through the stones near the koi pond in my neighbor’s yard. The taller of the two is about the same length as my house key, or about two inches. We have had cold weather here, with temperatures in the teens for consecutive nights. But these troopers seem to relish it.  Similarly the lichen and many of the mosses have pushed forth with tremendous growth during these early weeks of winter.

Sorry I can’t provide an identification at this time.  Perhaps a reader can contribute that information. ❧

Image #173 – Grieving Geese

Toulouse goose (gosling)
Toulouse goose (gosling) – June 2010

My friend Mary is mourning the loss of her male Toulouse Goose. His name was Doodle and he was twelve.  Three and a half years ago he fathered several goslings and I was fortunate enough to get their pictures.  Doodle is survived by a mate and two daughters who are greatly grieving his loss.  Mary wrote on Facebook,

After 12 good years of life he has passed over the Rainbow Bridge. If dogs and cats can go over, why not a much loved goose. His much younger mate and their two daughters are very lonely without him. If anyone has or knows of anyone within 100 miles of Sarasota, Fl who has geese please put me in contact with them. Many thanks.

The new male has big wings to fill. Doodle was an excellent protector and, of course, had been with his ladies for many years. Change is hard for all of us mammals.  I certainly wish the survivors well.  ❧

Image #172 — Seasonal Bounty

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Frequent followers will recall the recent post of a Tufted Titmouse with a mouthful of seed.  Here is a White-breasted Nuthatch with a similar bounty.  The nuthatch and titmouse are often in the company of one another and have similar feeding habits. Our friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology enlighten us more on this pleasant bird.

White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

Image #171 – Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescents)

Downy Woodpecker  (Picoides pubescents)
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescents)

The Downy Woodpecker  (Picoides pubescents) always seems so studious to me.  It will invariably go straight to the suet as opposed to the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) who will often swing awkwardly from one of the feeders, flinging out seeds until it finds just what it wants. The Downy knows exactly what it wants.

The Downy and the Hairy Woodpeckers are very similar in appearance with the Hairy Woodpecker the larger of the two. So far I am fairly certain I have only seen the Downy here on Fawn Hill. I have seen the Hairy Woodpecker in the past and it is significantly larger.  None of the black and white woodpeckers that I have seen this summer have been that large.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopis pilestus). Taken in Florida in 2006.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopis pilestus). Taken in Florida in 2006.

Of course there is the largest of the black and white WPs, the Pileated Woodpeckers and I have to admit I was surprised to see them here in North Carolina. I have often seen the Pileated in Florida and in my head I thought of the Pileated WP as exclusively Floridian.  Silly, I know. I think it has to do with their pre-historic look.  They seem perfectly at home in the scrub and swamps of Florida. Catching sight of them in the woods around my home here on Fawn Hill was a pleasant surprise. ❧

Image #170 – Um, You May Want to Rethink that Bite

Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor)
Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor)

It seems this Tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor) may have over-judged his ability to swallow but with a prize that large you can understand his inclination.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers this helpful insight:

  • Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behavior they share with many of their relatives, including the chickadees and tits. Titmice take advantage of a bird feeder’s bounty by storing many of the seeds they get. Usually, the storage sites are within 130 feet of the feeder. The birds take only one seed per trip and usually shell the seeds before hiding them.

After reading this helpful tip I watched the birds more closely and, sure enough, they grab a seed (or a nut) and fly quickly away to store the prize and they are back. One enterprising titmouse has begun to stash the bounty in the nooks and crevices of the deck thereby saving time and energy.  I have a Turkey Oak nearby that is, no doubt, one of the primary storage spots for the birds. The gnarly bark offers perfect hiding spots although I suspect the squirrels may be finding many of the stash sites.  ❧

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: