Image #169 – Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

This pretty little dove makes me think of a ballerina–it’s the lovely arch in the neck.  Mourning doves are present throughout the United States and in summer months they even migrate into Canada.  It’s a wonder they survive at all. They build nests that are impossibly flimsy and often in very public places. I recall a retirement home in Florida where a dove had built her nest directly above the door leading to the patio area. She would sit there all day, not moving a muscle as people by the dozens came and went.   The residents of the home were delighted to have the nest so visible and I have no doubt their collective karma guaranteed the successful fledge. ❧

Image #168 – Female Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinals)
Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The flock of Northern Cardinals continues to populate my feeders and they are a joy to see.  I am accustomed to seeing Cardinals as couples and I was surprised to learn that flocks are common in the winter months.  With four males and three (maybe four) females they certainly bring some lovely color to an increasingly bleak landscape.  

This female has beautiful color in her wings. At first I wasn’t sure if she was a juvenile or an adult. Image #168(a)It is the crest that tells the difference and she obligingly shook her head revealing a crest of a delightfully punkish orange.  On a juvenile there would be no color and a brownish crown as opposed to a crest.  So, I would say she is a young adult. ❧

Image #167 – The Squirrel Cafe is Open

Image #167

A few posts back I wrote about squirrels being a pain when it comes to keeping bird feeders full and the truly effective way that some North Carolinians take care of such a problem — they shoot them. My friend Mary took exception with such extreme measures and described how she feeds the squirrels around her house.  Her comments resonated with me, especially when I considered that my sister and brother-in-law are currently fostering two orphaned flying squirrels.  There is, after all, a yin and a yang in life. We must honor that.  So I set up a small squirrel feeding area on my deck using pieces of lumber from our recent tree removal.

As the picture demonstrates, the squirrels have found this solution very much to their liking.  They have, for the most part, stopped raiding my feeders.  I seem to have 3 squirrels that regularly visit my deck. If they get too obnoxious I set Tango loose on them and they scatter in every direction.  He enjoys the romp and its best to keep the squirrels on their toes. My neighbor had some horror stories about squirrels chewing their way through screening to get food from inside the house.  I sure don’t want that. ❧

Image #166 – Gaping Gator

Alligator at Myakka River State Park
Alligator at Myakka River State Park

I’ll be heading down to Florida soon where I plan to spend a few weeks. Looking forward to getting back out to Myakka River State Park and taking more gator pictures, like this one.  Unless there is a severe drought the odds are very good that you will see a gator at Myakka.  They are all over the place out there.  Best of all they love to congregate by the Park Drive bridge which makes getting photos like this one quite easy and safe. ❧

Image #165 – Nine Turkeys Trotting

Image #165

This picture of wild turkeys was taken last year at Myakka River State Park. There was a time at Myakka when wild turkeys were nearly extinct.  They were aggressively hunted in Myakka Park and  a part of me can understand why. The meat of these turkeys would not be anything like the Butterball that some of you cooked last week for Thanksgiving. But I feel certain it was satisfying never the less.  And wild turkeys have beautiful feathers that no doubt pulled down a nice chunk of change in the early decades of the 20th century when women’s hats were elaborately adorned with feathers.  Living here in North Carolina, where poverty is a very real thing, I find myself thinking about all of this in a different way. It takes me back to my very early days in New England when I recall many classmates who were malnourished and poorly clothed, but once we moved to the gleaming Gulf coast of Florida it seemed poverty went into my rearview mirror. I suppose that was the goal. Still, these “pockets” of poverty are with us and extend to our urban areas as well. Any one who has watched the news in recent days has probably heard about the battle for a higher minimum wage. The current requirement of $7.25 an hour is a pittance and can barely sustain a single individual much less a family. If you want a concise essay on that battle I suggest the article by Richard Trumka and Christine Owens on CNN.

We’ve managed to protect the turkeys in Myakka and they are flourishing. Can we find a way to help our fellow human beings? ❧

Image #162 – Tango’s Happy Dance

Tango's happy dance on an Indian Summer day.
Tango’s happy dance on an Indian Summer day.

Any one who has ever owned a dog knows what this picture is about. It’s Tango’s happy dance…those moments when dogs throw themselves on the ground and, well, they twist and sometimes shout.  It is a moment of unbridled joy.  The joy of dogs is infectious. Every morning I awake and there he is, his chin resting on the bed, his tail wagging, eager to greet the day.  He is joyful EVERY morning.  There’s a lesson there. ❧

Image #161 – Watching His Back

Image #161

Squirrels are the bane of those who love to feed the birds.  If you aren’t careful about the type of feeder you purchase you could be hanging a “Free Eats” sign that every squirrel in the neighborhood will see.  My feeders are a mixture of squirrel-proof and non-squirrel-proof so its no wonder that these varmints are hanging out at Alice’s. When things get too bad I take down the easy-access models and the squirrels eventually stop coming.

But here in Western North Carolina things are different.  If you are over-run with squirrels here  you simply get your 22 rifle and start ridding the world of squirrels one-by-one.  That’s what my neighbor has been doing and the neighborhood has six fewer squirrels as a result.  Maybe that’s why this fellow has his back to the post.

A part of me — the urban part — is a little squeamish about this practice. But no one is making me take up a rifle and shoot them. And I have to admit that the squirrel traffic has been considerably lighter at my feeders. ❧

The Fabric of Appreciation

There is a theoretical physics concept called string theory. I do not begin to understand it scientifically but in a spiritual sense it does resonate with me.  Part of the lexicon of this theory is “fabric of the cosmos”  and it puts forth that when we look into the “nothingness” of space we are really looking at a vast fabric that holds the the planets in orbit and the stars in the heaven. In short, this fabric holds the universe together.

When I learned about this theory I wondered why the “fabric” would not extend to everything, that ALL of it — including you and I — are bound together by this mesh, this fabric.

If you begin to think of the world in that way some things start to make sense. War, for example, especially world wars, always struck me as akin to some kind of global virus. What else could compel millions to think in a manner that could justify invasions?  Well, perhaps it is some kind of message that is sent along this theoretical fabric that holds the universe together.

But mainly I think of this theory in smaller venues.  And that brings me to the CBS show Sunday Morning.  It has been on the air for decades. Originally hosted by Charles Kurault the helm is now ably handled by Charles Osgood.  The show is like a comfy pair of slippers or a warm bathrobe into which you love to sink your weary bones.  It has refused to go the way of the “morning zoo” but has stayed true to its course of providing good news and entertainment, all in a low-key, Sunday morning way.

A regular feature is the “Almanac” and Osgood will bring to our attention an historical event that happened on the particular date of the Sunday morning that you happen to be watching. It can be a news story, an invention or a remembrance. Today’s “Almanac” was the latter and its subject was Mary Martin who was born one hundred years ago on this day, December 1, 1913.

Mary Martin during a recording session.

Now frequent followers of this blog will, I hope, remember that just two days ago I posted a blog entitled “An Appreciation for Richard, Oscar and Mary.”  The Mary in that title was Mary Martin.  So I was enchanted this morning when Osgood began his small tribute to Ms. Martin. You can read it here.

Now, it is nice to think that Mr. Osgood read my blog two days ago and rushed to get the video piece together but that clearly didn’t happen. So, how does it happen that people — at least two of us — are suddenly thinking about a woman who has been dead for more than two decades?  Well, there’s that fabric idea again.  Some part of the cloth tugging at us to remember a person who was, by all accounts, as good-hearted and fun loving as her songs convey.  As I said before, we could use a few more like her.  So, Happy Birthday Mary Martin.  So many of us enjoyed your time on this earth and, best of all, your spirit is still coursing through the fabric. ❧

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