Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What to do?

Yesterday, I discovered a birding area just south of the dam. Doublehead Resort is nearby, which was the purpose for my trip. However, upon arriving noticed a North Alabama Birding Trail sign pointing past the resort. Knowing it couldn't be very far, plus I was early, plus I had my camera (any excuse will do), I kept rolling southward toward the bird trail.

The area is just opposite the resort in a sheltered wetland. Cattails and grasses indicate shallow waters perfect for birds and other creatures. I spotted the typical cast - egrets and great blue herons. Then, to my utter surprise, two white pelicans floated into view. Shaking with excitement and yelling for joy I turned around and headed for my appointment, vowing to return afterward.

The resort owners were not surprised by my discovery of the white pelicans, but were surprised that two remained behind. They normally migrate north in the late winter/early spring. Following our appointment I returned to the birding area and began taking photos, observing them through the zoom lens. I can see why they're here. One has a broken wing. It has since healed but clearly he/she cannot fly. The other pelican may also be injured, or may be the injured pelican's mate.

I watched them for a long time and took photos until a rain cloud sent me scurrying for the safety of my car. The pelicans seem fine. This shallow water grants them good fishing. The waterway is narrow, which means no fast boats or jet skis. It is quiet, and their friends are there, tons of herons and the egret, no doubt some ducks and coots as well. There are no alligators here, but the usual predators are - foxes, coyotes, dogs, etc.

I sent my wildlife specialist a note and photos, asking for his opinion. Should they be rescued? Should they simply remain? What is the best thing to do for these glorious birds? I have an affinity for white pelicans. It's like seeing a grizzly bear, or antelope, or bighorn sheep, any creature that you've always read about and dreamed about - then there it is, right in front of you. Proof that the earth breathes and all things are truly connected. When my friend answers I'll update my blog but in the meantime if any of my birding friends have some sage advice to share I would very much appreciate it.

NOTE: As I was writing and posting this my TVA friend answered my e-mail. Here's what he said: "Both of these birds are injured. One of them has been present about 6-8 years now. The second one showed up about 3 years ago. They are male and female, but I have seen no sign of mating activity…injured birds typically don’t try to mate. They do just fine, still have no problems finding food, and seem to enjoy each other’s company."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Before the storm

The water looks like mercury,
gusty winds stir the surface,

haze blankets far distant shores.

Dark clouds brush treetops with swirling fingers

Escaping vapors rise to join the clouds,
wanting to belong, wanting to dance.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Before and After

Yesterday a light morning sun shower left glistening translucent pearls on the surprise lilies that popped up on my bank. These were definitely a surprise, as I'd forgotten all about them. My mom and I planted them in what was going to be a nursery, allowing the earth to cradle them until I could have beds made. Well, nature being what it is the nursery was immediately overtaken by weeds and vines and buckeyes and the lilies were forgotten about over time.

Recently, my new garden angel by the name of Bradley has been helping me clear the bank. He cut down saplings and used a professional weedeater on the rest of the undergrowth. Then, he sprayed it with Roundup twice. I now have what is known as a "dead grass mulch." No matter - the weeds are already starting to grow back BUT... I have Bradley and a professional Roundup sprayer. We've planted native azaleas and a gray-stemmed dogwood, which are all appreciative of our rains.

I was astounded one morning to discover the heads of surprise lilies poking up between the dead grasses. These beautiful lilies were not touched by the Roundup as they were safely beneath the soil waiting for their chance to bloom. And bloom they did!

Last night's torrential downpour followed by this morning's storms did a little damage to the lilies, but not much. Some are lying down on the bank in the storm's passing gloom and the upright blossoms have gained a little character.

Yet as I look outside this afternoon the lilies are beginning to perk up and reach for the sky. Storms have passed for now and the earth has had a nice long drink.
Another storm is barreling in from the Northwest this morning. Fortunately, I have nothing to do but sip coffee and watch the show. When it gets a little closer I'll try my hand at capturing the beast. In the meantime, I began looking at some recent storm photos. Hubby and I were sitting on the deck watching the leaves riding the windy waves one afternoon and I took some so-so shots, being too lazy to go inside and get the tripod. Looking at these photos this morning I noticed something on these leaves - little winged insects of some sort, holding on for dear life to the underside of a leaf. It's blurry, but if you enlarge the photo you can see them.

Where do the bugs and insects and birds go during storms? I've witnessed drenched, befuddled birds clinging to wind-whipped branches, afraid to let go and fly in turbulent winds. I've witnessed a butterfly struggle along the ground after a hurricane rolled through. Our porch was covered with midges during one thunderstorm, granting them safe haven. I've cried over baby birds knocked out of their nests and woodpeckers struck by lightning. As much as I love a good thunderstorm I'm well aware of their power to destroy. Thunderstorms are necessary but they always exact a price.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pigs on a Rope

Sparta and Binks take a walk with mom.

Sparta is the black Guinea Pig and Binks is the calico Guinea Pig. They're brothers. Kayla insisted that Baylee wasn't enough pet - she wanted something small, furry and "cute" so she took her hard-earned dollars to Petco and bought these guys and all the pig accoutrements: Cage, igloo, hollow log thingie, food, water bottle, bedding, bed, etc. Because Baylee is a carnivore who survived (before finding Nirvana at house) on rabbits, mice, squirrels, cats, you name it ... we now have living, breathing bacon bits in the house tempting her nostrils on a daily basis. Poor Baylee.

The pigs have survived thus far and have grown, nearly doubling in size. Yesterday, Kayla decided they needed exercise and went to Petco to find some toys. She came back with leashes. Teeny, tiny leashes with teeny tiny harnesses. This is just too rich, folks. I couldn't stop laughing until I realized this is great blogging material. Pigs on leashes - too funny.

Binks and Sparta weren't crazy about the sidewalk, but once their feet touched grass they were all excited. Kayla learned quickly that one doesn't necessarily "walk" pigs, but simply stand there and watch them go around in little quick circles, making their little excited noises and munching on grasses. My job was photographer and lifeguard - watching for the feral cats that are growing in abundance in our neighborhood.

So Sparta and Binks took a walk, and it was good.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I've been putting black oil sunflower seeds and fruit treats in a little tray for the birds, along with lots of water since we're in this dry spell. Mr. Red Headed Woodpecker is enjoying the bounty as much as rest of the birds. As you know, I have an affinity for RHW's. They are not nesting in the local tree cavity this year. We've also noticed that there are many more holes in the dead tree limb so maybe they don't care for that particular limb any longer. Last year Great Crested Flycatchers nested in the tree limb but this year nothing...not even the nasty Starlings are interested. So...I feed my favorites treats as a way to draw them in to me. Their spirit fills me up.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Please Don't Throw Wishes at our Fishes

Just for grins today. The sign in the Huntsville Botanical Garden's Butterfly House reads "Please Don't Throw Wishes at our Fishes." I suppose fish shouldn't be eating coins and the like. I was sitting on a bench conveniently located behind the waterfall. It's just pretty. I love visiting the Butterfly House and think I'm about due a return trip. Have a lovely day, all.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!!!

This is the view from our lower deck. The marina is off to the far left. Every year the marina has a huge fireworks display over the water. They shoot off professional fireworks on one of the barrier barges, all done by a professional crew since the barrier barge is rather isolated.

Boats began gathering and congregating at dusk in anticipation of the show. They came from all over. Many motored in from Joe Wheeler State Park as well as Decatur Harbor and many lakeside neighborhoods.

My mom and I were the only ones on our lower deck. The weather was absolutely perfect. Slight breeze, low humidity, a little overcast but not bad. The lake was calm. Sitting high above the lake we could hear the mumblings of incoherent conversations far below out on the boats. Laughter would ring loud and long, music was playing, people were enjoying the evening. When the fireworks began so did the band on the Party Barge. It was a very, very good band and the mood took an immediate turn to sheer joy and happiness throughout our neighborhood and lake.

I wish there were adequate words to describe standing on that deck, shifting from viewpoint to viewpoint, feeling the delightful winds, smelling the lake and the breezes that lifted from it, seeing the colors, hearing the sounds, tasting the wine and sensing the happiness all around us. When the moon rose high adding its own reflection the night became almost magical. What is it about this particular holiday that feels so good? The air was filled with the electricity of high spirits, the scent of hamburgers grilling, the moisture of rainclouds to the west, and a gazillion combined heady odors that included boat fuel, beer and sunscreen.

Our neighbor's boat dock was lighted and decorated. Friends and family stood atop it and waved at the boaters while enjoying the show. People in our neighborhood hung red, white & blue buntings, raised new flags, placed patriotic pennants on light poles and in their gardens, flew flags from car antennas and on golf carts. This place practically shouted Patriotism!

Happy Independence Day - which is what it's all about. July 4, 1776 - the day the American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. We live in a GREAT country!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Good Storm

Don't you love a good thunderstorm?

Blue skies mixed with deep gray and the bright white of thunder clouds? Sitting and waiting their passing, watching the skies southward blend to light gray as rain begins to fall but only the wind in your face deduct their passing?

Winds blowing hither and yon, thunder in the distance, clouds scurrying in various speeds, various levels of atmosphere? Birds dipping and coasting, riding the crazed waves of winds and wind speeds?

The surface of your wine (or libation) rippling in anticipation, or dread or joy, heralding the coming storm?

The smell of ozone in your nostrils and chilled winds in your hair while the sweat rolls down your back some summer afternoon?

Lakes turning steel gray in the wind as it shifts, heralding a northern stammer of strong gusts, leaves blowing into your back and winding up in your hair?

Winds swirling upon the lake, whipping whitecaps into peaks of froth that swirl to the west, then to the east, in abandon, changing directions as the storm intensifies and atmosphere booms?

Watching as boats race to shore, to slips, to boat houses, to marinas, to sheltering coves, only to be overtaken by the stormy mists that envelope them?

Observing the lake pelted by strong rains that quieten waves and the lake roils murky, oily and dark while the storm passes?

After the storm's passage a sun-drenched rainbow appears while rain continues to the east?

The rainbow arches to the lake in front of you, but there's no pot of gold?

Thunderstorms are such a blessing. A true force of nature that could go either way - heaven or hell - Godsend or demons - nurturing earth or stripping the life force from the soil.

I love thunderstorms for their honesty and purity of spirit. There's no mistaking the intent - the symptoms are clear. Atmosphere must be cleansed, water must be clarified, nutrients must be superimposed into the earth, people must understand their place. Thunderstorms are the great equalizer. Heed them, but enjoy the moment as special and pure.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009



"Peacefulness is an inner sense of calm - it comes from becoming still - in order to reflect and meditate on our inner wisdom and receive answers. A peaceful heart is one that is free from worry and trouble. It's becoming quiet so we can look at things quietly so we can more clearly understand them and thus come up with creative solutions. It is learning to live in the present."


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