Saturday, April 05, 2014

April? Already?

So much is going on that I have once again lost track of time.  I don't function well internally when overly busy with other people's tasks externally, though I love being busy with my own....  I suppose that makes me self-involved, but most artists are, by necessity.  So this blog visit has multiple themes...

I took a walk up the hill a few days ago and took some photos of the large Red Bud trees scattered there.  I'm hoping to flag a few small ones when they leaf out (small Red Buds don't bloom) to transplant nearer the house.  Red Buds in or near my yard have had hard luck.  Two were crushed under fallen pines, and the three I've planted have struggled and then died.  I think I'm trying too hard.  After all, they seem to thrive in the most infertile places.

Afterward, I followed a very obvious and well traveled deer trail through the scrub pines and over to open land again.  The red clay really pops against last year's leaves and the bright green of the pine needles.

Check out the phantom image in the tree below.  I was quite taken aback - and still am - but figured out the tree's bark had been peeled by my horses as a winter snack sometime in the past couple of years.  Apparently my equine have artistic aspirations.  But then again, it could be some kind of message for giant rabbits to interpret.
A tree that merged with a rabbit?  A frog?  A tale could be spun to explain...
They really should be called Hot Pink Buds.

Deer trail - looks well traveled!
Large and small deer tracks in the quartz littered clay.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March Roars On

After several beautiful 70-ish days, the wind is gusting to 30mph and the temperature is set to drop 40 degrees by morning.  Weather!

But it's the very unpredictability of the weather, with its power to distract or detract us from our placidity as it shapes our lives, that I love so much.  Humans have thus far not managed to affect it on purpose, and that very fact cheers me.  I want (need) there to be an aspect of existence that is its own master.  For some reason, this gives me security.

So roar on, winds of March - take a mundane day or week or season and turn it all sideways.  Sideways was the direction of the day as all sorts of things went flying through the air!  I just hope the temp doesn't nip the just-beginning peach, plum and pear buds.

Pear tree just beginning to bloom next to the new Pergola.  Can't wait to be able to stain the treated lumber gray to match the house.
And here come the violets.  I've places that are carpeted with these, my favorites.
One of my two peach trees.  Also just beginning to bloom today.
And this little Spring beauty is Sinead - a recent adoptee.  Apparently she couldn't decide whether to be a red tabby or an agouti tabby, so she is both.  She won't hold still for pics and I so want one that will show the odd tabby "spot" on her left front leg.  I thought it was dirt for quite a while..

Thursday, February 20, 2014

And it's official: Spring Blooms in Northeast Georgia

The lilies bloomed the day after I searched for signs.  It's been a few days now and the lilies (daffodils) are opening all over the yard.  Even the double daffodils are budding - though they rarely open all the way.  As I walked about in that too warm too soon kind of stupor (75 degrees!) I found a few more signs that Spring has arrived.
Daffodils are so dang cheerful!
  You can tell the doubles by their larger rounder shaped buds.  The long thin buds are jonquils.  I'll post more photos when these guys open up.
The Spring Peepers have been peeping up a storm for a couple of weeks, but yesterday and today the chorus cranked it up to a constant thrum.  With all that snow melted, my little pond is still running out the overflow pipe.  And though I wasn't able to get a photo, I heard a frog give a little croak and splash into the pond.  Just that one frog. I really wanted to get a look; I mean - what sort of tough snow-bird type of amphibian would jump into that cold, cold water?  Perhaps he's like those folks who jump into icy waters to see if they can get their hearts to stop. (Mine would.) Ummm... yeah, I know - they have some other reason for doing this but I cannot fathom what.

I found new growth on the old timely climbing roses and little buds on the Yellow Jasmine, too. Then I spent most of the day chopping back privet, honeysuckle and wild roses where they had completely overrun my azaleas and were working toward smothering the iris.  I felt rather guilty; being so happy to see new leaves and buds and all, and then hacking away at that same progress in the less welcome plants.  Here in the South - the jungle will out unless tamed from time to time.
Jasmine buds...  I love the splotches of red on the leaves and the pink/purplish stems.
Hope everyone gets an early Spring!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Searching for Signs

Just four days ago...  Snow!  Got to get that barn finished!

It was a beautiful day today in NE Georgia.  After a chilly start, the temperature rose into the 50's, and the sun was warm on my face as I puttered about the yard looking for signs of Spring.  Not much goin' on.  Mud in the sun and ice in that shady spots, but I knew there was at least one spot that was keeping my dream of Spring alive, so I headed for the edge of the woods down by the shop and there...
Today - Lillies!  Should be opening in the next day or two.  Amazing how fast things can change.            

I found the faithful Lilllies shooting up and full of buds.  Last years leaves make a lovely contrast with the bright, bright green - almost blue-green of the leaves and stalks.  Or perhaps they are still a bit blue from being buried in snow!  A few more days like today, and buds will be forming everywhere.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Another Smaller Encounter

This must be my week for up-close and personal with members of other species.  This little episode began over a week ago, before the most recent winter storm and cold.  We'd been having unseasonably cold temps for about a week, when we got a one-day reprieve with temperatures in the high 50's.  I had to drive up into the mountains that day to work on a faux finish/mural project.

As I'm heading up the 4 mile climb, I hear an intermittent rustling that seems to be behind me.  One thing I cannot stand are rattles, mysterious sounds and "funny" noises in or from my vehicle/s.  Both my car and my van are at least ten years old, but there are no unidentifiable noises.  This was new.  After a bit, it ceased and by the time I made a stop for gas, I'd forgotten about it.

Several miles later, I pulled into the client's driveway, unloaded my materials and went to work.  When I came out to stow my gear for the ride home, I was surprised to see a butterfly fluttering in my window.  And then I knew what that sound had been.  Apparently the butterfly had somehow gotten into my car and been dormant due to the cold.  The warmth of that particular day had aroused it, and I guess it figured Spring was here.  Not so, little one.  In fact that night the temperature was set to drop dramatically.  I planned to find my little friend a place to shelter until the real Spring came along.

But when I arrived home, I couldn't find the little fellow.  I wasn't sure if it had escaped or just crawled into a hiding place of its own, but after searching for some time, I gave it up.

After nearly a week of bitter cold and paralyzing (ha ha) 2 inches of snow. I happened to open the rear door of my car and, sadly, my little butterfly friend fell out onto the ground.  Thinking it was dead, I placed it gently back in the car so as to examine it later at home.

That was two days ago while it was cold.  Yesterday it warmed up a bit, and today it was in the glorious 60's.  I opened my car door and what do you think?  The magical little butterfly was sunning itself on the car seat, fanning its wings.  Not dead. Hibernating.
Here's my little friend. I thought it was a Swallowtail, but no - according to my beautifully illustrated Walter Linsenmaier Insects of the World, it is a rare Javanese brush-footed butterfly.  How cool is that? My good friend Roy identified this fellow as a Mourning Cloak, and he is correct.  Seems my book had applied two species names to the same butterfly.  Pretty fellow, nonetheless.  He seemed to like the warmth of my hand. 
It's going to be warm for the next couple of days, and thinking that perhaps my car is not the best long term shelter, I placed him just inside my garden shed.  He can hide again or take off from there as he pleases.  The lesson is that if you find a butterfly and think it's dead, treat it gently.  You could be mistaken!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cold white stuff falling from the sky!

I started a temp job this week working for UGA (University of Georgia) and had to leave early today on account of the University closed. It's a weather emergency! Yes, a rare snowfall here in GA has paralyzed the region.

Here at home it brought out the birds to feast up before the temp falls into the teens tonight.  Brrrr...  I got a few fun photos of the chaos at the feeders.

(That's my Asparagus Fern in the foreground - photo taken through window)
Normally Cardinals are crabby and territorial when it comes to sharing, so I was quite surprised to see two, three, - even five at once - on each feeder, chowing down on sunflower (and other) seeds and corn.  I threw extra seed on the ground in the few bare spots in my driveway for the less brazen of the birds.  These are mostly female Cardinals, Sparrows and Slate Juncos.

And this one might be my favorite:  The birds are aglow against the backdrop of trees and snow.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Small Encounter

Driving home just before dusk I saw a small object ahead in my lane.  The shape was rather triangular, and not moving, and it could have been a leaf, or paper, or a clod of dirt.  Out of caution, I made sure my tires would miss as I passed over. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the object tumble in a certain way, and I thought: that might just be a bird.  I was on a curvy mountain road and it was nearly half a mile before I could turn around.  As I headed back, two vehicles passed me coming the other way, and now I was doubtful that if it was a bird, it would still be alive.  I saw it though, now sitting in a more recognizable-as-a-bird posture, and I turned around again to block the lane to other cars.  There.  I put on my flashers and scooped up the tiny thing.  It made no effort to get away but I also didn't see any blood.  I popped back into my car and headed off.

I pulled into a church parking lot to safely inspect the little bird and now I could see it was a female Goldfinch.  Aside from a few feathers sticking up on one wing she seemed only stunned, but birds go into shock so readily, and the temperature outside was frigid with gusting wind.  I decided to head on home hoping the warmth of my car would revive her.  She tried to fly a time or two without success, so I still felt she was injured more than she appeared. 
When I got home, I decided the best thing to do for her was to leave her in the warm (kinda hot, actually) car - away from my many kitties and to prevent stressing her any further with a change of hostel.  I put some seed and water on the floor with her and left her. 

Next morning she was perched on the back of one of the bucket seats.  Hurray!  She flew into the back window of my Subaru wagon, and kept fluttering there so I lifted the latch and she flew off into the big cedar tree near the shop.  Have a good life little bird.  Thanks for the happy ending.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The birds have it.

This is a dumpster diver's feeder that I made. The top is a circle of acrylic that used to be part of a Belk's store display. The metal basket is some kind of floral bouquet holder repainted and attached to a part from my microwave that used to be a timer/turntable. The now upside down turntable is attached with screws to a bit of scrap wood. The wood is mounted on a flange that is screwed onto a threaded pipe and the whole thing set into a larger pipe driven in the ground. It's two story - except when it rains, then the seed on the lower level stays dry. The birds seem to like it! Click on photos to enlarge. It's cold and windy today and I've refilled the feeders twice already.

I learned recently that at night, bunnies come to eat the corn and or seeds too.  Imagine my surprise when the newly installed motion sensitive light went off and three rabbits were eating and cavorting under the feeders!

And because no post should considered complete without a cat photo....

Here's the beautiful Gracie.  I absolutely love her Egyptian profile.