(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/18/2014)
The world is coming alive with the warmth and light of Spring – this week’s below-freezing day notwithstanding.
A little bit ago, there was a bird singing loudly in joy at the edge of my back yard. I couldn’t find him to discover his name or photograph his appearance, but it was enough to hear his robust love song.
A pair of robins chased each other across the grass by the swings that stand weathering, waiting for grandkids to come by and sit in them. Maybe do backflips on the rings, or engage in a game of leap-frog – which is what the robins were doing.
Two days ago, granddaughter had a few of our neighbor’s grandkids over. They threw the swings over the crossbar to shorten them. I will have to go out and take up a few links, I suppose. We’re running low on people with short legs that don’t scuff in the mud.
At the edge of the forest, a cardinal pokes in the duff, searching, I suppose, for some tasty morsel. He is camera-shy. When I try to approach, he flutters just out of reach of the lens. Great Blue Herons are like that, I discovered a few years ago along a lakeshore I frequented.
In the bluebird house, the House Sparrow pair continues to thwart my efforts to attract the species for which the abode is named – though a single bluebird still stops by now and then to check out whether the sparrows have departed. The key, I think, is to have just cleaned the sparrow nest out when the bluebird arrives.
The most humorous art of the interlopers’ display is watching them try to force their way into the house with a piece of nesting too large for the hole. They repeatedly back off and “run” at the entrance, trying to stuff the obviously deliberately recalcitrant piece of flotsam inside, where it can be arranged into bedding.
I have finally trod the still soggy ground of the adjacent forest, looking for the pair of Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers that I’ve seen drill into the new grass in search of insects and grubs. If past years foretell, the drilling duo will take up housekeeping in a topless tree a few feet inside the arbor line.
And I’ve yet to get a really clear shot of the three deer that have daily passed by on their way between feeding and hiding ground.
Night before last, one of the granddaughters and I lay on the hammock and watched three bats – the only mammal that can fly – dip and dive, pursuing insectly prey.
“Will they bite us?” she asked.
“Not unless you grow wings and begin to hum as you fly,” I said
That seemed to satisfy her. Her mom later said the lass had called home to say she was enjoying herself and, by the way, had watched bats feeding over the back yard.
On warm spring days, a chorus emanates from the shallows of a nearby pond, a rapid-fire clicking echoed by a few thousand simultaneous clickers. I walked slowly into the marsh, peering closely as I could into the weeds and muck, hoping to see something making the sound I heard.
As I moved along, each step caused the nearest group of clickers to become silent, but if I stood still a minute or so, they began again. Still, they eluded sight. I think I’ve read someplace the sound is not frogs, but darned if I can find it now. And the online search continues.
There is so much to see in that world beyond my window. And the camera lies ever ready.