Getting warm(er)

Geese hanging together means spring is coming.My best friend gave me an insulated vest for the days when I venture out into the winter air. Out my back window, most of the trees have taken the opposite approach, having shed their raiment and shut down their blood supplies to protect against the frigid winds of winter.

A 43-degree morning breeze has the branches playing an unsuccessful game of keep-away with the avian backyard denizens. In warmer times, I tend toward sartorial minimalism, often wandering among nearby streams and forests, observing, and sometimes photographing, the non-humans who populate our portion of the planet.

But my greatest winter enjoyment comes from the bird feeders drawing a wide assortment of flittering colors – gold, blue, brown, polka dotted. Each have their own habits.

Blue Jays are corvids, a family that includes crows, and crows have been known to use tools – such as poking a stick into a hole to draw out bugs and larva hiding within. One grabs a sunflower morsel and zips off to the nearby dogwood branch. He (or she – you can’t be sure with Blue Jays) to hold the seed against the limb and peck it open. It took awhile before I realized what he, or was it she, was doing. It is a bit odd seeing a bird that large cracking open a seed that small – showing off, as though wanting me to “see what I can do.”

Compare to the cardinal, at which I marvel every time I see one of those bright red rascals roll the seed in his beak, popping it open and with its apparently magic tongue separate the shell from the seed within.

The aforementioned squirrels have harvested the oaks surrounding our home. Like some human developers I have watched, the gray furry rodents cut whole branches, letting them fall to the ground where removing the acorns can be accomplished comfortably. I would not mind so much if they would clean up after themselves instead of leaving the small nut-less brushes to litter the lawn.

Now, though I doubt their acorn stock is yet depleted, they gather around the pole from which hang the bird feeders. Obliging sparrows and jays deliberately shovel seeds off the trays to the feasters waiting on the ground.

I am in awe of the way the critters get along, with only an occasional squawk when two diners set eyes on the same morsel. Invariably, one – not always the smallest of the contestants – backs away, casting a few epithets at the winner before going in search of something that probably tastes better, anyway.

Getting out of bed in the morning is a bit difficult these days, but getting easier. Each morning, the sky is a little brighter, though I still think before looking at the bedside digits, that it cannot be time quite yet.

Late afternoons still come too early and look too much like a storm brewing as the sun appears to move toward the Earth’s southern hemisphere. As our days stretch longer, Australia’s take a turn at shrinking.

I enjoy watching the machinations of the planet as it spins – slowly in relation to other cosmic particles that accompany us through the hugeness of space.

Winter is not my favorite season, though there are things about it I enjoy. But mostly, it’s a time to hunker against the cold, while our half of the planet takes a break.

I’m looking forward to getting a vaccine against Covid. I’m looking forward to things calming down politically.

Mostly, I am looking forward to not needing a fuzz-lined jacket when I venture out of my cave.

Thanks for sharing the ride. I hope you enjoyed the journey. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share.

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