Interesting post today on Charlie’s Bird Blog about birders who keep lists. I’d imagine most birders do keep some manner of a list. I have friends who keep year lists and place lists, in addition to their life lists. I keep a yard list, and a pond list, and also a life list. I’m not fanatical about it; hence when I tried to come up with the last five additions to my life list, I was only certain of three:
1. Wilson’s Plover
2. Eurasian Collared Dove
3. Razorbill

Prior to these, I’m not sure. Probably Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee from my early summer trips to the Adirondacks. Obviously I don’t keep very good records! What do these birds say about me as a birder?

Would any birders care to list their most recent 5 life birds?

Lotus and dragonfly

Here’s another favorite photo from my pond – this beautiful lotus was expensive and short-lived, but well worth it for the two summers it bloomed before we neglected it last winter and let it freeze. The pot I kept it in was huge and near impossible to move to the deep end of the pond without climbing into the water. It was late November by the time we did the clean-up that year and I just wasn’t willing to climb into the frigid water. So I pushed it from the pondside as far as I could and hoped for the best.

The first summer the flowers and leaves were huge – sometimes as big as dinner plates! It provided great shade for the goldfish and landing spots for dragonflies (I think this one is a blue darner – anyone know?) Lotus need warm water to bloom well and require a lot of fertilizer. I don’t like to add much fertilizer to my pond plants and hope that what the fish provide naturally will be enough. The second summer the lotus didn’t bloom as nicely and the leaves were much smaller because of too little fertilizer. With a weaker plant I started having trouble with aphids – they didn’t do much visible damage like they will to roses – but were still a nuisance. Maybe a stronger plant would have survived the winter, I don’t know.

I’m thinking about buying another lotus this summer if I can find one suitable to small ponds and that will not require a planter that I can’t handle alone. These plants are just too beautiful not to include in the water garden.

Snow day!

I was afraid the winter would pass without any significant snowfall, but we hit the jackpot today. I love the snow, but my husband, who worked all day and all night plowing for the town and schools, doesn’t feel the same, needless to say. A neighbor was nice enough to take care of my front sidewalk and dig out the end of the driveway, I guess so he wouldn’t have to watch me out there struggling while my husband was at work.

I dragged the dog off his warm bed for a walk around 5 pm when it finally stopped snowing. I’d guess we got about 15 inches; just enough to make ordinary things look beautiful. We walked through the neighborhoood and ended up with our customary pass through Sickles Park to have a look at the raspberry and blackberry fields and the farm pond. There a few people cross-country skiing on the track around the ball fields, but besides them we had the place to ourselves.

The neighborhood red-tail was perched in his usual spot on the edge of the field, but flew as soon as I raised my camera to take his picture. I found a very cranky-looking great blue heron standing on the ice of the farm pond who was a more willing photo subject. Oftentimes there are a few mallards that hang out in the pond, but I didn’t see them today. Not many birds around in general, I guess most spent the day hunkered-down out of the weather.

There were masses of robins flying overhead just before dusk, but I didn’t see any feeding in the holly trees or viburnums in my yard during the day. There were only a few house finches, a bedraggled starling, and a lone junco at the feeders today, despite their being stocked with sunflower, suet, and peanut mix.

Buddy and I finished up our walk just in time to wake up Rich to go back to work for the night. So now we’re both hunkered in for the night; warm, dry, and happy. I’m lucky to have the day off from work tomorrow and I’m dreaming up all sorts of things I can do with so much free time. More than likely I’ll sleep late and spend some time grading papers – which I’ve been ignoring all weekend!

The snowfall is so silent

A weather-appropriate favorite from Miguel de Unamuno. The English translation by Robert Bly follows the Spanish:

La nevada es silenciosa,
cosa lenta;
poco a poco y con blandura
reposa sobre la tierra
y cobija a la llanura.
Posa la nieve callada
blanca y leve;
la nevada no hace ruido;
cae como cae el olvido,
copo a copo.
Abriga blanda a los campos
cuando el hielo los hostiga;
con sus lampos de blancura;
cubre a todo con su capa
pura, silenciosa;
no se le escapa en el suelo
cosa alguna.
Donde cae alli se queda
leda y leve,
pues la nieve no resbala
como resbala la lluvia,
sino queda y cala.
Flores del cielo los copos,
blancos lirios de las nubes,
que en el suelo se ajan,
bajan floridos,
pero quedan pronto
florecen solo en la cumbre,
sobre las montanas,
pesadumbre de la tierra,
y en sus entranas perecen.
Nieve, blanda nieve,
la que cae tan leve
sobre la cabeza,
sobre el corazon,
ven y abriga mi tristeza
la que descansa en razon.

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers eveything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.
–From Roots & Wings: Poetry from Spain 1900-1975

I hate HTML code!

**Begin rant**
I’ve spent the last few hours playing around with my blogger template just so I could add “What I’m Reading” to the sidebar. You’d think it would be simple, even for someone like me who is clueless with code. But no, copying and pasting just isn’t enough. You actually need to know what all that gobblygook means! I’ve had enough for one night. I would like to add the other books I’m reading, but can’t figure out how to do it – I’m defeated.
**End rant**

Mansion fire and pooped-out teacher ramblings

This photo from today’s Asbury Park Press shows what remains of the beautiful historic mansion that was the Thompson Park Visitor’s Center. It was destroyed by fire on Monday. I drove through the park today on my way to class and was so sad to see it. I was just there in October with a few other Master Gardeners and a couple hundred Girl Scouts planting 1968 daffodils to commemorate the year the mansion was donated to the park system. Renovations had just about been completed on the building (about $3.5 million worth).

Class went well tonight, but I am glad to be done for the week. My students continue to surprise me with their insights and abilities. I would love to spend hours discussing the novel with them, and listening to them talk about it with one another, but we have to get serious about preparing for mid-term exams in a few weeks.

23-5 Meme

I tagged myself by invitation from WoodSong’s blog, which I enjoy reading each day.

Here are the rules:
1. Go into your archives.

2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Once a week or so I *feed* the worms with the leftover greens and fruit from the bunnies, some coffee grounds, occasional egg shells, and shredded junk mail for bedding material.

From my 1/26/06 post about the worm bin I use to compost kitchen waste.

Not sure if I even have five readers to tag, but I’ll start with Simone, divakitty’s mom, and puggyspice. Anyone else want to play?

Today was my volunteer day at the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory and we had a nice number of visitors. The local Audubon group had sponsored a walk earlier in the morning, so quite a few of them stopped in to warm up. It was a beautiful day, but very windy out at “the Hook”. I heard that the group saw all three scoters and a few gannets. The Barrow’s Goldeneye was also seen today. Also had a call from a genteman about a *pleated woodpecker* in an apple tree in his backyard. *giggle*

Remembering Mr. Bean

I’ve always loved this photo of my first Flemish Giant, Mr. Bean, and my dog Buddy. I think it’s so cute the way they are peering over the gate at one another. Mr. Bean had been out on the sunporch playing with the other bunnies when Buddy came along to see what all the ruckus was about.

Mr. Bean lived in our bathroom and had free-run of the house. For the most part he hung out in the bathroom and the hallway outside our bedroom, but would ocassionally venture into the kitchen when I was fixing salads or out to the sunporch to visit his girlfriends. I used the baby gate to keep the girl bunnies from having access to the rest of the house where they would get themselves into trouble. Buddy and Mr. Bean mostly ignored each other because Mr. Bean wasn’t afraid of him and Buddy was trained to always be *gentle* around the bunnies.

Mr. Bean came to me from a show breeder who was going to sell him to a slaughterhouse because he wasn’t show quality – his color wasn’t *good* – Boomer and Cricket were bred by the same person and sent to slaughter because they have crooked tails (another disqualifier for show). We brought him home the day before Easter, hence his name, Jelly Bean, a.k.a. Mr. Bean. I remember being so intimidated by his size and a bit scared of him!

He was a wonderful, gentle rabbit; typical of his breed. He loved to eat, and to be petted, and to nap. He loved to sleep on the tiny wicker end table in my office – even though his feet hung off the end of the shelf! He had the softest, creamiest fur on his belly and waggled his ears and danced for me when I called him “Jelly-Belly-Bean” in my silliest voice. He was perfect with his litterbox and was not a chewer (except for my PDA cord and a straw gardening hat I had left lying around where he could decorate it for me).

He loved spending nice days on the patio where he could lounge in the sunshine and flop in the sandbox on his back for a nap. He would lay beside me at night when I sat down to read. He loved orchard grass and a shot of Snapple What-A-Melon in his drinking water.

It’s two years this month since he passed away and still I miss him and think of him. I wish we could have found a way to make him healthy. I wish he wouldn’t have had to die alone at a vet hospital that didn’t know how to help him. I wish he were still here with me.

Mr. Bean: you know that I love you and that you’re safe, here, in my heart.

Hal Borland on the month of February

” Here comes February, a little girl with her first valentine, a red bow in her wind-blown hair, a kiss waiting on her lips, a tantrum just back of her laughter. She is young as a kitten, changeable as the wind, and into everything. She can sulk, she can beam, she changes from one minute to the next. February is a phase, a short phase at that, and she has to be lived with.
February can’t be taken seriously too long at a time. It starts with Groundhog Day, which is neither omen nor portent, but only superstition, and it ends, often as not, in a flurry of snow. It is sleet and snow and ice and cold, and now and then it is waxing sunshine and tantalizing thaw and promise. February is soup and mittens, and it is a shirt-sleeve day that demands an overcoat before sundown. It is forsythia buds opening in the house and skid chains clanking on the highway. February is sunrise at 6:30 for the first time since November.
February is a gardener pruning his grape vines today and shoveling a two-foot drift on the front walk tomorrow morning. It is a farmer wondering this week if his hay will last the Winter, and next week wondering if he should start plowing. It is tiny, tight catkins on the alder in the swamp and skunk cabbage thrusting a green sheath up through the ice. February is the tag end of Winter –we hope. But in our hearts we know it isn’t Spring, not by several weeks and at least a dozen degrees.
There’s no evidence to support it in the dictionaries, but some say that February’s name comes from an ancient and forgotten word meaning *a time that tries the patience.* ” —–from Sundial of the Seasons, 1964