As we headed back down the main trail, we heard the familiar drumming. The little babe has known who makes that sound since she was 2 years old. A Pileated woodpecker, or more specifically, Wilson PodPie III (one of my husband's story characters), or simply Wilson, for short. The tree that he was drumming on was easy enough to find - the scattering of fresh wood chips on the ground gave it away. I looked up one side of the tree - no Wilson. Looked up even higher - no Wilson. I looked on the other side and saw the large rectangular hole that we had discovered last week. But no Wilson. Then I laughed and realized what a discovery we had made - Wilson was INSIDE the tree, most likely excavating a hole for a nest! As we were stopped in front of the tree, the drumming stopped and a large black head with beady eye, long pointed peak, and bright red cap popped out of the hole and froze still when he saw us. He looked at us. We looked at him. After a minute, we took a couple of steps down the trail and Wilson, perhaps satisfied that we were not a threat, brought his whole body out of the tree and then popped back in again and resumed drumming. It was pretty thrilling to see a bird as big as a Pileated disappear in a flash into the middle of a tree. The tree is a tall birch, one of many right along the trail. This trail is frequented by dog walkers, trail runners, and bikers. I hope that Wilson thinks the neighborhood is quiet enough to raise a family.
Today I am thankful for...
~a little babe eager for early morning explorations.
~a beautiful and safe woodland. I think about the many war torn areas in this world and the children who do not have access to safe places to play and explore and I am very grateful for the places we have.
~working eyes that are able to see the small signs that all join together to shout, "SPRING!"
Yellow Trout Lily
What are you thankful for today?
I promised other cute chick shots, so here are a couple to document their first week with us. The little babe begs for chick time multiple times a day and if it is warm, we take them out to the pen that she had made for her pet chicken, Peggy. Peggy was happy to share. (Peggy is made of metal.)
I've shared before about the bird wars between the sparrows that live in our shed and the starlings that constantly attack them. The sparrows are in full blown nest making mode from sun-up to sun down and we love watching them find and carry things back to the nest. This week I discovered a nest that had been knocked out of the shed rafters. Chicken feathers, dried grass, small vines, pieces of cloth, azalea leaves, moss. A sculptural work of art. My husband did his best to push it back up, but it was back on the ground the next morning. Darn starlings. I get so mad at them. I ran out the other morning in my pajamas to stop a starling from killing a sparrow. The smaller bird was pinned to the ground and making an awful high pitched racket. The starling released its grip and the sparrow flew off. One little life saved before breakfast. The neighbors probably already think I'm weird.
And one photo that the little babe wanted me to take: a branch stripped of its bark by crows, presumably for nesting material. We watched them do it, otherwise I wouldn't have known what it was. The ground under this particular tree is littered with small branches like this.
A lot of bloggers have been talking about the current state of the world, but that isn't my style. So I'll keep it short, sweet, and close to home. I am thankful for...
~husbands bearing simple gifts and kind words
~a Dad and daughter full moon watching session (I think there was some howling involved also)
~fluffy new life and gentle little hands
~keen eyes that spot the firsts of the season: small white butterflies, dandelions, and a groundhog (luckily not near our yard!)
What are you thankful for today?
Some images from our walk to the bog on a sunny Spring morning. We picked our way through fields and forest and ended up at the bog that we normally drive to. I was a bit impressed with myself and the little babe. Not far, about 3 miles round trip, but we were off the beaten path.
When I Googled "praying mantis case", expecting to find an interesting nature link to share with you, links like this are what I found instead. Really?! Is everything commercialized in this world? (You don't have to answer that.) For more educational information about them, this is a nice article.
And what does Spring look like today? A gray sky filled with big snowflakes - the tongue catching kind. Oh well, we still have plenty of wood in the driveway. And I still have some alpaca to knit with. Happy weekend!
When I bought the yarn for my mother-in-law's Nutkin tunic, I also ordered eight skeins of this natural colored alpaca wool blend for myself. It is Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I had intended to make another Nutkin for myself, since I had given my original one to my Mom, but after knitting two of them, I felt the need for a change. I followed the stitch count for the upper chest of a XS Nutkin, but then started doing my own thing. I remembered the gathered stitch pattern that I used on two Olearia cardigans for the little babe and I decided to try a variation of that. When I got to the bottom hem, I wasn't sure if I wanted pockets in a garter stitch band like on the Nutkin, but decided against it so I just did a couple rows of garter. The project was feeling like a full on squishy sweater instead of a tunic, so I decided on long sleeves. For the neck, I had really wanted this to be a cowl neck sweater so that I could have the soft and squishy alpaca around my neck. After picking up the neck stitches, I did about five inches of straight stitch, but it just wasn't draping right. I then added another three inches hoping that added length was just what it needed, but no, a cowl wasn't meant to be. The neckline is too square and close to the neck. So I frogged out all of that, cast on and did a couple rows of garter stitch. It just wasn't working. So I frogged THAT, plus a couple more rows, and decided to try one section of the gathered stitch pattern. Bingo!
When pressed to make a comment about it, my husband said, "I wouldn't pick it out for you." I suspect he thinks it is too frumpy in the middle, but I like the pattern. As with everything I make for myself, I have been wearing it non-stop since I finished it. The 50/50 wool/alpaca blend is super warm. The sleeves are in between 3/4 and full, not for any reason other than that I got tired of knitting with double pointed needles. I put a lot of hours into knitting AND frogging this mash-up of a Nutkin/Olearia/Katie experiment and I am happy with the results. And the best part is that it only took five skeins, so I have three left for my next project!
In the state gamelands near our house, there is a flat wetland area in the middle of the forest. We call it the bog. Right now in early Spring, we spot ducks (Mallards and ones unknown to us), Canada geese, and salamanders. The little babe and I have been there twice in the past two weeks and nature moves so fast at this time of year that just in seven days time I noticed changes. Green tips of water grasses were rising next to the brown old ones. Salamanders were in the water mating. We found fuzzy pussy willows along the trail and furry caterpillar like birch catkins smashed on the gravel road. I noticed that the two geese that we saw the previous week were not there and as if waiting for their cue, they suddenly appeared in the sky behind us, loudly honking as they descended to the pond. Sometimes the little babe is in a chatty mood, but for the most part she is really good about being quiet. She doesn't run through the woods talking at the top of her lungs like I imagine (perhaps wrongly) a lot of kids do. She is good about being quiet and listening. And a lot of times she hears things that my ears don't pick up.
On another day last week, a rainy 55 degree day, the little babe decided that we needed some fresh air. So on the way back from the store, I pulled into the gravel parking lot at another entrance to the gamelands. We pulled our brims down, stuffed hands in pockets, and headed into the woods. The little babe walked in silence and I quietly sang a couple of Winnie-the-Pooh inspired rainy-day-walking-in-the-woods type of songs. (Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, etc) We spent the next hour exploring two small ponds and made some great nature discoveries. And the entire time our voices barely rose above a whisper. Despite the raindrops that fell continuously on our heads, we were both content and in no rush to head home.
Even though I've perhaps been doing it subconsciously for a while, by making nature an important part of our lives, I have recently decided that I want to encourage and cultivate the ability to just be in nature. By that I mean not rushing through a hike just to say we did it or walking in the woods, but not really paying attention to the place where we actually are. Outdoor meditation perhaps, but not tuning the world out - tuning IN to the world around you. To use those five senses that most of us are blessed to have: sight, touch, taste, smell, hear. At this time of year, this may be seeing the sparrows carrying building materials to their nests, touching the fuzzy pussy willows, tasting the small red wintergreen berries that are still visible on the forest floor, smelling the damp earth, and hearing the raspy quacking of wood frogs.
Cultivating patience. Being aware of your surroundings. Noticing details. Appreciating natural beauty. Being amazed by small wonders. Learning to have respect for the creatures around you. I think these are important. I am thankful that I have a willing partner to accompany me in this journey.
What are you thankful for today?
Copyright 2013 - 2015 Katie Krahn Goble.