Sunday, May 3, 2009

BUNTINGS, BUZZARDS, AND MORE…OH MY!

Yesterday afternoon I glanced out my workroom window and saw a pair of male indigo buntings darting about a dandelion-infested wild corner of the yard—a first for Riversong. Not that indigo buntings are uncommon in southwestern-Ohio. However, these pretty little birds, whose namesake color is the intense blue of a northern sky, are more inclined to hang around weed field edges and brushy openings, the thickets on either side of a scrub woods. A riverine corridor is not their usual haunt. The pair were not yet done with their spring molt, as evidenced by the grayish patches on their feathers. After a minute or so they flew around the corner of the cottage and out of sight, but I did see one of them—or a different male—a few hours later. And brief as their appearance was, I’m glad to add them to the list of visitors. Not only did I see those buntings yesterday afternoon, but I managed to get my lawn mowed…with my new lawnmower! You may recall from previous postings and frequent whining that I’ve been lawnmower-less since late last fall—a fact of tactical weakness which the grass may have realized recently. Or it may have been the cool weather and ample rain that induced it to grow like gangbusters. Whatever. Things had indeed reached a critical stage hereabouts. It was either buy a mower or break out the scythe and take in hay. Not having a barn for hay storage, I opted for the lawnmower. The problem is, it has been raining here since Thursday— either as light sprinkles or full-fledged downpours until mid-morning yesterday. Even the buzzards which roost on the island across the river looked miserable—an exceptional feat for a turkey vulture, who tends to look mostly dour and grim. They'd sit atop a dripping limb, wings half opened in a vain attempt to dry out, and give me the gimlet eye whenever I looked their way—as if the rain were somehow my fault! Once the rain ceased, I removed my new mower from its shipping carton, performed the “some assembly required” tasks, checked the blade for sharpness, filled the respective tanks with oil and gasoline—then waited for the exceptionally long grass to dry out to where I thought I might get the mower through it without undue clogging. Nothing like breaking in a new machine with a maximum test. In due time the intermittent sunlight did its work…and I did mine. The days of rain have given my hostas a real boost. The first of last week their green tips were barely poking above the ground; now they’re at least a foot high. It always amazes me how much a plant can grow once it really takes off. In fact, all my plants—including the ones I planted only a week or so ago—have benefited from the rain, including the mix of seeds I sowed in the bed I built near the back door. Thousands of tiny green speckles that promise to become a knee-high thicket of various bright colors by late-June. Naturally, the river is up and muddy, though not overly so; certainly not to worrisome height. In fact, I see this morning it has already dropped 6–7 inches since yesterday afternoon, though we’re supposed to have showers later this morning. As any riverside dweller can tell you, streams are not static landscape features. The cost of those idyllic scenes of a picture-perfect creek or river is learning to live with its moods, the regular ups and downs and discolorations. On the riverbank…life is never boring.

20 comments:

Tom said...

Having lived near the Olentangy River for a few years, your writings make me long for our old domicile. Now I'm less than a mile from the river, but still, it just isn't the same. I'm enjoying your riverside posts.

Tom

Gail said...

Hi Grizz

It feels the same as any relationship, yours with the river. Highs and lows, changing colors, varying moods and direction. Surprises, clarity and muddy waters.

As always, your photos astound!

Love and life's flow
Gail
peace.....

giggles said...

Huh! How very neat!

To my untrained eye, from that angle, I would have called that a bluebird!! (When I saw it's chest, I woulda figured it out...)

Hostas? Beautiful! Glad you are using your NEW MOWER! Should last a good long time!

Enjoy the day....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tom…

I edited a couple of magazines for several years whose offices were off Kenny Rd. and not too far from the Olentangy. I often spent a morning on the river, fishing, or just poking along in a canoe. Except for its larger size, it's not much different than where I now live—which, as you can see from the photo in this post (that wooden structure is the downstream corner of my front deck) is smack on the water.

This morning, I've been out digging planting beds. There are geese, mallards and wood ducks, kingfishers and herons within yards of where I'm working (20-yards for herons and kingfishers, closer on the ducks and geese) and all sorts of birds around the various feeders. It's all I can do to hang onto my shovel long enough to get any work done, instead of grabbing my camera—even so, I think I've shot 100 or so frames in the last couple of hours.

I'm glad to have you as a reader. I've been lurking about your blog for quite a while and admire your work. You're always welcome…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Yup, relationships are pretty much the same—whether with a lady or a river, or that hound dog under the front porch. Varying moods, highs and lows…and the occasional possibility of getting bit.

Hope your life is flowing well, too.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

You know, you're right—it does look a lot like a bluebird from this angle. I hadn't picked up on the similarity, probably because I watched the two buntings from only a few feet away for several minutes. But these are considerably smaller and have the finch-like beak—and, of course, no rusty breast.

Hey, I had to use the mower. I needed a machete to find the truck, and the geese and groundhog obviously weren't going to take up the slack.

As a neophyte shade gardener hostas where one of my first planting when I moved here. I can't afford all the hostas I want or need, so it's grown and divided.

Val said...

"The cost of those idyllic scenes of a picture-perfect creek or river is learning to live with its moods, the regular ups and downs and discolorations."

Yep, I'd say this is a perfect metaphor for life...

PS The indigo buntings are beautiful. I don't think we have those around here...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

More of less the "serenity prayer" a friend of mine and long AA member used to quote to me regularly, I guess. But so much in life is understanding what you can and can't change…and learning to live with it.

Re. the indigo buntings—you do, indeed, have them where you live. Drive out in the country, along a rural road with weedfiields and thickets along at least one side, and you'll eventually find them. The blue males will go swooping back and forth across the road. They're about the size of a goldfinch.

Gail said...

Been bit many a time and have done my share of nibbling. :-)

Love
Gail

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I was seldom biter or bitee…tending more toward tailwagging and staying away from the under-the-porch pack. But the metaphor still holds. :-)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh, hostas! How I love them, from the moment the buds appear among the spreading violets, to the first emerging and unfurling like little rolled up scrolls, to the beautiful quilty leaves.

And I love dividing them too, in January with two forks, and thinking of the wonder of how many magnificent plants will grow from those tangly rooty soily clumps.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I really like them, too. And they're the perfect plants for much of my shady property.

However, I've not yet tried dividing my plant clumps. But I'm going to give it a go next year because I have BIG hosta plans!

Rowan said...

Well done on getting the grass mown:) The indigo bunting is a pretty blue, you have so many brightly coloured birds, it must be like looking out and seeing jewels flitting about sometimes. Hope you get to swap the rain for some sunshine soon if only to cheer the buzzards up!

Sydney said...

I can't believe a few posts back I asked to clarify if you live on this stream, when your header says streamside musings and your blog is called Riverdaze... but hey, in my defense, I write about a park sown the street as if it's my back yard and all the animals there as if they are my personal pets, so I wasn't quite sure.

Congrats on the mower! It's quite an accomplishment. Guess like a kids bike they too need assembly.

Loved the lines about the vulture looking miserable. Sounds like things have finally dried out.

Jayne said...

I've not seen the buntings here yet, so I'd be happy to borrow yours for a bit. :c) We've had over 4" of rain since Friday, with more on the way. Everything looks so very lush and green now.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

I won't say that at the sound of my new mower sputtering into life, my neighbors broke into spontaneous cheer and an impromptu party ensued…but it was indeed time to give the grass a haircut.

We do have a lot of colorful and interesting birds. And now, the spring molt is all but complete and they're wearing their new feathers, often in much brighter hues. Really pretty!

I think today is supposed to be sunny, as was yesterday afternoon. If so, I'll be back out working in the yard—at least as much as aging muscles, faltering attitude, and lack of competence permits.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

I took your query about how close I live to the river as perfectly valid. How would you know? When someone says they live "close" to a river, it could be a hundred yards or—as in my case—a hundred inches. No need to apologize.

FYI, the blue heron shot in the blog's header is standing in the riffle just upstream from the cottage.

The mower saga began with a March posting about a pair of Canada geese plucking grass in the side yard. (FUTURE FEATHERED LAWNMOWER?) And unless you pay for an "assembly fee" you're now likely to have to put your lawnmower together if you purchase it at one of those big box home improvement store—though the task really isn't all that much of a problem.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

In a week's time, it has gone from my being able to look "through" and beyond the island's vegetation to seeing only a green wall; no chance of seeing to the other side of the island, or even its narrow interior. A huge difference in only a short time.

I think the rain is supposed to hold off for another day here, then another several-day round is predicted. The river is down about two more feet since last evening—though not yet to normal pool. I imaging about the time that happens it will began coming back up from the rains.

Jain said...

I especially like the wingtip detail of the vulture.

I also like the river as a metaphor for relationships. I’m going to look at ours that way for a bit and see how it plays out.

Kenny and Olentangy? Worked there, too, many years ago. We’re the small planet club.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I'm glad you noticed those long, damp feathers on the vulture. I liked that little detail a lot, too—though I didn't notice it when I was making the photograph.

It is an amazingly small world. I can't begin to tell how often that gets proven to me, too. I've quit showing surprise; nowadays, I just nod sagely, as if I expected such astonishing coincidences all along.