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.