Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BURRRRRRR!

Ever notice how easy it is for our feelings and actions to be influenced by others? Even when that "other" happens to be a male house finch?
I was just about to head outside and scatter a few scoops of cracked corn for the ground feeders when I looked up and saw the finch in the photo huddled like a fluffy tennis ball in the seed feeder near my workroom window. The little bird looked cold. Like a guy at a bus stop who wishes he'd put on that extra sweater before leaving the house, and is now doing everything he can with body configuration to keep from freezing. The finch had his feathers fluffed for maximum insulation, and his breast pointed at the wane winter sun. Gaining a few BTUs appeared more important than eating sunflower seeds.
In all honesty, as winter weather goes, we're still on the mild side. There is some snow on the ground. And when I went out not long after daybreak to toss corn to the ducks, the thermometer read 23˚F…nippy, but not bone-chilling cold. No doubt it was now several degrees warmer. Or so said reason. Not even mildly cold by Ohio standards. Cold is when the thermometer reads a double-digit south of zero and there's a 30-MPH wind whipping along like a cut-throat razor.
Influence called it differently. Seeing that hunched-up finch had its effect. The workroom felt suddenly colder. The snow on the ground beyond the window looked colder, too. My brain got the message, cast logic aside, and convinced my body that maintaining the clothing status quo made survival questionable, whereupon a shiver coursed up my spine like an escaped electrical charge…which I obeyed forthwith, without question, and did immediately exchange my jacket for a down-filled coat. All because a male finch did a puff-ball pose just outside the window.
And we big ol' macho outdoor guys think we have free will…

20 comments:

Rowan said...

That little finch probably knows a thing or two! Happy New Year to you both and to Moon as well.

Bernie said...

Great photo, it does sound as though Ohio is getting a mild winter, I think all the cold weather has come and stayed in Alberta....more snow today but it is so very pretty.....:-)

Put a coat on when feeding those lovely creatures....Hugs

Wanda said...

Just as you were influenced by that beautiful male house finch, your post influenced me...sitting here at my husband's computer, I'm suddenly aware how cold the surface of his desk is and it doesn't help that the view out his window is of a frozen fountain.

Photos of our g/children surround my computer and the window view is of a heated fountain for the birds, warmer influences there! :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do agree, Scribe - it is all in the mind, as they say. Here the weather is absolutely awful - dark, grey days with sleet and snow showers and icy underfoot.

Jenn Jilks said...

That reminds me of yard duty at a middle school: the teens waltzing around wearing t-shirts in sub-zero weather. No matter how well-dressed I was, I'd feel cold.

Just like that yawn that is catching in a room of people!
Great shot!
My Muskoka a land of snowshoes and skidoos these days...the lake having just frozen over.

Scott said...

So, did you ever toss those scoops of cracked corn for the ground feeders...?

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

Rowan…

That little finch for sure knew it was cold out!

Thank you—and we all wish you a lovely New Year.

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

Bernie…

Well, mild so far—but of course winter has barely begun. Typically, our coldest weather doesn't arrive until mid-January. So we're a long way from celebrating.

Hey, I did put on a coat—an "expedition grade" down-filled parka from L.L. Bean, which was admittedly a bit on the overkill side, but it did the trick.

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

Wanda…

Just ask any advertising expert how easy it is to influence moods, feelings, etc. Show some of us a picture of the perfect juicy cheeseburger, and we'll drool all the way to the drive-thru. Sometimes, all it takes is than one little nudge. And this morning's puffed-up finch was like an icicle laid upon my spine.

Often it pays to pick your view. If not, you may have to put on an extra sweater before sneaking into your husband's office to check your blog. :-)

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

Weaver…

Doesn't sound too pleasant in Yorkshire at the moment…or too different from what we have here on this Ohio riverbank. Still, it's a good time to draw close to the fire with a book and a glass of warming cheer.

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

Jenn…

You know, I've encountered examples of those northcountry teens you mentioned.

A few years ago I was taking some photos in late November along a Lake Superior beach. While I'd dressed in about a dozen layers, with the wind whipping in off the big lake, I still wasn't too warm. Then these teenagers drove up in an old car. They pile out, laughing and having fun, wearing nothing but jeans and tees…and the next thing, they're in the water, dunking each other, laughing, yelling, having a great time. They played in the lake for half an hour. I stood shivering and nearly froze to death just watching them. Crazy.

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

Scott…

I did get the corn out for those ground feeders—two or three scoops. But I first traded my jacket for a heavy coat.

And after that, I drove about 25 miles south, met a friend, and we went to a couple of book stores in Cincinnati, another 50 miles south. Wasn't any warmer down there, however.

Jain said...

I almost picked up a mesh feeder last week, like the one in your photo, and wondered if birds could work black oil sunflower through the wire. Are you happy with it? Sweet pic of the finch!

So often, I look at birds at my winter feeder and think, “They’re naked! How can they be out there in that?!” Feathers are the best coat of all, I’m sure -- but still, naked is naked!

I have the impression, a few miles to the north, that this winter is colder than usual. Seems like it’s often in the 40s in December, but we’ve had many nights in the teens already. Often, we don’t have real snow till January but we’ve had good snow cover here a few times, on and off. Maybe I’m getting old (well, no doubt about that) and I’m more tender to the cold (I hope not!).

Happy new year to you and the Mrs. and Moon!

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

Jain…

I have two of these big, mesh-screen feeders. I think they're put out by Stoke's. They hold probably 3 quarts of seed. And there's no problem whatsoever about the birds getting the seeds out—or the squirrels! I have chickadees, titmice, wrens, cardinals, house, purple and gold finches, plus downy, hairy, and lots of red-bellied woodpeckers (even though I have three suet feeders out nearby) nuthatches, and every other species that takes seeds…and there are plenty of times when I look up and there are a dozen birds or more on one feeder. So yeah, they work well.

Mine are kind of bent and banged a bit because when I first hung them, the squirrels kept cutting the rope—even though I had a chain on the lower section—and the feeder would crash to the ground. Then I had a round last winter with a raccoon on one. More crashes. I've finally got them suspended to where a 500-pound gorilla could swing on them and not pull them off. (Maybe.)

I don't see how a little bird—even one all fluffed to the max—can survive winter's cold. But they do, and in part because of that rapid heart rate. But more often than not, during really cold times, I expect they are just on the fine-line margin between life and death. A sparrow in winter doesn't have much reserve…and a degree or two, or a missed meal or one taking in insufficient calories, can spell doom.

It does sound like you've had more winter cold and snow there than we've had here. But I wouldn't call this unseasonably warm; I remember plenty of Decembers with much warmer weather—including once when I did my Christmas shopping the day before Christmas running from store to store in my MGB with the top down and only a windbreaker on. January and early February is when to count on the sub-zero days and nights, and deep snows. Let's revisit this question about March and see where we stand then.

Happy New Year to you and yours, too from the Mrs. (man, that sounds strange!), Moon, and yours truly.

Jayne said...

LOL Grizz... indeed, we are early in our winter.

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

Jayne…

Yes we are…and I'm not going to be the one everyone ends up blaming because I said, "Ha, ha! We're having a mild winter! Na, na, na, nana, na!" and the next day we have two feet of snow, whiteout conditions, and temperatures drop to minus twenty and stay that way for a month!

Nosirreebob! Momma didn't raise no fool!

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Great picture and great 'truths' being shared. :-) I know what you mean, for sure. As I watched the birds and squirrels eat this morning as the snow began to fall I became hungry - feeling I had to "store up" too!! what? I could 'not eat' for days and be just fine. But knowing a storm is coming I am SO aware of how much food I have in the house and wine, of course!! :-)]

"Happy-healthy New Year to you and yours Grizz - "

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

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

Gail…

I loved your comments and the thoughts they provoked. You are so, so right! I do the same thing…it begins to snow and I have the urge to cook something hearty, say a good stew, or a pot of chili. God knows if I didn't eat for a month there'd still be plenty of me around. So why am I suddenly ravenous?

I used to live across the road from a small grocery. At the first rumor of a snowflake in the neighborhood, the store's lot would be jammed with cars. Didn't matter what day of the week or time of day. The lot would be packed and drivers would be jockeying for overflow parking on the side of the street within minutes. The grocery couldn't have announced they were giving everything in the store away and garnered more instant traffic.

People were practically fighting in the isles to buy 14 boxes of Cheerios, 100 pounds of potatoes, and a case of laundry detergent. And that would be the 80-year old widows. Shoppers came out dragging carts filled to head-height with stuff, and anyone with them carrying a dozen bags in each hand. Within an hour, you couldn't find a can of soup, a bag of dog food, or a tin of shoe polish left on the shelves.

Harried clerks and cashiers were backed up in corners, gnashing their teeth at anyone who came near.

The store's owners, I would guess, were in the back room, grins plastered over their faces, lighting cigars with 20-dollar bills and calling their investment bankers, real estate agents, and probably booking their two-week vacations to Maui.

I was immune to needing to participate in this impromptu grocery-store melee because between my freezer, fridge, cupboard shelves and basement pantry, I could easily live at least a couple of years without needing any additional supplies other than water and dark chocolate. (I like how you immediately check your store of wine. One does indeed have personal priorities…right?)

And speaking of grocery stores— that's where I'm off to momentarily. I always have shrimp, sparkling wine, and a good dose of Fawlty Towers on New Years Eve when I can't go out and take a long, meet-the-new-year-by-moonlight walk. (It's raining here, on top of the snow, so we have mud and slush. Not very appealing for taking a midnight walk.)

However I trust you know how to celebrate and have laid in all necessary supplies. So from the riverbank to you and yours…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I love where your thoughts/memory went to in regards to "stocking up" because of a storm. :-) Great descriptions that I could "see", experience and have a few laughs too!! :-)
Enjoy your sparkly and shrimp tonight with your bride. And may I ask? What is Fawlty Towers"???
Skipp is working until nine but will be home long before the clock strikes 12 and the famous ball drops in Times Square. I love to see Dick Clark especially since his stroke - he is a miracle.
We will have some wine later - and I will have a goody platter made with cheese, summer sausage, crackers, some dried fruit and nuts too - just a sampling of each - the fire will be lit and so one year will end and another will begin. Our focus word? "Freedom".
Love to you Grizz
Gail
peace

"Happy Healthy New Year"

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

Gail…

FYI Fawlty Towers was a British comedy. The story was set around a seaside hotel (Fawlty Towers) run by John Cleese (Basil Fawlty) and his wife, along with a few others characters. I think it ran for a couple of seasons; the complete DVD has 12 episodes. Cleese was part of the old Monty Python team. Anyway, the show is just plain hilarious in a crazy sort of way.

One year this local PBS station ran all of Fawlty Towers as back-to-back episodes New Year's Eve. It was a bad year up to that time. My mother was dying; I was sick and possibly dying; my life was in a complete shambles. But that night, I sat and watched that silly TV show and laughed my fool head off…and it has become a New Year's tradition ever since.

I watch Dick Clark, too. And step outside to listen to all the hooting and fireworks and sirens and horn honking.

And then I have another glass of sparkly and usually toodle off to bed.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! AGAIN!