Friday, December 17, 2010

FALLING SNOW, LOTS OF BIRDS, NO PHONE


Earth and sky are identical whites, separated only by gray-brown trees and the river's dark ribbon. The subdued light is flat and even, without shadows, making it difficult to follow the line of tracks where Moon the Dog walked during her morning reconnoiter. Snow is sifting down, sometimes just a dusting, as if an upstairs baker were readying a few loaves of seasonal bread for the oven; yet occasionally the small flakes simply pour from the white sky, so thick through the trees that it is almost impossible to see the river's opposite shore.  

A  male downy woodpecker is picking and poking its way up the big box elder near the front of the cottage. I hope its effort pays off in tasty bugs. The old tree can use all the help it can get with insect control.  

There's a Carolina wren in the feeder just beyond my deskside window…perky, inquisitive, pausing every so often in its seed munching to peer through the glass at me—the inspected inspecting the inspector. I adore wrens, especially this one with the southern affiliation and the big voice. They can be fierce sprites, holding their ground against birds twice their size with threatening pokes from slender, downturned beaks. Even the aggressive red-bellied woodpeckers pay them heed. I think the Carolina's plumage of warm browns and tans is matchless in its rich understatement.


Far downstream, a couple of herons stand fifty feet apart on the ice shelf. Slate-blue birds above jade-green water. The falling snow has apparently made them more tolerant of what would normally be viewed as mutual encroachment on fishing rights and territory—though perhaps they're just conserving energy during the cold weather.

Providing I can coax my pickup up the icy hill at the top of the drive, I intend to take another stab at Christmas shopping, plus I want to stop by the grocery for a few things, including eggs for an evening pitcher of nog. Should the first attempts prove futile, I'll shovel a bit and put down salt—or whatever the stuff is—and give it a couple of hours to melt things for a bite of traction on the gravel underneath. 

Myladylove has apparently taken my cell phone to work. At least several searches throughout the house have failed to locate the missing device. The last time I used it was early this morning. I remember placing it on the kitchen counter afterwards. They're having a holiday carry-in lunch today where Myladylove works. I'd made a big dish of Spicy Southwest Rice (baked brown rice, chicken stock, tiny slices of barbecued pork, onions, garlic, corn, tomatoes, diced jalapenos, oregano, chili powder, ground cayenne pepper and cumin) to take in. Myladylove was running late and in a rush. As our phones are identical, she likely grabbed my phone and stuck it in her jacket. Since we don't have a house phone, I can't call and ask, or hear a report on my rice dish's popularity until this evening.
——————— 

22 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

If that dish isn't popular, Grizz, I swear to you I'll eat ten raw chillies!

Love that alert little woodpecker.

George said...

Falling snow
Lots of birds
No phone

Although we may be off a few syllables, the title of your posting has the quality of a haiku. Sorry that you can't check on the popularity of that rice dish, which sounds quite delicious, but I suspect the tapestry of snow and birdlife is made all the more enjoyable by this brief sabbatical from modern technology.

Linda said...

Beautiful capture of the male downy woodpecker. Hope you can get out to finish up that pesky Christmas shopping. Hope also that the missing phone turns up...and not in the rice dish that you sent to the carry-in.

Scott said...

MORE Christmas shopping? Man, you're a glutton for punishment. Better to stay snowbound and make images of the beautiful birds and river.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh, Grizz, how beautiful your snow photographs are - how wonderfully cold and subtle in colour! So lovely to gaze at.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Don't think you'll need to eat the chilies—though they might be just the ticket—since Myladylove manages a bunch of salesmen. And IMHO, salesmen are like bluetick hounds and will scarf up anything that isn't moving.

A-hemh…I taught that woodpecker everything he knows about posing.

Gail said...

HEY GRIZZ-
so did you de-9ce the drive way enough so you could finish that shopping?

I love that wording you used - "the rivers dark ribbon" - that is so magical :-)
And that spicy southwest rice dish you made, made my mouth water and burn too in a good way - spicy. mmmmmm
Now, about your phone!! How will we ever explain all of our calls to one another??!! Heehee, LOL, hee hee, hahahahaha, lol - kidding folks, breathe relax, kidding, LOL :-) :-)

And of course, your WInter scene pictures thrill me.

Happy weekend-
Love you
Gail
peace and hope for us all

The Solitary Walker said...

Cher poseur! As you know, I was a salesman myself for many years ... so I'm relishing the chillies! Just give me a glass of water. Quick.

Grizz………… said...

George…

There are days when my life does seem like a winsome haiku, while others resemble an Oliver and Hardy slapstick.

Having spent much of life in the field—though more accurately in the woods and on the water—often far, far from any electronic device other than a flashlight, I've learned to take what you're delivered on a given day. Here I have several thousand books, a warm fire, birds and the river beyond my window, Moon the dog for company until Myladylove gets back…and of course this desktop window to the world. I'm surviving quite nicely.

Grizz………… said...

Linda…

Downies are just neat little woodpeckers. I have them here in droves, and love taking photos of them.

Myladylove just emailed me to say (contritely) that she'd discovered my phone on her desk…and hers still in her coat pocket. So at least it didn't get into the spicy rice.

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

Actually, I only have about five gifts and a half-dozen cards yet to locate and purchase. Believe it or not, that's probably ahead of schedule for most years.

The way I figure, if these last weeks of autumn are this snowy, mid-January ought to be a real doozy. I expect I'll have photo ops aplenty.

Grizz………… said...

Raph…

And far more beautiful in reality than I've managed—or will ever manage—to photograph.

Ahhhh, I believe I hear the sound of caroling mice…

Bernie said...

Everything is so pretty Grizz, I'm sure your contribution to lunch was amazing and I am happy you have your phone back or at least know where it is.

So looks like winter has fully arrived, stay warm and safe and enjoy this beautiful white landscape and crisp air....:-)Hugs

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

After working into midafternoon, I opted to forget getting out until tomorrow—so no de-icing.

The rice dish is good and the report is that it was consumed with relish.

Now, re. that phone…you know the really sad part? Myladylove, thinking it was her phone, placed it on her desk where it remained all day without making a peep. Not a ring. No one called. No one missed hearing from me. No one wondered whether I was dead or alive or kidnapped by aliens. It might as well have been a dead carrier pigeon for all the messages it delivered. Which shows you the status of my exciting life….

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

You stomach lining has escaped the fiery test this time around—the sales herd, ravenous beasts they are, ate everything but the Corning Ware dish and lid.

But you'll not always be so lucky. It could have been a carry-in lunch for a room full of engineers…and engineers are so notoriously timorous when it comes to adventurous eating that only a fearless few will now put brown mustard on a hot dog. They wouldn't have lifted the lid on my rice—and if they had, half would have passed out from the sheer excitement of the wafting fragrance.

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

Indeed, my dish was devoured and my phone has returned home. All is good here on the riverbank. But…it's not officially winter until the solstice passes.

Take care.

Robin said...

I work at Lowes. This morning I walked into the empty, freezing (outside) garden center to hear bird chatter that would almost deafen. I wandered beneath the canopy until I found the wrens.... surrounded by Starlings trying to get at something.

It's the wrong time for nests and babies, but the Starlings were definitely after something. I talked and cajoled, but it wasn't until I clapped my hands that the Starlings flew off and the Wrens slowly stopped their twittering.

I heard myself say, 'Crisis averted', as I left. But the Starlings live under the canopy as well, so I'm sure it's not the last of it.

I love your posts....

Hilary said...

I'm glad it was your phone and not the camera that went missing. These photos are beautiful. I love Great Blues and almost always they're in solitary sightings. Only once did I see three at once on my local pond. Downy .. he's a beauty.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I'm really glad to hear you stood up for the wrens. I'd have done the same thing. Starlings are a bird gang of low-rent bullies. I can't imagine what they were after other than the wrens themselves—though perhaps a wren had found some prize tidbit earlier and the starling gang were still giving them the shakedown.

Anyway, good job. Keep your eyes on those starlings. And thank you for your comment, I'm glad you like the posts.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

As a lifelong angler and now riverbank dweller, you know herons would be one of my favorite birds. And you're right, they are generally solitary and won't put up with another bird even in sight of where they're fishing…except when conditions dictate otherwise. In the winter, I often see two or three—even a half-dozen birds—lined up along the banks (usually on an ice shelf) of the better pools, each separated by no more than a dozen yards.

During Sept. of this year, after months of drought, I saw something amazing at a small, shallow lake up the road. The lake covers maybe 75 acres and is usually less than a 18 inches deep. As its surface area shrank from the heat, herons began gathering to feed on the fish who had an increasingly smaller area. It started with maybe 20 herons scattered and wading in the foot-deep water. But early one morning, just before a few days of rain finally arrived, I drove past the lake and saw perhaps a hundred GBHs in what was by then no more than an acre of water. All were fishing and eating—and it was an obvious shared feast. I came back for a camera, but by the time I returned, there were only 25-30 birds remaining, and before I got up there early in the morning again, the rains arrived.

Arija said...

Don't you just feel like the settlers of old without means of outside communication? I actually find it really nice to be left alone with nature without the usual trappings of modern civilisation.

I'm sure your dish was a great success, it sounds like something out of my granddaughter's repertoire. Since her return from New Orleans her cooking style has altered somewhat.

I would so love your eggnog recipe, I lost my American cookbooks in our '83 major conflagration that consumed 76 houses and quite a few people. We were lucky, the good Lord saw fit to leave us our children as well as our beloved dog so I have no complaints.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

It is a wonderful thing, every so often, to sever the umbilical cord of technology. That's one of the reasons I love to camp or spend a few days in some sort of rudimentary shelter—cave, hut, etc. I like that experience of getting back to basics, reminding myself of how little, rather than how much, I need to be comfortable. And it is very little.

The rice dish went over very well. Fact is, the only taste I got for my efforts came when I was sampling to see if it needed a bit more of this or that; nothing came home.

I'll make sure you get my eggnog recipes. I'm sorry to hear that you lost so many possessions in that tragic fire…and yet, that was just stuff. The truly important things in your life came through unscathed. Bad as the fire was, you were very and truly blessed.