Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Not-so-Bright Red-bellied

We have a saying in the family: "He (or She) is so pretty."  Basically, this is uttered in response to something you've said or done that you wish you could immediately take back.  Often accompanied by a pat on the head, it's a way of saying "Oh honey, don't worry - you're so pretty no one expects you to be smart."

Well, this gorgeous red-bellied woodpecker definitely earns the phrase, "You're so pretty."  Not only is he truly a gorgeous bird, but he's been trying to figure out how to cling to our Droll Yankees seed feeder for FOUR days.

The feeder hangs in front of our second story bedroom window and traditionally is the "little bird" feeder: chickadees, nuthatches and finches, with the occasional downy or hairy swooping in to steal a peanut.

The "pretty" red-bellied has camped out on the window ledge and continuously buzzes the feeder attempting to land, so not only is he not enjoying the tasty treats - neither are the feeder's usual clients.

Will day 5 be the magic day he figures it out? We'll see, but in the meantime it really is a treat to see such a pretty bird up close.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Green Solstice

Tender, young, bright green plants. Contrast that with the gently drifting snowflakes and the ice-covered trees outside my window and you have a great way to celebrate today's Solstice: Our shortest day of the year, but one that marks the coming of spring.  For every day from this point forward will be minutes longer.

So, today's project was to transplant nearly a dozen young tomato seedlings into bigger pots. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the 1st day of winter and the lengthening days.

Will they survive? They should. Will they actually bear fruit? That's the big question.  As we prepare to move fully off the grid in a few years, one of the requirements is the ability to grow our own food.  Of course, a greenhouse will be a key component, but we've never tried growing tomato plants in the winter before so this is a good first step.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Not So Peaceful, Not So Quiet Death

I read the obituaries. Yes, yes, I know.  I've heard all the arguments about it being weird, strange, etc., but let me tell you: I'm not alone in this. 

I love learning about other people's lives and what better way to honor someone's life than to take the time to learn about the impact he or she had on the world around them?

This lead me to contemplating the fact that the phrase "a peaceful, quiet death" is often used.

After today's activities, I've decided that if my heart would've exploded on the spot (instead of just feeling like it had) my obituary would have read "A Not So Peaceful, Not So Quiet Death."

We hauled hundreds of pounds of wood today.  It all started with me enthusiastically suggesting that we log out the beautiful old black ash that had fallen in our cedar bog sometime this summer.  We've not been able to get close to it due to all the rainwater, but now that it's frozen it's the perfect time to log it out.

Three hours and several trips pulling a sled filled with huge woodcuts later, as I lay gasping in a snowbank (which is the perfect place to contemplate life btw), I realized that it would be a quite peaceful place to recline if it weren't for the sweat chilling my body, for the puppy desperately trying to revive me, and for that very loud pounding in my ears.  Who knew raging blood pressure could be so loud?  Maybe it's just the deep stillness of the boreal woods.  Maybe my arteries aren't as clogged as I thought.

A Not So Peaceful, Not So Quiet Death.  Hmmmm...  Maybe it's not a bad way to go, doing what you love where you love it. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah. Or I Guess It'd Be Blog, Blog, Blog.

Hmmm... faced some interesting challenges in the past week and a half. Thankfully, not many readers yet since I'm still in my "newbie" stage, but questions that hit hard recently are:
- how do you write when you're working 74 hrs. in ONE week?
- those tiny bits of nature that all add up to make a great day, don't necessarily make a great blog (although the woodpecker escaping death literally from the talons of a Sharp-shinned on the ground was REALLY cool)

Thankfully, frantic work schedules have come to an end (well, nearly) and we're hoping to head to our Northwoods retreat this week. There's more than a foot of snow up there w/more predicted for the holiday weekend! Good thing we're purchasing a new plow truck.

This photo was taken not far from our place on one of my favorite lakes last Thanksgiving. Doesn't sound like the lakes are frozen yet this year...

Ahhhh... nothing better than the stark beauty of a northern winter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I keep staring at it.  It just sits there innocently, but my brain knows it shouldn't be sitting here.  I didn't earn it (yet). I came close this fall, but work interfered.

It's a swan neckband given to me by Mary Wicklund who volunteers out of the Grantsburg, Wis., area in everything from banding swans and cygnets, to rescuing injured birds and transporting them to WRC.

At Tuesday's swan release, Leslie was given Swan03A's old band.  A significant reminder of her first wild swan release. 

Mary had an old swan band in her car and tossed it over to me.  To be certain, a gracious gift, but one that seems unearned.  What did I do to deserve this?

My brain has rationalized it though (after 24 hours): It serves as a motivator to really get to Mary's swan banding sessions next year.  So, it has served a purpose (I can rationalize nearly anything if given time...) and I can now keep it on my desk without guilt.

There.  The 1st "to-do" list item resulting from this blog.  And now when I look at the band it makes me smile and think of next summer's banding activities.

BTW: here's Leslie's swan post with a video of the release.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Swan Story

Today I had the good fortune to join Leslie, one of our WRC vets, as she and others released Swan03 back to the wild.  The injured swan had been spotted on a lake in Crex Meadows (Wis.) and rescued by a dedicated group of trained swan volunteers.  The initial photo of the swan during the rescue is a startling image - note the bloodied wing resulting from a gunshot injury.

Leslie's going to post on WRC's blog, The Pulse, and it's really her story to tell - I'm just happy to have been a tiny part of it.  I'll provide a link to that post when she's finished on Thursday.  It'll include a video of the swan flying off to join its mate.

Here's a photo of the swan being rebanded on its leg and neck (new #s) at today's release. 


A big "thank-you" to Mary Wicklund and everyone who helped save the swan's life and congratulations to Vet Leslie for a successful release!

While at Crex today, I also enjoyed seeing nearly 1,000 Sandhill Cranes, dozens of waterfowl, a juvenile Bald Eagle and even a slow-moving porcupine that climbed a nearby tree.  What a perfect way to spend a gorgeous fall afternoon.