Sunday, November 9, 2014

Holiday Compression

When I was a kid, Halloween was a big deal. (Probably because I was born on Halloween.) Then there was a terribly long wait until Thanksgiving. Eons later, Christmas approached... agonizingly slowly. Even New Year's seemed a long time after Christmas.

But something has happened to the holidays. They seem to be all squished together. I feel like one of these witches that crash in our yard every year at Halloween. This year they barely arrived in time.

The witches are still languishing in the back yard while I try desperately to start getting ready for Turkey Day.

But part of this holiday compression is my fault. As soon as November arrived (the day after Halloween), I started gathering greens for the wreaths I'm making again this year to give to family and friends for Christmas. Of course, they need them in time to hang up right after Thanksgiving, for the Christmas season, so I am frantically making wreaths now. It is harder this year thanks to my dear friend Suue who insisted I could use our grape vines for the wreath holders instead of buying metal frames. She and I wound coils of grape vines this summer and they did, indeed, dry into nice tight circles... or ovals... or some shape or other.

But where is Suue now when I need her?? I have not figured out a good way to jam all the greenery, rose hips, flowers, etc., into the grape vine coils. So I'm using lots and lots of florist wire to tie things in. I need to rewatch that youtube video of the little grade school girl stuffing greenery into grape vine wreaths effortlessly. But mostly, I need Suue here to help!

The holidays would also not seem so squished together if I had fewer bird surveys to do. November starts the wintering raptor surveys: two a month. Plus we are still doing the beached bird survey each month. That's the one where we canoe across a river and hike up and down a mile long beach measuring and identifying dead birds. We did that most recently on Halloween. It seemed appropriate for the day.

Besides dead birds, we canoed alongside five otters that day. I'm not sure what this one had caught to eat.


Sunset over the ocean that evening was lovely... one of the perks of dead bird surveying.

Besides bird surveys, I had the bright idea to make a Birds blog with photos of as many of the 150 species of birds that we have seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977 as I could find. So I spent most of October (when not trimming horse hooves, harvesting potatoes and onions, etc.) digging out photos from the depths of my computer and beyond. The results, so far, are here:

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the house is a mess and needs serious work before the rapidly approaching holidays, with company, arrive. And so, when all my projects (and would-be projects) threaten to overwhelm... I take off for the woods and creek.

As my brother liked to say, "There's a fungus among us." (You have to pronounce it "among gus".) There is many a fungus among us this time of year. Here are some of them captured on film in my occasional escapes.

Can you see the circle these little white mushrooms made in the horse pasture?
Here's what they look like up close.

a cropped view
 These lovely parasols start out as little brown caps, like you can see at the far right of this photo.

They turn into pancakes as they age.

Ghostly fingers lift up from a path in our woods.

These flaky brown jobs seem to be leading me onward...

Very tiny little caps push up from under leaves.
This big model easily pushes leaves out of its way.

Not just fungi strike my fancy while I'm out avoiding work. It's a lovely time of year.

My favorite tree in the China section of my arboretum is this Seven Son's Plant. It should be called Seven Seasons as it seems to create its own seasons all year long, blooming off and on all spring, summer and fall, followed by these pretty red whatever-they-ares.


And then, there's the creek. Rains have finally swelled its banks. Our little stream was rushing and lovely today.

A flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted all about me, alongside the creek, as I tried in vain to get a good photo for my Birds list blog. I have never seen a whole flock of nothing but Ruby-crowned Kinglets before and they were quite tame. But they refused to hold still for my camera. Mostly, I got branches where a kinglet had just been. Or sometimes, a bird butt. Or a bird taking flight.

I gave up on the kinglets and went back to the creek. A Dipper flew upstream from a log, dove under the water and reappeared back at the log with something tasty in its bill. Any day I see a Dipper is a good day indeed.

Wreath making and Thanksgiving preparations (like cleaning house) can wait for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment