Sunday, April 27, 2014


There is a day on the calendar posted here in my office that says “First Day of Spring.”  I like that because it is a scientifically defined point in time, not generally subject to the whims of strong argument or fashion.  All the better that it was first documented by ‘primitive’ people.  This equinox thing has been around a long time.  

We had a mild winter compared to many of you but even so, this year (as with most) the first day of spring felt about the same as the day before which just happened to be the last day of winter.  The difference was on the calendar, not on the air.  I made a note of it in my pen-and-ink-one-point-oh journal.

Today however, some five weeks later is decidedly spring like.  “rain, showers, T-showers, sunbreaks, the full range of meteorologist-speak for grab your raincoat if you’re walking down to the post office and back.

So I have been playing tag with the showers: out to mess with the fish in the pond, back in, then out to add a little more seed to the feeder then back in and so on.  That kind of day when I’d just get out there and weed the beds in a hoody if I was feeling particularly good, or stick with inside projects if I was feeling puny.  I am a little in between (nursing a sinus infection) so doing the in-between.  Gives me a chance to catch up here.

When I left off we had four parakeet teenagers heading to the vet for their pre-adoption physicals.  I’m happy to say they all passed their physicals with flying colors, literally.

  Chick #1 escaped w/in the exam room.  Once everyone settled down we just let her fly a bit until as expected, she landed on the cage trying to get back in with her sibs.  They taught me a neat capture trick:  Get ready to grasp the bird, you know, get as close as you can before the bird flies in fear, and then have your assistant flip off the lights.  In the dark the bird will freeze in place and never see the big scary hand of capture closing in.  We’ve employed that technique a time or two since to get them back into their cage.

I guess that is a bit of a giveaway.  We’ve had no takers and our four teens have morphed into young adults.  It has been enormous fun watching them grow, they have progressed through the awkward phase, they now routinely make good two point landings, they have become very acrobatic and spend long parts of each day playing with and exploring new ways to play with the toys we put in the cage. We change up the toys about every two weeks, they are never bored. 

It turns out that three of the chicks are males and #1 is the lone hen.  You will remember she had a rough start with her mother plucking lots of her feathers out before we really knew what was going on.  I don’t know if it is genetic or learned behavior, but of the four chicks, she’s the most aggressive.  She pecks the others, runs every one around except …. The mother.  Billie Holliday, aka Sapphire definitely rules the roost as the saying goes.  I think she must have irritable bowel syndrome or something.  It took the longest time before we could re-integrate her into the big cage,  She was just so hard on the chicks when they were juvies, but now that they have matured they can get out of her way and even stand up to her on occasion.  But mostly it’s an un-uneasy truce in the cage, none of the birds mess with her, and Kermit aka Emerald dotes on here, they groom each other exclusively (who can explain love?). 

But it has not been all inside.  There have been a few ‘sucker hole’s, my friend Brian’s term for patches of bright spring sunshine that come crashing through the clouds.  I’ve been out I the yard and down the road on the bike. 

Recently I was out for the classic spring morning ride.  The day unfolded as predicted; it was cloudy and cool early but manageable with a long sleeve wool jersey.  I might have appreciated tights instead of shorts and possibly a wind vest, but hey, they don’t call me the Arctic Codfish for nothing. 

I headed out the South Bank road and pushed hard enough to generate a little body heat at the start.  There were all the harbingers of spring: calves and kids, the Ospreys on their nests, rhodies in riotous color, the fruit trees a little more elegant in their show of pastels.  Even a honey bee or two.
They were having the annual oyster feed at the Sharon Grange
All you can eat oysters draws a crowd in these parts!

The bike is due for an overhaul; chain, cogs, maybe chain rings, and probably a couple cables, but even so, everything worked as it should.  It was a mellow, no drama ride and traffic was negligible, that’s one of the things I most like about riding in my neighborhood.  Most of our county roads are low traffic affairs routes, a few farm trucks hauling out the last of the hay bales before the grazers move on to green pasture exclusively, and not a lot else.

The typically blustery weather has kept the birds coming to the feeders, including the spring migrators.  The band tailed pigeons are here in force and colder and wetter than normal weather has kept them closer a little longer than normal.  I’ve had a few people ask questions like: Aren’t you worried that they won’t go away?”  That’s because people confuse them with rock doves, imports from Europe.  The band tailed pigeon is a new world bird, larger and much more wild than rock doves, these birds migrate.  The birds we see are on their way north from a sunny winter in California.  They’ll spend the summer in the forests of Washington and British Columbia, and then head back south when it starts getting cold.  But while they are here, the feed bill goes up, and the doves and other smaller seed eaters have to wait their turn.

Something unusual happened yesterday: The Coopers hawk dropped in for brunch.  I just happened to be at the sink and caught this frantic flash of birds scattering, the hawk flashed by and coming up empty he returned to one of the oaks above the feeder to skulk and preen.  We saw him here a lot over the winter, usually by this time if year he’s off to the fields.

Finally, the reason I have not been on here much is that I have taken a tumble down the staircase of communication technology. As some of you know I have reawakened an interest in fountain pens, and so I’m spending a lot of my time writing, with centuries old technology: pen, ink, and paper 1.0.  Lots of journaling, a few letters and some short fiction vignettes. There is something therapeutic about this kind of writing, with no delete or back keys, I find I spend more time composing before writing than I do at the keyboard.  Oh sure, Blogging has a therapeutic effect also, but different. 

The weather man says temps in the high 70’s and low 80’s next week.  May is bicycle commute month, perhaps I’ll get some therapeutic saddle time in on the way to and from work.


No comments:

Post a Comment