Late on a cold, crisp afternoon, I stepped outside to get a breath of fresh air and take in some of nature’s sights and sounds before nighttime fell on our little part of the world.
A small flock of cedar waxwings, with their high-pitched whistles, flitted about in the sky before temporarily settling in the top of one of our maple trees.
A group of grackles shared an adjoining maple tree, the males puffing out their feathers and bellowing out raspy squeaks in an attempt to outdo each other.
A robin peered down at me from its perch in the top of a neighbor’s tree.
Then I heard them — the faint and familiar sound of a bird that I have been looking forward to seeing since they returned to their wintering grounds at a nearby refuge. Flying high above, they slowly came into sight — my first seasonal glimpse of the Sandhill Cranes.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~Maya Angelou
One of my favorite “relaxing places” is on a bench in our backyard. From there, I can sit and watch the birds as they busily search for seeds and berries or perch on sunlit branches to soak up the sun. I enjoy hearing the different songs they sing and watching their interactions with each other. It always amazes me how quickly they scatter at the first sound of danger, and then just as quickly, reappear as if nothing happened. I find that these little breaks with nature can be calming and uplifting for the soul.
“I don’t feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.” ~Kathi Hutton
The squirrels, whether because of curiosity or out of caution, often stop their hustle and bustle to keep an eye on my backyard activity. It’s always fun to catch them sneaking a peek at me.
“Who doesn’t want to know that we notice them and value them? And who might respond to us better when they feel that they matter? It probably cannot be overstated – it matters … that people matter.” ~ Steve Goodier
It’s hard to think about Reelfoot Lake without thinking about the beautiful Cypress trees which line the banks and stand proudly out in the water.
So, seeing many of the trees torn to shreds by a tornado which passed through the area on December 10 is sobering.
It makes me think even more about the beauty that the trees add to the landscape of the lake, and sad that it has been so badly marred.
Continued prayers for those who lost loved ones and homes in this terrible storm.
“Life changes so quickly that in a second so many things can happen. It is in these flickering moments that we suffer, we endure, we rejoice, and we mourn. It is these moments that will make memories that last a lifetime.” ~Unknown
In autumn, the temperatures gradually begin to cool. Plants dry up and scatter their seeds, berries ripen, and leaves turn into mosaic wonders. Insects soak up the sun’s warm rays. With all the colors and textures of autumn, it continues to be one of the most magical times of the year to me.
“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then Autumn would be the magic hour.” ~Victoria Erickson
The black and yellow garden spider is an orb spider that is often seen in the late summer. These brightly colored spiders build wheel-shaped webs with a zig-zag of thicker silk in the center. There, they patiently await their prey, which is then injected with venom and wrapped in a cocoon of silk for a future meal.
These two orb weavers had webs secured up high between two trees where they patiently laid in wait.
This funnel-web spider built a sheet-like web and positioned itself right outside of its burrow to await its next meal.
Though technically not a spider, but an arachnid, this harvestmen or “daddy longlegs” and his shadow were crawling along on a fallen tree in the woods, probably scavenging for food. Harvestmen are most often seen in the late summer and early fall around harvest time, thus their name. This one seems to be missing some legs which, unfortunately, will not grow back.
“Will you walk into my parlour? Said the spider to a fly: ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour That ever you did spy.” ~Mary Howitt
Whether from molting or escaping a predator, this wren has no tail feathers. That doesn’t seem to hinder him from doing normal activities such as flying and eating. Over time, his tail feathers will begin to grow in.
“Well, either a tail is there or it isn’t there. You can’t make a mistake about it. And yours isn’t there!” ~A. A. Milne
It’s interesting to observe the eating habits of squirrels. Since they are not picky eaters, you never know what’s going to be on the menu.
In our yard, bird food from the feeder is the number one choice.
But one day this past week, a squirrel climbed to a high branch in one of our pine trees and proudly showed off a passion fruit that he had found.
I often see squirrels bringing pecans from other people’s yards and burying them in mine. Breaking apart the shell of nuts helps to keep their teeth sharp and is also good exercise.
Since pine cones are plentiful around our yard, I frequently see squirrels gnawing on them to get to the pine nuts.
Various plants around the yard seem to be a good source of food at different times of the year. In the late autumn and winter, squirrels enjoy munching on our holly berries.
During the spring and summer, they are often seen nibbling on leaves, blossoming flowers and fresh green shoots.
A first for me, was seeing and hearing a squirrel gnawing on a bone from high up in a tree. Apparently gnawing on bones keeps their incisors sharp and is a good source of calcium.
We saw the squirrel below in a public garden that we visited. He was pretty protective of a sunflower head that he had obtained. It was interesting to watch him tear it apart to get to the sunflower seeds.
Squirrels are busy animals and need lots of fuel to keep them going. They tend to adjust their diet to pretty much whatever is plentiful and available.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~Virginia Woolf