Tag Archives: birds

Springtime Treasures

Someone told me she was collecting waterfalls. She meant that she and her husband hunt for accessible waterfalls, she takes pictures, and then can recall each trickling or thundering one of them. I was intrigued. Now there’s a collection that would be such fun to build and wouldn’t have to be dusted. The same could be said for a collection of springtime treasures, even without the pictures. See if some of mine are in your collection.

  • A hillside covered with daffodils…Was it Robert Loveman who wrote “It’s not raining rain to me, it’s raining daffodils”?
  • A Japanese magnolia in full vibrant bloom, its pink blossoms of various shades the shape of tulips. (Of course our wonderful corner tree is in full leaf now but a few weeks ago it was a glorious sight and many neighbors mentioned how it cheered them on their way.)
  • Azaleas of pink, red, fuchsia and white blooming in stages so we enjoyed them for months. They were so beautiful, it made me want to do something!
  • Purple wisteria looking like bunches of Caleb’s grapes high in a pine tree letting us know we haven’t gotten rid of all the vines yet.
  • A bluebird reveling in a merry splash of fresh cool water in the bird bath.
  • A mother hen followed by fluffy yellow cheeping biddies. I’m remembering the spring when my two kids were little and talked me into getting them biddies at the feed store. Thunder and Lightning, they named them!
  • A mulberry tree alive with birds and squirrels nibbling on new leaves and berry buds.
  • A little child offering a fist full of iris blossoms, the ones which you’d finally coaxed into blooming.
  • A wide field with rows and rows of tiny corn blades barely showing against the Georgia red soil.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal literally sharing a worm right before my eyes (now as I write this).
  • A hummingbird finding our feeders and whirring off to tell his neighbor.
  • White puffy clouds piled high in a perfect blue sky with sunlight casting shadows so the clouds look to have valleys and caves and mountain slopes.
  • Strawberries and tomatoes and crookneck squash displayed in abundance at the market.
  • My Mamma years ago happily planting her garden; the smell of disturbed tomato plants trying to put down roots; or the smell of tiny wild strawberries on our fingers after we’d picked enough for a shortcake.
  • The sheer happiness of my two whittling brothers making whistles of sourwood when the springtime made the wood supple and right–and their vigorous competition to see whose whistle blew the loudest.
  • The first pot of fresh English peas on Mama Graham’s stove and Papa Graham in his overalls hoeing grass out of the peas and corn.
  • The scent of fresh mown grass and wild onions.
  • The sight of my veterinarian standing at the door covered literally head to toe with blood, mud, and whatever else a herd of cows causes–and grinning from ear to ear, ready for a shower and supper.
  • At Pinedale, my home place, bluets on Tulip Hill, flame azalea by a north window, the sound of tree frogs as we went to sleep, the huge crabapple at the east turned from a wintry black skeleton into a fantastic pink princess.
  • At Lane of Palms, our home for forty-two years, red azalea bright against pine and palm, blueberries budding, jonquils around a northern pecan tree, a dog named Sam, red Irish setter floppy ears flying as he chased a bumble bee, and day lilies putting on a show along the driveway.

Now back to the collector of waterfalls, I wish I could remember who that was so I could find out how many she found, where they are, and what their names are. Ever hear someone talking about a waterfall collection? I think they’d have to choose some of the ones we know: Toccoa, Ruby, Dry, Amicalola, Panther Creek….

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12

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Porch Sitting

I don’t consider myself a lazy person, at least not most of the time. But I really do love to sit on our porch watching the birds, enjoying pine trees against the sky, reveling in the rich watermelon color of our young crepe myrtle and listening to the cicadas putting on their dynamic concert in the pines and magnolias.

Actually, there’s more to porch sitting than immediately meets the eye. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, the art of porch sitting has many facets.

It is very likely true that porch sitters, or variously those occupying porticos, patios, canopied walkways or even front walls of courthouses, have had a very great deal to do with electing presidents, solving peculiar mysteries, erecting high rises, and identifying rare species of birds. We’re being positive here so we’re not going to mention the characters that may have been defamed unjustly or achievements marred by disgruntled tongue wagglers. We’re talking about peaceful porch sitters.

Consider the porch. It is a place set apart from the rest of the house, at least to some degree. It is outdoors, but at least partially protected from the elements. It is a place where one can talk to a solicitor or other stranger without inviting them in. It can be a private place for a cup of coffee and a talk with the Lord. Or it can be the scene for an informal party decorated with hanging ferns, or for a gathering of friends and neighbors any time, any day. It’s a good place to serve lunch on a workday when men appear with sawdust on their britches and children cluster up with a great aptness for spills and crumbs. In other words, it is a gathering place, an informal one, not at all stiff as a parlor might be, but comfortable with a swing and rockers and lots of fresh air.

Speaking of porch sitters–there are very active ones. They can be snapping beans, peeling peaches, knitting a scarf or, even, telling stories. I once came upon a lady busy at her quilter’s frame on her small porch. The other day when my sister Suzanne and her husband Bill came from North Georgia they brought me a basket of green beans straight from their big bountiful garden. We sat on the porch and exchanged tales as we strung (should that be un-strung?) those wonderful beans. Their eight-year-old grandson Matthew happily tried out our sports rider, an exercise device that we find helpful, even challenging. For him it was way too mild, though, so he gave it up soon and tried out the swing, giving it some good exercise before he took off to try out any bike or wheeled object he could find. We could watch him while we filled our pot with beans for supper.

There are also the not-so-active porch sitters who are actually not idle at all. From a distance, two people rocking can appear to be simply taking in the evening when, in fact, they’re having a very deep discussion. An author may be sitting alone on the porch looking as idle as a tractor in a shed when, really, she/he’s planning a deep plot or searching for the very best simile. And there are the readers and the puzzle workers and the scientists with binoculars to their faces. And the knitters and cross-stitchers and knife-sharpeners and, in the case of some of our grandchildren, young artists busy sketching.

A little porch sitting usually leads to ideas for a lot more work to be done! Charles and I sit down under our porch fan for a nice evening chat after supper. Soon we find ourselves imagining new landscaping endeavors, or we notice a bird feeder is empty, or Charles suddenly remembers something he wanted to see about in his shed.

A porch can even be a good place for a snake show. Yes, that’s right, a snake show. I am mortally afraid of snakes but it’s amazing what love propels us to do! The first time my grandson, Charles Douglas, brought a small corn snake to see me he brought it in the den wrapped around his wrist. I threatened him with his life if he let that thing get lost in the couch. He and his friend Hannah were passing it back and forth between them! But then only a few weeks later I asked them to bring snakes for young Matthew and other young cousins to see. I stipulated they couldn’t be in the house. Charles D insisted the “visitors” would have to sit up on a shelf in the dining room while we all ate. But not to worry, he said, because they would be in their fabric carriers. He failed to tell me the carriers have windows through which the snakes can stare at you! But I lived through that–then we moved to the porch and I closed the door firmly.

Charles D and Hannah put on a very educational and entertaining show for everyone with their snakes center stage on our porch! There was a Brazilian (some other name I’ve forgotten!), and a couple of boas, one of which is about five feet long and wrapped itself lovingly (!!!!) around Hannah and eventually around almost everyone there. But not me! I did touch one and took two pictures of them which, for me, was pretty good. The only tears shed were from little two-year-old Kaison who was so upset because he was too small to hold the snakes. The next time he came over he looked around hopefully saying “Snake, snake!” as if perhaps one might have stayed behind.

I like to see people enjoying their porches. It shows they’re taking time to breathe deeply, to notice birds feeding, to absorb a sunset, and to dream a little. When the air turns frosty and folks start leaning their porch chairs against the wall or storing them somewhere, I feel somewhat sad. Another year of porch sitting all over and done. But, for me, I sit on the porch even in the winter. I may be huddled in a big coat or have a blanket around my shoulders, but there’s nothing more inviting on a Saturday morning than a cup of coffee on the porch swing!

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The Mulberry Tree

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This is not a botanical dissertation. It is not an advertisement of fruit trees. I claim no academic knowledge concerning the subject. It is not a cookbook or a health issue or a devotional. It is not a poem or an essay or a short story. I have no intention of trying to make you a lover of mulberries or to persuade you even to bake a mulberry pie or tart.

I simply want to tell you about my mulberry tree I discovered just this week.

We’ve been so busy moving in and adjusting ourselves and our furniture, pictures and other belongings to our new place that I hadn’t studied every tree in the backyard. But I noticed several times in coming and going that squirrels and birds really were doing acrobatic performances in this one particularly graceful tree. Squirrels sometimes inched to the ends of very limber limbs and then all but fell trying to get something that was obviously very important to them.

I finally set out to find out what the important things were in that tree. That’s when I found it was loaded with the most interesting berries I’d ever seen. Similar to blackberries in size, but not as black. Very juicy when I tried to pick one, softer than a blackberry. Knowing I’d found no dead squirrels around, I deduced the berries must not be poisonous. I tasted one. Delicious! I went for another and another. I began to get excited. What did we have here?

In the yard where we lived across town we had satsumas, oranges, figs, blueberries, kumquats, and pecans. Here, we didn’t have the first fruit tree, I thought. Until I discovered this beautiful tree on the inside of our circular driveway. I brought some berries in to show my guys, my husband and 19-year-old grandson.

My grandson, who is not botanically inclined, immediately guessed those might be mulberries. I was duly impressed. (He must have listened when I sang “Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush”!!!) His granddaddy agreed that maybe Charles D was right, but said he didn’t know enough to make a guess.

I broke a branch and brought it to my computer so I could compare leaves, fruit, arrangement of same to examples on internet. It seemed like a good match, even to the fact that the leaves vary on mulberry trees, of which there are about twenty species worldwide. Leaves may be lobed or not, smooth on top or hairy. The berries can be red or black or stages approaching those including a stage on nearly all mulberries when they are white.

I had just decided that the next thing I would do would be to find a recipe for making mulberry pie.

That’s when Sally came over to pray with me about some urgent needs in our families. As she got out of her vehicle, she called out to me (this is the honest truth), “I’ve just made a mulberry pie and we ate nearly the whole thing. Natalia and Clay brought me some.”
My mouth dropped open. I hadn’t heard until then of anyone in our neighborhood or town who was either growing, harvesting, cooking, or eating mulberries.

I do remember one little mulberry tree in the meadow of Pinedale where I grew up. We had picnics around it. I don’t remember there ever being anything on it!

Needless to say, I did get a recipe and proceeded out to the tree to pick mulberries. I needed three cups. After trying from the ground, I hauled a step ladder out. Perched precariously, I tried to snag enough berries to make a pie while birds and squirrels began to protest. After twenty minutes all I had were about a dozen berries. I surveyed the situation again and got down off the ladder. I believe that tree belongs to the birds and the squirrels. I’d rather not have that pie than to end up in the hospital with a broken back. I brought in what I had and they were very delicious on cheerios for breakfast this morning!

Have at it, squirrels and birds! I’ll just enjoy your acrobatic shows and forego the mulberry pie–unless some kind, adventurous soul wants to share some with me!

P.S. Thanks, Sally, for the “out-of-this-world” slice of mulberry pie Charles and I each enjoyed at your house last night after church! The taste is milder than blackberries, a subtle, soothing taste. I may, after all, have to try again to pick mulberries. Sally said Natalia and Clay drove their truck under the limbs. Sounds like a good thing to try.

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