Return to Pittsfield for Fall Beauty

 

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 A week ago Saturday, Yang and I had the pleasure of biking on the rail trail from Pittsfield to Adams, MA.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day with the sunshine, pellucid blue October skies, and mild weather.  Fortunately for us, the foliage was just moving into peak, giving us some lovely sights.  Here I go!
The following photos start at the end of the trail in Adams because we wanted to make sure we could get that far, so we didn’t stop for photos on the way down.  To our surprise, the trail had been extended by about two miles along the new rail tracks and the Hoosic River.  After 12.5 miles, we had to take a little break.  The sun softly and warmly lit the surrounding hills, but I don’t think my camera could quite capture the magic.  Still, I think the image is pretty neat.  Also pretty neat is Yang taking a break and noshing on a Honey Crisp apple.  We’ve got way too many, since I accidentally bought a bag of them instead of Macs for apple pie.

 

 

 

 

Coming back through Adams, we saw a gorgeous Great Blue Heron skim by along the Hoosic, but we couldn’t catch up to him to get a shot.  Nevertheless, as we came back through town, I managed to get this picture of the twin spires of a Catholic church rising between the town buildings and the warm seasonal colors of the surrounding hills.  What must it feel like to live nestled in the arms of autumn glory?
Going into Adams, along the trail, you rush down a steep slope, accompanied by the galloping river.  It’s a kick to ride down.  Going back up it is a kick in the pants!  What an incline!  I still managed to charge up to the top without stopping.  This old gal can still make it without having to walk her  bike.  Yippee  for me!  Once you get to the top, there’s a bridge over the pooling river where you can rest – and fish!  We met a young dad taking his son fishing.  They were after trout, but further toward Pittsfield I had talked to a young guy who’d caught a pickerel.  Didn’t think to get a picture, though.  Anyway, here’s the other side of the bridge with the handsome Yang looking profound and happy.

 

 

 

 

On the ride back, we luxuriated in watching the surrounding hills changing into their fall vestments!  Lovely, right?

 

 

 

There were other trees that created a wondrous concert of colors:  blending with one another or even displaying a deliciously complimentary palette all in one tree.  Delighting in these gorgeous crimsons, oranges that flamed or shone a gentle peach, yellows pale or startling, I thought of the fourth novel I planned in my Jessica Minton series. It will be set in a Maine in a vibrant autumn show of color.  The beauty of this season, the liminal sense of freedom and haunting adventure draws me to create a tale of delicious mystery and spirit.

 

 

 

 

We rode toward the end of our journey, with visions of crepes and tea dancing in our heads – 25 miles works up an appetite!  But the beauty of New England fall never deserted us.  So, enjoy the ride  along with us.

 

 

A Breath of Autumn

 

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Here’s a melange of interesting autumn images that I’ve come across this past September. One Friday afternoon, while riding the bicycle trail from Coventry, Yang and I came across these funky caterpillars. We’d seen them last fall on the same trail, so apparently these are their main stomping, er crawling, grounds. Does any one know into what they ultimately metamorph? Notice how they have prongs on their derrieres, no doubt to confuse predators as to which end they are biting. We wonder what these guys are.

The following weekend, we did 22 miles on the Nickerson Park Trail on the Cape. What should we see on the trail but this adorable quail! I suspect s/he is domesticated because the little critter did not seem at all unnerved by passing cyclists or walkers. I’ve seen pictures of domesticated quails on line, and this little guy seems to match up. Nevertheless, I’m counting him/her as one of my bird sightings for the year. I hope you can see the little guy in the center of the picture to left on the trail, almost in the leaves. Click on the image for a bigger picture.

 

Though not nearly as cute, here are some pictures of me in Brattleboro, VT. Every year this house creates a tunnel of enormous sunflowers. We went up last weekend and took these shots. The house used to also have a hutch for chickens and bunnies, but alas, those adorable creatures are no longer kept there. I’m not quite so adorable as a bunny, but I like to think I have some charm. Yang staged the photos nicely, don’t you think? Is there anything he can’t do?

 

 

 

Finally, Natasha desires to send you the best of autumn holiday greetings!

 

Rosie wants to photo bomb Natasha’s greeting – and Natasha is NOT amused.

 


 



Fall Preveiw

People have been a bit sad over the ending of summer, but we’re forgetting the glorious colors of autumn.  Already some of the trees, vines, and bushes are shifting into hues of scarlet, maroon, gold, orange, brilliant yellow.  And don’t forget the breathtaking contrast with the pellucid blue skies of the season.  So, I thought you might like a little preview of the beauties in store for us, courtesy of the reservoir in West Boylston and the hills around my home.

 

 

Right across the street from the stone church in West Boylston are some wonderful trails through the woods and around the reservoir.  You can enjoy the calming umbers of fallen leaves in this flowing brook, with just a highlight of pine and hemlock green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe you’re looking for something to make your eyes pop!  Like the scarlet magnificence of this beauty, exquisitely contrasting with the greens shading into yellow, blending with the fiery oranges bursting from yellow – all against the compliment of that pure October sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 Here is a more individualized look at one of those green-morphing-yellow tress. A maple, maybe?  First the long shot.

 

 

 

 

Now, she’s ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille!

 

 

Perhaps most beautiful of all is this panorama of the brilliant hues on the opposite shore, across an arm of the reservoir.  Breathtaking, right?
And of course it’s no fun to take a walk through all this gorgeous scenery without someone to share it!  Here’s my special companion.  I’ll bet you can guess who.And look at that warm coat!  Do you still remember how it feels to have a little nip in the air?
I don’t even have to go far from home to enjoy the fall finery.  Look at some of the trees surrounding where I live.

 

 

Finally, there’s that wonderful October sky, pure blue with the graceful swirl of silver, grey, and white clouds.  So, the coming autumn isn’t that bad, after all, is it?

 

Swan Point Twilight – Don’t Blink!

Last weekend, Yang and I paid a twilight visit to the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.  It’s a beautiful cemetery on the bay, encircled and populated by graceful old trees.  The graveyard is designed in the Romantic style initiated by the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and emulated by others, such as Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, the Lowell Cemetery (guess where), and Sleepy Hollow in Concord – Tarrytown, too!

This style is characterized by sloping greens; stately, shady trees; ponds; and monuments created to reflect both the sadness of loss and the serenity of eternal peace.  Keats and Shelley would just die, so to speak, for a sojourn here.

This cemetery is surrounded on the street side by a stone wall of large rocks.  So, it captures the New England tradition of dry stone walls, but adds solemn majesty by using boulders as its dry stones.  I love this configuration near the entrance.  We came here close to dusk because Rosie and ‘Tasha kept us out later than usual walking in the yard.  So, we had to hurry  a bit and were unable to stroll and take photographs at our leisure.

 

 

 

The posture and positioning of many of these statues seem to tell a moral about death.  Perhaps women were usually chosen to immortalize in keeping with Poe’s dictum that the saddest thing in the world is the death of a beautiful woman.  Each of these beautiful figures seems to convey a message back to the living.   This woman looks down on our world, bearing a veiled gift.  The broken column signifies a life cut off.  I’m not sure where I learned about the column, but I do remember it was a legitimate source.

 

 

 

 

 

Here, a woman peers off into the beyond, urging us to look upward and outward, past this vale of tears – or is that veil of tears?  Either makes sense in this context.  She also holds an anchor on her far side.  Does it symbolize that she is anchored to us, though she is looking to attain something beyond the earthly realm – or is she from a seafaring family?

 

 

I’m particularly interested in this figure, looking down at us from the heights of a pillar, perhaps symbolizing she is no longer anchored to this earth but soars above us toward the empyrean.  Still, her gaze of concern is fixed on us suffering mortals below.

I found this stylized monument of an angel  particularly intriguing.  Yang thought it had an Egyptian look, but I find it much more art deco.  It seems to flow down into the ground – or does it shoot upward?I didn’t have a chance to check the date on it to see if it fit into the deco period.  I’m so impressed by its soft but still clean lines.

 

 

The weathering of this limestone angel blurs and softens it’s features so that it seems ethereal – and more than a little eerie.  What do you think?  What does she perceive hovering above even her?  Don’t blink!

 

 

 

 

 

The cemetery has other lovely qualities. There is a pond surrounded by hedges, but I didn’t get any pictures this time.  We had to rush.  However, I did get a shot of this gazebo.  What a wonderful place to sit and read.  Yang graded papers here, while I attended a Renaissance Conference in town one time.

 

 

I have to add that there are some impressive selections of Celtic crosses.    Some in family groupings.

 

 

 

 

 

Others even in pairs.

 

 

I especially loved the balustrades or curved stone work surrounding or leading up to family burial plots.  The first of these pictures shows a lovely plaza surrounded by a bowed stone rail.  I remember when there were actually a barrier of tall yews forming a second circle inside the balustrade.  You couldn’t see within the green cavern it created.  One of the grounds-people told me they had to cut  down the yews because weird stuff went on in there at times.  This was some time ago that I heard this tale.  I hadn’t heard any tales about these gently curving steps and barrier, leading to this prominent family’s plot.  I do love the graceful shape.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, here are the pictures that all you faithful Lovecraftians are waiting for:  Mr. Lovecraft’s family plot and monuments.  We actually had some shots of me next to the monuments, but I looked awful enough to give a Shuggoth the willies.  So, vanity prevailed and I ditched them.  You may notice that there were deposits of presents by Mr. H.P.’s grave.  If you look carefully on the gravestone, you can see that his birthday had been just a few days before.

 

 

 

 

 

There are lots of beautiful scenes that I hadn’t time to photograph that twilight, but seeing that I couldn’t fit in all the wonderful images that I took this trip, I don’t feel too bad now about not getting them.  There should be another trip, maybe when the fall colors are aflame.  Won’t that be a treat to see?  So, with this proud, victorious angel, I will bid you adieu and slip away into the gloaming – whatever the heck a gloaming is!

A Stroll along the Hudson

A few weeks back, Yang and I had the pleasure of a stroll along the cliff walk in Nyack by the Hudson river.  My friend and author  Mya O’Malley had told me about this beautiful hike the day before when we went to see her at the West Nyack Free Library Book Fair.  The walk runs along the bottom of these magnificent cliffs, just above the Hudson.  Here’s a view of river and the trail as we started off.  Even the area near where we started was really neat, check out the stone walls above.

 

 

 

 

While we strolled along, we were preceded by this charming fellow for the first 10 minutes of so.  Does anyone know if this is a dragonfly or a damsel fly?  Is this guy a particular breed of either?  He was certainly a pleasant companion.  Speaking of pleasant companions, there were plenty of people of all ages and backgrounds  bicycling or walking (often with a dog or two), though not so many to make you feel crowded.  Everyone had a friendly hello or smile or was happy to chat about the gorgeous day and the magnificent surroundings – such as the cliffs you saw if you turned to your left and looked straight up.

 

For much of the trail, woods rose up and obscured views of the striking rock wall, but frequently they cleared to show you these inspiring cliffs.  Yang pointed out that you can also walk trails along the top of the cliffs – and walking along the river trail, you could see some trails leading upwards through the woods. I think a return in the fall, when autumn colors are blooming is clearly in order!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t see a much wildlife, but I was curious about these berries.  They look a great deal like black caps, but they are much bigger and the pod left over after the fruit is gone is definitely larger and a different color from that of black caps.  Anyone have any conjectures on identity?

 

 

 

Something else  we saw that I found fascinating were curious rock formations.  Now look at this one.  Isn’t it much like a monstrous head?  Note the circles of lichen that are shaped like and located where you’d expect to see eyes.  Then there are the indentations between those circles, evoking the image of a nose.  How can you miss the giant, horizontally elongated mouth with crooked teeth of rock?

 

Right here is one of the most interesting formations in the cliff.  Can you pick out the skull in the upper part of the cliff, just to the right of center, with almost square indentations for eyes sockets and an upturned nose with the slash of tiny mouth beneath?

 

 

 

 

 

 

No?  How about in this close up?  Seems like an inspiration for a story of horror or fantasy, doesn’t it? Maybe more fantasy than horror, since the skull seems to be a bit on the cheery side – or is it delighted at the prospect of perpetrating hideous havoc?.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The towering cliffs certainly inspire an intimidating, eerie grandeur, don’t they?  I wonder if they inspired Mya O’Malley when she wrote her supernatural mystery/romance Maggie?  I could see them when I was reading her novel.

 

Still, the hike was not entirely eerie.  As I said, we met and talked with many nice people – some of whom suggested different roads we might take along the trail.  This was my favorite sight on the trail, the handsome guy who accompanied me! 

Birds, Beasts, and Flora

 

 We’ve been enjoying nature quite a bit this summer, between our own yard and our peregrinations about the Northeast.  Several of my friends have been posting images of their luscious vegetable gardens, so I thought I’d show how well our plants are doing this season.  We’ve planted one patch with  tomatoes, yellow beans, egg plants, and peppers.  As you can see they are growing beautifully!

 

 

 

 

We have tomatoes growing apace and even eggplants developing. The plants are so much taller than in years past, probably because we have had so much rain and sunshine this year. I’m looking forward to harvesting the tomatoes and making salads and sandwiches with them – or just slicing them up and snacking on them with either a little salt or some of my homegrown basil – which also is doing nicely!  Some evil insect has been gnawing on my dill, but I have still grown enough to season my cucumber sandwiches and a mackerel pie (It’s like salmon pie, except you accidentally grab a can of mackerel rather than salmon – tastes almost the same.).  Fortunately, we also have lots of sprouts of dill that have reseeded themselves from last year.

The soy beans are also coming along splendidly.  We actually have two patches.  Homegrown ones are  a little crunchier that what you get from the store.  Yum.  The pumpkins are also going great guns now, as well. When the embryos become visible, or even get fertilized, I’ll take some more photos of them.  The plants have actually grown thicker and are starting to travel now, since I’ve taken this photo.  I have all different sorts:  little orange pumpkins (Jack Be Little), little white ones, big orange ones, large white ones, and various types of gourds.  Some are commercial seeds and some are saved from the pumpkins that I bought last year.  So far, the older home-collected seeds aren’t doing so well, but the newer ones are growing.  The commercial ones are doing pretty well for the most part.  What’s really interesting is that seeds that didn’t germinate from last year seem to be taking off this year.  Odd, isn’t it?

It’s a good thing that we have fencing up around our vegetable garden, because we are not alone.!  This is one of the rabbits that we’ve seen in our yard.  He’s the smaller one.  One night, Natasha saw him and chased him, though Yang’s hold on her leash prevented a disaster.  I think he might have come back armed (the rabbit, not Yang), because the next evening, ‘Tasha saw him and went skulking back to the house, whimpering.  Of course, I probably shouldn’t embarrass  her this way.  She might have just seen Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.  Scary looking bunny, isn’t he?  He was also quite the little stinker.  Seconds after we took this picture, he sat up, snipped off the stem of the purple flower in the picture and then spit the whole thing out!  Here he is, giving us a Nyah-Nyah look right before he strikes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herr Hare isn’t the only visitor to our yard.  One afternoon, when I went out to feed the fish in our little pond, I was startled as I came around the house to see this enormous visitor!  We’ve had lots of turkey sightings all over the Worcester area (and Boston, Rhode Island,  the Cape, New York state), even on our street.  However, this is the first guy I found in our yard.  I was surprised he wasn’t in a flock, even a small one, as most of the turkeys I’ve sighted have been.  He returned for several days, coming out of the woods behind our house at around 8:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the evening, but I haven’t seen him in awhile. We started calling him Raymond Burrd – I’ve been watching reruns of Ironside; what can I say?

 

Another neighbor’s cat tried to stalk the turkey a couple of times and was ignored at first.  Then he made a charge and that bird just did one arched extension of the wings – Clover took off.  My cats enjoyed watching that, since Clover was on their turf.  Anyway, I haven’t seen him in some days.  I guess he found some more fruitful scratching grounds.  The birds on my feeders apparently weren’t dropping enough seed for him.  We did see three adults and several chicks the other day about a mile or so from our house.  Unfortunately, by the time we turned our car around to go back and take a picture, the birds were deep into someone’s yard, and we didn’t want to trespass – even if the turkeys weren’t so particular.

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t seen my friend the Fox, whom I call Mulder, around lately.  Maybe it’s fortunate for the rabbit.  I think the turkey might be a little much for him.  However, on a bicycle trail in Fairhaven, MA.  Yang and I got a good look at a beautiful black fox kit!  He came out of the woods next to the road, looked us over, ran to the middle of the road, gave a little hopping prance, then ran back the way he’d come and disappeared into the woods.  From his size and leanness, he looked much like pictures of black fox kits that I found on line.  Apparently, though black foxes are rare in England (see this cool article), they are not so uncommon here in North America.  Darn it all!  he was gone before I could get out my camera!  But here are some shots from the web that perfectly match the neat little guy that we saw.  Here’s a Youtube video of a Fox hunting mice, for your edification.

 

 

 

 

Black Fox photo #1 https://www.pinterest.com/pin/85779567874103887/

Balck Fox Photo #2 Source no longer available

Location! Location! Location!

I recently posted a blog on the Touchpoint Publishing Web Site discussing how real life settings inspire my writing as well as how ideas for my novel inspire me to seek out real life settings.  Click here to read “Location!  Location! Location!” 

Carven (not craven) Creatures of the Big Apple

 On one of our several peregrinations to NYC, Yang and I were strolling around the upper Westside, near Central Park, where we were taken by the marvelous reliefs and carvings on the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings.  Here’s a record of that intriguing stroll.

 I’m not sure if this is the head of a cupid or a Roman youth.  It looks like wood lacquered over  black paint.  Or it could be masonry painted over.  What do you think?  I love the sheaf of what look like cattails surrounded by scrollwork.

 

The whole side of this building was alternating Classical mythological figures and Green Men – sort of like the melange of classical and native mythos in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I decided to include only this detail of what looks like Athena flanked by two Green Men.  I’m fascinated by the thought of who decided on this design.  Was it the architect’s idea or did the original owner order the magical artwork?  Was it a signal of the owner’s or the architect’s learning and sophistication?

 

Here, you can see swans above gryphons holding escutcheons, but with no motto or symbol on the shield.  The wider shot below illustrates the art deco design over the entranceway.  Would this building have been constructed in the 1920s or ’30s?

We photographed these reliefs of mythical beasts on one building.  I can definitely identify the creature over the entrance as a dragon.  The others I’m not so sure about at all.

 

I think this might be a form of a gryphon.  It has a lionlike head and paws in front. It is a winged critter,  Yet, are its hindquarters too reptilian?

 

 

 

These next ones have me really scratching my head.  I seem to have heard of some mythic beast with the tail of a snake, but I can’t quite remember what it was.  I definitely see a bird’s wings and claws.  However, what is the head?  A dog?  A donkey? El chupacabra?

This one completely knocks me for a loop.  The head is clearly reminiscent of what all MST3K fans will recognize as Trumpie from The Pod People.  So, is it proof of earlier alien invasions?  Interestingly, the creature doesn’t seem to have both arms and legs, but one pair of limbs that could serve both purposes – unless the wings count as arms/hands – as with bats.

 

I’m not sure if these chaps are supposed to be gods or Green Men, but the fellow in the other picture certainly looks as if he could be Bacchus.  I love the contrast of the red brick with the cream-colored carvings.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, this shot is particularly interesting for more than one reason.  First, of course, is the graceful carving of the British lions above the entrance.  Especially interesting is the cat in the window perfectly situated above the lions.  However, if you take a closer look at the cat you may exclaim, “Say what!”

That sweep of black fur across the forehead, that little smutch of black fur under the nose.  Good Gravy Train!  The cat looks like Hitler! How embarrassing in front of the other cats.

A Haunting We will Go – to Quebec!

At the end of May, Yang and I had the good fortune to join the WSU French Club’s trip to Quebec City.  The tours of the history, churches, and gorgeous natural landmarks were wonderful but the treat of the treats was our Saturday night Ghost Tour of the city.  We gathered in an old stone courtyard on a lovely, softly lit evening and met our guide, a delightful ghoul who in life had been a city executioner in the 18th century.  So, he could tell us the history, as well as the scandals, of city – both could be mixed!  For example, we learned that he, like his predecessors and successors,  got his job by agreeing to take it on in lieu of being executed for being involved in a fatal tavern brawl.  Of course the aristocrat also involved got off while he had taken the entire rap – class privileges . . .
Still, he had a wonderful sense of humor about the situation, and was always solicitous enough to warn us about the “evil machines” (i.e. autos) when we crossed the streets. He also warned us against the various not-so-solicitous ghouls whom we met along the way.  Listening to them bantering back and forth with our guide, we learned quite a bit about the laws, customs, and mores of the early settlement, with a healthy dollop of scandal thrown in. 
This lovely lady ghost is picking out one of the students to be her third husband, after the first two accidentally-on-purpose died at her hands.  He looks a little nervous, doesn’t he?  He managed to tap dance out of the situation deftly. My friend Kathy Heal(e)y on the right seems to be enjoying the situation.  We also learned that the punishment for women who committed murder, even if they had no one to protect them from vicious or brutal husbands, was harsh and merciless, silently bringing home the injustice of pure patriarchal power. 

 

 

This charming ghost had an equally charming tale to tell about how a family friend traveling with her, her husband, and children went insane and axed them all to death.  Well, she was lucky enough to crawl, wounded, to a farmhouse, tell her story, then die.  Those Great White North Winters must have been brutal. 

 

 

In this scene, our ghostly guide explains the complications of what happened in divorces when the wife cheated on the husband, versus the husband on the wife.  Using some of us folks to represent husband- who-spends-too-much-time chopping trees, lonely wife, and overly friendly male neighbor, our ghoul worked it all out for us with an analogy about apple pies.  All I know is that Yang better not go testing anyone else’s recipe. I think Yang is trying to formulate the explanation into a Venn diagram in the picture

 

Then there was my encounter with the ghoul – a ghoul who had a grudge against our guide and planned to work it out with his axe – first on him then on us!  So when our guide turned to me (!?) for support, I went into high gear.  Forgive the plethora of pictures; I’m an unrepentant hambone!  I went all method actory and reached within for fierceness.  My motivation:  plagiarism!  In my most lowering teacher voice, I threatened the poor haunt with every punishment ever devised in the Academic Code of Conduct for Cheating if he dared lift a skeletal finger against my friendly ghoul or the folks in our tour.  I backed the poor soul across the square!  It was quite liberating.  I think I scared a ghost!  Ah, it was a tough semester!

 

But at the end we moved down to the lower city where we saw all the neat, European-styled shops and heard tales of ancient churches and threats of revolt, before all coming together is the dusk to commemorate out journey into an eerie past with a wonderful troupe of actors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of Spring

 The other day I did a post on the birds of winter.  I still have enough pictures for a Part II; but, right now, let’s accentuate the springitive (so to speak). Many of my favorite warm weather birds have returned.  Even before the snow was gone in March, I caught this shot of a Robin in the Canadian Maple outside my window.  Apparently, the winters are warm enough that most Robins don’t go South for the winter, but stay in the deep woods up here.  Nevertheless, this was one of the first Robins I had seen in quite some time.  Our Robins are quite different from the blue and rust-colored English Robins.  As you can see, this guy is much bigger and is actually grey/black on top.

 

To me, of the first avian signs of spring is the return of my friend the Redwinged Blackbird.  He’s always at my feeder and showed up for the first time on 3/2.  I had a hard time catching him on film, but I did manage to sneak around the window and get a few pictures.  Yang helped as well.  I’ve also seen a female at the feeder, though I wasn’t able to get a picture of her.  So, it looks as if he brought the Missus.  Of course, there could be a whole bunch of different birds showing up, just one at a time.  Still, I like to think that he is my old-time buddy, as is his wife, who comes back every year to whistle in the spring with his trademark call.

 

 

 

 

 

My next favorite harbinger of spring is the Rosebreasted Grosbeak.  For years, I’ve seen either some females, a male, one year two males, or pairs. This year, I saw the female first.  Don’t you love the impish way she peaks through the window here?

Then, not many days later, the male showed up. He only would show me his back at first, the little stinker.  However, before long, I was able to get some shots of that rose breast for which he is known.  Isn’t the pink just like pure liquid color?  And the pristine white proves a gorgeous contrast to the rose and his black feathers. They both love the sunflower-seed hearts.  Already shelled, the seeds don’t require them to put their grosbeaks to work cracking.  I first saw them here on 5/4.  I hope they stay a few weeks.  Maybe they’ll nest and have baby grosbeaks?

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s two more shots of the Grosbeaks, just because they’re so fun to see.

 

My next favorite harbinger of spring is the Catbird.  They are so perky and intelligent. Many a time I’ve sat quietly by the fish pond and one has come over to drink, getting quite close to me. And they have so many delightful calls.  I believe they are related to the Mockingbird, so that would explain their extensive array of  vocalizations.  I think one reason that I’m partial to them is that one of their calls sounds like, “Sharon!”  My name.

They adore suet, so I play bird police and chase away the grackles and starlings when they try to hog the suet block.  Don’t you just love the sassy way Madame Catbird gives a little cock to her tail?

 

Another favorite pair are the House Finches.  They may occasionally show up in the winter, but I never see too many of them until spring.

 

 

 

All year round, we have Goldfinches.  In the winter, even the males turn a drab olive.  It was neat to watch them gradually change to a more brilliant color as the spring progressed. However, whatever their colors, neither male nor female Goldfinch will abandon our feeders – especially the ones with the sunflower hearts.  They are delightful old friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking old friends, the Hairy Woodpeckers had a grand old time going after suet and sunflower seeds.  We also had many Downy Woodpeckers and, from time to time, Flickers and Redbellied Woodpeckers.  The Titmice, chickadees, Cardinals, and Nuthatches have kept us company year round as well.

So, it’s up to Yang and I to keep our avian friends up to their beaks in sunflower seeds and suet.