Monday, March 15, 2010

A Season's Dawn ...

True to the wonders of Mother Nature , here we are at 6 weeks since groundhog day ! This past weekend we have started to "save daylight" and this coming weekend we celebrate the Vernal equinox ~
that twice a year short period of time when the sun is exactly vertical to earth above a point on the equator.
Four times a year we have a solar herald to a season with 2 solstices and 2 equinoxes.
If the winter solstice signals the birth of the sun, then the spring equinox exclaims the birth of the earth. A resurrection of nature from the deep sleep of winter, where all around life breaks new ground with bulbs, shoots & buds bursting forth. 
Yesterday I spotted my first dragonfly ~ my totem ~and last week I had to shoo a few honey bees away from my classroom door. ( My classroom is in a portable )  Last week, also, a group of my 8Th graders and I did some sketchbooking of signs of spring in the grotto area of our school campus, such a joy!  
So I encourage you to join me and stop, look, and listen to the dawning of spring ~ a time of rebirths in us and around us, and mindfulness of the present.  Seek and celebrate!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Backyard Habitat musings....

"If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come" ~ Chinese Proverb

Today is the final day (day 4) of The Great Backyard Bird Count. I have just completed today's watch/count and submitted it to Cornell's site :) A very interesting and rewarding experience for sure.
We chose to watch for 30 minutes each day and we purposely varied our watch times. Neil joined me in watching on Sat. & Sun. and each day saw action but with differences in species and numbers. Our total number of species observed and reported over the 4 days was 14 ~ ranging from our most prevalent Chipping Sparrows to our beautiful Woodpeckers and our lone Hummingbird :)
    Also interesting is tracking the ongoing Nation wide results posted by the Cornell site. As of now, the state of Texas leads in both number of birds reported ( over 350,000 ) as well as number of species ( @ 302). Will be interesting to see the final tallies, probably ready by weeks end.
I encourage you to put out some seed, grab a pair of binoculars and really enjoy watching our lovely feathered friends. It is definitely one of those "pockets of bliss" opportunities available for free everyday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Backyard Habitat Musings....

Did you know that February is National Bird Feeding Month? ... and today is day 1 of the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count

We are participating this year and are excited to be part of this internationally growing number of citizen naturalists. The research is sponsored by Audubon and Cornell and it is amazing how much good information can be collected by "regular folk" :)
I have just completed my watch/count for today and will submit the report to Neil will join me in the timed watch/count over the weekend, and after Monday (day 4) we will be done. I will post our final observations next week.
Our picture (actually from this time last year) features the American Goldfinch who comes here for winter and LOVES the thistle seeds that are in those feeders. This year we added a bigger thistle feeder to our habitat and it is once again full of these beauties.

Not a hard way to pass some time -- watching in wonder and enjoying the music of bird song.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shadow play ...

Well, we all now know that the news out of Pennsylvania yesterday had"Phil" seeing his shadow. Folklore dictates six more weeks of winter. Today, here in Texas, seems to echo that prediction, as it is a gray and drippy day. Thought some flowers might brighten my outlook, and also liked the great cast shadows on the wall. Now for a cup of Earl Grey...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Catching Shadows ~

Nature's long shadows ... Deep in the afternoon  ...The night not far. ~ Haiku

Anticipating Groundhog Day - tomorrow - has me "musing" about  Shadows, those shapes (sometimes very realistic; sometimes very odd) cast by any solid object obstructing light. Remember that childhood summer fun of playing shadow tag? Rules were, you could ONLY tag a shadow - no contact with shadow-maker or you were out! Life now still has me chasing shadows in my art. Very important to render a cast shadow well both in space and tone. Often shadows ( placement of the darks and lights) can make or break a drawing or painting. Final fun fact for tomorrow is the actual origin of the groundhog folklore. It originated with the German immigrants in Pennsylvania. Back in Germany, the farmers had relied on the common badger "to see or not see" his shadow as a forecaster of springs arrival ( and therefore best crop planting times). Once here in America, the German farmers found no badgers - but found an abundance of groundhogs - hence the switch.
So, along with much of the country, I eagerly await Punxsutawney Phil's prediction.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Backyard habitat musings....

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin" ~ William Shakespeare
I think of this quote daily as I watch Natures comings and goings in our backyard habitat. At this point we have a well established bird habitat, with five different feeding stations, offering a full menu including a variety of seeds, fruits & nuts, suet & nectar. We also have 4 birdbaths spread around the backyard. With the existing trees and plants, and the green space behind our property, we have created a great little spot for wildlife watching. It is amazing to me that after watching ( and tracking with journal entries ) we can almost predict the best times of day to see intense activity. It's almost like the birds have a meal schedule ( much like humans ) :) We enjoy our yearlong residents , who faithfully show up daily for a meal ~ but are very excited when we have a migratory or seasonal visitor. Right now we have our thistle feeder full and very active with the beautiful American Goldfinches here for winter.
Another fun first sighting recently was a Mockingbird perched on the suet feeder having a snack! As our state bird, I see them all around all the time, but we had never observed one at any of our feeders until this sighting.