The duckling count is dropping. The piddly number of six ducklings is now down to five and I don’t have to look very far to find the reason why.
Now, I’m not implying that the snapping turtle is snapping up the ducklings…and the goslings. The geese parents are down from four to three. What I am implying is that the snapping turtle loves fresh waterfowl meat…bones…cartilage…beaks…you name it and the snapping turtle will eat it. Even cheese.
I don’t know if this lovely creature is the same snapping turtle that last visited me in 2019.
It was rumored that snapper met his/her demise when a truck flattened it on River Street.
Yes, I know, there can be more than one snapping turtle in the Concord River but these are really big snapping turtles. Can the area of the river in my little corner of the world support apex predators this large in multiple numbers?
Something to ponder while I enjoy my new and improved snapping turtle. He’s back. Or maybe it’s she’s back.
Oh well, it’s back.
On a side note, my yard has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. I know, it’s time for a happy dance.
It’s super easy to get your property certified, head to this link and find out the details.
Perhaps you saw the movie Freaky Friday, either the 1976 version with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris or the remake with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. Both versions were a lot of fun and well worth a peak, if you haven’t seen them.
Don’t worry, my blog hasn’t become a place for Disney to advertise its movies; the entertainment giant doesn’t need any help. I’m bringing up the movies because they both revolved around a plot where everything gets turned upside-down and all-around, just like what is going on in my little corner of the Concord River.
Ready? Good. Now let me see, where was I? Oh yes, a very freaky spring. Observe…
A Mallard hen deposited one lone egg under my Hosta. She dug out a crevice and nestled the egg within it, then walked away. Something, possibly a Bluejay, pecked a hole in the egg and the ants took over. I blessed the egg and gave it to the river. As I walked back to my life I wondered why a hen would lay just one egg and why wasn’t she incubating said egg?
I didn’t get very far in my pondering, or walk, when I spied…
Seriously, was this hen auditioning for a job as the Easter Bunny? And, what creature is opening the eggs so the ants can feast on the undeveloped chicks?
A second blessing and this egg joined its brother/sister in the river. I returned to my gardening duties when in my Bearded Iris bed I spied…
…You guessed it, a third egg.
The ants didn’t even wait for something to peck an opening in this shell. They covered the egg and somehow figured out how to get in on their own. Another blessing was cast and the egg joined its siblings.
Three lone eggs. Add them to the ones I found, lost, and found again under my Solomon’s Seal plants and I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with my property when my neighbor rescued my derailed train of thought. He entered my yard, a napkin in his hand in which he cradled a duck egg. Seems his five-year-old son found it under some plants in their garden. “Look, Daddy, an egg!”
Blessing time again!
Please, someone, explain what is going on with the Mallard hens. I realize it is a bit early to see chicks trailing behind their mama, something that doesn’t usually happen until the second or third week of June.
However, at this rate the hen or hens who are laying eggs willy-nilly are only going to have a score of ants following behind; no chicks.
If the Mallard egg situation wasn’t enough to make me want to scream at the freakiness of Spring 2021, let me address the weather! When did spring mean temperatures in the nineties?
According to data collected by weather stations throughout each state during the years 1971 to 2000, this is what the spread of temperatures should look like.
This a breakdown of the temps from the month of May 2021 for my little corner of the Concord River.
Windy, dry, humid, and HOT. Look at these numbers!
Okay, maybe it hasn’t been as hot as some places in the world but when I’m expecting mild temps and I find myself sweating buckets, I reserve the right to complain. 😡
While you’re studying the above data table (There will be a test at the end of this post.) check out the wind gusts. A typical breeze for my area is between 4 and 5 MPH, but noooooo, we’re getting close to 40 MPH. That’s a BIG difference.
Actually, Zephryos stirred things up back at the beginning of March. Remember the oak tree?
Zephryos is one of the Anemoi, the Greek gods known as the Gods of the Four Winds. There is Boreas the North-Wind, Zephryos (Zephyrus) the West, Notos (Notus) the South, and Euros (Eurus) the East. Each of these gods is associated with a season — Euros giving us autumn breezes; Boreas offering the cold breath of winter; Zephyros is responsible for spring zephyrs; and Notos, summer rain-storms. Perhaps the brothers are just having some good ol’ fashioned fun as they blew the dickens out of my little world.
Do you need more freakiness to convince you this is a freaky spring? Okay, a Baltimore Oriole had chosen my yard as his nesting territory. No, that’s not the freaky part.
We’ll call Stanley’s mate Stella. While Stanley sang about his beautiful territory and stunning mate, Stella spent time gathering the string I would leave out for her to use as building material for their nest.
Stanley and Stella were happy until one day an interloper arrived and challenged Stanley to a duel. The two birds fought an aerial battle worthy of Snoopy and The Red Baron. (I dare you not to smile while watching this video.)
Lots of squawking ensued as the birds swooped in a display of vivid orange feathers. The interloper feigned a left but banked sharply to the right, I can only image he was hoping to outsmart Stanley. Sadly, he didn’t bank tight enough and hit my office window. Dead in an instant. Stanley sang his victorious song while I buried the interloper’s body in my garden.
What of Stella, you ask? Oh, she told Stanley to quite fooling around and help her gather more string.
Need more evidence this is a freaky spring? How about this? Someone dumped over 20 full leaf bags in the marsh. Yup, just dumped them off his (I’m assuming it was a man) big-ass truck into the Federally-protected, I might add, marsh. Twenty-plus Market Basket Lawn-and-Leaf bags distributed on both sides of Elsie Ave.
My neighbor called the police and I called the town’s DPW department; we both received less than helpful responses. I notified the EPA and my neighbor climbed down into the tick (more on ticks in a bit) infested poison ivy and dragged the bags up the embankment and onto the road. He then enlisted a few more neighbors and got the town to come out and pick up the bags. Okay, here’s my question: What kind of 🤬 dumps bags of leaves and stuff into a marsh when the town will pick up unlimited bags for free? Or, What kind of 🤬 dumps 🤬 into a marsh, period?
On the subject of ticks, YUCK! This is going to be a bad season for the little varmints. Correction — it already IS a bad season. When I take Harlee for his morning walk I spy the blood suckers clinging to blades of grass just hoping either Harlee or I will brush against the vegetation.
Thus far I’ve removed over a dozen from Harlee’s body. Damn ticks.
I hope I’ve enlightened you as to why 2021’s spring is freaky. If you’re not convinced, watch out for falling amphibians…
On the morning of Friday, April 23, it started with a feeling that someone, or something, had come into my bedroom during the night and beaten me with a rubber hose. I had achy-breaky-muscle-and-bone achiness. I lay in bed, buried my head under the covers, and willed my body to take a detour from the road it was on. Seeing it as a golden opportunity, the cats joined me and we took a long cat nap while Harlee slept on his new doggie bed.
Little did I know what was in store for me. I slept through the day but did manage to drag myself to the door to let Harlee out to pee and other things (the yard is fenced, no worries) and then dragged myself back to bed.
As the day progressed my bedroom reprised this iconic scene from The Wizard of Oz. 🤢
Basically, I was a dizzy as heck.
That night I must have gotten up to pee because I woke to find myself on the bathroom floor. Guessed I passed out. The next day after letting Harlee back in from doing his business I walked to the kitchen and woke up with my face in his water dish. I can see the headline now: Local Woman Drowns in Dog’s Water Dish. Check off one more symptom.
It was back to bed for me. I was fearful that I had finally contracted you-know-what.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking that there are other things to get sick from besides COVID-19 but you see I had been with someone a few days earlier who informed me on Thursday that he had tested positive for the nasty little virus. I saw him on Monday. By Saturday my throat was sore, I had a fever of 100.2, my stomach was trying to leave my body through my mouth, and my skull threatened to split open because someone, or something, was inside of it jackhammering like a pro. Yes, I did get tested and yes, I was infected.
I won’t bore you with the list of symptoms I got to tick off as the virus had its way with me. Basically, without the caring support of my friends, Jill and Bob, I would have been left on my own to wallow in my despair. Jill would shop for soup and cookies, and Bob would double mask and deliver them. They even housed Harlee for the two weeks I was out of commission. Having had both their vaccine shots they felt safe caring for me and Harlee.
An important note: I had one vaccine under my belt, which is why my doctor felt I didn’t get hit as hard as I could have. However, let me tell you, it was no picnic.
With my snoozing kitties nestled against me …
… I lay in bed and watched the world outside my window. I had the birds and ducks that live in my little corner of the Concord River, along with my beautiful river, as my view. I must have done something right in my life that the Universe has blessed me in such a beautiful way. Thank you, Goddess.
A Mallard hen entertained me by pretending she was a Wood duck.
Wood ducks nest in trees, Mallards nest on the ground in hidden, out of the way locations. When I was well enough to venture outside I found a Mallard nest with two eggs tucked in amongst my Solomon Seal plants. With me stuck in bed for two weeks she had ample opportunity to select the perfect spot for her nest.
The next morning the eggs were gone. Later that day five more eggs appeared in the nest and at dusk the hen was sitting on them. I didn’t dare take a photo so you’ll just have to believe me. The third morning all the eggs were gone again but later that day, at dusk again, she was back on the nest. Really, how many eggs can a Mallard hen pop out over a span of three days? And who was stealing the eggs to force her to lay more?
If and when a hen renests are thought to be influenced by several factors. For example, the stage of progression of the nest at the time of its destruction is important. Ducks are “indeterminate layers.” They will continue to lay eggs until their clutch is complete (as opposed to “determinate layers,” which tend to lay a specific-sized clutch of eggs).
Good to know.
Other happenings outside my window? The American goldfinches finished their molting.
I also got to see lots of other birds at the feeder outside my bedroom window but didn’t manage to get photos. Again, just take my word for it and move on.
The view out my sick bed window also afforded me a stunning sunrise …
… and the three night show of the Pink Super Moon.
With a bit of maneuvering in my bed I had a clear view of my hummingbird garden.
… and my ducks.
Time marched on, two weeks to be exact, and I am now clear of the virus. Far too many people weren’t and aren’t as lucky as me and my heart breaks for them, their loved ones, and all the other people in the world suffering from all the things that can take a life. 😔
On a more joyful note, guess what? They’re back! The Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are here! Yay!
In closing I want to thank everyone who sent me well wishes through my YouTube channel. You are subscribed to my channel, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Hit subscribe and receive a ton of Karma chips.
Today, April 16, 2021, marks eight years I have been living in my little corner of the Concord River. It was on April 16, 2013, to be exact, my journey began. It has been one filled with radiant joy …
… and deep, profound sorrow;
a journey of frustration …
… and painful lessons learned.
When I closed on my little house and was handed the keys, I was overcome with happiness, for I felt I had finally found my paradise.
Along the way I’ve watched my river flow and birds fly.
One thing I’ve learned these past eight years is that there is a steady thread of continuity in my little corner of the river. That despite the ups-and-downs, and ins-and-outs of my life, some things remain constant.
For example, the mating pair of Mallards still sit on the retaining wall and keep watch over their domain.
The American Goldfinches molt during the month of April.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration brings them to my little corner of the Concord River.
The Trout Lily emerges each Spring.
The male Northern Cardinal courts the female by feeding her sunflowers seeds.
The gardens get bigger.
The daffodils bloom each April.
Over the past eight years I have written close to 1000 posts (OMG! 😱).
I have photographed my river wearing winter’s white …
… and Autumn’s blush;
Spring’s earthy shades …
… and Summer’s bloom.
Along the way I have taken a gazillion pictures of my river and her occupants, from snakes to turtles to bats to butterflies and, of course, her ducks.
Over the past eight years I have cried and laughed, and wished and dreamed, and through it all, like the Concord River, my life moves at a steady pace towards its destination.
May the next eight years bring me harmony and joy. Blessed be :}
Winter left the northern half of Mother Earth with a frigid blast of cold air in my region and tons of snow in others. My parting words to the season — don’t let the door hit you… (Yes, I’ve used this phrase before. I’m old and I’m starting to repeat myself…so sue me.)
Enough about Winter. Welcome Spring 2021 and all the BS that the thing I shall not name brings along for the ride. You know what I’m talking about; the big C word.
Enough about the terrible things we have to look forward to in the coming season. I want to discuss the hole in my pocket of joy because I had to send my dear, sweet Shadow on his farewell journey across the Rainbow Bridge.
I thought the hole would continue to grow in size but I managed to find a needle and thread (I’m typing metaphorically, you do realize that, right?) and I stitched up that darn gaping-joy-sucking-hole.
Enter Oreo and Samatha.
I adopted these precious felines from Kitty Connection out of Medford, MA. Because, as we all know, life is better with a cat on your lap (their slogan but I agree wholeheartedly).
Harlee wasn’t too keen on our new family members at first.
He eventually got over it and learned to accept the new status quo.
Sam and Oreo have settled in nicely.
All in all, my house is a very, very, very fine house, indeed, with two cats and a dog.
Do you recall the story of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day?
Well, the past few days here in my little corner of the Concord River have been very blustery, indeed. So blustery, in fact, that Zephuros, the god of the spring winds, blew apart the large oak tree alongside my yard.
Seems old Zephuros had other ideas and exhaled strong enough to finish the tree off.
My own oak tree saved the piece from crashing onto my gardens, so, yea oak tree. Sadly, I fear it won’t save the split tree from being cut down. Its days are numbered.
The blustery wind blew in some new friends. A couple of Trumpet swans spent a lazy afternoon across from my house.
Zephuros also blew in the start of what will soon be a plague of grackles.
I’m serious. A large group of grackles is called a plague. You wait, in a couple of weeks I’ll have a whole hassle of grackles, along with Red-winged blackbirds. These birds are the true harbingers of spring.
Now it’s time to play a game.
One of these ducks is not like the others; one of these ducks doesn’t belong…
All the ducks are Mallards except for the last female on the right. She’s a Pintail.
She’s taken to hanging around with a Mallard male. This crossbreeding, or hybridization as it is called, is common among ducks. According to Jennifer Kross, a communications biologist at Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Region ‘Waterfowl crossbreed more often than any other family of birds. Scientists have recorded over 400 hybrid combinations among waterfowl species, however, the offspring are typically infertile. In North America, one of the most common wild hybrids results from Mallard/Pintail breeding.’
I can’t wait to see what the chicks look like.
Moving on to more duck news, with all the snow we’ve been having the corn I put out keeps getting covered. But never fear, the ducks found a way to get at the food. As the snow melts, pockets form and, well, see for yourself.
I’m not so sure sticking their heads down a dark hole is safe. Two Red-tailed hawks and a Bald eagle have been hunting in the area.
One unlucky duck should have paid more attention to what was going on in the sky instead of thinking about his stomach.
The circle of life can be a bitch.
But it can also be a wonderful thing. Especially when it involves birds finding mates and proclaiming their territory. You may remember this video of a Tufted titmouse singing out its mating call.
Now watch this:
That’s an male Eastern bluebird letting the other males know that he has proclaimed the mealworm feeder his territory. It’s neat to watch him dive bomb any intruders but act so sweet and charming when the female bluebird swoops in for a bite to eat. Males are such pushovers for a pretty pair of wings.
Okay, that’s all I have for you at the moment. Hang tight, spring is coming and there’ll be more news from the river. Until then, be gentle to Mother Nature’s children.
She used a Tufted titmouse to carry her song and I must say it was melodic and truly magical.
Spring is coming!
Okay, I may be jumping the gun a bit however I need to get out of my house and start digging in the dirt. I need to work in my gardens! I neeeeeeeeed to. Really, really, really neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to. I’m going batty in my self-imposed COVID lockdown.
Two days ago the country hit the half-million mark for COVID deaths. February 23, 2021. Deaths that shouldn’t have happened but did. Lives lost that shouldn’t have been lost. Tears shed that shouldn’t have been shed. May they all soar among the stars.
May all the birds sing at the top of their lungs to help us remember that life can be glorious.
Well, it seems my pocket of joy had a hole at the bottom because all my joy leaked out. Today I sent my cat of 18 years to that great lap in the sky.
Shad was a great cat. He loved to bask in the sun and loved, loved, loved laps. When my sister was staying with me while recovering from her stroke Shadow spent many a sunny afternoon snoozing on her lap. (I took a picture but that was before I knew to upload to the cloud and that phone is sitting at the bottom of the Concord River along with the other two phones.)
There’s a funny story about Shadow. When he was around a year old he developed a UTI. A really bad one. My husband and Chris were down south at the drag races and I was left to tend to the homestead. I brought Shad to the animal clinic and received a quote of $2000.00 to treat the infection. Like a dutiful wife, I called my ex (emphasis on ‘ex’) who told me to put Shadow down.
With a heavy heart I said I would and told the hospital staff my decision. Not a second later I changed my mind and paid the bill. Several days later my Shad came home and, as you can surmise from the above paragraph, got rid of the husband.
Shad was with me through seven moves. Yes, seven. Seven new locations for his litter box. He always knew the best spots to nap, though, and always found my lap. Over the years I’ve cried into his soft fur, laughed while stroking his ears, and brushed him while listening to his sage advice, which was invariably for me to take a nap in the sunshine.
For the past two years it was touch and go with trips to the vet and special foods, including baby food, ground ham, pulverized turkey, senior bisque for cats — the list grew and grew as Shad wasted away. But just when I expected he wasn’t long for this world he would pull a life out of his magic bag of tricks. I swear Shadow had a ton of lives, not just nine. I stopped counting at 20.
I am confident it won’t come as any surprise to you when I write my next words: (Virtually cracking knuckles to limber up my fingers.)
Life has had the joy sucked out of it like a little lamb suckling milk from its mother’s teats.
Go ahead and giggle; I used the word teats. Haha
Why, you may ask, am I thinking about lambs and teats? Well, today, February 1, if you’re reading this today on February 1; if not and you’re reading it on April 23 or August 18 or some other date, allow me to inform you the date of writing this post was, in fact, February 1, which was Imbolc.
Imbolc, is a pagan sabbat that celebrates the halfway point between winter and spring AND, in keeping with the suckling theme, marks the time from back in the day when ewes began to lactate in preparation for birthing lambs.
Now, back to life…and suckling, I mean sucking. Again you may be asking why I’m on this kick about life being devoid of joy? My answer would be: Come on, for Pete’s sake, look around; things presently suck the big teat and I’m not just referring to politics or that-which-shall-not-be-named.
COVID COVID COVID
Ha, put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Here’s my list of things that are presently sucking in my little corner of the Concord River.
I found a Painted turtle hatchling in the middle of the driveway.
The poor little thing was frozen solid and I can’t imagine why he was trying to cross the driveway in the first place when the wind chill brought the temperature down to minus 12. It’s January, or was January, and hatchlings should have the proper innate mindset to stay buried in the mud until the weather is more conducive to taking a leisurely stroll to the river. But, nooooo, not this little creature, thus leaving me with a hatchling popsicle. I brought it into the house to warm up (ever the optimist) with the hopes it would come back to life.
No luck. Although the hatchling thawed, it remain motionless; basically dead. Sigh.
Next on the Sucking Hit List was the headless Tufted Titmouse I found in my yard.
I’m sure you don’t need me to explain how this happened.
The guilty party is always nearby, watching and waiting for my songbirds to put down their guard, or heads, as in this case.
The Cooper’s hawk ate a variety of birds over the past week. After the titmouse, the hawk munched on a Slate-colored junco.
At least I think this was a junco. I put my little stretchy glove in the photo to help give the scattering of feathers perspective. I’m not sure how the glove helped but, hey, I took an online course in perspective and I’m trying to utilize what I learned.
Número quatro on the list — I dropped my phone. I was trying to take a movie of this cool waterfall and while straddling the flow I slipped. It was going to be either me or the phone.
This is the third phone of mine the Concord River has claimed. Perhaps I should move to the mountains. At least the first video I took uploaded to the cloud before my phone went ker-plunk.
Rounding off the Sucky List is my anxiety. Man, oh man, I wish there was a way I could explain the physical pain I feel during an attack, along with the mental anguish I suffer.
Alright, I’ve had enough with this list. It’s time to find some pockets of joy in my life and I’ll start with the songbirds that haven’t been eaten by the hawk.
Ahhhh, now that’s better. More please.
I found an American Goldfinch who was a friendly little fellow, or gal. In it’s winter plumage it was hard to tell.
When it’s hard to find pockets of joy I need to create some. Try this video on for size.
Pockets of joy rock.
Let me think if I have any others.
How about painting? My therapist keeps telling me, ‘Action alleviates anxiety.’ Well, since I can’t get outside and garden I’ve turned once again to my acrylic paints.
I’m not trained in the least and I only write this so you’ll oooooo and aaaaaaa over the above painting. Did it work? How about now?
If you’d like to start painting to help with your anxiety or any other emotional ailment you might be suffering from, watch this video then head to Michelle’s website. But before you do, please subscribe to my channel. Pretty please.
Based on the above evidence the pockets of joy seem to be outweighing the suckiness, but not by much. I’ll work harder to find the joy. Until then, thank you for reading my little blog. (Hey, having you as a reader is a pocket of joy too! Cool.)