Song Birds, Loons, and Hawks and the Struggle for Life

IMG_8352The longueurs of winter are over, and every nice day is a race against time—raking the lawn, removing leaves from the gardens, putting compost, ashes, and organic fertilizer on the beds, planting. The list is long, and the window of opportunity is short. By the beginning of June, everything that must be done should be done.

Rain is also a complicating factor. Yes, it is necessary, and, yes, it gives the tired gardener a much-needed day of rest. But too many rainy days in a row interfere with outside work, and this time of year, I scan the skies as anxiously as a sailor. Will I be able to work outside today? Even more important, will I be able to hang laundry on the line? Oh, the daily dilemmas at the little house in the big woods.

This morning, the weather forecast on the radio was not good, but when I lifted the shade to peek out the window, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue. A load of towels immediately went into the machine, and as soon as I am done writing this post, they will go on the line. If worse comes to worst, and it starts to rain, then I can whisk in the towels and put them on racks. (We don’t have a dryer.)

I am hoping to have lunch on the patio, as I did yesterday. With the birds fluttering from the trees to the feeders and the sun warm on my face, what a splendid way to celebrate Earth Day. I thought I heard a loon calling—we only live a quarter of a mile from the Narrows—but I could be wrong about that. As of two days ago, there was still ice on the Narrows, and the loons might not be back yet. Still, they will be soon, and their haunting calls will echo from the Narrows, especially at night, as Clif and I sit on the patio.

As I ate, I heard shrill calls overhead, and this time there was no doubt about what I had heard. Two hawks circled just over the tree tops, and I watched them as they flew over the yard. Suddenly, the fluttering in the woods stopped. No birds called or came to the feeders. The only sounds were the calls of the hawks. After a few minutes, the hawks flew away, and the woods were still for a few minutes longer.

Then, the chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and gold finches all came back, and the yard was again filled with their songs and fluttering. I like to joke about how not much happens at the little house in the big woods, but daily, right outside, is the struggle for survival—for those that hunt and for those that are hunted. There is courtship—several days ago I saw two mourning doves dancing around each other—and new life as spring babies are born.

In fact, a lot goes on at the little house in the big woods. Some of it I see, but I know I miss a lot, too. However, I look and notice as much as I can, with my little camera at the ready and my notebook within easy reach.

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