Thursday, February 6, 2014

Old Man Winter

A fierce North Wind has been howling through the passes 
as it rushes down from Canada's Frazier River Valley. 


It is bitterly cold and despite well insulated walls, 
the cold fingers of Old Man Winter reach through, 
leaving me shivering despite many layers of warm clothing. 


Worried about tiny hummingbirds, chickadees, and the sweet, gentle doves, I set my alarm for dawn. 


At first light I set out hummingbird feeders, brought inside for the night to keep from freezing. 

I bundle up in warm coat, hat and gloves to fill feeders while hungry birds wait above.  

I set out cut apples, oranges and 'past their prime' grapes for hungry Robins, wintering over in our usually mild climate. 

Suet feeders get filled for Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers.

Dry dog food is scattered for Stella Jays and Varied Thrushes.


All day and night the relentless wind howls.
It is a lonely, desolate sound - this steady roar of rushing ether,
singing the sad song of a wild and lonesome homeland. 


Deep snow blankets the hills surrounding the small river valley as I gaze through frosty windows. Stepping out in the icy morning air, I hear the inexplicable sound of seabirds wintering over in a high mountain lake, hidden from view. 

I watch them rise from their morning feeding, slicing through the air on pale, slender wings, dipping and soaring like lost souls in a foreign land. We are miles inland, but mountain streams filled with young salmon keep them nourished while competing bears slumber though late winter. 


An owl flew through the clearing at dusk last night, 

and a young eagle rose from the field across the road
when I walked to the gate to retrieve the morning paper. 

It was the same field that a cougar was seen furtively crossing on a late November evening. 


 Later, a small flock of birds flew head long into the brambles, one by one, and I wondered why. 


It was the young eagle, flying out from a perch high in the Silver Fir, that gave me the answer. 

Was it either of these winged hunters that killed the gentle dove, leaving the evidence in a pool of feathers at the end of my walkway? 

Or was it the agile and swift Cooper's Hawk that remains to be seen, but lets his presence known with a piercing whistle, causing the Stella Jays to riot around him? 

For days they have tried to drive away this hungry intruder by forming an angry mob. 


I never know what awaits beyond the front door on any given morning. Years of experience have taught me that I am just a visitor to this wild land I call home. I always remain vigilant and aware, treating nature with cautious respect, paying close attention to warnings and signs. Sweetly singing birds are a good omen. 

Silence is not. 


Close encounters with large predators make me grateful for brave and loyal canine companions. 


So as I rise to witness a cold winter dawning, I am acutely aware of the fragility of life. 

Nature teaches hard lessons in this never ending quest for survival. 

As I set out the life sustaining nectar for the tiniest of nature's beings, I am reminded of how important kindness, generosity, cooperation, and compassion are in our efforts to survive.

xoxo

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

- Cecil Frances Alexander -
1818-1895


41 comments:

  1. I was at the store this morning looking at hummingbird feeders and a couple of ladies were there too and one of them said she ties those gel hand warmers at the base of her feeders to keep the nectar from freezing. I thought that was a creative way to keep the nectar warm enough for the hummingbirds to have a chance to feed when it doesn't warm up above freezing. The birds around your home must be so happy when you set out their treats. Your photos are always so beautiful. - Stacy

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  2. Good evening, Karen. I, like you, love the birds. This year, there seems to be a preponderance of dark-eyed juncos and mourning doves here. Today I got a library book called A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson. An internet friend says it's a novel a la the Alexander McCall Smith books. Looking forward to reading it. You may like it, too, if you haven't already read it. Stop over at my blog and have a gander at Miss Josephine!

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  3. Hello my dear Karen! Your photos are always such a special delight to look at. The one with the mountains and fog literally took my breath away with its beauty! You painted such a sweet picture of you in the morning feeding the birds and it made me smile...I do hope those sweet critters stay warm.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. You are always a favorite of mine to visit :) Hugs to you!

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  4. This post is a testament to the huge and generous heart you have not only for humans but for all the animals. I know those birds love that you are so quick to keep them food in such a harsh environment....
    Your shots of the mountains are beautiful.....

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  5. you are very kind to all your critters. :)

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  6. You are right, it does feel very cold, making it more difficult for all the birds.

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  7. Karen I so enjoyed this post. I was really surprised to hear that you still have hummingbirds there. we have lots of them at our cabin, but they leave by mid october, and I thought that they wintered in South america. I was always told never to put feed out after oct 1 as it might cause them to not leave in time. Hope that all of your s are ok, and so glad that you are so faithful with their feed. I am so ready for spring, and know that the critters and birds are too. Keep cozy.!

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  8. It's snowing here. Went through a whole lot of firewood today trying to keep the house warm. Never did take my sweater off. I'm ready for spring!

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  9. We've finally have 2 inches of snow. I'm enjoying it. Staying warm is essential as it's been below freezing all day. So, what's Megan and I watching? Men's ice skating at the Olympics!

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  10. Beautiful dear friend...this comes to me at a very difficult time and your words have comforted me. You are a wise woman respecting nature the way you do and listening for cues. Such gorgeous pictures Karen...stay warm friend! Nicole xoxo

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  11. Dearest Karen,
    Guess your home critters know you by your step and will not dive into the brambles as they know its their caretaker with food for survival. We observe the very same at our home. As Pieter fills the feeders, the birds stay in the trees above, waiting for their feast but if we watch from our bay window and they suddenly all fly away, you know something is soaring for some prey. Life is harsh but it is rewarding for taking care of them near us.
    Lovely photos again!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  12. Your photos are amazing and I'm a glad you captured the stunning scenery.
    Have a great day!

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  13. I just love seeing the mountains from your vantage point. I sit looking out my window at the cold and stormy Atlantic while reading about your woods and mountains. I love that. We just had a crazy blizzard and about a foot of snow...it was warmer yesterday but back to sub-0 temps again for a while.

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  14. I'm always amazed by how the birds that winter in our area - how do they keep warm? You're sweet to make sure your birds are week cared for!

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  15. Oh Karen your beautifully put words touch my soul I can feel the love of the earth and the wildlife. You are doing a wonderful thing. It is so beautiful your world. Hug B

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  16. You have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself. I can feel your love for the birds and the beautiful place where you live. Your photos are gorgeous as always.
    Stay warm!

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  17. Your posts are always so beautifully written Karen, your love for our feathered friends is beautiful... making sure they have enough food & water.. Nature is amazing...& so are you ...Hugs May x x x

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  18. I have not been a good visitor, but I'm so glad to have caught this post. You live in such an amazingly beautiful location and have written so well about it. You are such an angel to the birds. It warms my heart from all these miles away.

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  19. Breathtaking photos as always Karen. You really know how to capture the beauty that surrounds you and your words are always such a joy.

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  20. We've had more snow here this year than we've had in a decade. I am loving it lol. I love that picture of the mountain at down by the way.

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  21. It is so nice of you to wake up early to take care of the wildlife! I know they appreciate it. This winter has been such a strange one! I love it when humans care enough to help out the wildlife in their area in times of need.

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  22. I can see the 'cold' in your photographs Karen. The early morning light in your 'pink photo' looks beautiful!

    Wishing you a Happy weekend! Stay warm!

    Madelief x

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  23. You're a wonderful and thoughtful foster bird momma! If we don't care about the little things in the world how can be ever attend to the big things? Here in Minnesota it's in the negative degrees with the chill factor so I feel Old Man Winter's cold fingers, too. Try to have a warm weekend!

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  24. Karen - you lovely words are always so touching they hit my heart just right - I too when walking in the wild outdoors -- must be watchful indeed! All your images tell the tale of winter just right but I really love number 3, 9 ,10 photos today a whole lot -- keep safe and warm..
    Hugs

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  25. Red sky in the morning sheepards warning, bad weather to come.
    Merle.............

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  26. Absolutely beautiful winter scenes.

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  27. Me encantan las fotografías, son geniales. Ha estado un regalo el visitar tu bloc, te invito visitar el mio y si te gusta espero que te hagas seguidora.
    Elracodeldetall.blogspot.com

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  28. It is the blogpost of the month in the land of blogs!

    Yannis Politopoulos

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  29. Beautiful shots- and I would imagine that dreaded coopers hawk is the culprit. We have one that hangs around here, and it feeds mostly on the field rats...but I always worry about my purple martin babies as he seems determined to perch nearby all season.

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  30. Beautiful words, Karen, that perfectly depict your beautiful part of the world. <3

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  31. Beautiful photos of the birds on the wire and the sunrise - wonderful colours. Have a nice Sunday.

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  32. Oh yes it has been a chilly one this past week. I do keep our birds well feed as well. I hear that this week it will be warming up...so glad about that! Your images are so so lovely. Happy New Week to you my friend. xo

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  33. Beautiful pictures of the birds on wire and sunrise - wonderful colors of all photos. This cold weather presents us with this color.
    The post of the day valentines, loved candy hearts for Valentine's Day. I'll try to do and put lavender inside, I like to have that treats the house.
    Karen, what a beautiful vintage author - Faith Baldwin, I did not know!
    Big kiss my sweet friend beautiful weekend for you and the whole family!

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  34. Hola Beatrice tis fotos son muy lindas y me encantan ver la inmensidad de los pájaros volar ,, parece que ya pado el frío

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  35. Beautiful words and imagines, again. Thank you.
    We are in the grip of a cold spell here on the Island too. As I write, the snow is falling heavily and I know I will not be getting down the drive to go to work. I am longing for spring!

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  36. Nice poem. I like the photographs that accompany it.

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  37. I love how you care for the birds in your area, Karen. Your sweet words always touch me, as do your beautiful photos.
    Your darling hearts are just precious from your previous post. What a cute idea you've shared. xo

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  38. Beautiful pictures, Karen. I especially love the mountain views. You're so kind to feed the birds. I really enjoyed your poetic words. Your "voice" is so soothing and serene. Stay safe & warm xx

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  40. Your happy birds thank you for your care, I am sure. I can't imagine going through all the cold so many of you dear friends have done this winter, and continue to do! I was miserable just in the short time I experienced it on the trip. I've become quite whiny about it! :-) I did live in colder climes as a child, but my patience for it has worn thin. Your photos are just beautiful! The eagle is wonderful! That sunrise was a shining jewel in the jewel box God opens up to us to behold! Lovely post!

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  41. Dearest Karen,
    Lovely heart wreath and lovely Valentine boxes you created for Valentine's Day!
    Valentine's Day I will skip this year as I'm with Mom & Dad; which is far more important!
    Today I visited her at home briefly and later with Dad together we went to the hospital where she had her dialysis on her Birthday. They had decorated her room for her 90th Birthday and I did bring my laptop so she could read all the sweet comments on her special Birthday blog. That made her very, very happy and me too!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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