Lighting Up the Garden

November 29, 2010

Yesterday dawned warmer, clear, dry and sunny. The perfect day to decorate the house and garden for Christmas!

Up into the attic above the garage. I was momentarily defeated by the amount of summer stuff just plunked in the middle of the floor, but quickly rallied and started organizing, to get to the Christmas decorations. They were not in a neat arrangement in front of the old computer boxes like they are supposed to be. The snowman was in one corner, the sled in another. The garland and lights were thrown everywhichway into a plastic tub near the old baseball equipment. Does someone secretly live up here and rearrange things between seasons? There is no plumbing here, so I hope not.

I slid boxes and tubs, snowmen and sleds across the floor to the trap door and Tony carried it all down the steps. I took a few minutes to move all the summer stuff to its proper place and climbed down feeling that sense of clean that only comes from tidy stacks and neat arrangements.

Tony had already positioned the snowman on the sidewalk, his jaunty carrot nose bright orange in the sunlight. (The snowman’s, not Tony’s). The wreath was already hung on the wall on the porch, ready to be plugged in and have its bow fluffed. Santa Claus was staked in the flower bed. That Tony is a fast worker – the Bears game was coming on. He laid out the string for the lights sunk into the lawn, to follow the curve of the flower bed and started working on that. I attached the garland, now 11 years old, to the porch railing and attached the big red bows, then strung it with lights too. That garland will be another black mark on my environmental credentials come January. Sprigs were coming off in my hands as I worked with it – it will be thrown away.

When Dominic (finally) woke up, he crawled out of his second-floor bedroom window (honestly, are we hillbillies? apparently so) and started clipping the lights to the gutters. I draped the nets that previously covered the evergreens (now gone) and the burning bushes (now gone) over the peonies and hydrangeas and coneflowers. Coneflower seeds sprinkled on the ground and the peony leaves smooshed like paper bags. I connected all the cords to the extension cords and outlet boxes, found the timer and plugged the master cord in the garage into it.

Red ribbons that were somehow put away haphazardly (really, I have to supervise that closely this year) needed major fluffing and then were attached to all the coach lights. It was so temperate and beautiful that we barely needed coats and certainly didn’t need gloves.

I climbed back up into the attic, Tony handed me all the empty boxes and tubs and we were finished! Down in the basement, I set the timer for the second floor lights. And at 5 o’clock, they all went on.

OOooo. Aahhhh. We walk down the driveway and take a long, peaceful look.

The lights bathe the house and garden with color – blues and yellows and purples and reds and greens. Like flowers in the summer that light up the garden during the day, these illuminators flood us with color at night. Our ancestors celebrated the winter solstice with fire, with candles – with light. The dark of winter is a misnomer; it is really the dark of autumn because when winter begins, right at Christmastime, the days start getting longer again, with ever-increasing minutes of daylight. For those ancient folk, that was truly something to celebrate.

In our garden, we are keeping those traditions, both of celebrating the solstice and of celebrating Christmas, by lighting up the night sky.


Christmas trees are a Caring Gardener’s Waterloo. There is no good answer.

Buy a real tree, or even cut one down yourself and you’re killing a live plant, contributing to erosion and encouraging deforestation. Get an artificial tree and become forever banned from Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservatory – a permanent place on the Blacklist. Nothing gets an environmentalist so upset as a wire and plastic electric “tree.” They are an environmental disaster to make and then – god forbid – to dispose.

For many years, we sinned the lesser of the two evils. When Tony and I first got married, we went to Marmion Academy in Batavia to select and cut our tree all by ourselves. The grounds are covered with trees, different firs and pines. They plant the kinds that grow quickly but not attractively, the descendants of Charlie Brown’s tree. That first year, we passed a field of trees only a foot or so high and talked about how someday we’d come back with children and cut a tree, now grown, from that field. And sure enough, we did. That was also the last year we went to Marmion.

(Much) closer to our house, we started deforesting the Crete Christmas Tree Farm. We four would trudge around in the mud, looking for the perfect shape, fullness and color. When we finally selected the “perfect” tree (or really just gave in to Eliza who had made up her mind and wouldn’t look at anything else – compromise is not really in this child’s vocabulary), Tony and  Dominic would scootch under the tree, saw it down and drag it back to the Shaker which would, well, shake it so all (or at least some) of the dead needles fell off.

And then in 2003, we went completely over to – da, da, da, dum – The DARK SIDE.

We bought an artificial, pre-lit tree. The reason for this horror was time – there was none. We sat down with sports and rehearsal schedules and realized that we didn’t have 4 hours of daylight together until the week before Christmas. Unless we pulled the kids out of school for the day, a tree-cutting morning or afternoon just couldn’t happen. Now, while I was solidly in the “oh, what the heck, let’s do it, they’re not learning brain surgery” camp, Tony was most assuredly not.

And we considered an artificial tree. We swore to each other up and down that it would only be for one year and we’d go back to a real tree.

We went to American Sales and bought ourselves a wire and plastic electric tree. Which took me all of 15 minutes to assemble. Which meant we could just hang ornaments instead of fight with lights. Which meant that I finished all the decorating in one day instead of two and a half. Which meant I had less stress, less mess and more fun that weekend. Weeks later, it meant a quick, easy clean up.

Which meant that the death knell had rung for a real tree in our house.

This year, that tree pooped out. Caught in several inches of water when the sump pump went out late last winter, it smelled of mildew and refused to completely – or even mostly – light.

We didn’t even consider a real tree. I just got in the car and bought another environmental horror – a clean, easy, already-strung, convenient, perfectly shaped environmental horror.

Yes, I felt ashamed. Yes, I felt horribly guilty as Tony took the old tree to the recycling center (we’re trying!). Yes, I beat myself up over the plastic and wire and electric.

And then I put that new tree together in just 10 minutes and started hanging ornaments.

Eliza and Griffey with the Environmental Disaster - isn't it beautiful??

A Great Idea In The Making

November 26, 2010

We have started our casual composting again. Daunted by the cold and the wind, we are not enthusiastic about trekking across the lawn to the edge of the yard to dump our peels and eggshells.

So I moved an empty container from the top of the waterfall (really? why was it there to begin with?) just out of reach of the dog leashes and we’re filling it and others up.

The big foam pot that looks like clay could certainly use another few inches of compost materials and so can that black pot that sat empty all summer, except for an errant potato plant. Come spring, when these are full to bursting with rotten, frozen, thawed, frozen again and thawed again, slimy material (I can imagine the worms dreaming gourmet dreams right now!), I’ll cover it all with a layer of topsoil to seal in all that delightful muck and then plant right in it. The annuals, probably impatiens, will thrive, big and thick and full.

Now, we can’t be alone in our composting conundrum. Many people must find a perfect “summer spot” that just stinks in the wintertime. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a bin that moves – like our garbage can and yard waste bin on wheels? How much of a no-brainer is that, really? So I search for bins with wheels. And find one – just one – and it is not attractive at that.


I will have to go to Menards and walk the aisles. Ask for advice, stand and think about how this can be created, hoping for that wonderful idea to make it real.

Seriously, no one has thought of this before?

Casual Composting

Winter Quarters

November 24, 2010

Ice on the pond this morning. In the small pond nearer the house, the ice shaped into geometric panels, angled and cleaned. The goldfish float in streaks of orange under the ice by the cypress tree. I urge them to dive deeply, slow those heart rates, stay warm. Earless, they do not heed my advice. This ice is irregular, tiny ripples caught and frozen in time and space. Then there is the puckered ice – such fun – that surrounds each stub of cattail. This looks dancers, like swirling skirts from above, drawn into tiny waists and billowing out with spin and speed.

My Gawd, It’s Cold.

I see Clarence rustle away from the sweet potato – now decently gnawed – and disappear behind the section of old wooden fence that is propped against the house. He is a flash of greyish brown, disappearing under leaves and mulch. And here I’d been thinking he and Francine had either moved or succumbed to a hawk, a snake, a raccoon – so many ways to be a part of that circle of life when you’re a mouse.

The fence is a piece of Richie, a bit of his house from Roselle. These panels move around the garden, providing a backdrop or shield for all sorts of things as the whim takes me.

Whimsy is good in a garden, don’t you think?

I go into the house, taking the day off to clean, cook (okay, mostly cook) and get ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Tony notices it first. Ice pellets drizzling onto the pond, the patio, the garden. I head outside and hear it.

The good size pebbles, not hail, but tiny balls of ice, hiss like water beginning to simmer in a kettle, like fingertips on a countertop, bacon sizzling in a pan. They click and clatter on the ground, bouncing up and falling back in a shower of glitter. What looks like crushed glass blankets the yard, the patio, the berm, the soil. It is gathered into cups of leaves, as tiny single diamonds – an engagement ring, or as clusters of riches – a dowager’s fingers. It is scattered all over the bridge, shining bright and winking. It crunches under my feet.

This will be the end of the peas and brussel sprouts, I believe. The ice settles all over the bowls in the sprouts leaves, making them look positively festive, ringing in the winter holidays. The milkweed is black and shriveled, with no place for these tiny nuggets to nestle. They shimmer on the sedum, caught in the blooms.

They melt quickly when they  hit the grass.

The coneflowers are now a favorite of the birds, getting their seedheads ripped apart. The stems stand at attention, looking confused, put upon but nonetheless brave. The sweet autumn clematis is a wonder. It appears bathed in a blueish haze and then I realize that it’s the fuzz of the drying blossoms. That fuzz is a greyish blue color and covers the whole plant, just like the blooms did not long ago. It creates an almost eerie cast, something otherworldly. I hope the wrens are enjoying their home’s new decor – kind of like a new coat of paint.

I cannot capture the beauty of these grasses. They are organized chaos, amber and gold and burgundy and purple, smooth and rough, dangerous and safe. They are noisy and silent, majestic and homey. I can’t make a photograph that says “YES. THIS is what they are all about.” It is frustrating, maddening. I hate having limits in my mediums.

The weglias have given up all their leaves in a matter of days, it seems. I believe there were still leaves on Monday – now this hedge is bare sticks, pokey and brown and squared off.

I come around the corner and see Clarence skitter across the flagstone path, tail up like a bicycle flag. He stops in the tangle of leaves. I approach slowly, and he zips his way among the soggy mess of hosta and tucks behind the big ceramic vase I made in college (See? The garden is such a repository for all things), right under the dryer vent. I peek and see a tiny sheltered hole among the leaves and the lint.

Certainly not squirrel brains here. The warm air from the dryer (and let’s face it, I do an extraordinary amount of laundry – or will until Dominic leaves and takes his two-to-three-bathtowel-a-day habit with him) expels and is shielded by the ceramic wall of sorts, creating a little spa of moisture and heat. This spot here is perfect – egress from either side of the vase, cozy and toasty warm, near the bird feeder, lots of seed heads and lots of brush to shelter in while doing surveillance of the yard.

Like snow birds, Francine and Clarence have moved to a warmer climate.

A Day in The Garden

November 23, 2010

A day of drama yesterday in the garden, as November arrived very late and all in one day. I got into my office around 8 and watched the rain start. The air was balmy, warm, almost 70 degrees. The rain was just a misty sprinkle at that point and I gave thanks to the gardening gods for finally sending a day that would soak my hydrangeas, soak my neighbor’s new shrubs and soak my garden.

The dogs had to go out, so I made an image by the back door, sheltered by the house, capturing the now-raindrops that were plinking into the pond, creating those circles upon circles upon circles. Hmmm… how about making these same images throughout the day? It promised to be an intriguing day, so I gave it a shot.

Working later, concentrating on a rush project, I am interrupted by a great rolling clatter of rain. Those raindrops have turned hefty, plopping onto the roof, the pond and the patio with substantial impact. The wind rushes and whooshes, the grasses rustle and shake and tambourine.

That fades within minutes, back to a regular gentle rain that soon dissipates into nothing as the wind picks up. The pin oak dances and writhes and undulates, holding on to those leaves, creating a maraca of sound and a tossed-sheets visual.

Later, the pounding is back, weighty and generous beads crashing into the roof and the windows. A squirrel dashes across the yard, runs up the oak, takes the off ramp into my neighbor’s naked tree and settles into one of the nests. This must be a squirrel instinct to head to the nest, because common sense (as opposed to squirrelly sense) would tell you to hunch down low, away from those wicked winds, under a thick bush, or perhaps nestled behind a stack of firewood. Yet he scampers UP the tree and into an unprotected, unshielded and unwarmed nest.

What a squirrel.

Just after 3, the sky looks like the deep gloaming time, after sunset but before it’s fully dark. But this is certainly much too dark for mid-afternoon, even as our days shorten. The sky roils with black and grey and steel and charcoal. The rain pounds again.

For hours again, it rained – sometimes in heavy rushes, sometimes in light patters, sometimes just a mist. My garden got a thorough soak, my new gaillardia hopes a complete transfusion of help.

When all was said and done on yesterday, the temperature dropped more than 40 degrees in the course of really just a few hours. I watched throughout the day as Mother Nature took this pretender of a November by the ear and dragged it, kicking and howling out of the door and then watched as she ushered in her real November – wet, cold, windy and truly miserable – into its rightful place.

Thought I’d just take a stroll around yesterday and observe. Suffering from a cold, I wasn’t feeling up to putting away the windchimes or rolling up the hammock.

The hostas look like wilted lettuce left too long in the vegetable drawer, soggy and slimey. The lily of the valley leaves splay on the ground and their orange balls bounce above the mess. The speedwell is dry, like cinnamon sticks in the garden.

For a moment, I think that something has pulled apart a Damn Rabbit, as there is grey fuzz under my office window. I tense, looking for blood, and then realize this is the dirt out of my Dustbuster that I dumped the night before.

I feel sheepish.

The bellflower has done some seriously creeping on the berm this year; yes, it’s turning red, but in many places, it is still green and fresh. It seems to have covered a fairly large area this summer and it gives me another thing to look forward to next year. The garlic chives dry into castanets, their shiny seeds clattering in the wind, falling to the earth, to spread more garlic chive joy next year. Right now, the drying petals are delicate and transparent, amber colored and intricate.

And some of the flora are still growing. The alyssum is beautiful right now, healthy and sweet in the colder air. The sedum seems to be very confused, as there are fresh new petals emerging at ground level, underneath the yellowing stems and drying blooms. I tell them it’s not time, that they need to go back, but the oh-so-warm-for-November air has them at sixes and sevens and they can’t be stopped. The lamb’s ear is still sage green and fresh, the catmint actually reblooming.

I love catmint. It is the workhorse of the garden. One of the first up, one of the first to bloom, always coming back even after severe haircuts, staying at the party until the very last minute in autumn, trying so hard to hold onto summer fragrance, summer bloom – summer.

The prairie dropseed looks like fireworks, golden bursts on a deep green sky. More and more milkweed pods split each day – our friends the milkweed bugs have hosted their last orgy. The satin sheets and scented candles are stored away now until next year and they will drowse in hibernation, memories of those Bacchanal days drifting through their dreams, giving them impetus to survive until the spring.

The feathers on these seeds are just that – like feathers. They are soft as silk, like Griffey’s fur when he is cleaned and combed, like a stroke of a Damn Rabbit. I rub one between my fingers and it comes loose and floats away, the sun winking on the white feathers, flashes of silver and gold.

Some of the coneflower heads have been chewed open, exposing a teeny tiny hole in the raised seed head. What a great place to build a house! I can imagine a miniscule fairy, sprinkling twinkling dust along the outside, giving the pod a rehab before the move-in. What a cozy place, the fairy thinks. Just the right size door to pull my wings in after but keep the wind, rain and snow out. The round room inside is a perfect place to put up my feet, or roll into a ball, thinks this most indolent fairy. And what good fortune! Several of these space all together! I can use one as a bedroom, one as a store room for seeds to eat through the winter – I’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug.

While these fancies take me over, I notice the gaillardia seed heads are in the same phase – drying and falling apart.

I have promised myself I’m only observing. I don’t want to aggravate this cold.

I grab a bucket and start cutting heads – nearly dry, really dry and everything inbetween. There are dozens and dozens, more than I thought on initial glance. They fall into the bucket with small dull thuds. I gather quite a bunch, then head to the front, to the bed with the Siberian iris and the new butterfly bush. I stand back and look at the bed, at the empty spots between the iris, next to the peonies and around the butterfly bush. I see in my mind’s eye the contrast of the white peonies with the purple iris, then as that fades, the purple chaos of the butterfly bush complemented by the unbridled havoc of the gaillardia. Oh, how sweet!

I indicate eight spots where a gaillardia should emerge and then begin digging. I hit no bulbs in the first hole and throw in a handful of seed heads. The same goes with the other seven holes, a first in autumn planting.

This is just a hope and a garden prayer. I’ve done this with coneflowers and reaped fantastic results, but I don’t know if the same will be true of gaillardia. I’m hoping that since it’s a prairie plant, since the seed heads dry, droop and decay, it will be the same. I’m hoping that the squirrels don’t dig them up, that mice don’t find them, that they don’t freeze beyond hope of germination in the ground this winter. I’m hoping that they sprout in the spring, that they grow and that they bloom.

I’m hoping.

Discussing Damn Rabbits

November 20, 2010

I heard a “good morning” shouted when I opened the back door, but couldn’t find the source. Invisible Neighbor was blocked by a tree and, for a moment, really was.

She was unrolling her hose to give her bushes a watering and so I headed over to say hello and admire them out loud. I found her in a state of disgust.

And I could see why. Her beautiful new bushes, which had been armfuls of branches about 18″ high, were now savaged by the Damn Rabbits. Some of them were barely nibbled, some of them were just decimated. She ran the water on each one, telling me that THIS is why she’s never planted, THIS is the reason for her bare yard. Trying to ignore the fact that she didn’t have a sprinkle head on her hose and just ran the harsh stream on those new plants, I made sympathetic noises (I’m suffering from severe laryngitis this week). She mentioned that she’s purchased mothballs and I laughed. “YEAH RIGHT,” I croaked. She asked about deer urine and I bleat that even coyote urine was a bust. I told her I’d help her out and trudged around to the garage and dragged the bag of milorganite to her yard. I scooped up a cupful and gestured for her to smell it (we have entered completely new territory now in our budding friendship, don’t you think?). I crackled that it’s processed sewage and it’s been relatively successful this year in my garden. I sprinkled it on a bush, scooped another cupful and repeated this process until all nine bushes and the surrounding area is dappled with milorganite.

She tells me she’s afraid to plant flowers next year. I explain my strategy in a harsh whispered caw (lovely sound, I’m sure) – anything onion-based like daffodils and allium, anything poisonous like foxglove and coneflower, and anything smelly like catmint and oregano. I promise her I will split some of the hardiest with her in the spring.

I think I need to stop referring to her as Invisible Neighbor. We have become friends across the garden this year – how amazing – and it is almost rude to still keep that wall up in my mind. Her name is Gwen and isn’t that much nicer? As a matter of fact, it’s so much nicer all the way around – it makes me feel settled and cozy knowing that I’m now surrounded by neighbors I know personally, by name, by circumstance and by leisurely conversation.

And I think I will buy her a sprinkler head for Christmas.

Missing the Bugs

November 17, 2010

I know it is fall and I know it is getting colder – although the thermometer seems to belie that knowledge – but I’m wondering – where are all the bugs? Like Holden Caulfield with his ducks, I am wondering.

The only thing I see is the occasional horsefly. The bees are hibernating, the ladybugs gone, the ants underground, the grasshoppers dead. The butterflies have disappeared.

The monarchs migrate for warmer weather, moving south to Mexico and then South America, making journeys of thousands of miles. How is it that while they look so incredibly fragile and ethereal, they can travel all that way, through rain and wind and heat and cold? The butterflies that make it up here in the spring lay their eggs, those children lay eggs and those grandchildren lay eggs, each generation living only two to three weeks. The great-grandchildren (or great-great grandchildren) are the ones that make the journey back and live about 8 months.

In thinking about this… Monarchs can’t survive our winters and the food they need for their larvae doesn’t grow in their winter home. So would you prefer to live less than a month in the warm sun, flitting from coneflower to oregano to zinnia to milkweed, having mad sex and laying eggs? Or would you like to live 8 months only to fly 2,500 miles, bask in the sun for a bit, make the trip all the way back to lay eggs and then die? I mean, really, the amount of work involved for every fourth generation or so is just astounding. Think of the responsibility! The fate of your species rests in your wings – and your powers of procreation. Myself, I think I’d take the long haul as I love to travel and, being goal-oriented, I can complete the task.

Alright – I’m a control freak and I’d want to make sure it was done correctly.

Smiling In The Garden

November 14, 2010

I looked out the window yesterday morning and saw several men in the Invisible Neighbor’s yard. Tony said she had already come to visit, to ask us about what we thought about the placement of her new bushes. I smiled, pulled on sweats and headed over there.

I’ve never really been in her yard before, so it was really odd to cross to her patio and knock on the back door. Familiar and strange all at the same time. She answered and came out, to tell me about her problems with JULIE and Comcast’s demands, forcing her to move the bushes up a little and mulch behind. It actually looks like that will be a better planting situation anyway, we decide. The bed runs right along the lines of my vegetable garden – maybe she’s really trying to hide the chicken wire panels and the compost  bin.

And I completely respect her for that.

She tells me the ex-husband wouldn’t have planted anything because of Comcast’s request, but she wants to enjoy her yard now. She has a unique tree in her backyard and her landscaper recommended taking it down and out. This tree means a great deal to her, she said, so it’s not going anywhere. This tree is from whirly seeds her kids brought home one day, then planted and nurtured  until it was big enough to plant outside. It is now about 12 feet high, thick and bushy, with branches and leaves that the neighborhood birds and squirrels just adore.

What a beautiful story – what a beautiful tie to her home. I love this kind of thing – and smile. Sometimes, a landscaper has to respect the history.

We chat as the men rip up the sod in even rows, digging out her new bed. They lay the sod on those spots where her volleyball poles just came down, and then haul the rest away. She is geeked about these new bushes and tells me about the red stems in winter, which she believes will be so pretty against the snow. She tells me that she bought out Alsip nursery and if they’d had more than nine, she would have bought those too. I offer her perennials in the spring, to make a colorful border and tell her I will lend her “Continuous Bloom” a wonderful book that lays out what blooms when so a gardener can always have color in the garden. I mention that I have made notes about which plants are Damn Rabbit resistant.

It begins to drizzle and we agree to talk later, when the bushes are planted. It rains for most of the afternoon, a gift from the garden gods for her new plantings.

I see her after the rain, with three women, showing off these shrubs in the backyard. We wave hello as I cross the yard to dump peelings in the compost bin. I smile at how happy she is about these bushes, sharing in her joy in a quiet way – I understand how she feels and am so pleased for her that she is feeling that same joy – that thrill of planting something and then watching it grow.

Before dinner, I rip out a stalk of brussel sprout. The root system hangs on and gives me quite the fight, but I prevail in the end. I sit on the patio, slicing off heads in the cold and dropping them into a colander. They are tender and delicate and crisp and I am so looking forward to having them for dinner. I rinse them, add chopped onion and salt and pepper and then sprinkle them with olive oil and put them in a baking dish. They go in the oven and then, at the last minute, I sprinkle fresh grated Romano over them, just to melt a little.

Oh wow. They are delicious – tasting as foreign to grocery store sprouts as Long John Silver’s fried filets taste to fish pulled out of the water and cooked within minutes. They are indeed delicate in taste and texture – simply yummy. I have three servings and Eliza has two. Dominic says, “Oh, that’s what the weird smell was.” I smile ruefully at that.

This vegetable garden, new to my repertoire, has entertained, challenged, surprised and nourished us all summer long. My neighbor’s transformation over mulch and shrubs and a birdfeeder has been nothing short of astonishing – and continues to astonish and delight both Tony and me.

It makes me smile – the garden is a magical place.

A Hitchcockian Nightmare

November 12, 2010

It is an iota less mild today, overcast with a sky that looks like rain and a forecast that does not. The sky has that heavy feel, like it is Right There, low over your head and full of cold water.

I hear them first, whistles that begin low and end high, chirps and calls, quavering amongst the overall din of raucous squawking, unattractive and loud.

Loud and louder and finally deafening. I must be a stop on the migration highway and this must be the biggest travel day of the season. These seem to be starlings, big and shrieking, and quite frankly, ugly ugly ugly. They fill up the pin oak, the honey locust and my neighbor’s trees. In groups, they roost and then whirl in circles, spirals of feathers in designerly rings, to come back and roost again.

And LOUD. The sounds that are bell-like, the twitters and songs, are overwhelmed by the crass and the cacophonous, those harsh caws and cackles. They fill the air and intimidate. Griffey and Lucky are not barking, not jumping; they know they are overwhelmingly outnumbered and somewhere in their ancient canine instincts, they know these are the descendants of those who ripped their own grandfathers to pieces somewhere, sometime in millennia past.

Within hours, they are gone, but the avian invasion continues. Robins flood into the pond, cardinals flash siren-red on top of the fence, on the edge of the stones, goldfinch cover the feeder. Doves walk down the flagstone, heads bobbing in quiet rhythm. Wrens pop and crash into my office window all day, startling me and themselves.

Kind of a freaky day…