Bird activity, and the endless winter…

It’s cold here.  That’s normal for this part of Michigan in early spring, but this spring has been unusually cold.  We had January temperatures and snow earlier this week.  There were a few days when the lawn was bare and we even had robins (a bird that shows up in the spring in this part of the country).  But now the grass is covered with snow again and the robins are nowhere to be seen.  We are all tired of it and complaining.

Last year, we had freakishly hot weather in March.  It was so warm that all the fruit trees bloomed early.  We then had a killing freeze in April that wiped out most of the fruit tree blossoms.  This resulted in most orchards only having about 10% of their normal crop.  I love Michigan apples, cherries and peaches, and they were hard to find and expensive last summer because of this.  I can see that the chances of a good fruit crop are probably much higher this year.

Now, some bird pictures.  Here are some of starlings in flight:

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We had a hawk here too, who was brave enough to sit on my deck with me in the window!  I’m not 100% sure about the identification, I think it’s a broad-winged hawk but if anyone who reads this needs to correct me, please do.  He was snacking on some of the other birds that have been visiting my house!

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Edited to add: This is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. I had him identified by a naturalist at our local nature center. They can be tricky to ID especially when they are still young. This one will have his first birthday this year!

Butterflies

I had my volunteer day at Butterflies in Bloom again at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan earlier this week.  I love how the exhibit changes each time I go.  Midland kids didn’t have school that day so there were a lot of people there, but even while crowded, it is so peaceful.  Here are a few photos I took this week!  Enjoy!

 

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…and the frog!  There is a pond in the conservatory which is home to several frogs.  This one was hiding under a lily pad.

Signs of spring

Today we finally had a warm, sunny day.  After the kids came home from school we decided to enjoy some of the warmer weather and sunshine.  I cleaned up a bit of one of the flower beds that had thawed, I hadn’t gotten to taking care of it last fall.  I was so surprised to find these!  (I only had my phone camera out today, not the Nikon, so the quality of these photos is not the best!)  They are going to be early blooming tulips.

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The kids found some water shooters from the summer and were very good at not shooting one another when I asked.  Although there could have been a little fallout…

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I shoveled the last bit of snow off the deck, then got out one of the patio chairs so I could sit in the sun for a few minutes.  It’s so good to have these days in the late winter!   I brought out the knitting because I thought I might get a chance to sit, but my daughter got me doing other things.  I hope there are signs of spring where you live!

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Butterflies in Bloom 2013

Yesterday I started a new volunteer job – at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan.  This is a wonderful place to visit if you live in Midland or are there for a visit.  From now until April 21, they are hatching butterflies in their conservatory and I am one of the people who is working the exhibit!  A friend of mine has worked there for the past four years and I am working there with her.

I got some lovely photographs yesterday, once my camera lens recovered from the 27 degrees F (-3 degrees C) outside to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) with nearly 100% humidity inside!  They are tropical butterflies so the conservatory is kept very warm and humid for them.  It feels good when it’s so cold out but it takes a while for the camera to warm up.

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Zebra Longwing

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Orchard Swallowtail

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Yellow Mormon

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Blue Morpho

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Grecian Shoemaker – male

Frosty morning

Spring is just a few weeks away and I am getting very tired of winter.  We have had a dark winter with a lot of rain, and a lot of snow that turned to ice too quickly to enjoy for long.  The snow all came late and while I might have wanted it a couple of months ago, I certainly do not want it anymore!  I’m done!

That said, there is something very lovely about thick frost in the morning.  I caught these just before the sun started to melt them.  

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All photos taken with a Nikon D5100, 18-55 mm lens, most using macro setting.

 

A sigh of relief

Finally I have a full quiet day.  For longer than a week, I’ve been taking care of sick people.  Everyone in my house was sick!  And yesterday was a snow day.  Finally today I can breathe!  I have a lot of housework to catch up on, but I decided that would wait.  I have been feeling so exhausted and run down for the past few weeks that I decided I needed a day to rest. 

So what better way to get rest than to knit some Estonian lace!  Yes, I am sure that was your first thought too.  I’m so tired, why don’t I knit lace.  Sounds like a good plan!Image

I have been wanting to knit this little scarf for a long time and I finally decided I had a large enough block of time, plus a quiet house.  So I pulled out some lightweight white wool and cast on.  Lily of the valley is not only the flower for the month of May (my birthday month) but it is a flower I love not just for the looks but for the wonderful scent!  Plus I found I was able to conquer very easily a stitch that had struck fear into my heart – the nupp for any of you who have tried to knit lace or who have contemplated it.  I will be expanding on this at Finngarian Knits.  

What are you doing to nourish your soul today?