Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Surfing the Web of Life

Are you ever late for work? Why is that? Did you oversleep? Get stuck in traffic? Spend too much time on the computer?

Since I’m unemployable, I don’t have a commute. I go about my own business in the morning and must answer – for the most part – only to myself if I’m running late. When running one of my regular errands, I usually take a route that goes over Moose Hill. We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather this week that is very welcome after the cold wet spell we just went through. Since I missed my trip to the Hill this weekend, I planned to play hooky for an hour or so and stop at Moose Hill for breakfast while running the errand to enjoy the warmth and see if I could find any new spring arrivals.

I parked the car and got out. It didn’t take long to find two new birds for the season. I heard the trill of the chipping sparrows right away. I happily remembered how they would lead the way as I rode my bike up the hill last summer and I was glad to see they are back. Then, as I walked up the gravel road to the Billings Farm area, I could hear that the towhee tea party was already cranking up. Spring is in full swing now!

There’s a big old dead white pine on the edge of the lower meadow where I so often love to sit. It’s ugly to the human eye, but the birds love it, possibly for the great view across the open field it affords. As I passed this time, a male cardinal – brilliantly illuminated by the morning sun – sat singing at the tip-top while a mourning dove and flicker sat nearby.

On my way up to the old barn, I paused to watch a chickadee checking out one of the nesting boxes in the upper meadow. I guess he didn’t get the memo that those are reserved for bluebirds.

I found a nice flat rock near the barn and tractor shed and sat down to breakfast. I pondered how, as the falling tree does make noise even when there’s no one there to hear it, life on Moose Hill goes on even on weekdays when there are few hikers and birdwatchers to see it. Life goes on at all hours of the night and day and during all seasons of the year, too, if only we would pay attention.

A small cloud of blackflies behaved as if they wanted me for breakfast. Luckily, the flies here are more annoying than painful with their tendency to fly into the eyes and mouth but they don’t bite as much as the infamous pests of the North Country.

From my perch on the rock, I could watch the barnyard regulars. I can usually count on seeing a phoebe there, and there are often goldfinches, and both were present on this day. Blue jays and robins also paid a visit. I was thinking about the brilliant colors of cardinals, goldfinches and blue jays. Perhaps because these birds are so common around here we might make the mistake of taking their spectacular colors for granted. A bird-watching visitor from elsewhere might be thrilled to see such bright red, yellow and blue birds.

The old barnyard apple was leafing out, and forsythias were blooming. Even the non-native grasses were greening up. Red maple flower buds were starting to pop, but the other native trees are still bare. It’s interesting to see how introduced plants retain a seasonal schedule inherited from Europe or Asia that makes them bloom earlier in spring and lose their leaves later in the fall. Maybe that’s one reason some imports do so well here and become pests.

It was time to get back to work, so I roused myself from my daydreams and headed back down the old road. In the lower meadow a beautiful male bluebird was guarding his box and flying down to the closely-mown meadow to pounce on insects. I wondered if he won his battle with the swallows. This is one bird whose color will not soon be taken for granted.

I was soon back at the car and on my way. I was only a little late, not that anyone would notice. If someone did ask, I’d just tell them I was lost in a dream, stuck in the traffic of nature and surfing the web of life.

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At 9:17 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Sounds like Moose Hill is coming alive.-Nice description of the web of life.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

I find that some of the best discoveries are found without planning. How many oportunities do we miss because hurrying through schedules put blinders on us.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

I love reading eastern blogs because everyone writes about bluebirds with such wistfulness and delight. We don't even get the western bluebird here. I'm glad you get to take some time just to peek around Moose Hill, and give us a little view of the greening and springing back after winter.


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