Giant snowflakes make for a quick winter wonderland. It's moisture. Did you count your birds for Audubon's "The Great Backyard Bird Count?" I had 27 different species. In eastern Oklahoma the birdfeeder birds were also counted, along with listening to Rigoletto and creating a sock monkey.
Early spring is coming. Time for serious garden thinking....

20th of February 2013 Blog

SNOW.  What a lovely day.  It started with giant snowflakes that rapidly covered the ground, and this afternoon a rain, sleet and tiny snowflake concoction is now falling from the sky.  The cats are paranoid.  This is because the accumulated snow is sliding off our metal roof in the form of snow bombs.  Big heavy pieces of roof snow are slamming the ground with impressive impact, splattering out in all directions while being accompanied by thuds, cracks and bangs.  Our two younger cats are perched on chairs and table tops well back from the windows watching with incredible alertness as chunk after chunk of snow succumbs to localized melting and the pull of gravity.

This past Monday rapidly moving thunderstorms flew through the extreme eastern part of the state.  We were rewarded with nearly an inch of rain after spending two days putting in landscape timber borders and moving a few plants at my mother’s house.  One of the plants was a large azalea, and the moisture was very welcomed.  Prior to the gardening endeavor, I watched birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  I hope many of you spent some time noticing the different species and numbers of birds hanging around your feeders!  The Great Backyard is sponsored by the Audubon Society in conjunction with Cornell University and a few other bird institutions.  Citizen scientists submit data on their birds from across the United States, and it is used to evaluate the status of different bird populations of today in the USA.

I did my count here in the Shawnee area on Friday, and wound up with 27 species.  At my mother’s house, a sparrow haven, we saw 18 different types of birds.  First I had to fill her feeder and water bath so the birds had a place to congregate.  It didn’t take long for the pine siskins, goldfinches and sparrows to return.  I had left my binoculars at my house, so my mother dug out her opera glasses to help us distinguish bird details.  It seemed so right to use the opera glasses since Rigoletto was being performed on the radio at that same time.  Tragic, operas often are.  Usually someone dies, singing passionately until the very end.  This opera has a sleezy Duke, his court jester Rigoletto, Rigoletto’s beautiful but ignorant daughter Gilda, and a curse that is eventually fulfilled (the death of Gilda).     

While we were parked at the table with ears listening to songs floating on air waves from the radio in the front room, and eyes riveted to the outdoor food and water, we decided why not make a sock monkey.  Remember the sock monkey made out of the thick brown socks with red and white toes and heels?  Two socks will make one strange-looking monkey.

Sew a little, hoist the opera glasses and count birds, stuff the arms, legs, and body, count birds, sew the monkey together, count birds, attach mouth, ears and sew on eyes, look for the opera glasses that were on the table and are now nowhere in sight, see birds grinning and patting each other on the back….are those the opera glasses being held within the wings of a robin on the ground?  Is the robin looking at us?  It will be in such trouble if it drops those glasses.

Eventually the monkey and bird count were both finished, well after Rigoletto had left the premises with his cold-bodied daughter. No, it was just an optical illusion.  The robin had its own pair of glasses.  The opera glasses were parked by the cookies.  One needs sustenance when doing bird counts.

The grasses are beginning to put up green shoots from their bases.  My baby peach tree buds are enlarging and the stems are greening up.  This I know since I inadvertently cut some of their stems while trimming back the old dry asters that grew amongst the little peach trees.  They should be called the compost peaches, as they have volunteered from peach pits thrown in that area.  I religiously watered those saplings all through last summer and fall.  The dry fall was no good for transplanting shrubs or trees, but many can be moved now (no later), especially since we are in a rain cycle.  It may be the one and only cycle of rain, so….now is time to get in those early spring gardens (onions yum), or at least prepare the beds.  Get digging people!