December 28th 2016 Becky Emerson Carlberg My wild turkeys, plus several dozen more, have survived the hunting season so far.   This time of year the hens and their poults band together to form large flocks.   This afternoon I counted about 50 turkeys in a field near my house.   A few of the young males had [...]

December 28th 2016

Sunrise at the beach

Becky Emerson Carlberg

My wild turkeys, plus several dozen more, have survived the hunting season so far.   This time of year the hens and their poults band together to form large flocks.   This afternoon I counted about 50 turkeys in a field near my house.   A few of the young males had fanned their tails, and there was subdued gobbling, but for the most part, the entire flock of various sizes was quiet and blended well into the surroundings.

My Yule was spent on the East Coast.   After my husband, I and our youngest son flew from Oklahoma to Maryland, we rented a car and drove to our oldest son's house.   Here we separated into two cars and made the three hour trip to Ocean City, Maryland.   There was a barbecue stop in the middle.   The Meat fest had started.

Our Condo was directly off the beach.   We could step out on the balcony and gaze at the waves, boats and the Jolly Roger pier with its Giant Ferris Wheel and amusements now on winter break.   Few people come to the beach this time of year.   The fewer the better.   Our 5 year old grandson played 'chase the gulls.'  The birds moved ever so slightly when approached since it was cold and they had already seen more than enough people this year.   We threw Frisbees and ate seafood.   The second night was the Winter Fest of Lights attended by hundreds of small children in various compromised health conditions with their parents or loved ones.  Car 'trains' were loaded and groups of us were driven around the wetland area adorned with lit decorations.   The illuminated deer jumped in an arch, each of the twelve days of Christmas were represented, the dinosaurs and big game animals roamed the edges, polar bears cavorted in the grass, an elaborate castle of lights was set up in the middle and there was even a multicolored snowball machine tossing out snowballs of white light.   After the ride ended, hot cocoa was available.

Chasing the gulls

The next morning we packed and had time for one more beach romp.     Back home to prepare for Santa's arrival. The healthy Yule tree stood by the window with large lights, not minis, strung around it.   Most of the decorations were handmade by our grandson.   Meat was the main dish the next few days with veggies a poor second.   The Meat fest included sirloin and ribeye steaks, pork ribs and the Christmas Day Prime rib.  Our two sons spent one entire day preparing and smoking ribs.   The rubbing compounds, apple cider, hickory chips, ribs, remote thermometers and lots of beer were employed to create two types of smoked ribs.

The Ginger Bread House

Meanwhile, we watched 'The Snowman' one day and 'The Polar Express' the next, with sound coming from quad speakers spaced around the room.   It felt like you were truly on the Polar Express train.   One morning was devoted to going through IKEA from top to bottom.   The gingerbread house was created in the afternoon.   The horse gummies and candies that were to decorate the house were disappearing faster than they could be attached.   Gift giving was spaced out, with one gift for Christmas Eve and the rest the following morning.   It's interesting watching the reactions of a 5 year old and an 8 month old when colorful shiny paper-wrapped boxes are involved.   The 5 year old wants to know what's inside, but the 8 month old is happy with ripping the paper and stuffing it in her mouth.

Our son's house is situated by a wildlife corridor, and we could sit at the dining room table and watch the deer, birds, squirrels, foxes and other critters come and go.   Soon it was our turn to leave.   As our plane approached the airport outside OKC the next night, we could see the vibrant lights and decorations glowing along the streets.

My grass spider (Agelenopsis sp.) is no more.   Before I left she was still running around (although more erratically) on her web woven among the orchid leaves. No sign of her now. She never found a mate, but dutifully kept her web in shape while she waited for food or company.   The foregoing weeks I tried to find insects for her and would toss them onto her web.   She was incredibly fast as she charged to her meal.   The insect population in November and December tends to drop dramatically, which is why the life cycle of these spiders usually ends at this time as winter arrives.   My little eight-legged friend is gone and I shall miss her.

Please keep your plants watered.   It is DRY out there.   At my house October had 1.61 inches of rain (normal is about 3.5 inches), November saw 1.92 inches (normal 2.3 inches) and December only 0.74 of an inch (normal about 2 inches).   Meteorologists are talking about a deepening drought, so take heed and keep your plants and wildlife hydrated.

Happy 2017.