Blue jays and robins are a sign of winter in my neck of the woods.
Over the weekend a notion of mine, one that has been percolating around in this head of mine, kept roiling to the surface.
All winter long I have been noticing an absence…A hole in the local fauna…A disturbance in the seasonal balance. The flocks of blue jays and robins that normally trade off hours in our yard have been absent. Yes I’ve seen an occasional single bird of both species…But the flocks of twenty to fifty that used to pass through the yard…haven’t.
Now in most parts of this country robins are associated with spring and blue jays with summer. Here on the southeast Texas coast though both birds hang out in rather large noisy flocks through the winter months. Both species cover the yard and peck around in the brown grass for food. It has been happening for as long as we’ve been living here. It’s a seasonal occurrence that I have come to rely on…And this year it didn’t occur.
My place in the world.
Our three acres of old farmland sits just a bit down a road across a divided highway from the small town we call home now. One of the nice things about this piece of property is it backs up to about twenty acres of unfenced woods along Mustang Bayou. It makes for a relatively peaceful place to live and the woods give me a place to walk and enjoy nature without the civilizing effect of having to pay the taxes on a bigger place.
Take yesterday as an example, I went walking with #2 Grandson and our two dogs down the trail I keep cut through the woods and along the bayou. We took our time and enjoyed the walk. On the way back to the house #1 Grandson joined us. We wandered around a bit and the dogs took off after something they spotted in the grass in the place next door. Up flew a large light colored hawk with a white belly…He flew to the fence-line and settled in the tress there. I noticed a few smaller Red Tails harassing him in the tree. After a while I led the two boys back up to the house to play and went in for my binoculars to get a better look at the hawks. By the time I returned the large light hawk had moved back to our side of the field and was sitting pretty as you please about twenty yards away…Even with the uninterrupted viewing time and my copy of A Field Guide to Hawks of North America, I couldn’t quite figure out what species of hawk he was.
Which led me to this in my feedreader this morning…
While I was stalking around outside, with a north wind whipping up my britches, I decided the sixth floor of that nice warm Houston apartment building wouldn’t be a bad place to be, instead of here in the frozen woods.
And look, everything on this reservation is paid for, including the bird feeders that the raccoons tear up. Place ought to bring a nice price, since we fixed up the old house so the roof doesn’t leak, or anyway not much.
Well, I kept that notion in my head all day long.
Then, about dusk, I was sitting out on the porch because the wind had died, and the woods were quiet, and I was huddled down in my hoodie, feeling warm and comfortable. And across the road a coyote yelped a few notes, and closer to the house a great horned owl sent down his soft hoots.
That’s something I love dearly, and it’s not for sale inside Loop 610. Leave this place? No, not yet. (via Pesky raccoons give me grief | Leon Hale | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.)
The reason Leon Hale struck such a cord with me this morning is my wife keeps wanting to buy another house in a little subdivision near here. A little plain Jane track house on a little lot with a fenced in backyard (6′ wooden privacy fence), on a cul-de-sac street, with mother-in-law quarters in the house. Every time she brings it up, my mind snaps to the view from my back door and I start to cringe. Trying to visualize myself after all these years with a closed horizon just doesn’t compute. I have become to accustomed to the view of the woods 400 feet from my back door…To accustomed to having conversations with the Great Horned Owls as night falls…To accustomed to sitting meditation on the grassy height above Mustang Bayou.
So, yes Leon, I can empathize with what brought on your longing for the apartment living…And with what it was that made you decide the country place was worth the trouble.