Flora, Fauna, and Vistas of Berkshire County Massachusetts.
"The gilding of the Indian summer mellowed the pastures far and wide.
The russet woods stood ripe to be stripped, but were yet full of leaf.
The purple of heath-bloom, faded but not withered, tinged the hills...
Fieldhead gardens bore the seal of gentle decay; ... its time of flowers and even of fruit was over." -Charlotte Brontë
"The leaves fall patiently
Nothing remembers or grieves
The river takes to the sea
The yellow drift of leaves."
"When the blackberries hang swollen in the woods, in the brambles nobody owns, I spend all day among the high branches, reaching my ripped arms, thinkingof nothing, cramming the black honey of summer into my mouth; all day my body accepts that it is. In the dark creeks that run by there is this thick paw of my life darting among the black bells, the leaves; there is this happy tongue." -Mary Oliver
"January cold and desolate; February dripping wet; March wind ranges; April changes; Birds sing in tune To flowers of May, And sunny June Brings longest day; In scorched July The storm-clouds fly, Lightning-torn; August bears corn, September fruit; In rough October Earth must disrobe her; Stars fall and shoot In keen November; And night is long And cold is strong In bleak December." -Christina Giorgina Rossetti
The Three Fates
Sleeping In The Forest
I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. I slept as never before, a stone on the riverbed, nothing between me and the white fire of the stars but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths among the branches of the perfect trees. All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me, the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness. All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river? Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air - an armful of white blossoms, a perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies, biting the air with its black beak? Did you hear it, fluting and whistling a shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall knifing down the black ledges? And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds - a white cross streaming across the sky, its feet like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light of the river? And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have you changed your life?
- Mary Oliver
Ginger Holser, WDFW photos
Word Play with Animals
A sloth of bears A murder of crows A romp of otters A pack of wolves A rafter of turkeys A skulk of fox A scurry of squirrels A gaggle of geese A bevy of swans A trip of goats A labor of moles A parliament of owls A convocation of eagles A nest of snakes A hover of trout A leap of leopards A pride of lions A bouquet of pheasant A cloud of grasshoppers
February we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, so I offer the following partial list to honor those animals that mate for life. Only about 3 percent of the 4,000 mammal species are monogamous (and Homo sapiens are not one of them).
Canada Geese Gray wolves Coyotes Red foxes Barn owls Bald eagles Mourning doves Bats Beavers Red-tailed hawks Wild pigs
And sadly, the beautiful Trumpeter swan, that will mourn the death of their mate until they die of grief.
What a lovely, brilliant sun-filled day! Temperatures were near sixty degrees, but I still found winter lingering at York Lake. This lake, at the Sandisfield State Park, is half in New Marlborough and half in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. There is this warning if you go to York Lake:
Be Bear Aware:
Don't forget you are in Black Bear country. Never physically confront, feed, torment or throw anything at bears. Take appropriate precautions with food so as not to attract bears.
"March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice." - Hal Borland
~We had our first Black Bear visitor last night, March 18th!~
Lumbering through the yard at dusk, was a black bear, a male with a large round head, (females have a pointed, narrower head), about 400 pounds or more! He was huge, healthy looking with a beautiful shiny coat, and he was hungry. Sitting under the birdfeeders, he wasn't leaving, even with all the yelling and bell clanging. I have an old ship's bell on my porch, which I ring with gusto when the bears show up - it is the 'neighborhood bear alert' bell. This bear wasn't scared; he would run a few yards, then come right back. Time now, to take in all the birdfeeders folks, unless you want these visitors on a daily basis.
It was too dark for me to get a photo of last night's visitor, all that you can see are two glowing spots in the dark. Below are pictures of past bear visitors.
Equinox Means "Equal Night," because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes. On March 20, 2010, at precisely 1:32 P.M. EDT, the Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, this is the moment of the autumnal equinox.
I have often thought about writing a wildlife book for children, and the chapter on the wild turkey would begin, “Do you know where the turkeys sleep? High in the treetops, standing on their feet!” For several years I followed a flock of turkeys, hiking along their trails through the woods every day, watching them come and go, mate and return with babies, and catching them asleep very early in the morning. They actually “roost” on branches high up in the trees, usually in a line along the edge of a ridge. Flying a short distance from the ridge to the top of a tree is an easy “lift” for a turkey - they generally do not fly far distances, or get very high off the ground. They stand, with their big claw feet wrapped on a good size branch, fluff out their feathers, tuck in their head, and stay that way until dawn. The descent in the morning is an easy “swoop” down out of the trees to land at the bottom of the hillside.
Beautiful, big and proud, we have all seen this bird, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) which is found in almost every area of the world. Many of us have seen huge flocks of turkeys - 30 or more at a time, but have you ever noticed just one? It repeatedly returns to the same area, or trail, never with any other turkeys, or if it happens on a flock, it will stay on the outskirts of the group, because if it ventures in the other hens chase it away. It becomes a loner, not chosen to be part of the flock, and lives out a solitary life in the wild.
In late summer, hens with their broods are emerging from the sheltering underbrush and low-lying areas around riverbeds and swamps where they have been nesting and raising their young since spring. They will join up with other hens and chicks to form large flocks (can be up to 100 turkeys in a flock). So you will see them roaming hillsides, spread out in many black dots across a wide open field, pecking along the side of the road, and coming into yards to check out birdfeeders. You might also catch a glimpse of a long line of young turkeys marching behind their mothers.
Eventually by late fall, the large flocks have separated into much smaller groups, with one or two toms to 6 or 8 hens, in preparation for the spring mating season. The “pecking order” or choosing does not appear totally random, as I’ve watched toms fight over hens and have actually seen hens switch from one group to another during a fight between the males, and switch back again, after one of the toms apparently “won”. There is no blood shed, or killing when the toms face off, they just do a lot of puffing, strutting and fluffing, and of course gobbling. Once the flock has regrouped, there usually remains a turkey or two not chosen, and it is not chosen for the simple, basic rule of the wild - survival of the fittest - the sick and weak are not wanted in the newly formed, smaller flocks. The one left behind is usually injured, old, or a young turkey not fully developed.
For several years we had “the lone turkey” in our yard, she was very old, it was apparent by her large hanging snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak and her wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin, which turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship. She had a very blue and bumpy face and neck marked with scratches and scars (we use to watch her through our binoculars), her feathers were pretty ragged and she limped – but could still fly high in a second if something startled her. She would sit under our bird feeding table during snowstorms, all hunched up, and just look so forlorn and miserable – she looked like she was wishing for greener pastures. She became use to our comings and goings and would never go very far from the yard. We’d see her sleeping in the high trees at the edge of our property, and she would be the first one in after I put out cracked corn and filled all the feeders. She had a very wise and calm presence, as if she had all the time in the world to sit out in the sun. She was our loner for several years, our guest that we called “old turkey-girl”, but sadly, last year she never returned, and we like to picture her having a gobbling good time in greener pastures.
Yellow-spotted salamander; On a Spring night, near Lake Buel in Monterey, MA you might come upon folks with flashlights stopping traffic so the salamanders can cross the road!
From Wikipedia: During the majority of the year, Spotted Salamanders live in the shelter of leaves or burrows in deciduous forests. However, when the temperature rises and there is a higher moisture level, the salamanders make their abrupt migration towards their annual breeding pond. In just one night, hundreds to thousands of salamanders may make the trip to their ponds for mating. Mates usually breed in ponds when it's raining in the spring.
Mr. Porcupine, trying to hide from me!
I've actually already seen a chip or two running around on the snowbanks!
Soon to be Butterfly!
And we can't forget the bears... they will be waking up SOON!