Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Little Apartment In the Little Woods.

 As much as my husband and I complain about our living quarters,(Too small, too small and way too small), there are a few perks.  We live within walking distance to just about everything;  the corner store where you can buy the best penny candy, the hospital, schools, the vet, a pretty decent coffee house.


  This is my 'back yard.'  Yes, it's small.  Tiny, even.  You can't really tell, but my rock garden is behind Alex.  The Snowball tree hides my kitchen window.  To the left of it, the building extends about two feet then extends out about five feet, creating a corner.  When we moved into our apartment fifteen years ago, there was no rock garden, or Snowball tree.  Grass.  Throughout the years, trees were rooted and planted.  A gift from a friend,  my Butterfly Bush, while it's bloomed every year for the past six years, exploded with the most blossoms I've ever seen this Summer.

If you are sitting where my son Alex is, and look straight ahead, you'll see 'The Hill.'  The very same hill that my oldest son used to grab a pillowcase and pretend he was "Mario" with his 'flying cape' (All of you Super Mario Brothers 3 lovers will get that). The same hill that Alex broke his foot playing on, and he same hill that we still sled down every snowy winter.







Now, turn and look to your left. Just to the right of  the tree and those drainage rocks is the corner. Look up and there is the very small clump of evergreens that my very wee sons deemed, "The Forest"   Many 'secret clubs' were housed there;  It's a perfect place to hide.  A great brown carpet of evergreen needles four inches thick makes it cozy. Unfortunately, it's also a great place for folks to sneak their first cigarettes or smoke pot.  Funny, people forget that I've lived here for so long.  I have eyes behind my head and can hear every sound.  BUSTED!  I'm rambling.  Anyway,  it's a very dense, yet tiny little ecosystem and throughout the years, we slowly got to know it and became well acquainted.

This past Spring, we noticed that not only were things growing at record speeds, but a lot more wildlife moved in.  Now we have always seen a LOT of animals out back;  Fox; both red and grey, deer, skunk, raccoon, badgers, moles, bats,
and of course, squirrels and what we call 'Chippies'... the adorable chipmunks.  Suddenly there were so many birds!


A trip to the Botanical Gardens in Wheaton, MD this past spring really got us interested in birding.  We spent two hours outside the Nature Center, just watching, listening to, and making notes about the birds we saw.  Lots of feeders, too.  We knew we had Yellow Finches on the other side of our building (at the main entrance) but never saw one out back.  Ever.


I decided to get a Thistle Sock.  A mesh, tubular 'sock' that has teeny holes all over it, that you fill with Thistle seeds.  Yellow finches love it. 
It took three days for them to find it. Now, not only do we have Yellow Finches, but also House Finches!  Gorgeous mulberry colored birds! This little Yellow Finch is perched upon one of my garden ornaments, and about to frolic on its hanging star.  Nothing better than swinging on a summer day.

I have never had any luck growing a veggie garden as there is just way too much wildlife, here.  Planting flowers didn't seem to work, either.  I had a crazy idea;  If you can't beat the weeds, might as well make them look nice. I stared a rock garden.  It's still a work-in-progress, but it's coming along.  The last plant that I tried to grow from seed were Coleus.  Dad had them all over the shady parts of our garden in Northwest Park.  Seeing these happy, loud, and vibrant plants always reminds me of home.  I needed some;  they transport me back to 1975.  Dad planting them.  Ma and I watering them and counting all their colors.

  My garden is my sanctuary;  I sit outside and look.  I think.  I reminisce and contemplate.  I had a seed packet and thought "why not?"  By golly, they grew!  So, according to the Burpee package, they need shade.  LOTS of shade.  I planted in the shade.  Now, my little corner of the earth gets sun from 10:00AM through 4:00PM, but thanks to the Snowball tree, half of the garden is in shade, and the other half gets a least four hours of direct sunlight.  Since I did my planting in the evening, I inadvertently put four seedlings in the sun area.



  Well guess what, Darlings?  The Coleus in the shade (photo on left), while they are growing, are tiny.  The Coleus in the sun (Below) are flourishing! Big, strong, proud!  I'm rambling, again. 

In building my rock garden, I tried to put in hills, valleys and little nooks to plant clover in. I love clover. I also planted Violets.  I love hearts, and those heart-shaped leaves make me happy.  I had an area between to larger stones and I thought I'd put my potted Ficus Tree there.  I had a lovely large round Terracotta dish that I could stand it in, to catch the water.  Well, it likes sun, so I moved it, leaving the round terracotta dish.  I wondered what would happen if I filled it with water:  Instant watering hole for my feathered friends!  Now I fill it every day, making sure it's clean.  On super-hot days, I spoil my darling birdies by replacing the hot-stagnant water with cool fresh water.  Anything for my birdies!

Now, I have a new family of House Wrens living in a hanging metal flower pot that has been attached to my wall on my patio for ten years.  Actually, this is the second family.
Here is the first family.  Four itty-bitty House Wrens.  At first we were nervous about even sitting on our patio, but soon learned that we could, but only until Daddy had supper for mom and the kids.  He'd sit in the tree and firmly ask us to leave.


The Current Momma: 
Moving in, day!  Momma and Daddy House Wren work really hard building.  This photo was taken by me in my kitchen using a zoom lens.  We hardly see them right now, but Momma is nesting and Daddy is constantly at her beck and call, bringing her wonderful morsels of insects and berries.  Honestly, it's been so quiet, that we thought they'd abandoned the nest.  Rob carefully peeked inside it last week and not only scared Momma out of the nest, but nearly fell over with shock, himself!  Yep, Momma's there! Just leave her be!

So there you have it.  Paradise?  Well no, but for a bird lover like me, and now my husband, it's nice.  We are always being sung to. All genres of bird-music;  Finches,  Tufted Titmice, Grackles, Crows, Mocking Birds, Blue Jays the occasional Hawk,  Cardinals, Mourning Doves (They feast on  seeds other birds have spilled under the bird feeders), and even Woodpeckers.

Birds fly to the watering hole daily, now.  On days it's not raining, you can expect to see many birds in the Snowball tree, playing on the swing and swimming in their pool.  Sometimes when I sit outside, I feel as if they want to be nearer to me; daring themselves to trust me.  Maybe they know that it's us that is providing this playground for them?

One thing that is missing from my garden?  I'd love a statue of St. Francis.  After all, he did speak to the birds.  I was named after him, too.  I pray to him.

It is said that, one day, while Francis was traveling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds". The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them:
My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you... you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore... always seek to praise God.

Oh, and one more thing;  Most of you that know me know that have a Parakeet. I've always had them. I can count on one hand the days in my life where I didn't have one.  Fresca is blue, green, white, and old.  He is spoiled out of his rotten little mind, too.  Our third baby.  With all of the birds hanging out now, he now has companions.  Once in a while, he will fly onto the floor near my screen door and 'talk to the friends."  I will hear the birds nearby and say to Fress, "Your friends are looking for you, come see!  Look!  The Friends are here!"  Sure enough, here comes Fress, landing on the arm of the couch.  Then, his head will bob up and down (A sure sign he is interested and about to go investigate), and down he goes.  Then he starts chirping.  LOUDLY.  There are times when I am in my bedroom and he will fly in (Actually, he follows me everywhere).   I'll pull up the blinds and slide open the window.  More friends!  One of the feeders is straight across from my bedroom window.  The sound of the window sliding open beckons Fresca and he will chirp his greetings to his cousins. 



 Until next time, Darlings,

Peace.  Coming up next blog:  "Butterflies, Butterflies In My Tree; How Many Butterflies Do You See?" Or If You Sneeze, You Are Blessed By Fresca.

7 comments:

  1. Absolutely wonderful prose...I felt like I was right there with you...sitting at peace, listening and watching the birdies...wish I could meet Fresca and see all your green handiwork...I feel so close to you, Pramps...

    cuz Karen

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  2. I loved every word of this. Karen's right, it was as if we were right there, in your "paradise of birds."

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  3. wow, i feel like i've had a meditation session; thank you!
    -donna

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  4. {{Hugs}} Thanks, Donna... from one bird lover to another! MWAH!

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  5. Your bird sanctuary sounds beautiful, how blessed you are! Makes me miss you all more!

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