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Daily Archives: March 14, 2012

A Day at the Conservancy

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Today I finally had a day out and about all by myself, without just riding around being chauffeured by my husband and not being able to do much. I went to the Conservancy to be one of the hike leaders for the Howard Legacy Leadership Institute on the Environment (HoLLIE) class finishing their course work and beginning their internships across the county non-profits.

I graduated from HoLLIE and volunteered at the Conservancy, working on planning programs like the one tomorrow night with Tony Geraci talking about healthy lunches for school aged children. The time I spent working with the committee to bring new and interesting programs to the site has been satisfying to me. I have met so many wonderful people, who along with me give freely of their precious time on educational programs, field trips, and much more. The Gudelsky Center is the location for the artwork, and the nature center is in the basement.

We went to visit Ranger, our rescued barred owl who was out last night visiting a County library, I hear.

The bee hives, where Howard County Beekeepers harvest the honey that they sell and give part of the proceeds to the Conservancy, and I buy to use in my cooking.

Today what made it even more fun was the opening of the art exhibit for the juried art show. The exhibit goes through April 19th, when the silent auction takes place. I already have my eye on an amazing piece made of porcelain. There’s also a whimsical one made with marbles. I will be writing about the art show later, once I take a few pics in better light than noon today.

While out and about on the trails, we searched for and found skunk cabbage opening up, along the east branch near the north end of the property. Always a sure sign of spring. A beautiful day, with temps far above what they should be in March.

Tomorrow is a full day there. I will be there for a history walk with the volunteers at 8:30. There is elementary school training for volunteer naturalists at 9:30, and Tony Geraci’s program at 7 PM.

Sometimes I do wonder how I ever found time to work.


The Sounds of Spring

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We seem to concentrate on what spring looks like and forget to mention its effect on our other senses, like hearing.

This past week the red winged blackbirds returned to my feeders, with their short sharp calls. As I wake in the morning, the songs of all the birds in the trees are much louder and more varied than in the winter as more returning birds take up residence on the property line. You really know the season has changed for good when the hummingbirds return, and when they become so accustomed to you, they feed right next to you and you can hear their wings.

Plus, with the windows open, you hear them waking you up in the morning instead of the alarm. The catbirds and sparrows return in force. Babies are everywhere. They peep incessantly. They then start to venture out into the grass, and you can always find them running around, peeping and if you get too close, you risk a protective mama making noise and chasing them. This one ventured through the parking pad to the tall grass.

With that open window, I also get serenaded by my neighbor’s lone rooster living among their hens. He crows all the time, but closed homes in the winter don’t allow you to hear him.

The cows on the farm over the hill from us are heard as well. They are venturing farther out in the fields closer to us and the sound carries over to our front yard.

The distant highway traffic noise is still audible, but will fade once the trees get their leaves. Only in winter do you really know there is a highway not far from us. The summer cocoon of forest shields that sound for more than half the year. It is louder these days because so many trees were damaged or fell during the blizzards and the hurricane. I noticed it this winter as some of our buffer is gone.

Last night the first real sounds of spring, my next door neighbor fired up the tractor and took it for a spin, knowing that with this mild weather and week of temps in the 70s, we will be cutting grass sooner than ever. Spring has really arrived the first time you hear John Deere and Kubota motors (the tractors of choice in the immediate vicinity).

And the bunnies and squirrels have babies, which means hunting season begins for the foxes. Have you heard bunnies or squirrels? Do you know what kind of sounds they make? We now do, because of living in close proximity to both.

The first time I hear that screaming of a bunny being pursued or caught by a fox means the circle of life continues just outside our door. We have watched that drama unfold beneath our bedroom window, actually observing three rabbits below trying to lure a fox from their hidden nests and scattering in all directions followed by the sight of the fox chasing them into the brush. I never found any evidence of a kill, but I know rabbits will scream when injured or frightened. The three that scattered were not injured and ran, I believe to draw the fox away.

Life in the country. Different. Worth it.