Spring Thoughts

I am always a bit overwhelmed by the advent of spring.  The three or four winter months with their cold, snow, and darkness is pleasant enough at first, snuggling with the fire and seasonal decorations, but does eventually gets long and somewhat depressing. Then the calendar promises spring. Sadly, I expect it any day weeks before it arrives then one day, the light is a little different suggesting good things to come. As I observe this unwinding to spring I see so many things in the nature of people and mother nature that gives me a sense of hope. Here are a few of my thoughts and observations.

Hearing the first sounds of song birds makes me smile. The sun is on its way as the songs of winter birds are mingling with those arriving or passing through.  The extended hours of day light brings on an inner stirring – let’s move – let’s sing – let’s find new things to eat.

Several weeks ago I was awed by twenty cedar waxwings resting in the river oak growing outside my living room window creating quiet a portrait. This elegant bird just was passing through.

I am waiting for the humming birds and orioles….feeders displayed.

 

A true sign of spring is putting out the birdbaths. I have created elegant mosaics in their basins, placed pennies made prior to 1983(still have copper to slow down the algae) and placed them in just the right spots. Birds announce the baths arrival as the less than shy chickadee waits for the first drink on the limb above my head. But ouch, the next morning the basin is on the ground. Who does this. My trail camera lets me know.

While establishing his territory a male robin mistook his reflection as a challenger. For days he charged this false foe. I laughed as his footprints showing all his toes are well displayed on the window. He must have found a mate as he has not been seen for a few days.

It is my observation that the male duck is a first-rate caregiver. I am observing pairs flying over head or waddling through the open fields. Landing in a large puddle in my yard the male watches the female swim then waddle over to eat the corn left for the deer. Only when she is done and preening beneath the pine trees

will he eat.  The couple explored my back hill checking out nooks and crannies for a nest. I believe our yard was rejected as I haven’t seen them for a couple of days and the puddle is now dry.

Ahh, but down state the great-great-great- grand-daughter of a duck I cared for was back nesting in the court-yard of the school in which I taught.  For years I made sure these ducklings and their mother found their way out of the courtyard. Upon retiring I found a willing volunteer to keep an eye out for them. Being a bit ahead of us weather wise the ducklings have hatched and made their parade out the building to a site unknown to us to this very day.

 

As I rounded the house to take the recycling out, there she was under the pine tree,  a large female rabbit collecting pine needles for her nest. I walked quietly not looking at her and she stayed. Returning to fill the bird bath I spotted her behind the sumac. I dumped some corn near the bird bath which she went to as soon as I turned by back. I left her alone but suspect she is building a nest nearby and we may be enjoying some bunnies in the near future.

The bee boxes are in the orchards ready for business. This is a sure sign the peninsula will be in full blossom very soon. The blossom sheer beauty and the promise of a future harvest is invigorating.  Farmers are  busy tending their trees, vineyards and fields, such noble work. The farm stands are sporting fresh maple syrup, marvelous eggs, leaving a spot for the soon to arrive asparagus. Mushroom hunters are out searching for the rare morel mushroom that makes its appearance with the forsythia disappearing with the lilacs. Today I observed a jogger stopped by a tree sorting through the grass hoping to find this mushroom treasure.

 

The first flowers of the season are appearing – dandelions, crocus, daffodils, tulips, forsythia, and hyacinths. The trees are leafing out, the willows first. All is good.

People too seem to renew their spirit with the coming of spring. We venture out of out homes and renew relationships with  our neighbors.  We notice our community and the life it holds. Sometimes, for a brief moment, we enter the lives of strangers renewing a sense of worth for all involved.

With the first signs of spring coming into view a friend and her husband drove to a doctor’s appointment. As they did they spotted a homeless man walking on the roadside.  Sadly, something we all have come notice without much thought.  On their return they saw the same man sitting on the side of the road rubbing his bare feet.  Stopping their car her husband asked the man’s shoe size….sadly he had larger feet than the driver. The driver however took off his socks and told the gentleman something was better than nothing. This small but tremendous act of kindness left both parties feeling needed and cared for.

A second friend had brought her dog to a canine eye specialist miles away from her home.  As she waited she observed a heavy set tattooed man bring in his small dog. He asked for towels as the dog was bleeding badly. The vet took the dog for examination not allowing the gentleman to observe. Do whatever you have too he said through his tears. The poor gentleman continued to weep. After multiple tests and blood work the diagnosis, an infected uterus. The dog would need to be spayed and hopefully the infection was contained or more surgery would need to be done. They brought out an estimated bill, $800. The gentleman became so distraught he was moved to another room where he made calls to his wife and mother. My friend asked to speak with him. She told him she was aware of his dog’s situation and she was an avid supporter of dog charities. She would like to pay the dog’s bill. He explained he had been referred to a voluntary vet clinic and would need less money but still had today’s costs. Between his wife, mother and his next pay check he felt he had enough to pay for spaying. Could they set up a payment plan so he could pay her back maybe through the vet?  She told the  gentleman you don’t need to know who I am and I don’t need to know you…..it is the dog that needs care.  She paid his days bill along with her own. The vet called my friend several days  later reporting that the pup was now healthy and at home.  Again…..people rejoicing in life.

Oh yes, a definite sign of spring…..baseball from small to tall.  I love it when my students start bringing their mitts to school. These well massaged hopes of great catches, the brightness in their eyes and smiles of a thought of a home run or maybe a grand slam.  Fathers and mothers:  “That’s my boy.” or ” Good eye.”  Grandparents cheering on… the most faithful of fans.

 

Yes, spring is a time to rejoice in life in a variety of ways….think about your spring….it will bring a smile to your face. I better get this published as in a few days it will be summer….the time we see the fruits of spring.

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Wildlife

Photo by Chris Rieser
Photo by
Chris Rieser

One of the many pleasures of spring is watching wildlife prepare for and raise their next generation. Both our bluebird houses are occupied, our raptor house is filled with squirrels, and we are hoping our bat house will soon be filled. There are various holes in the ground adjacent to our bird feeders and nests in the trees. I love watch the male ducks look after their mates and the hawks dance in the sky.

As many people I feel the need to keep all of nature safe. Big mistake, Mother Nature knows exactly what it is doing. We need to understand that all animals are as knowledgeable as we are of caring for and raising their families. Many of us, myself included, have interfered with this process bringing about unintended results. As April, May and June are  birthing months for much of our wildlife in Michigan it is important to be aware of how unnecessary we are in this process. The rule of thumb is….’Hands off.’ This is not to be cruel but rather informative as we all want to be helpful…it has taken time and willpower for me to trust the wildlife.

I was horrified when reading an article written by a local Wildlife Technician which mentioned that half of the fawns the Care Center receives are stolen from their mothers. It is not uncommon to come across a fawn in the woods or your garden at this time of year. They are curled up, motionless and make no attempt to run away. This may lead you to believe they are suffering, however all they are suffering from is stress from your presence. The fawn sees humans as predators and this is their natural reaction. The fawn’s mother more than likely left it there to keep it safe. The fawn’s coloration and lack of scent also promotes safety. If you touch the fawn you give it your scent which will not bother the doe but will make it possible for a predator to locate it.  The doe has gone off to feed and can be gone from 6-8 hours at a time. She knows her scent will attract predators. She will return several times a day to nurse her baby but will not approach if she senses danger and that is you.

If you have taken a fawn take it back to the spot you found it. If the spot presents an obvious danger place the fawn within 200 yards of the original spot. Fawns have been reunited with their mothers two to five days after they were removed. Never feed fawns as their digestive system are very sensitive and easily damaged. Skinny and wobbly is the norm. If it is too late to return the fawn or you are sure the animal has been abandoned or injured the animal must be turned over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation worker. These individuals are trained to care for wildlife. It is illegal to remove wildlife from their habitat. In most states wildlife belongs to the state.

So how do you know if an animal is in distress. The Humane Society gives the following advice:

Signs that a wild animal needs your help

  • Presented by a cat or dog
  • Evidence of bleeding
  • An apparent or obvious broken limb
  • Featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground
  • Shivering
  • A dead parent nearby
  • Crying and wandering all day long”

Capturing and transporting the animal

Never handle an adult animal without first consulting a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you. Once you’ve contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible.

Unless you are told otherwise, here’s how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport while you’re waiting for help to arrive.

1. Put the animal in a safe container. For most songbirds, a brown paper bag is fine for transport. For larger birds or other animals, use a cardboard box or similar container. First, punch holes for air (not while the animal is in the box!) from the inside out and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth. Then put the animal in the box.
2. Put on thick gloves and cover the animal with a towel or pillowcase as you scoop him up gently and place him in the container.
3. Do not give the animal food or water. It could be the wrong food and cause him to choke, trigger serious digestive problems or cause aspiration pneumonia. Many injured animals are in shock, and force-feeding can kill them.
4. Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children and all noise (including the TV and the radio)—until you can transport the animal. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat.
5. Transport the animal as soon as possible. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Because wild animals aren’t accustomed to our voices, they can become very stressed by our noises. If they’re injured or orphaned, they’re already in a compromised condition. Keep their world dark and quiet to lower their stress level and help keep them alive.”

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/injured_orphaned_wildlife.html

 

While mushrooming we found a day old fawn.

Traveling to one of our favorite spots for morel mushrooms my husband and I almost ran over this fawn. We got out of the car to visually check it and found it to be fine. We heard the mother snort in the woods across the road. We took this picture and left immediately. When we returned, without mushrooms sadly, it was gone. This was fortunate as we were unsure of how to leave the spot without causing additional stress.

Photo by Kylie and Carrie
Photo by Kylie and Carrie

Two of my favorite young women, Kylie and Carrie found a nest full of eggs in the wreath on their apartment’s front door.  What to do? This was the most frequently used door for both human and canine, of which there are three, residents of the home. It was decided the nest would remain where it was, the door would be used a little as possible and as gently as possible.

They trusted mama bird and mama bird appeared to trust them. This fuzzy little guy has come into the world ready for worms.

Photo by Carrie and Kylie
Photo by Carrie and Kylie

Morale of the story…..’Hands Off’ and appreciate from afar.

 

Sources:

www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/injured_orphaned_wildlife.html

Traverse City Record Eagle, Hands off Bambi!, April 7, 2016, 3B

 

 

 

 

 

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