Thursday, February 21, 2008
This morning dawned brilliantly clear, standing at 18 degrees. Last night, the kids and I danced in and out of our warm house every ten minutes or so, dragging ourselves off the couch to check on the total lunar eclipse. American Idol; lunar eclipse. From the ridiculous to the sublime.
First there was a nibble, then a bite, and finally at about 10:15 the entire disc of the moon was covered in shadow. The snow, once brilliant silver in the moonlight, took on a dull pinkish glow, and the night deepened like velvet. The moon was viscous and dull, swirled with burnt orange and violet. My photographs are hopeless. Some things must be left to the pro's, with their tripods and timed exposures. Resting a 300 mm. zoom telephoto lens on the top of one's daughter's shivering head produces less than admirable results. She is tall enough to serve as a tripod now, but I needed a bit more light than was offered by the slowly surrendering moon.
Liam was spooked, and he didn't want to be alone in the house with the moon doing things like that, so he put his coat on and trudged out with me and Phoebe to look, too. I have to think that eclipses were strange and scary to early people who, like Liam, couldn't have understood what was happening. Lunar eclipses make my heart race, but solar eclipses make me run around in circles, helplessly wondering. Have you ever seen birds fly to their roosts in a total solar eclipse? I have, twice, once when I was a child in Virginia and once here in Ohio, in early May of 1993. I love freaky nature, nature that's bigger and stronger and stranger than any of us.
Cold as it was, it was such a beautiful morning. I scuttled from window to window in the house, snapping pictures of the birds clustered around it. They come here for the food and the cover, and yes, for the sight of me inside, and for the hope that I'll emerge to stoke their feeders full again. Make no mistake, they are hoping to get my attention by sitting close to the windows, looking decorative. Ahem? Sunflower's getting low. I am beautiful, no? Feed me.
Hello, Zick? Juncos like suet dough. They like it a lot. Here's my feathery butt. Cute, yes? Feed me.There's been a big influx of goldfinches lately. They love the gray birches we have planted all around the house, and they work on the seed cones as they wait for a place at the feeders.
Junco tracks give silent testament to the wildlife value of gray birches. Think of birches as showering food all winter long, and you have them from a junco's eye view. No wonder juncos like snow. It makes their food so easy to see.
I have to confess that the junco tracks are a bit more concentrated around the front door, where I throw suet dough several times a day.These are the tracks of a single dawn, in the twilight hours before I get up, put on my rubber clogs, and go out to slop the juncoes. Yes, it's ridiculous. We have a lot of birds at Indigo Hill. And I love each and every one of them, down to their little pink toenails. Don't think they don't know it. In cold like this, in late February, when the daffodils should be blooming, as should the Norway maples, they make me feel needed.Have a wonderful weekend. Ours started yesterday, with a snow day. Just another four-day weekend for my barely-educated kids. When people ask, "You must home-school, right?" I answer, "Yes, in the winter, whether I like it or not."