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All This Useless Beauty

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nashville warbler in a young cherry tree.

It's all happening too fast, going away too fast. The blackpoll warblers are in; they're the latest migrants. I'm starting to see female warblers coming through, another sign that migration is winding down (males migrate first, so they can set up their territories before the females arrive). It's been a beautiful spring, what we've been able to see of it through the constant travel and the pouring rain. Everything is lush beyond belief; my gardens are burgeoning. I planted some zinnia seeds today, looking forward to July blossoms for the butterflies and hummingbirds. Everything grows when it rains all the time. I'll have mesclun and arugula (rocket!) tonight.

I'm off again this weekend to give a Saturday talk and lead a Sunday morning field trip at Beaver Creek Wetlands near Dayton, Ohio. Praying that whatever digital projector they come up with will talk to my Mac laptop. Hoping it doesn't rain for the field trip, but figuring it will. Why break precedent with the rest of the spring? Nursing a whopper of a sinus infection, sore throat and all, trying to get my voice in shape to record some commentaries tomorrow before I leave. I sound like Timmy at the bottom of the well. Schlepping kids to sports events 30 miles away. Whoops, gotta go to town on the way and buy red tube socks and black pants for the uniform, gotta buy a third ball glove for Liam, who has a knack for leaving them wherever he happens to be. Hope whoever found them is enjoying them. Cleaning house, again. I wouldn't mind it so much if I didn't have to do it every week, if it would just keep for a bit longer. How does a boy not notice he has a Driscoll strawberry stuck to the sole of his shoe? They're big.

All right. Enough about doing too much. We all do too much. Outside, it all goes on without us, all this useless beauty*, and we can go out and look at it, or we can keep running on the gerbil wheel. Outside, the hooded warbler sings his syncopated song, higher than you'd think to look.He checks his flank for a louse.Right across the driveway, the Kentucky warbler answers with his galloping trill. He doesn't willingly grant a glimpse, much less a good picture, but he's so worth the effort.How did we get so lucky, to have both these birds breeding along our driveway?

Back on the deck, facing the day, I see an indigo bunting, a piece of lapis snagged in the willow top.He flies to the sycamore we transplanted from the vegetable garden to the back yard. How it has grown--it's a little giant, an open-grown, symmetrical beauty, just beginning to show leopard spots on its bark.Its other choice was to be pulled up. I'm glad we transplanted it. It drinks the water that comes off the roof and pretends it's on a riverbank.

Such riches we're given, bounteous treasure for free, and most of us don't even stop to collect it. I count myself in that number, most days, as my gerbil wheel of the things I should do turns.

A Nashville warbler finds caterpillar after caterpillar in a young cherry.
He shows me his ruddy crown
and strikes a pose that pleases.
Thank you, warblers.

Try to catch the last salvo of spring migration, wherever you may be. In the far North, it's just getting going. In the South, birds are already fledging young, the migrants long gone to their breeding grounds. It all goes on around us, and it's good to gather it in, like a flower that will soon be spent.

*thanks to Elvis Costello for that album title


Ahh...the gerbil wheel, a bane and a comfort. Today is blowing 30mph with a few flakes mixed in. The gerbil wheel is not too bad. When I have to work on Saturday and it is glorious I will curse the wheel.

Aren't there little clippies for mitts like there are for mittens? That makes me laugh.


It's ironic that just today I was thinking of another place - a place where the migrants rest and stay for a while and where the beauty takes your breath away every day. It's that beauty that heals a tired, sometimes cranky soul (wink).

Hope you're feeling a lot better real soon! Have a terrific weekend, rain or shine.


It has come and gone rather fast this year, hasn't it? I did not have near the visitors I had last year passing through, but the beauty is there just the same. Have a good weekend Julie.

Oh Julie, thanks a million for taking the time to snap those warbler photos. They're priceless.

I wish I could beam you to our place in Ontario. We have about 40 feet of very old lilacs about to bloom. In the winter the bare branches show their twisty, lacy bones, but now everything is a beautiful wall of green. You would love it.

I love your blog! Beautiful pictures.

Yes, this season is packed with hurried souls--glad you were able to preserve some moments with your warblers.
But it must be bittersweet to know that while heading out to lead others in their spring rituals, you'll leave wonders of your own behind.

(but I suppose there's no "good" time to be away!)

You need a Neti pot--it does nothing for busy souls, but works miracles on sinuses!!

As for your question at the end of the second paragraph: I think it's because he's a little boy!

It does seem that we wait so long for spring and then it goes away too fast. Great photos.

Hope you are soon rid of your spring cold. That's one thing that always wants to linger around.

Ahhhh...what a treat to view these beauties against the blue sky! Feel better soon..wish I was going on your field trip too...I must sign up for one in my area! Happy birding to you!
A fellow Nature Blog participent nice to meet you! :) NG

You could come to Roneau, we are just getting female warblers.

Be well.

I'll join the chorus on hoping that you feel better soon. Oh, I've been spinning that gerbil wheel for so long that somethings gotta give soon. Work has gotten beyond crazy and being single and trying to maintain my home, yard, animals and outside birds has left me exhausted in mind and body.

For a while now I've been contemplating selling my house and getting a nice condo where my responsibilities would be cut in half with no yard to deal with. Then, two nights ago I was on the front porch and heard the first swallow? of the season. Whatever bird it is, they come out at dusk and fly very high catching bugs and make a distinct two-toned call. I thought (even though I don't have nearly the beautiful birds you have) how I would miss being able to step outside to see and hear things if I lived in a condo. Again, I don't know what the answer is, but somethings gotta give--Possumlady's getting cranky!!

I hope you feel better soon Julie.

I'm hoping to see some early morning warblers in my neighbor's woods tomorrow morning. He gave me his OK to "trespass" this evening but warned me to watch out for the cattle!

I thought of you this afternoon when I noticed a lilac bush finally getting ready to bloom. Spring is SO late in Minnesota this year!

A beautiful slice of life there, julie. I love the stories of the kids interspersed with the sightings of these wonderful warblers. Our warblers only come by for a day or two and are gone. We saw them in the pond water-bath. The Wilson's, Yellow, and Orange-crown-- oh how they flit and move on.

Hope you are feeling better.

Indeed, it's all going so quickly. I've been waking up extra early just to see warblers in the mornings before work, and I've even gotten some decent photos this time!

Still, we're in the middle of a cold snap (highs in the low 40s); feels like March again.

Feel better.

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