Friday, January 30, 2009

Who do you think?

I drive to work on a country road surrounded by fields. These days, the plows have left piles of dirty snow all along the road, three or four feet high in most places.

This morning I sped along listening to NPR. My concentration was (sadly) on the economic crisis, so my gaze left and right did not focus on anything much. After all, the landscape was just so much dirty snow.

Or was it?

Suddenly, as I drove past, one chunk of snow turned its head ever so slightly to follow my movement.

Who do you think?

A Snowy Owl, aka Great White Owl or Bubo scandiacus! People talk about seeing owls, but I'd never seen one out in a field. It was perched, I didn't see it fly, but it was magnificent in its presence and glorious in its bright white plumage. How I wish I'd had my camera. This photo is the same owl caught by Josh Haas (see his website here).

I always wonder how little sparrows and finches keep warm in the dead of winter. The owl appeared to be quite still and comfortable sitting on the banked snow. Peering around, searching for a mouse, pointedly ignoring me.

I smiled the rest of the way to work.

Addendum February 7: Bird-brained friends Charley and Natalie report seeing the snowy owl just across the street from where I saw him -- so he's still in the area!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Sunshine is streaming down on us here at Busy Solitude Farm. All the critters perk up with the bright light, despite the single digit temperatures.

Just look at the ridge of Tweedledum's comb. The sun streaming through the window helps to warm all that blood rushing through the tissue.

The house pets enjoy the sunshine, too. Oskar did a bit of heat-seeking this afternoon, finding a strong ray of sun for his afternoon nap. Look at those big mitts of his just glowing in the light!

Of course no one finds sunshine more soothing than a cat, as Luke demonstrates on the La-Z-Boy.

Even my NeBoShone pine cast a long shadow this afternoon.

I sat outdoors with a cup of Constant Comment tea, pulled off my sunglasses and leaned back my head to absorb some rays, make some vitamin D, and pretend for just a few minutes that the gardens were in full bloom, green grass under my feet, trees fully leafed-out. I could almost smell the lilies. But that dream must wait a few months.

It won't be long now!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let the Celebration Begin!

Oh, sure, you think I'm talking about the amazing events in Washington DC! The whole world anticipates great things there.

But nope, I guess mine is a smaller celebration. Today is my birthday. It's an insignificant one that precedes one of the big landmarks. I turned 49 today. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that I was on the road to being an exotic dancer (that's my 8x10 glossy above, with my astonished sister Jen). Instead, I followed a more straight and narrow path.

I feel this is a year of big things. Fine tuning the direction of things to come. Taking care of some grown-up business, like writing a will. Any volunteers to take in dogs, cats and chickens in the event of??? I'll make it worth your while! Time to remind myself of my priorities, reducing distractions and maintaining focus.

All of my life, I've felt that there was so much time to come. At 50 one has to recognize that a good deal of it is already past, and it's time to take action on those dreams that have fermented all these years.

Anticipate big things, sooner rather than later!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


we have left undone those things
which we ought to have done
and we have done those things
we ought not to have done

--from The Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Crowdown at Busy Solitude

It's my first day with absolutely no need to go to work since Christmas, so I went to visit the chickens with my camera. A thin overcast of clouds fills our skies. That allows bright light to come in the chicken pen window -- nice for photos.

Egglebert came and perched on one of the PVC bars. As I talked to him, he began to crow. This first photo is fuzzy because I turned off the flash on the camera, hoping to get his comb backlit from the window. You might notice the back end of his comb looks like some schmutz on it. That's frostbite. Roosters with huge combs like his risk it in the winter. Each time he crowed, I crowed back at him "cock-a-doodle-doo!"

You'd be surprised how close that actually approximates his call! This second photo shows how he frequently does a major wing-flap before crowing. It's an impressive sound -- the air being forced through the wingfeathers, slapping on his sides just before he stretches out his neck and lets another "cock-a-doodle-doo" bust out. Wow!

Now, while I was interacting with Egglebert, Tweedledum pecked around at my feet, carefully watching the camera. He cocked his head to get a better look when the flash lit, seeming to assess the situation carefully. Then he left us for the other side of the pen.

Next thing I knew, a huge "flap flap flap" came from the other side, and then a froggy "cock-a-doodle-doo" which was decidedly not from Egglebert, who remained with me!

Sure enough, I caught Tweedledum in his wind-up, flashing those beautiful black and white wings, stretching his neck long, then pulling it back to tuck his chin before erupting in an adolescent croak -- "cock-a-doodle-doo!" I love the way his neck feathers are sort of a yellowy-tan color instead of white. It's subtle enough that I sometimes think he's gotten into something to taint them. And his black tailfeathers have the gorgeous green irridescence of a Black Australorp hen. He's quite a handsome fellow.

Well, Tweedledum kept up the crowfest, standing proud above the flock, showing off his pipes. Egglebert stopped crowing, perhaps stepping back to say "it's not high noon and I will not participate in a crowdown today!"

I realize now that I have heard Tweedledum crow in the morning some days when the windows were open. Now I'll recognize Egglebert's smooth, Sinatra-style crow as distinct from Tweedledum's rather Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin-esque pipes!