Friday, July 1, 2011

Newsletter - 7/1/11

Hello Dearest Friends!

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Red-bellied Woodpecker Fledgling
We've been having an amazing summer here in central Virginia that has been like Spring.  The birds seem to be doing well with it since we're still pumping out bird babies all around our habitat.  They sure love the luxury of our feeders, although this young 'un flew to the feeder after it's mother ate and tried to figure out how to get the food.  It pecked on the plastic for a bit and then flew off to tell one parent that he could not possibly manage feeding himself, so they need to get busy.

We've had plenty of rain for the plants, cool nights (57-67), breezy pleasant days in low 80's here on the screened porch where I work. Right now it's 1:16 PM on June 30th and it's only 80 degrees.

Last night when we sat out on our chaise chairs to watch the birds display their bedtime routines, I grabbed the light blanket on the back of my chair and covered my legs. I'm not a cold-natured person, but last night's low was 57. I suppose those who love the heat are not very happy, but I feel like I'm in Heaven. It's been hard not to dream what it would be like to live in constant 60-80 degree weather. Visions of Costa Rica come to mind often.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins
Sunflower Planted by Gardener Squirrel
The squirrels are a blessing to us. They plant sunflower seeds and now and then the deer leave the buds to grow and mature so we can actually see them bloom. As you can see by this photo, they nibbled off the leaves, but didn't eat the head so it is now blooming and I'm very happy to see it in our garden this year.

There's another smaller one that is just about to bloom also. I find that planting things densely allows for some treasures to be hidden from even the deer if they're amongst plants that they do not like. Salvias are one such plant that they have never touched.

July is upon us and in our area of the mid-Atlantic we see the first brood of immature hummingbirds appearing at our flowers and feeders. I'm already keeping a watchful eye.  Such a tiny bird with miraculous annual journeys that truly display the magnitude of God's creativity and displays to us humans that through Him, we can accomplish all things. Too often we speak the Scripture about being able to do ALL things through Christ which strengthens us (Phil. 4:13), as we launch out headstrong and determined to do it in our own strength. And then we wonder why we fail in such endeavors.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Fawn Visiting Our Backyard
This past week our deck has hosted safflower seeds for a new batch of Carolina Chickadees (or are they Black-capped, I cannot tell).  Not only have continual new fledglings been appearing at our feeders, we've had one of the does bring her fawn around to dine at the area we place our fruit and veggie scraps.

Although Mama was comfortable with me delivering the plate of scraps to her, the baby's instincts were good to leap back into the forest.  What a beautiful little thing.  So precious and innocent.

Speaking of deer, many of you know that the community in which we live, which has 4400 homes, has had a battle between residents going on over the wildlife.  Some people consider their plants more important than animal life and have wanted the deer killed.  We've been fighting that for 8 years and recently been promoting three candidates for the Board here that would be in favor of balancing wildlife and people.  The election took place and last week we were elated to find out our 3 candidates won the 3 open slots.  What a relief!  I hope things will now be different and more educational programs will be forthcoming so we can all live in harmony ... well, all those who enjoy harmony.  I think some people thrive on conflict.

The Trim Color is Called 'Sauteed Mushroom'
Being in this home almost eleven years, we decided we'd do some updating this year in areas that needed some maintenance.  One of those items has been to paint the interior.  We did the walls back in January and began the trim a few weeks back.  I always loved to paint (came by it naturally from my dad) so it's hard for me to just call in a painter.

It's also hard for me to do the painting.  So I compromise (that's what life is all about, right?).  I begin the project and do a bit each day and after a couple of weeks of that I'm ready to call the painter.  She arrived on Monday and worked most of three days and will be back next week.

Then the carpet folks will be coming in.  This is not the kind of thing I call fun.  I'd rather build a new home than to do remodeling and have to live in it while it's going on.  I am so easily distracted. But I do so appreciate it all when it's done and over with!

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - St. John's Wort Bloom
with Four Visitors - Seems Like tiny Bees
Click to view larger photo & add comment if you know.
On our deck we keep a bunch of potted plants that the deer would eat in the ground.  They are all coming into bloom so my view of the deck when I work on the screened porch is beginning to get bright with colors.

There's pink garden phlox that the hummingbirds, wasps and bees enjoy, black-eyed susans that the goldfinches love, heritage petunias with an aroma of old-fashioned gardens, stonecrop sedum that is a bee and butterfly magnet, a couple of young Japanese Maples from Morven Estate, and the glorious morning glories which are a first this year.

The squirrels sometimes get naughty with our deck plants.  Two years ago they thought the black-eyed susans were for them.  When the seed heads began to ripen, they would climb up the stems until they dropped down to the deck from their weight and then chomp off the flower head and sit and eat the seeds.  I saw them just as they began doing this and although one part of me was crying for the plants, another knew there would be plenty of seeds for the goldfinches, and I couldn't help but laugh at them as I grabbed my camera to take a video of the squirrels destroying the plants.  As I watched, I lamented about the fact that when our son, Benjamin, was growing up, I certainly was not entertained by naughty behavior.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Off Duty Guard Squirrel
at Our Front Porch Doorway
Our squirrels appreciate our habitat and they schedule themselves to guard our property since we don't have any dogs, for which they are very appreciative.  So, we find that after they've finished their guarding shift they like to lay about as if they've had a really hard day's work.  Well, we know it's not easy to be greedy.  Squirrels show us a bit of this bad character quality since they don't seem to like to share at all.

All the diversity of these creations show us a tiny part of our Heavenly Father's incredible creativity and majesty.  If He can come up with so much beauty that we can choose to surround ourselves with, imagine how much more He can handle any of our enormous problems.

That's why I love nature so much ... it's a continual reminder to me that I am more important than the lilies of the field arrayed in all their own splendor.  He may not operate in my time table because His focus is on our eternal life, not just this one on earth, and He only allows things into our lives that will turn out for good.  All of God's goodness is portrayed before me in a garden and forest.

BEFORE - November 2000
In case you're lamenting that you live amidst asphalt and concrete, let me assure you that you can create a spot of nature in even the smallest yard or balcony.  Our front yard was bare in the front yard except for some trees.  It didn't take long to fill it with perennials, bushes and more trees, much of which was dropped in by birds or given to us by neighbors.  You can find free plants in many ways.

As our plants multiplied we kept sharing them around the property.  We learned what the deer would and wouldn't eat and focus on those plants they left alone.  The first digital picture I have of our front yard is from June 2006 and the AFTER photo looks like a jungle.

May God's peace over your household.
May you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Love and Hugs,

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The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2011 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from The link to use is:

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