Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Newsletter - 5/1/13

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The Nature In Us Newsletter

Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  When anxiety
was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy. -- Psalm 94:17-19

Happy May Day!

I hope it's a beautiful day where ever you are.  Here at Bluebird Cove we're seeing more and more green every day. The trees have leafed out so quickly and shades of green are everywhere filling in spaces that were so bare and colorless in winter.

The viburnums are in bloom, there's a few azalea buds the deer missed eating, so we have about a half dozen of red blooms outside the screened porch, the candytuft has pretty white flowers, and the columbines have just begun to bloom a couple days ago.

We have lots of wild blueberry bushes.  They were on the property when we moved in.  They continue to spread and grow providing nice little berries for the bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, deer, and raccoons.

Songbirds also consume the berries, which at our place, includes the Robin, Eastern Towhee, Brown Thrasher, and Bluebirds.  We must have more than a 100 of these bushes in groups spread throughout our one-acre property.

They are certainly hardy and are known to be fire-tolerant.  Now that's the kind of plants I like.  The ones who have an attitude that whatever life throws at them, they're going to survive.

© Donna L. Watkins - Low-bush Blueberry Blooms
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The lovely white blooms dangle from the plant looking like lanterns with a yellow light bulb inside.  They have a lovely scent to them.

We've put many hours into getting the property in order after the long winter.  We don't rake leaves in the Fall, but rather leave them on the ground to "age" so we can suck them up in the Spring and chop them to use as mulch in our flower beds.

We began doing that about 6 years ago and we've developed a yard full of hard-working earthworms who seem to have miraculously appeared.  With the rich castings (poop) they deposit, the plants are fertilized and the soil is aerated as they go about their lives.  A terrific addition to any garden.  There's also worm composting.  More info on earthworms?

Many years back shortly after we moved here to Virginia, we bought a Redbud tree since they look so beautiful all around rural Virginia in the Spring. The color just jumps out at you! These are native trees generally grown in zones 4-9 in the USA. So, we put it in the ground as we had many, many plants here at Bluebird Cove (what we fondly call our property), and as with many, many plants the deer chewed it up. We would watch over it and encourage it along even when the deer had taken a chunk out of its trunk.

At the time, we couldn't use any type of fencing around it - not allowed in the community rules. Over time the pines and cedars grew on our bank and our yard was basically not viewable from the street, so a couple of years ago we put some chicken wire around it which didn't seem to be noticeable even to us from the house. At the time we could not imagine how it had survived with the chunk out of its trunk but it really did well after we were able to protect it and we talked to him a lot also. Oh! I didn't mention the trees name is Mr. Bud. We enjoy naming some of our trees since we become quite attached and seem to form a relationship with them.

© Donna L. Watkins - Redbud Tree Blooms
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Last year Mr. Bud produced a few little bright pink buds but it seemed a stress for him and they never did begin to open. Seems they just dropped off, but his leafing was really increasing and by the end of the Fall, he had grown into a nice specimen of hope and determination.

How wonderful it was when I saw that Mr. Bud has blooms this year in various places on the branches. He looks really good and is proudly displaying his blooms while we rejoice with him that he didn't give up.

I suggest that you take the same advice. Never give up! You may get a lot of bites and chunks taken out of your life, but life doesn't consist only of bad circumstances. There's always good things if we dig deep enough. Don't let the devil convince you there's nothing good in your life. Some folks have started down that path and ended up with suicide.

Once we turn our thoughts over to what the devil wants us to hear, it's a slimy and slippery slope down to the Pit. Don't take the first step in that direction! Encourage yourself in the Lord and believe. That's what will supercharge your life ... continuing to believe there is good, there is hope, there is imagination and there are still miracles. It is said we get what we think about most. If the news makes you depressed and puts you in fear, turn it off and don't go back to it. There's a lot of good news out there ... but it's not what the media is wanting to report.

Last Fall we discovered a "volunteer" Redbud. The Master Gardeners seem to call "dropped in" plants "volunteers." I call them sent by God on the wings of a bird. Although the delivery doesn't come from the wings. Regardless, we dug it up and moved it to a key spot in the bed that's in front of the front porch outside of the dining room window. We called him Baby Bud. We protected him with the same type of circular fence made from chicken wire and he got his roots settled during winter and is now full of leaves and ready to grow tall! Mr. Bud will be encouraged to have a buddy (pun-intended) in the garden with him. More info on Redbud Trees.

© Donna L. Watkins - Wild Crabapple Tree in Bloom
with Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
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Another tree that has made an exceptional show this year was a "volunteer" Crabapple tree. We didn't even know what it was until it began to bloom a bit last year and we saw the crabapples on it. This year it was totally covered in blossoms with a heavenly scent. We had purchased a damaged Crabapple tree with some anniversary gift money from Randal's parents about six years ago and the tree does bloom a bit, but there is no scent to the flowers, so not all Crabapple trees are created equal. More information on Crabapple Trees.

How sweet it is to plant something that God put on your property and then watch over it until it delights in showing you a reflection of its Creator. I believe everything that God made shows us an amazing attribute of who He is.

We've had a lot of these Eastern Tiger Swallowtails floating around. They are huge butterflies and I love walking amongst them because they don't seem to be nervous creatures as some butterflies are. Monarchs especially seem to be fearless, but that could be because of their coloring and toxicity which doesn't make them prey for birds as with most butterflies. The “tiger” part of this butterfly’s name comes from the four black stripes that start at the outer, front edge of its wings.

We had a special visitor arrive on Earth Day (April 22). I was on the screened porch working and heard the crows making a huge fuss in the woods behind us. It reminded me of when they chase the red-shouldered hawk across the skies, but they were dive-bombing a tree branch and making quite a fuss, so I picked up the binoculars and saw that it was definitely a raptor in a tree far beyond our property.

© Donna L. Watkins - Bald Eagle in Back Woods
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View a Different Image of This Eagle
Actually it looked like an eagle, so I ran for the camera and my shoes and headed into the woods. The eagle didn't seem to mind me approaching although I kept my distance till I could get to where I could at least get a shot without other branches and leaves in the way and there I snapped a bunch of photos as it looked around.

I didn't realize that it had the ability to turn its head all the way around like an owl. So many things to learn about wildlife. I moved in a little closer and between the crows and me, this beautiful creature had enough of a challenge to move on. WOW! How awesome it was taking flight right above my head.

Back in February 2011 while I was doing the annual Backyard Bird Count, an eagle landed on our property for the first and only time that I've seen. It was during the last 10 minutes of the count and I was so excited. The crows were on it right away and then a red-shouldered hawk came flying in since they nest in the back woods. What a way to finish off the bird count! View the video of the eagle that visited two years ago.

On Monday while I was working on the screened porch I saw a young Eastern Grey Treefrog climbing on the wall of the house on the deck area.  Since I got to raise some of these little guys when they laid eggs in the birdbath, I've grown quite attached to them.  More on Eastern Gray Treefrog.

Randal calls me Mama Tad and they do seem to know me and this offspring of a previous generation didn't have any problem allowing me to move him on to my hand.  Read about My Experience Raising Treefrogs.

(Note:  Always be sure you have washed your hands before handling frogs because their skin is very delicate and they absorb toxins from lotions, etc. readily.)


We attended an Andrew Wommack meeting near Washington, DC last week and on Sunday went to Maymont's "At Home" event in Richmond, VA. The Dooley Mansion was open without charge and elegant Victorian ladies and distinguished gentlemen were walking the lawns and greeting people. It was nice but the over-abundance of "stuff" was quite distracting. I'll have the photos done before the next newsletter and will include a link.

Don't forget to schedule playtime.  Remember when you were younger and had to do chores before you go out and play?  Well, now you are the adult and you get to schedule as much play time as you want.  Life has a balance, you shouldn't work too hard or play too much.  Either end of the imbalance is not good for the body and mind.  Have you read this post:  The Importance of Play for Adults?

Until next issue ....

May You Receive An Abundance of Blessings!

P.S.  Know somebody who needs to see something in this newsletter?   You can share this post from the website at the bottom of the post.  Look for the little white envelope. Thanks for sharing!  

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