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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Paynes Gray days.....

It would seem that nature has a very limited palette  since we've returned home from Vieques, creating mostly Payne's gray skies.  This past week we even had a couple blasts of ice and snow, neither of which lasted long but both  of which I hope were the last gasps of winter.

The winds have been picking up all day long. They've been ushering in some warm air and that I'm thankful for. The mid 50 degree temps were enough to entice me out for a walk this afternoon, regardless of the overcast skies.  What I was looking for was a splash of color to break up the monotone canvas Lorrie and I have been starring at for what seems like months now. I was just lucky enough to be rewarded by a single clump of crocus that had decided to show itself and that was enough to put a smile on my face and give purpose to my afternoon stroll. I'm sure one of the deer will make this little brushstroke of color disappear :

As I made my way back to the point I noticed a change in the sounds of the birds. During the winter is seems the barren woods around our house are dominated by the caws of crows and the raucous chatter of jays. Oh you'll hear a nuthatch sometimes and a few woodpeckers, but the crows and the jays dominate. What I was hearing this afternoon was very different and seemed to confirm the crocus I had just photographed.  I suppose most of us experience this each year (well those of us that are not living in Vieques, that is). I think there's an unconscious association made with spring and those sounds. I did a bit of researching and found this:

For some, the magic moment happened a week ago. For others, it happened just the other day. Many are still waiting, but some morning soon they too will wake to the lilt of a backyard bird pleading for a mate.

Chickadees will whistle "Phoebe," nuthatches will honk like a tinny horn, titmice will screech "Peter, Peter, Peter," and woodpeckers will hammer out their heart's desire with their beaks against hollow branches.

"These are all winter birds. It's still winter, but the light, the changing light, has a hormonal trigger, and that starts the birdsong," said John Hanson Mitchell, an editor with the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln and author of A Field Guide to Your Own Back Yard.
Mitchell said the singing of the winter-resident birds is among the first signs that spring is around the corner. Birders begin to report the sounds in the middle weeks of February.John Dunning, an ecologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, said birds have photoreceptors in the bases of their brains that record the length of the dark period each day. As the darkness shortens, and as days lengthen, birds get spring fever."The photoperiod is very standard from year to year," he said."Days lengthen at a regular pace." Therefor, using the photoperiod to gauge the season is more reliable than, say, following cues such as an emergence of insects or a freshly sprouting plant.

Winter Residents
The first birds to sing of the pending arrival of spring are the same birds that never left for the winter, Mitchell said. In Massachusetts winter residents include chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, titmice, cardinals, and mockingbirds."They have millions of years of evolution learning to survive the winter," Mitchell said. "They're here because they know how to do it. Other species don't know how to do it, so they go south."
(full article here)

Anyway...the birds were singing and for that I'm glad. I walked back to the point. Daffodils are up, but not blooming yet. Cabin seemed to have made it through it's first winter just fine (I spent a large part of the afternoon over there today).  I took a picture of the outhouse, yes another one. It has seen 5 winters now and has acquired the patina that says it now belongs out there in the woods, like a right of passage, I'll be glad to see the cabin looking the same way:

There was one other bit of color way back behind the cabin. It was the string of prayer flags we bought in Vieques this last trip. I read on Trip Advisor about people worrying about not being able to find everything they might need while vacationing there and here I found Tibetan Prayer Flags. Yeah I know, I could have probably bought them for half of what I paid but that's not the point. I do appreciate what Margaret has done with the Emporium since we first visited it. At that time  it was  a tiny place behind Lazy Jacks. She now  has everything from cigars to organic teas. Great place.

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