Monday, May 2, 2011

Returning


One of the first things to arrive with spring weather is a tiny patch of wild strawberries that grow in the path to the barn. Their small green leaves are among the first to appear and I am always hopeful when I see the white blossoms that this will be the year I get to taste the berries. I never do. Some other creature harvests them long before I get the chance.

Wild violets have been in bloom for several weeks. The beautiful flowers gracefully suspended from their curving stems remind me always of Patti. When we first became acquainted, she asked me many times if there were violets surrounding my house. I always had to say no - until I moved to Spirit Creek. One year I made an herbal salve from the violet blossoms. It was delicate green in color and melted like magic into the skin. It was a particularly healing medicine for Patti.

A pair of wood ducks nest in the trees directly west of my house each spring. I have seen the male already, but have not yet seen the female. She must already be on the nest. I have never had the pleasure of seeing any babies but I continue to hope each year.

The redtail hawks are back, the ones who hunt my pasture. When I was walking the fence last week looking for Ginger's escape route, both hawks were worried and whistling at the appearance of a human being in the vicinity of their nest. They flew overhead, gliding and whistling, until it was clear I was going away from their nest. I hope it does not cause them to abandon their nesting area. Their nest was not visible but I know it is in a tree in the deep bend of the creek east of the house. It is a wild area seldom visited by human beings.

The wild turkey hen that likes to nest in the vicinity of my house has returned as well. I saw her yesterday afternoon, making her way through the same area the chickens search each morning in their daily routine. One year, I found two turkey eggs in the gravel at the top of the drive. It was a mystery how they came to be there in direct sunlight, just a few feet from the mailbox, within inches of the road.

The humming birds will soon be returning and I eagerly await them. Until I moved here, I had seen a humming bird only twice in my entire life: once at the Grand Canyon when I was a child, and once on the bank of the Taylor River in Colorado. Now my life is full of humming birds. It was worth the wait.

I wonder what will happen when the new house is built. I will not be nearly as close to the creek, so it will be hard to see the ducks in the limbs of the trees. I wonder how long it will take the humming birds to find their feeder? The new house will be almost directly under the tree where the hawks meet first thing in the morning. After the hard work of raising a family, they spend some time hunting and resting before they part ways until the following spring. They fly to a particular branch each morning to spend a few moments together facing the rising sun. I may never again witness them together in those first few moments of daylight. It makes me almost wish to not build a new home.

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