Monday, December 24, 2007

Late Thoughts, Good Ideas

M0nday, December 24, 2007

24 degrees this morning here on the hill. Yesterday's fluffy snow became today's snow crust and walking down the drive, whether with my 2 feet or Karl the wonder dog's four paws is a challenge. The road seems fine as the tons of sand that was already spread now covers at least an inch less packed snow and traction is the best to be found. I'll have to get a load of sand today for the driveways as slip siding at Christmas is not welcome.

I have a number of aches this morning-before-Christmas as I spent yesterday moving snow in anticipation of last night's storm. Perhaps three weeks ago we received heavy sleet and freezing rain and it bonded to the standing seam roof. Last week's 26" just added to the foot that was already welded in place and the constant winds added to the mess by dropping more snow on the house roof. I put on every extension I own to the roof rake and by nightfall I was wasted and there was still some snow holding firm in a couple places. I used the tractor to move everything I could away from the house and waited for the rain. This morning it's obvious the roof is clean and ready for the next part of winter.

I got out early this morning and filled the feeders. The evening grosbeaks sung me an untitled Christmas song while I filled one feeder after another and scattered cracked corn and seed on the snow crust. Before I made it halfway to the back door there was a flutter of wings and the breakfast feasting was under way. The blue jays come and go and as they do they scare the lesser birds away. Woodpeckers work the suet constantly and are fun to watch. Wednesday afternoon the barred owl stopped in an adjacent white birch to wish my grandson from Seattle a chance to see his first owl. Birds are a fun hobby and make winters move along.

Last week I offered some gift suggestions on my other blog, The Vermont Gardener, but I forgot
one mail order source I always try to promote. Gardening and birds go together and birdhouses enhance the garden while drawing in friendly comments and bird neighbors. Alex and I try to make a few birdhouses each year and in fact have a barred owl house in the cellar which really needs to get dragged out back and mounted soon. The birdhouse pictured above is one I made with leftover wood from an old camp on Marshfield Pond. It's been with us for several years and needs a good cleaning and another coat of varnish as it's a popular house for small birds.

My gift suggestion is Brown's Foster Home in Rome, Maine. I'm not recommending you buy a foster home (although they can always use a donation) but I am recommending you consider a gift purchase from Recycled Bird Houses which is a bird house building business they use as an activity for their clients. Their website tells it all and their houses are really great. I met them years ago when they had first started. They were selling at the Laudholm Trust Crafts Festival
in Wells, Maine and have been expanding their business ever since.

In our family we have a deep appreciation for the kids with special needs who will continue to need special attention for their lifetime. Places like Brown's help meet our "people responsibility". It's nice to be able to help them by making a purchase that will make others happy too. Give it a thought this year. It's too late to get a delivery for Christmas Day but I'll bet they will get caught up by New Year's and be able to help.

So as the morning light brightens just a bit, and as the birds breakfast club expands to tufted titmouse, red and also white breasted nuthatches, jays, grosbeaks and chickadees, I really have to get going with some last minute touches for Christmas. Alex and I have a couple more gifts to wrap and I want to make one more batch of olive cheese balls.

Best Christmas wishes from the mountain above Peacham Pond where apple and blueberry pancakes are on this morning's menu and Karl the wonder dog prances back and forth to the back door suggesting the need for his second morning walk.

Have a nice holiday, give great hugs and smiles, remember friends and neighbors, and part freely with contributions to those who have not had the good fortune we have.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

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