Category Archives: Simple Living

An Abundance of Birds

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This morning, as the breeze blew away the last remnants of storm clouds, and the sun attempted a watery appearance, a little bird hopped into my open doorway to inspect me. This has happened before. Last summer a curious titmouse came in to say hello, and of course immediately and zoomed around in panic until it found the door again. Today’s cheerful little fellow was not a titmouse, so he seemed to have the sense to look at me from the doorway and then hop out again. He was not a bird I recognised, small brown and white body with an up-tilted tail and a curving beak.¬† Looking it up I found that it was a house wren.
This is the time of year for spotting birds. All have returned from their winter vacations, but the trees haven’t got any leaves yet, so there’s nothing to obscure the view. I’ve always loved birds. As a homeschooler I even talked my mom into doing a whole unit on birds, and I learned every species in our Colorado back yard. There are a lot more species in this “yard”. Our acreage, while not remote, is definitely deep in the country. One of my favorite things is to sit quietly in the mornings with the door open and watch (and listen to) the birds. Until this week it was definitely too cold to have the door open!
Over the winter there were several birds I watched out the window. I love the bright Cardinals, spots of brilliant red against the snow and trees. Blue jays chased and called back and forth across the field. I even got to see our Golden Eagle up close while walking through the woods with my dad.
Adam and I were perplexed at huge chunks torn out of several of our trees. The one morning we saw the rare and Large Pileated woodpecker. About 18″ with a red crest, it magnificently shredded some of our dead trees over the winter. As a bonus, it was easy to photograph, since it was big and held fairly still.

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Then, two weeks ago, Blue Birds arrived. Brilliant blue with red bellies, they darted around the trailer and picked early bugs out of the grass. Soon after I learned to identify Phoebes, cheerful little grey birds who like to sit on a bare limb and bop their tails. Canada geese called in the afternoons, stopping at nearby lakes on the way home.
Merlins and Turkey Vultures followed. Many people are suspicious of vultures, but they are some of my favorites. They circle over warm updrafts for hours at a time, their huge wings stretched joyously. They rival the eagles in size, and are much less suspicious of people. (And no, they don’t want to eat you. Adam.)
This week, everyone seems to be in place for spring. Curious titmice, diligent sparrows, woodpeckers, finches, chickadees, towhees, and my little wren this morning. The din in the morning is incredible.

 

Ode to a Woodstove

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The weather yesterday reminded us that winter is not quite finished. Though we got a lot more rain that snow, it was plenty cold, especially compared¬† to the unseasonably warm days that preceded. But, we were snug inside with our woodstove. If you’ve never had a woodstove, you’re missing out on a lot of perks.

For one thing, it gets warm! Like, real warm. Much more than a fireplace, the woodstove radiates heat. I can get it going so hot on the coldest days that I can sit around in shirtsleeves. For a perpetually cold person, this is a luxury.

It’s free. Especially since a neighbor brought us a couple of trees already in pieces. But even so, there is enough wood on our place to fuel our fires pretty much forever.

It smells nice. Oak, walnut, and other local trees are mildly scented, and the occasional hickory or cedar give that warm, holiday smell. It creates a cozy, crackling ambiance, especially in the evenings, when we open books or play games.

Having a stove hot all day is wonderful for warming all kinds of things on its top. I can warm the plates, which come out of the cupboard icy cold most days. A kettle can stay there all day, so I have hot water immediately at the ready. (Even when we get running water, hot water is going to be work!) We like our coffee boiled, not dripped, and the enamelware pot can go right on top of the woodstove, so the coffee stays hot until it’s all drunk. Another thing that can sit there all day is beans. Dry beans can be soaked in a soup pan, and by evening they are ready to eat. Although I know from experience that, even at the temperature I like it, it is not quite hot enough to boil potatoes or pop popcorn.

A warning, though: it does get hot enough to melt synthetic fabrics.  Like fuzzy socks, for example.

Thistles

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I’m supposed to cut these down and burn them, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. There’s probably a lesson there about sin in our lives.

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But I’m not interested in drawing thoughtful conclusions because then I saw this. And it was just pretty.

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So there.

An long-term post.

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I wrote a nice post over a year ago- on the very first day Adam and I moved out, put our stuff in storage, and began trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives. I only had the one blog then and it’s about used clothes, so the post really doesn’t go. I should also mention that this was before I started reading Elizabeth Peters novels, and I really felt a lot more comfortable with the Word “orb” back then. Elizabeth Peters says “orb” all the time, so much so that now it seems weird to me. But it’s there.

So, here’s a link to it: Day One.

And speaking of used clothes- I have a lot of sewing to do today. Maybe I’ll post the results!