Bird of the Month

You’ve seen, perhaps even own, an electric clock which announces each hour with a different songbird call. They are rather clever.

During November, in the United States, the talk often turns to another bird. This one is larger than the dozen featured on the clock. And while it lost the prestige of becoming the national bird and symbol, he certainly gets lots of press.

There are two major varieties. The wild kind is just that — wild. In the portions of the country where they have been re-introduced in recent decades they have a strong reputation. Hunters enjoy testing their skill. Farmers complain about the damage to crops — especially when they move into an area in large numbers.

The domestic ones are raised in large barns to the sound of ventilation fans refreshing the air. Dependent upon humans, they do one job well — eat and grow. You will find them in the freezer case of the supermarket. They are present year-round, but abundant from now to the end of the year.

Tom’s goal is to avoid becoming the centerpiece at your feast.



If you eat your broccoli….then you may have a cookie.

If you pass the test…then you may have a driver’s license.

Life is full of items which are tied together. Sometimes they are paired up naturally. Other times, parents or authority figures hold up the second as a reward for doing the first.

Today you vote:

Please, please, please…. if you are eligible you should vote.

Then….if you don’t like the result you are allowed to grumble and complain.

No vote. No complaint.

An election collection.

Now go out and exercise your democracy muscle.

Lion and Lamb

It makes a pleasant picture of peace and tranquility. The predator and the prey sharing space without danger or fear.

It’s also a scene I don’t expect to find in ordinary life. Predators are interested in survival. So is the prey. And the proven methods are actions such as flight or hiding or staying with the group. If I lamb does not want to become lunch — stay with the bunch.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed two signs in the same garden.

These are “Lion’s Ears”

And a few steps away:

“Lamb’s Ears”

No “preying” allowed.

Fun to be Scared

All Hallows Eve is approaching. You know what that means?

Costumes. Ghost stories. Candy. And more candy.

For the past several weeks homes and businesses have been decorating for the big evening celebration. Stores have sold candy by the bucket. Much of it in little packages which will be dropped into plastic pumpkins, or plastic bags, or the basket portion of a costume. Smart parents will walk with their children, waiting while they climb the steps where the porch light is on and right the doorbell.

Have you practiced what to say? Do you tell a joke? Sing a jingle? Recite a line that fits your costume?

Then there’s the spooky part of the celebration.

Are these underfed fellows getting ready to come after your candy?


Call Him “Jack”

Fall weather gives a different sort of energy. Cool nights – some with a nip of frost. Sunny afternoons where you can strip off the sweatshirt and rake leaves in your shirtsleeves.

And after the work is done? Fall brings out all sorts of harvest and farm oriented activities. It’s even reflected in decorations of corn stalks, apples, and bright colored gourds. How about a hay ride? I’ll take mine behind a team of horses – thank you.

Today’s driver of our phantom team is Mr. Jack O’Lantern.

Family Portrait – Partial

It was a cool, pleasant morning. The weather was a welcome relief from the prolonged summer. Perfect weather to play outside. Practice our skills. Run across the yard. Check out the humans.

This spring, the St. Louis Zoo welcomed a litter of eight (8) cheetah cubs. By the time of this visit in late September they were kittens at play in large, strong bodies.

Limits of space, movement, time and the quality of my camera limited this to the best partial family portrait of the day. Need to make a repeat visit.

Autumn Abundance

Autumn equals harvest time in the Northern Hemisphere.

As the daughter and granddaughter of farmers, I’ve been paying attention to the seasons all of my life. Much depends¬† on seasons and weather when growing crops and animals. And while my farming has dwindled to a tiny plot of garden – planted with hope every spring – I still pay attention.

Canada recently celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday. The United States will follow in late November. This is truly a time to reflect on the harvest — one farmer grows more than enough to feed his family. The abundance in the grocery store — with produce bins full of bright seasonal fruits and vegetables, a variety of mead and dairy products available, and frozen and canned foods available without the hours of prep work.

Abundance! Give Thanks!

Wading with Purpose

He (or she) is on the large size of the bird scale. At a height of up to five feet and a wing-span of nine feet — they earn a little respect.

You’ll find them in African wetlands. Prowling and wading as they gather fresh fish, crabs, and frogs for their dinner. Poke. Snap. Gulp. A pair of birds will stake their claim to an area and keep the fishing rights for themselves. And they will set up housekeeping near the top of a sturdy tree. Large bird = large nest. And the family can range from one to five chicks to feed and teach and send out on their own.

Saddle-billed Stork

Unlike in the fanciful stories told to children — he will not bring a new baby to your house.¬† However, he would appreciate a little respect to his natural habitat.

They’re Back!!!

October — the season of colorful yellow, orange, and red.

From the leaves on the trees to the sweatshirts and jackets pulled from summer storage you see bright fall colors. At times they match the sports teams as schools compete against each other and loyal fans don their colors.

Decorations sprout up around entryways and in businesses large and small. Some celebrate harvest. A few look ahead to Thanksgiving. Many center on Halloween — candy sweet, spooky, or comical. American retailers will sell you items to decorate and celebrate as you desire.

One announcement of Halloween in my neighborhood is the local charity pumpkin stand. From tiny to “I need help to lift this” are offered for sale. Decorate as you like – carve, paint, decals.

I’m suddenly hungry for pie.

Space Required

Like many occupations, professions, and hobbies — writing requires a space.

After all, an author needs a surface on which to work. And these days most of us compose and revise and edit on some sort of computer.

Unlike many occupations — writing is portable.

A writing space can vary from day to day. Or hour by hour. Did the coffee shop get too noisy? Is the library too quiet? The patio too cold? Pack up the laptop – or pad and pen – and move to a different sort of space.

What does a writer require? It depends on the author. Some need to flee the chaos of family. Others need to be available when that toddler wakes from their nap. And additions to the laptop mentioned above can be many.

A good chair. Reference books. Drinks and snacks. A method to take and retrieve notes. Music? Noise cancelling headphones? The ideal space varies by author, season, and sort of project.

Space waiting for addition of author.