April 2005


Here’s a good wondering Ben introduced to me:  If deer want to be so ultra-camaflouged in the woods, why do they have a white tail that flips all over the place?  Twice this week I’ve looked out the window into the woods and was suddenly attracted to this white thing flapping around out there.  Only the binoculars tell us there is a deer attached to the tail.


Maybe they should paint their tails with flourescent orange instead.

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When I see a tree by itself in a field, I consider it to be “free.”  That is, a tree that has the true freedom to be what it was really meant to be, to grow large and shapely and glorious.  Most trees don’t have true freedom; they grow huddled together in the woods, where other trees intrude upon their privacy.  They grow crowded and stunted, not quite reaching their full potential.  They are slightly sad, but know that’s the price to pay for having the company of others and are content.  Else, why would so many trees grow that way?


The tree ID books always show the inquisitive human tree lover what a tree would look like if it were free.  Each species has its own shape:  some are tall and thin, some are fat and bushy.  You could identify a tree sometimes by its shape.  But it’s so rarely possible–at least around here in PA, where they are growing batched together.


The town trees are the worst.  Here you often see trees that are actually ENSLAVED.  They were planted alone, where the possibilities of reaching their true glory loom optimistic, but they didn’t know about the bane of electric lines.  The humans said, “Ah, you thought you were going to be free, but you didn’t know about the rule we have here:  you can only grow so high, and if you get near the electric lines, we’ll put a stop to that.”  Then the trees are cropped and chopped and bent and broken so that they grow misshapen and grotesque.  Some trees are made to appear as two separate trees, curving on either side of the lines.  It’s obscene, causing one to look away in embarrassment, like one does when driving down the highway and encountering the red clumps of a deer spread all over the pavement.


FREE THE TREES!

I am a “signs of spring” counter, and today was a momentous day:  FOUR new signs of spring!


1.  I heard an Eastern Phoebe calling outside the window.


2.  I heard a male turkey gobbler–very close to the house, too.


3.  I saw coltsfoot along the road–usually one of the very first wildflowers of spring.


4. And…SPRING PEEPERS, what a lovely sound!  As we were driving home from Butler at 9 PM, we had the car windows cracked open a bit; it seemed to me we heard them all the way home.  Sometimes strong, sometimes far away, but chirping, chirping their glorious joy of spring.  They lift my heart, reminding me that the seasons are constant, God is in control, and spring always comes again.


On top of all these wonderful happenings, I was able to add another bird to my life list!  It was most unusual, as it was right here in my own backyard, in my own birdfeeder area.  AND this bird is noted in the ID book as being “uncommon.”  A yellow-bellied sapsucker, a very beautiful quiet bird.


Today was a Bird Count day, so I was looking out the window every whipstitch, when I noticed what looked like a hairy woodpecker.  But he was PERCHED on a branch rather than belly-facing a tree trunk.  That arrested my attention.  Is our good ol’ hairy woodpecker going balmy and trying new things?  But then I noticed the bright red under his chin:  RUN FOR THE BINOCS!   RUN FOR THE BIRD BOOK! 


He then went to the trunk of the tree and systematically began his quiet rows of pecking for bugs and sap.  We saw him off and on for the rest of the day.


God gives us simple pleasures here.