For a Winter’s Day

Photo Glen Spurrell Dogwood branches brighten the landscape and here contain an old bird's nest covered in snow.

Photo Glen Spurrell
Dogwood branches brighten the landscape and here contain an old bird’s nest covered in snow.

The new and improved Times is wonderful and I hear it’s working for owner and editor, Karen Graham. But for my column it is making me wonder about the focus and direction of my writing. I feel I now must think further ahead and realize that during the month to come weather and walking conditions may be quite different and thus my suggestions for getting out and seeing may be good or not.

The holiday season is wonderful for many reasons; over indulgence is delicious but murder on the waistline! So for those wanting to combat this here are a few suggestions for getting out. But these are intended for everyone whether you overindulge or not!

The sumac are fruitful this year and their vivid red seedheads are extremely attractive now that the leaves are fallen and the grey-brown branches are bare. They make excellent Christmas decorations on a wreath or in a pot outdoors. But don’t strip the trees totally. These seedheads are a valuable source of food for many kinds of bird.

Admire the various hues of brown and grey of branches, leaves still on trees and the stalks and leaves of plants. Any place where red osier dogwood grows is a good place to walk and enjoy. The red stems are always a delight and they seem to glow at this time of year. In these colder days when we think there’s only snow and wind, there is actually much to see and admire.

Birds (oh, no! here he goes again!) whether they’re around a body of water or the kinds we see close to our homes, there are still many to watch and enjoy. Many birds that feed in bodies of water stay until water is frozen over. Even the Great Blue Heron and the kingfisher can be seen in very cold weather as long as there is open water. And closer to home the birds that stay during winter are a continual source of delight. The juncos have arrived back from points further north. The chickadees are active and talkative. Until listening to the radio the other day (on a program about the Gray Jay possibly being selected as our national bird) I never knew that chickadees hide food to use later (caching). But just this morning I watched as a chickadee took several sunflower seeds and flew away. You learn something everyday!

I hope some of you know the carol, “People, Look East.” It contains a line that always makes me smile: “Birds, though ye long have ceased to build,/Guard the nest that must be filled.”* Of course this is totally fanciful yet charming. But why should life only be factual?! Fancy and charm enrich our lives. And so I hope your Christmas this year contains some fancy and charm. Merry Christmas everyone! Get out! And enjoy!

by Glen Spurrell

* Eleanor Farjeon, British author and poet who died in 1965.

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