Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Among the Trees

The crabapple, rowan and hawthorn trees in the garden of my little blue house in the village are still encased in several feet of snow, and they will be for some time, but a few stalwart upper branches of my old friends are already protruding from this winter's gargantuan snowdrifts. There are buds to be seen on many of the branches.

The crabapple trees are particular favorites, mainly because their blooms are a deep rich shade of burgundy and very fragrant. One of my personal markers for the true arrival of springtime here in the north is the full retreat of the grimy oceanic snows from the skirts of our beloved fruit trees, the jubilant sprouting of the crocus bulbs planted underneath the trees when the snow has departed (and good riddance to it too). One of these weeks, I shall wake up to discover that the snow has vanished and my heirloom gold and purple crocus bulbs are "up and out". Alas, that will not be happening for a while, and not at all if the squirrels were very active last autumn - they adore crocus bulbs.

There is usually something going on in the fruit trees above the sleeping bulbs though. All winter long, there were copious quantities of withered and freeze-dried crabapples, rowan berries and haws on the trees, and the garden was visited regularly by cardinals and jays, who added welcome splashes of scarlet and bright blue to a winter landscape executed almost entirely by the Old Wild Mother in shades of white, cream and grey. Herself has a lot to answer for this year, dishing out a winter that made us all feel as if we were living halfway up a Himalayan peak in Fimblewinter and Ragnarok was approaching - call it Ragged Rock if you are as ardent a fan of Michael Chabon's beautiful novel Summerland as I am).

Shy by nature and wary because of their brilliant plumage, cardinals are difficult to photograph, and I have taken a few good photos of these beautiful members of the passerine family over the years, but not many. The birds are in constant motion when they visit our garden, and the Cooper's Hawk who often sits in the oak tree in the south corner of the garden indubitably has something to do with their agitation.

The flock of Bohemian Waxwings who visited yesterday were certainly not shy, and they couldn't have cared a fig about the presence of hawk or owl, so perhaps there is safety to be found in avian numbers. Every fruit tree in the garden was chock full of dancing and skirling birds, and when they left after an hour or two, there was nary a crabapple, a rowan berry or a haw left on the trees. Such visitations seem to happen only in springtime, and this was a very good thing.


Wendi said...

Gorgeous photos! The one on top took my breath away. Thanks for sharing. ;-)

Anonymous said...

i'm so thrilled the birds are back ~ i wake up to their chirping conversation and i realize how much i missed them during the winter! great photos as always Cate!


denise said...

Beautiful bird photos!

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos of birds - so hard to capture with a camera

Marcie said...

Your photographs are so very pretty. Aren't the birds lovely models?

I'll share my crocuses with you. Pop over to my blog and scroll down a post or two. I hope yours are blooming soon!

Anonymous said...

So very cute !!!!

Words and picture match to create magic !


GreenishLady said...

How very beautiful! Hard as your winter is, you make such wonderful art of it - in your photos, and in your words.

Crayons said...

kerr de lune

That first photo is a gem! I liked your guided tour of the trees and birds.

Shelli said...

Are these the same as Cedar Waxwings, or is that a different but similar bird? They are my favorite birds. So incredibly beautiful.

Here are some crocus for you from my yard, if you'd like a peek:


Shelli said...

I'm not sure my link worked. Oh well.