Sunny Days & Backyard Friends

ny Sunshine, beautiful, glorious sunshine! This weekend we’re getting a break from the storms, and it’s wonderful outside. It’s nice to be able, even in winter, to sit on the back patio with a cup of tea (Earl Grey today.) and work on my final touches to my WIP progress. It feels so good to be warm.

For the past week, we’ve had cold, clouds, and rain. The rain came in mists, splatters, and downpours. In many ways, the rain is a blessing. We have been in a drought in California going on five years now. Here even in the desert in good years, rain is generally a rare thing.

The drought has left my home showing the effects of little rain. I have ten stressed mulberry trees dropping small branches and bark. We’ve watered them as much as we dare but the rain will help.

The rain though welcomed, has also brought its problems too. For the community, the saturated ground can’t hold any more water so streets are flooding and higher areas have mudslides. At home, we discovered a leak caused by wind damage to the roof. (Ah, the joys of home ownership, but that’s another topic.)

snowy-mountains-3

As I sit on my patio and take in the warmth of the sun, I can see over my neighbor’s rooflines the snow-covered peaks of the San Antonio mountain range. At the birdbath, sparrows splash. House finches and lesser goldfinches are at the feeders happily chirping. Hummingbirds are buzzing around me asking for their feeder to be filled.

On days like today, backyard bird watching is full of surprises. All winter long there are the usual variety of sparrows, finches, and doves. I have had western tanagers, Bullock’s orioles, and robins passing through. Once a lazuli buntings passed through, rare here in the desert, the pair stopped in my yard to rest while migrating.

Yesterday, as I sat on the patio editing my novel it suddenly got quiet, too quiet. No splashing. No cooing. No chirping. I looked up, and ten feet from me at the birdbath was a sharp-shinned hawk. He looked at me and then went back to drinking.

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Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The peace was broken, when Rowdy Girl spotted the hawk. She thinks nothing of chasing down Rock Doves, Ravens, and Crows who dare to come into her domain. Off like a shot, she bounded toward the offending bird. The hawk gracefully went up on a tree branch, studied the barking dog for a moment and flew off.

When he had gone, the chorus of birdsong resumed and Rowdy Girl resumed her nap.

rowdy-fall

Rowdy Girl

Wild birds bring joy with their beauty, grace, and song. They have even attracted the attention of my characters as they enjoy a lovely winter picnic.

From my WIP: The Princess of Sweetwater

 As they approached the sheltered mountain pond, Hiram said, “Close your eyes.”

Victoria squeezed them tight.

He brought the wagon to a stop and put his hand on her arm. “You can open them    now.”

She opened her eyes.  The sun glinting off the snow and ice made everything sparkle like diamonds. “It’s beautiful. It reminds me of the mountains near my home.”

They ate their lunch enjoying the antics of scrub jays and sparrows pecking at the frozen berries on the overhanging branches.

“Let’s go for a walk.” Hiram closed the picnic basket. He took Victoria by the hand and led her down the narrow trail.

Once in an open area, Victoria broke away from Hiram running ahead of him. She scooped up some snow and landed a snowball on his shoulder. In return, he sent one which knocked off her hat. On her next throw, she lost her balance and slid down the slope. Hiram ran after her catching her before a snowdrift engulfed her.

“Are you okay?” He laughed, gasping for air.

“Wet.” She took a handful of snow and tossed it in his direction.

“Let’s get you home, and you can put on something dry.”

On the ride back to town, Victoria sat nestled in Hiram’s arms. She had never felt so safe or so happy in her life.

We have nine weeks left of winter, time to enjoy the snow, the winter visitors in my backyard, but especially curling up on the couch in a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea.

Until next time remember –

The door is always open, and kettle is on.

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