An Object of Beauty

I first laid eyes on it back in January at the Bluffton, Ohio fireworks store. It was beautiful, but I let it slip by.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was destined to own it. That my garden would never be complete without it.

So last weekend when I was back in Bluffton, I went back to the fireworks store and inquired about it.

“$30. No returns.”

“Perfect!!!”

And so I present to you…

concrete raccoon

My new concrete raccoon!

It’s beautiful!

My sister suggested that I probably could have haggled on the price, but I was too excited. She also suggested that I should make a raccoon shrine in my yard, which I think is a good idea. Maybe it will drive away the raccoons.

And another I-kid-you-not fact for you: In November 1931, one former resident of my house caught an opossum in the back yard. People were so astounded to find such wildlife in the city that it made the newspaper.

catches possum

It was so remarkable that the guy offered the opossum to the local zoo.

possum presented to zoo

I’m disappointed that there’s no record of whether the zoo took it.

(All this is courtesy of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s new searchable database of historic newspapers and staying up too late because I found it so intriguing.)

Shifting Seasons

We’ve had a wide variety of weather in the last few weeks. One day it was warm. The plants loved it. The crocuses bloomed even bigger than before. The honeybees were happy…

Then it snowed a beautiful, fluffy snow that was gone as quickly as it arrived, all in a single morning. Notice the flakes caught in the spider web on the fig tree, and I’ll be sharing more about the new construction that you see highlighted in snow in my yard…

Then it was warm again. Then it rained 7.34 inches in about 24 hours (I wanted to give our sump pump a great big hug). Suddenly, sprouts are appearing in my garden and the hellebores are blooming. After such a long cold winter that seems to go on and on, it continues to be a happy surprise to look outside and see a little green appear among the browns and grays I’ve been seeing for so long…

My seeds are coming up in the greenhouse. I love looking at all the seedlings, both mine and some that belong to my friends…

And then I smelled the sweetness of our magnolia blooming. Its petals have been damaged somewhat by the cool weather, but I take it as a happy sign that spring is really here.

Springing

The crocuses are in bloom! And so are the snowdrops! I keep getting surprised! This year I’ve been so busy and it’s been so cold and brown and gray that I haven’t even looked outside much. When I do: bam! there’s a little bit more color that’s appeared out of nowhere!

First there was an amazing cluster of light purple crocuses that faded perfectly from white to purple. Then it was some that were darker, richer purples and yellow. Then we had yet another round of snow on the crocuses. Pretty!

Meanwhile, my love of cats and my love of birds are in serious conflict in my yard. This winter our neighbor’s cat has decided to start murdering the birds at my feeder. It’s getting terrible. I had noticed the cat lurking around by yard. Then I noticed a pile of feathers. Then I saw this and realized she’s an amazing hunter and so well camouflaged:

darn cat!

Do you see her? She’s perched in the crook of the magnolia, eyeing a plump little junco, and just waiting… I chased her off as soon as I got done taking the photo. Then this morning I heard a commotion outside and looked up from my breakfast and newspaper to find that she was in my yard again and had caught another junco.

I was reminded of this great infographic about How Much Cats Kill.

3b

Research shows one in three cats commits an average of two murders a week (in between blinking lazily, purring, sleeping, cuddling, and eating actual cat food).

My cat knows the proper way to appreciate the birds: from inside the house.

 

Ice Storm: the Sequel

Despite my crocus’ insistence that spring really is around the corner, the ice and snow continue to fall.

We got another round of winter this past weekend. First there was the ice–not as thick as last time but still pretty–and slippery. I tried to find interesting things in my yard that I hadn’t photographed before or new perspectives on the ones that I had previously photographed (click a photo in any montage to get a slide show).

yard in the ice

And around the neighborhood…

Then snow fell…

snowy garden

And there were more interesting photos to take:

I’ve been working hard to keep the bird feeders full. The birds had a great party tent with an ice fringe.

bird feeder and birds in flight

And I’ve enjoyed the crocuses’ journey through the ice and snow.

I’ve had a wonderful visit from my sister and her family. We got to enjoy the snow by sledding on the Evansville riverfront. It was picturesque.

 

The Ice Storm Edition

In the last round of winter storms, we were blessed with just enough ice to make it really pretty outside, but not so much that it caused major damage (though I’ll admit that it was pretty slippery and nasty to try to get around outside). I’ve been out with my camera quite a bit to try to capture the brilliant, crystalized world.

my garden

Above you can see my newly refurbished flags looking so nice and bright. Below are some details from around the yard. I loved the extra icicle flourishes on my tree jewelry and the crystalized hydrangea. (If you click on any of the photos in the collages in the rest of this post, you’ll get a slide show that you can flip through.)

I really liked all the interesting lines created by my blackberries, their support, the fence, and the ice.

And then there was the fringe of bird netting that’s been forgotten along the back fence.

It was great that last weekend it was warm enough for me to install the new weather station that I’d gotten for Christmas. I didn’t need to look at the temperature readout to know it was cold. I could tell by the icicles hanging off of it. It was fun watching the icicle merry-go-round on the anemometer.

weather station

Then I walked over to Patchwork and found more interesting things to photograph.

The next two days, the sun was out and the bejeweled plants were sparkling. It was difficult to capture the full effect, but I tried.

Stuck inside, instead of eating fresh fruits from my garden, I’m eating exotic fruits brought to me from Germany by my sister. Germany may not want you to know how much of their German engineering they have applied to their gummi candy in order to create perfect marshmallow-y clouds of color swirled, sour sugar coated, gel-filled goodness.

Gummi Fruit

And as a final thought, here’s a photo I posted this time last year:

Happy Bees

 

Beautiful Winter Browns

lots of goldfinches

The cold winds are blowing ever onward. We had another blast of very cold air last week and I noticed a particularly large flock of birds eating at my feeders. In this photo, I think I can see about 50 goldfinches plus a couple juncos eating seeds off our side porch and from the thistle feeder in the background (click the image for a larger photo and you can try to count them yourself). I resorted to spilling seeds on the porch just to have enough area to feed them all.

While it’s been cold, we’ve only had periodic dustings of snow–just enough to show the critters’ comings and goings around our house. I’ve been on the lookout for raccoon tracks, but (thankfully) haven’t seen any. There have been plenty of tracks from a couple marauding cats and, of course, all the birds.

birds

cat dance

There is  beauty in my brown garden.

brown garden

This year I left the dry astrilbe seed heads and I like their addition to my winter garden along with the dried hydrangea flowers and assorted leaves still clinging to plants.

astrilbe

hydrangea 1

blackberry leaf

lace cap

fern

All the wind in the bare trees has kept my wind chimes in motion. It’s even been enough to activate the little bells that are part of the tree jewelry I made last summer. I got a new chime for Christmas and I’m experimenting to find out where to put it so it will ring. So far I haven’t heard it, so I’ll have to keep working on it. It sure looks nice, though.

bells

bell close-up

Life isn’t only shades of brown, though. Inside my house I’ve got four orchids in bloom and one working its way toward a bloom.

points of color