Sunshine After the Storm

We woke up early this morning to a thunderstorm and news of a tornado on its way through a town nearby.

Now it’s a beautiful afternoon with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60’s. I came home from work a little early, and I got a pleasant surprise. It seemed like from out of the storm more flowers have exploded across my yard.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the developing crocus buds, but today there were many blooming that I never saw coming.

I’d planted them last fall with exactly that hope: to be surprised in the brown blahs of winter. Then the bulbs started throwing up leaves early (how much of a surprise can it be when I see where you are!) and winter never really came (can you have the winter blahs without winter?).

Well, surprise! Joy and color among the drabness of February. I did need it after all.

And there were more than just the crocuses! I looked up from them and saw more purple on the other side of the yard. There were the irises I planted as bulbs last fall. I’d seen the tips of green emerging not that long ago. Where did the flowers come from so quickly!

And when I went over for a closer look at the iris, I realized that a second hellebore was blooming. The bloom had been tucked so close to the ground that I’m lucky I saw it.

And then there’s my third hellebore with its dark tentacles emerging from the leaf cover. Rawr! There are some buds among the dark, new leaves.

Meanwhile I’m enjoying the birds at my feeders. I’m seeing plenty of goldfinches, house finches,  juncos, and cardinals along with the ubiquitous English sparrows, mourning doves, and starlings. I also have downy and hairy woodpeckers and a few titmice.

The birds got some drama last week. Before going to work one morning, I discovered a pile of mourning dove feathers under the feeder. Hmmm, hawk or cat?

This time of year, I always look forward to seeing the hawks. I love the sense of nature invading the city that they bring, and I enjoy the challenge of catching a glimpse of them. For several years now, February and March have brought several hawk sightings. I’m fairly certain by now that they are Cooper’s hawks, although they might possibly be sharp-shinned hawks.

I thought my bird feeder was sheltered enough under the magnolia tree, but apparently not. This Monday I caught a glimpse of a hawk waiting in the big oak across the alley from us. He or she was in the perfect spot to spy on the feeder, so I think I know who got a dove dinner last week.

And the remaining mourning doves are now pretty hesitant to waddle around on the ground under the feeder.

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