Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Lark's Father's Day

A male Horned Lark stood alert and vigilant on the city curb, horns raised and tail spread, his beak holding a tasty insect or two for his rapidly growing and hungry offspring.

He and his mate chose this unlikely road island on a dead-end street for their ground nest. I drove by and noticed nothing interesting until I saw the adult birds nearby. I have never seen a Horned Lark here in the summer months as they usually move through on their way north in late winter.

So seeing the two birds, the female on the left and the male on the right was eye-catching. Their nest is right in the middle of the picture.

I pulled off the road and watched from my car. In a few minutes, Mother Lark hopped discreetly to the nest with a mouthful of insects for her young hatchlings. Dad watched from the curb looking at crows, cyclists, joggers, a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds and me.

He didn't flinch when a horse-drawn buggy clacked by or when regular traffic zoomed through unaware of his presence.

I took a quick look at the nest when the parents flew off together in search of more food. The four young birds huddled close together under a dandelion plant extremely well camouflaged amongst the pebbles and plants on the ground.

Both birds returned with full beaks but I noticed Mom fed the babies far more often than Dad. After Dad had patrolled the curb, distracting others from the nest, he often ate the food he found himself.

I spent an enjoyable hour watching the birds. It is a good day when I find something new and learn the habits of a bird I seldom see around here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Making Time for Roses

What a lovely thing a rose is...

She weighs no more than a 10 year old child, her body wasted by disease, yet she clings to life exceeding prognostications made many weeks ago. I watched her when my mother was far away and ill with a similar condition and tried to compare their rate of decline. My mother died almost two months ago. This lady barely exists. Most of her days are spent in bed with the oxygen concentrator humming at her side. 

The rain let up today and I asked her if she wanted to see the roses. She is like me, longing to be outdoors rather than surrounded by walls and artificial light. I lifted her into a wheelchair and wrapped her frail body in covers before we stepped out into the bright sunshine. She raised her face to the warmth and smiled as we sat in the rose garden. A wrinkled hand reached down and embraced a bright red blossom. The outing exhausted her but she remarked that this was just the second time she had been outdoors this spring. 

My mother was the biggest fan of my blog. She looked everyday to see if there was something new and what I wrote became the topic of our next conversation. Her computer was the connection to the outside world when she could no longer travel. It has been hard to think about blogging and inspiration has lagged since she has gone. 

Life goes on with laughter and joy as well as poignant memories. It is easy to get caught in the grind of daily routines that drain the spirit. I am looking to rekindle the spontaneity that sparked wonder and discovery. The world is more than a sad and serious place plagued with natural and man-made ills. Beauty is there if I make time to notice the roses, peonies, bird songs and the people who add joy and meaning to my life.