Monday, February 3, 2020

February... and Stopping By Woods...

 In the Garden
 By Catherine Dougherty

Whose woods are these I think I know
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

February has finally arrived! It did seem that January was a terribly long month with many drastic weather events happening over our entire planet. From the dreadful flooding in Indonesia, the plague of locusts of Biblical proportion in Pakistan, the Australian fires that continue to rage, severe drought in Africa, and finally the dreadful flooding in the Amazon where the forests have been clear cut. Entire food sources were eaten by the locusts and crops were lost in the flooding… many people will suffer hunger this new year so we must pray for our precious planet and her inhabitants.

In light of this, gardeners are itching to get outdoors to plant early vegetables, but the temperature fluctuations have confused the garden. By  the time you get your paper we will have gone from a sweet balmy weekend to another deep freeze. According to my dairy, on February 2011 it was zero and on February 2013 we had a severe snow storm.

We must spend this month dreaming about the arrival of spring which wakes the garden from its seasonal slumber. On the plus side, Winter does have a most fantastic insulating quality about it… the woods were silent, with only the sounds of birds as we took our walk. Robert Frost’s lovely poem comes to mind with the sound of swishing leaves… “ The woods are lovely, dark and deep….” 
With this weather it is time to begin seriously feeding the birds until a warming trend. Many people feed year round however I wait until it is impossible for the birds to forage on their own. In spite of the scientific assertations the songbirds have been lost, we have seen many in our yard since this latest cold snap for they know we will come through about now.

We moved one of our birdfeeders to a new spot and yet by rote the birds continue to fly to the old one, disappointedly looking for the absent feeder. Their memory is amazing! Most birds enjoy commercial seed however adding thistle and sunflower seeds to the mix will be a delightful treat for the Cardinals, Finches, Black Capped Chickadee, and timid Titmouse. The adorable, squabbling, easily sociable sparrow will love the seed with no gourmet qualities.
Birds eat in regular intervals so plan to see them for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes the feeder will be extremely busy and at other times it will seem abandoned. For those individuals who have the time, bird watching is a wonderful hobby… we gave inexpensive binoculars to our little grandchildren for Christmas they have seriously looked at everything! We bought a bird book with good photos so learning to identify species is next on our agenda.

Our former neighbor, Allie Milligan, taught us the thrill of discovering the habits of birds forty years ago and we intend to pass her expertise along… the Museum in El Reno has a spectacular display featuring bird nests collected and identified by Mrs. Milligan.