As we here in the Northeast haven’t gotten much in the way of snow yet, I’ve been able to walk around the pond far more than I usually do in winter. It’s a good-ish walk with plenty to see; seagulls flying and sometimes landing on the ice, the occasional set of ducks quarreling in the small area of open water (probably about how cold the water is!), and often a few breath-taking bonuses.
Just the other day I bundled up and did the pond walk. It was bright and sunny, but the wind was pretty cold. I love walking around the pond; being in all that nature makes me feel as if my grandmother is close by. It was she who taught me about the wild and shy animals that often peopled her back yard, as well the habits of the birds, whom she loved unconditionally.
She told me about how the rabbits live, and where the squirrels and chipmunks make their cozy nests to survive the cold weather. There was a lone bob cat in the meadow behind the house, and often late at night, you could hear him rumble and roar.
My grandmother’s favorites though were the birds. During the winter time she made suet balls to hang on the trees near the house. She rolled suet and seeds into balls and hung them with twine. These kept the birds full of all the protein and fat they needed to get through the winter. She also made what she called “peanut butter logs.” She had my grandfather chop 10″ pine logs and drill good-sized holes up and down the sides. Beneath each hole was a tiny peg for the birds to stand on while they fed on the contents of the holes in the logs; a nourishing mix of peanut butter and seeds. Each log was hung where she could watch the grateful birds feed.
As I walked along the trail around the pond, I remembered my grandmother’s love for birds. As I looked out over the half-frozen pond, behold and lo—there was a beautiful blue heron that soared over the pond, legs streaming out behind. If that wasn’t enough glory and beauty for one day, I also saw what had to be a huge female bald eagle flying in circles over a flock of seagulls. Her wing span must have been at least eight feet. She was brown and white and looked incredibly fierce and wild. At one point, she landed on a tree branch and looked down into my eyes—I was both amazed and humbled by her attention.
What a day, what a gift.