February 9th, 2020

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TIME OF THE SEASON

I refilled the bird feeder with seed and the suet ball holder today and was instantly gratified to see both of them immediately crowded with sparrows and songbirds the moment I went inside. It's very satisfying to think I'm helping the birds in some small way and that they find their way to our feeders at all. I want to plant butterfly bushes this year, too, to try and put some part of our yard to use for butterflies and hopefully, bees. Most of our large yard is just grass, which isn't doing anything useful and since we're rarely out on it, is just a big waste of space.

The book we read for January, for my book group, which I recommended after reading about it somewhere, was Wilding by Isabella Tree. It's a fascinating story of a huge estate in the UK that was intensively farmed for years and the decision the family made to let it revert to a natural state after giving up on the farming which was bankrupting them. The success they've had with the return of various species of wildlife, including many nearly extinct in Britain was interesting and hopeful to read about. I was particularly struck by the anger and threats they were met with by their neighbors and others, who were really mad about the entire project, calling them negligent for allowing their land to go to "waste" just because they were no longer using it for farming. It was eye-opening to read about the connections they made between the way the land was used and the way everything works together in harmony when left alone. It was worth reading for the chapter on earthworms alone.

Anyway, our little yard, while large by the standards of our neighborhood, is a postage stamp in comparison with theirs, and while we can't introduce herds of roe deer or Exmoor ponies or beavers or wild pigs, we CAN plant more bushes and trees that will attract and support birds, butterflies and bees. One thing she talked about in the book which also struck me was how empty the skies have become just since a few generations back. There are no huge flocks of birds anymore, for the most part. Perhaps that's why we're so drawn to the sight of a lone hawk or stork in the air...it's so unusual to see anything at all up there. So, I'm always glad to see the little birds at the feeder. It gives me comfort to see them swooping back and forth from the plum tree to the deck and back.

It's another gray day here...we had sunshine yesterday and once last week, but the sunny days have been far outnumbered by overcast and rainy ones this whole "winter". I think we need to find a new word to describe this season since it no longer seems to fulfill the criteria for "winter" anymore. Meteorologically speaking, we went straight from autumn to spring, rarely dipping below freezing at all. I have only had to scrape windows a handful of times since November and I don't think we had freezing temps for more than a couple of nights at all. Kind of scary to think about, up here in the not-so-frozen-anymore North. Of course, we could still get some real winter weather, all the way into April, even snow, but I sort of think the chances are pretty slim. There were already daffodils blooming in Malmö a few weeks ago, in mid-January.

It's scary, disconcerting, and depressing to think about climate change and how little the actions we take personally matter. Maybe recycling. and eating less meat, and avoiding single-use plastic and planting butterfly bushes isn't much, but it's better than nothing.