Over the past couple of weeks, I have been hearing a mysterious sound, and I thought it was farming machinery at a distance. It was a cross between light grinding and the engine of a plane flying very high, far. The sound seemed to be at a distance, and it stopped when we had continuous rain for almost a week. Today, the sound came back, louder and closer. It doesn’t stop. Finally, I realized that what was making this sound were tons of cicadas, which are due to come out this year in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. It is supposed to be Brood 9, which comes out every 17 years. I had seen a few funny looking creatures with black heads and big red eyes walking around, and shells of creepy crawlers over the past week or so, and while researching them, I found out what they were, but I never put the three together, mystery sound + creepy looking shell = cicada. They seem to be clumsy flyers, and today they are everywhere. I cannot use the side entrance because they have decided to park themselves near it, and even on the steps. I guess they are coming out of the ground or from a big old tree near that entrance. I have seen them fly down, and fall down from it. They walk and they just turn over, and take an eternity to flip back over again. I have seen them stretch out their wings and legs, as if coming out of a deep sleep, looking a bit messy, later to have stretched their wings. At first, I was disgusted by their appearance, by now, I am intrigued, and even caught myself talking to one that was near the side door, on top of the railing. Did I find it cute? I think I did. Today, there were more than 10 staring at me from the side steps, and it looked like an airport out there, when the sun was shining for the first time after a week of heavy rain. My husband tried to blow them away with a leaf blower, but they kept coming back. I think they like the blue color of the railing. Thank God they are staying on that side, and I can go out if needed via the front door. I am happy to have discovered what that mysterious sound was, but I cannot wait for these critters to come out and fly away, and disappear for another 17 years. I cannot decide if I like them or not, but I don’t want them near me. I was able to take a picture of one of them. Are you seeing these where you live?
When I moved from the Jersey shore to southern Virginia, I knew that two of the things I would miss most (besides my friends of course) would be being close to the waterfront, and the bird sightings we had. The area I used to lived in was classified as a bird sanctuary, and I enjoyed watching these gorgeous creatures very much. Years ago, I wrote a post that included many pictures of the birds around the area. When I moved here I didn’t know that this area was considered a bird sanctuary as well, and I rejoiced when I saw the marking signs in town. As spring approaches, the little ones are flying in numbers, and I took some pictures which I will share on this post. Here is where I experienced for the first time what is called a mixed flock. It happened during late fall of last year, and I had no idea of what it was. I saw many types of birds flying together, some circling a dead tree covered in honeysuckle vine, and other birds landing on it. They flew in together and they were very loud, and before I had the chance to grab the camera they all left at once (flying together). I researched this and found out that some birds do that to guarantee food and protection from predators during the winter. I thought it was too early, but we had a few early cold days; however, later on we ended up having a mild winter. None the less, it was a magnificent experience that I will cherish forever. This is the picture of the tree minus the birds. I call this tree my monster tree. It is charmingly spooky in a good way. It serves well many critters, and when the honeysuckle blooms I can smell its sweet scent coming through the kitchen window. It is simply delightful.
I see crows all the time, one of my favorite birds. I named this place Mill Creek Little Trees because of the many tiny pine trees surrounding it, however, those pines have grown tall since we bought the place in 2010, and the place seems to have outgrown its name. I thought of a new name, and decided to rename it Black Crow Cottage in honor of the many crows that wander around and my love for these birds. I have many plans for gardens in this place, but that will take some time to put in place, many years that is. A couple weeks ago, hundreds of robins started to arrive, and along with crows and sandpipers ( I will miss them much) they are a favorite as well. This year, for some reason they seem skinnier.
There is a giant old tree near the kitchen entrance, and I was delighted by the sight of these birds because I had never seen them before. Their color detail is beautiful. It looks as if God had taken a small brush and painted a bit of red and yellow on them. They stayed for a while and drank water from a hole in the old tree.
One more pic of these gorgeous creatures.
These birds have been coming around more and more, and they are beautiful as well. They seem to enjoy being on the ground like the robins, and along side them as well.
Enjoying a well deserved lunch.
A few blue birds have been arriving, but they are so fast and aloof that I have not been able to take a picture of them. In the meantime, this little fake blue bird will have to do for now. It would be just wonderful if one day a real blue bird would pose next to him and I was able to take the picture.
Well, this is all I have for now. I hope you enjoy these photos. I am not a photographer and I don’t know the names of most birds, but I enjoy watching and taking pictures of them.
The shiny crow
One nature’s note
The lovely sound
Of Autumn’s song.
We start to dream when we are children. We imagine fantastic worlds, magical places, dream of toys, and in general, anything seems possible and attainable. As we grow up, we learn that things are not always as we imagined or hoped. We learn disappointment when we don’t get the toy we expected, or pain and sadness when a beloved pet dies. Other children learn these lessons on a more somber note, the death of a parent or friend, hunger, or abuse. Every person experiences life in a different way at a different level. However, we manage to keep on dreaming throughout adulthood, and many, up to the time of death.
We have idyllic expectations in life, and many times we are lucky enough to live many of those dreams. Sometimes what we have imagined, what we have carefully crafted in our minds, does not match the accomplished/realized dream. It is a total let down, another disappointment in life, and almost as if we never learned those childhood lessons. It is the theme of many stories. Writers experience disappointment when books do not sell as well as expected or hoped. In anything in life there are ups and downs, and those are necessary for growth, to take us to the next level through a natural flow. It is called living.
When I moved from New Jersey to Virginia (USA), I moved from the city to the country. I had idyllic expectations of what country living would be like, romanticized ideas as well – green pastures, grazing cows, rolling hills, fresh air, cozy winters … I can go on and on. Little did I know that the first year I would encounter a cloud of migrating lady bugs look-alike japanese beetles in our area, landing everywhere and looking for shelter before winter. These would arrive in waves throughout the day for weeks. At the same time, a large amount of alien bugs (alien to me that is) known as stink bugs was trying to do the same, look for shelter before winter. Autumn, my favorite time of the year had turned into a nightmare. I was not used to these insects nor was I used to these clouds in number, or any other type, as I had lived pretty much insect free for most of my life, being bugged by an ocassional spider or a lonely wasp. Mosquitoes were my only nuisance as I lived near the water. I was afraid to go outside during the “arrivals” and soon I learned to time their peak hours. Luckily their presence lasted less than a month, that is, until next season. Winter became my favorite time of the year. Cold weather meant no bugs. Spring became a bug fest as well, and for the first time I realized that there were so many, oh so many, insects I had never seen. Never did I experience so many types of wasps flying at once. Soon my closest neighbors became used to my screaming fits, and the occasional sight of a mad woman running through the field being followed by a giant wasp.
The idyllic expectations about country living gave way to reality. I told my friend that living in the country seemed to be more work than living in the city. Awareness became important as well. The other day I was heading out the back door to pick up my mail, and as I stepped down only two steps, a leaping deer crossed in front of me followed by another one, a very close call. Farm dogs were running after them, and being terrified, they were flying for their lives. I was so lucky; one more step and there would have been an unfortunate encounter with nature. I have seen the damage deer can cause to cars. On another occasion what I thought was a piece of black rubber left behind was a black snake.
The point to all this rambling is that at one point, when reality does not match idyllic expectations, we get to decide how we are going to set our focus, and that will determine the degree of “happiness or disappointment” as well as our next step in life. Do we focus on the less than perfect image or do we start seeing the rest of the picture? So many other beautiful and interesting things can be found in it. I am starting to enjoy Autumn once more. Every day I see something different, from colorful and weird mushrooms to even four-leaf clovers. I have found four so far.
I always try to relate every blog post to the topic of writing. Maybe books are not selling as expected, and you are thinking about quitting writing, even when you love it so much. You are a story-teller and writing is like the air you breathe. Maybe you can adjust your focus away from profitability or recognition, and see the beauty in finding words to tell a story that has been sleeping in your imagination. The story that will be shared with the world, whether it makes you money or not. After all, if you love telling stories so much, and these stories have become alive inside the pages of a book, it only takes one reader to make them real. The purpose has been met. When reality does not match idyllic expectations move your eyes away and place them back on another spot.
The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.
As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.
I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.
Lately, Sandy has popped in my mind. Sandy was a black and white pig with whom I had a childhood friendship. I saw him grow up since he was a baby pig. I have memories of conversations with Sandy; early in the morning I ran to his pen and talked to him. The funny thing is that he seemed to listen, or at least I thought he did – we had an understanding.
One morning, I went to say hello as usual, but Sandy wasn’t there. I ran screaming to my grandmother, who told me he must have gone out at night. I believed her. The next day, I went to the local country store who was a few steps from home. I used to run there barefooted at times – out of childhood laziness. Since I knew the shop owner, I went thru the back entrance, sometimes. That day, I did. There, laying on the floor I saw my Sandy – he was dead, but I knew it was him. I started screaming and crying, and they had to take me home. They told me it wasn’t him, but I knew him well. Those memories are so alive in my mind, and as I write this post, tears are flowing.
I write this post, first, because I realized that after more than 40 years, I have to let go of Sandy, and keep only the good memories. Second, to let you know that you may have your own Sandy (whatever that may be), that needs closure – even when you don’t know it, or have not known it for many years. If one day, you find yourself reminiscing about your own Sandy, don’t discard your memories as foolish, they popped up for a reason. Reminisce and take care of some doors that have been left open for years. Oil up the hinges and close them gently. As artists, we don’t know what may hinder our creativity.
Today, as I write this post, I think of my beloved Sandy in a different way.