Nature again figures prominently in my things thankful.

One soft snowy morning, I parsed the various tracks in my yards: skunk (identifiable by the whiff of lingering “perfume”); grey squirrel; neighbourhood cat; raccoon; chipmunk.

Some other visitors didn’t venture into my tracking space that morning: groundhogs hibernate; rabbits come and go; fox is a cypher slipping through the cedars on occasion.

Remembories of country-living filled the spaces between paws. Years blur the hardships into vignettes of rural awe. Of eagles and hawks tree-top perched mere feet from our back door. Of peering through the narrowing slit of window, banked by days of blizzard, to find a flock of ravens hunkered down in the bare apple tree branches. Of muskrats, weasels, red squirrels, fox. “Butterfly” moments, nestled in nature, playing against the screen of closed eye lids.

2018 was the international year of the bird. 2019 is my personal year of the bird. The meadowlands continue to amaze. This week a more fleeting glimpse at “my” bald eagle, an osprey, and assorted ducks. At another point in my weekly journey, in an unlikely spot – a  lagoon between the rail tracks and a bridge, “my” mute swans are icebergs, floating in a “sea” dotted with islands of seagulls, and rafts of ducks.

We had more birds than usual in our yard this weekend. Nothing exotic or a harbinger of spring. March 3 is when grackles begin showing up. A sign of the great awakening, danced to the tune of the red-wing blackbird’s call.

The return of the woodpeckers over the last few weeks – a classic juxtaposition posing of female Downy and Hairy woodpeckers on a branch just outside the kitchen window, illustrating the difference in size and beaks. (Mrs. Hairy is the larger of the two.)

Of course, these aren’t really “my” birds – I try not to Disneyfy them. However,I feel somewhat befriended by them. For the first time last year, woodpecker parents brought their fledglings to our yard. We had seen the male and female downy, hairy, red-bellied adults throughout the previous winter. I felt honoured watch them instruct their chicks on backyard feeding principles.

And today, on our way to the grocery store, we drove past a turkey vulture standing on the curb. This is the closest I’ve ever been to one. We thought, by size, it was a wild turkey at first. Until we glimpsed the distinctive bald red-head. Apparently not injured so we suspect some creature had not crossed the street successfully. But, probably not chicken.

For all of this, I am thankful. The multiplicity of wonder just outside my kitchen window; just beyond my porch door.

images: meadowsblog; e-bird; project feeder watch; Cornell lab of ornithology; 

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