It was a beautiful week here in the Kickapoo Valley. Cool but beautiful. Spring is in full bloom in spite of the chill in the air. Itís not unusual to see frost on the leaves this late and thatís what happened Friday morning. Iíve learned not to plant anything in the garden that canít take a frost until after the first of June, especially if you live in a valley. It wasnít a real hard frost so I didnít think it would hurt the lilacs in the front yard so I didnít give it much thought. What I did think about was the pretty new fawn I watched being born in the meadow on Thursday morning. It was the third time in 12 years that a white-tailed doe gave birth to a fawn and I was able to watch from the house. Itís always a special thing to see and very humbling. It made me feel grounded and bonded to this wonderful season of lifeís new beginningsóspring.
The tiny spotted fawn lay on the green grass for about twenty minutes while its mother licked him dry from head to tail. She kept licking him as he raised himself on wobbly legs and a few minutes later he was nosing about behind his mother for his first breakfast. Mom kept licking him as she fed him. When his hunger was satisfied he began to stagger around a little but quickly gained control of his legs. Within a half hour of being born the little fawn was able to run about with a spring in his steps.
I believe little fawns are like house cats, they want to take a nap after eating. The fawn bolted from his motherís side and headed for the tall grass near the meadow creek and his mother followed behind him. He curled up on the ground and she lovingly licked him for about five minutes and when she felt satisfied that he was safe here, she left him and walked up across the meadow and into the woods. She will be back to feed him again in the middle of the day and maybe move him to another spot.
I was taking it easy on the back porch late Thursday afternoon, watching the birds at the feeders and doing some writing. When I looked up there was the fawn, standing only 30 feet from the porch, he seemed to appear from out of nowhere. He stood and stretched his legs for a couple of minutes, and then he lay back down again, completely out of sight. Believe me, youíd never have known he was there. Iíve learned that a hidden fawn will stand up about every 15 minutes so I waited and sure enough he got up again for a short time before disappearing under the green foliage again. A few minutes later I heard a single soft, short bleet, the kind of sound a fawn might make. The subtle sound came from the fawnís mother who stood fifty feet further in the woods. Upon hearing his motherís gentle call, the little fawn sprang to his feet and ran to her. She licked him behind the ears and off they went into the woods. When the frost came Friday morning I didnít give the flowers much thought but I did wonder if that little fawn was shivering somewhere while curled up under the green leaves.
The sun felt good as I turned up the garden soil to plant some tomato plants. I love working in the garden while the birds sing all around me. A very curious catbird talked to me from a nearby tree limb and boy, did he have a lot to say. In fact you never know what he will say next. His calls are a mishmash of different notes and sounds sometimes mimicking other birds. Heís always wondering whatís going on so I call him the busybody bird.
A handsome Rufous-sided Towhee appeared at the edge of the woods and sang his favorite song, ďDrink your tea, drink your tea.Ē He knew how to put a smile on my face.
When I started to pull some tall weeds in the asparagus bed, a small Garter snake slithered out into the sunshine. I guess I must have found his hiding place and he decided to find a new one. Iíve seen several snakes in the yard and garden this spring and thatís a good thing.
A beautiful male Yellow-shafted flicker lay dead in the middle of the road in front of the house, a victim of the fast pace of the artificial trail. A bird that beautiful doesnít deserve the fate of succumbing to such an unnatural death. I call them summer woodpeckersótheir call is a rapid, ďwick, wick, wick, wick, wick.Ē His death wasnít totally in vain when you consider he was able to share with us his lovely colors.
Near the trout stream a pair of Kingbirds have returned to their nesting grounds. This is the third year that these large and very bold flycatchers have returned to the same place to nest. Kingbirds are very aggressive birds when anyone is near their nest. Theyíre not afraid to go after you the same as a Red-winged blackbird would. Iíve never heard of any one being injured by either of these birds but they sure make a fuss.
Iím always in awe of how fast things start to bloom around Memorial Day. My friends Andy and Colette are blessed to have a chestnut tree in their front yard. A chestnut tree in full bloom is truly something to behold. The tree was covered with golden blossoms and the humming from the bees could be heard 50 feet away. Hummingbirds darted about from sweet flower to flower and added to the bee music.
Up the road from their place, a swarm of honeybees have gathered in a bush not far from the road. They formed a single mass a foot and a half wide and two feet long at the end of a branch. A swarm is a great number of bees who gather together with a queen bee to start a new colony elsewhere. Itís always a treat to see this bee ritual of spring.
There is lots of food for the bees now as scores of flowers are in bloom. The light lavender faces of the wild geraniums are everywhere and the honeysuckle bushes are packed solid with pink flowers. The earliest sunflowers to bloom in spring are the pretty Yellow ragwort. A rare sight these days, they stand close together on two-foot stems and seem to glow in the sunshine.
Hereís hoping that everyone is enjoying Mother Natureís gifts of spring as much as I am. All you have to do is be outside, nature will do the rest.
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