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Here’s Looking at You

This brilliantly colored Scarlet Tanager paused outside my window for a short while today, just in time to be added to the bird count of Massachusetts Audubon’s Bird-a-thon.

Mass Audubon explains that “its largest fundraiser brings together supporters from across the state to raise essential funds for nature conservation, education, and advocacy”.

Because of the virus, this year all sightings were completed from the areas right around the participants’ homes.

Oriole Arrival, Part 2

This Baltimore Oriole pair chatter as they flash through the yard, pausing for a drink before heading to the nearby forsythia bush.

Oriole Arrival

The first Baltimore Oriole of the season cautiously checked in at the feeder in between rain showers today.

Free Gifts

Nature decorates the stones in my yard with its own festive gift-wrappings.

Bringing Cheer

During this difficult time, the reappearance of the American Robin in my yard is a rejuvenating and stabilizing sight.

American Robins are known to run a few steps, then stop abruptly, both to listen for danger and watch for worm movement in the ground.
Robins usually hop through tall grasses; this robin is hopping through the last of the snow.

Ancient Companions

Mosses appeared on Earth more than 400 million years ago, predating dinosaurs. On this early Spring day, these everlasting benign plants with their cushiony forms and lush green tones brighten up my yard, like old friends.

Seed Need

The irrepressible gray squirrel never passes up a chance to scout for tidbits under the bird feeders.

Emergence

The onset of Spring is visible in abstract patterns on and below the surface of our local ponds, now free of ice.

More Than Green

Visitors are startled by the vibrant and spectacular leaves in the Orangerie at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA .

Over the Walls

The little town of Hardwick, MA is celebrated for its miles of historic stone walls, some of them massive. Recently, on a bitterly cold day with threatening skies, the view from the Great Meadowbrook Farmlands was stark and alluring.

From 2000- 2004, Great Meadowbrook Farm was the site of the Over the Walls Horse Trials, one of the premier equestrian events in the United States.

A “Sweet” Protest

In New England, mid to late February is the start of the maple syrup making season.

Up until the Civil War, using maple sugar was an act of political protest for many northern abolitionists, who refused to use cane sugar produced by slave colonies in the Caribbean. New England forests had been over logged to build ships for the slave trade of the era. Abolitionists attempted to reseed decimated areas with maple trees, and use maple sugar rather than cane for their needs.

The “Sap Castle” in Rutland, MA welcomes visitors to view the sugaring process and learn about its history during February and March.

The family living in this house have been making maple syrup for three generations.
Two kinds of taps: traditional metal and modern plastic.
The sap castle in operation, with smoke from the wood-fired stove billowing out of the chimney.
The sap boiler, also called the sap evaporator.
The wood fire is kept roaring!
Final filtering.
Testing the sugar content of the syrup.
This simple window display shows the grades of syrup.
The 24/7 self service maple syrup box. It runs on the honor system.
Choose your syrup, and slide your payment through a nearby slot.
A rock “maple leaf” guards the castle.

Stopping at the Lodge

Canada Geese are often seen near beaver lodges in the early Spring. The activity of the beavers leads to earlier thawing of the ice, providing the geese with a welcome habitat and food resources. This is an example of a symbiotic relationship in nature.

-Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

A Meditative Encounter

The isolation and quiet dedication of a solitary fisherman in the middle of a frozen lake captured my attention. This turned a frigid February day into a welcomed experience of mindfulness.

-Rutland State Park, Rutland, Massachusetts

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