The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
We all had our teeth clenched, waiting for a horrible, snowy, icy, blistering cold winter here in Arkansas. Instead, we had no snow that stayed on the ground, 50 degree weather in mid-December, and a dandelion blooming in our backyard. Likewise, Seattle was unusually warm but faithfully cloudy and drizzly.
I left two ears of corn for our squirrels when I left. One disappeared altogether. The other was eaten down to the cob. I put a new ear on the feeder and that disappeared in a day. Before, the corn slowly disappeared. Now it is colder and all the animals want to add calories.
We had our first flock of starlings at the feeder yesterday, going for the suet. Birds are quite cautious, taking weeks to accept and use a new feeder. Once they are used to food there, they will return sporadically for a long time. That is a good reason to feed all winter, to have them used to the yard and the garden. Starting with mulch means the birds recognize those areas as supermarkets of bugs and worms.
The oak leaves were finally down on the ground when we returned, so I took the latest bag of newspapers and spread them around the base of the second tree designated for trumpet vines. Then I raked leaves over the newspaper layer to create Jackson Mulch.
Nearby is the dead tree (aka garden-hose tree) where more trumpet vines will grow. I learned long ago that the secret to running vines up a tree is to start away from the trunk and roots, where the plants can be deeply rooted in good soil. The dead tree has Jackson Mulch around its base, but I will extend that with leaves to give the vines several good starts. We smothered the weeds and crab grass with Jackson Mulch, adding to the attractiveness of the tree while building soil around it.
Brett and Amy Meyer's home has a number of hummingbird feeders, which were getting a lot of business while we were there. I like to grow my feeders. In Phoenix I had giant bushes with orange flowers, always in bloom, that grew from three tiny pots - total cost $5 for all three bushes.
As Brett and others have pointed out, hummingbirds do not need a big red trumpet shape for feeding. That has become a staple of feeders. They do favor certain flowers like the trumpet vine, but they also love scarlet runner beans, which have much smaller flowers. The color does not matter to the birds, but the food does.
One myth about hummingbirds is their exclusive need for nectar. That is like living on Coke. They also extract insects from the flowers, for a balanced diet. They do not always fly. I have seen them use the chicken wire support of the beans to rest while sipping.
No bird is bolder than the hummingbird. They will fly around the face of a friendly gardener and show up for free showers from the garden hose. They remind me of Luther's statement:
"Faith makes us bold."