Life in the country, contemplating birds

It’s gorgeous and sunny here, and I probably should be out doing some of the things that need doing in the yard, but instead I’m trying to complete a writing assignment and using this as an excuse not to do so. Also, it’s very cold out there for a wimp like me (hasn’t yet hit 45 degrees today), so it’s also more fun to be in here keeping the fire going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about birds this morning, probably because that’s what I’ve decided to write about, if and when I ever get around to writing it. But so much of what we conjecture about our world here revolves around observing the wildlife.

We didn’t get our usual sunny October. It started raining around the first of the month and, with a break of a couple of days, has rained pretty steadily since. This is what we all call November weather. But somehow the birds knew it was going to happen. The hummingbirds and swallows migrated nearly a month early this year, just disappeared the way they do, headed for South American or the Mexican Riviera to ride out the winter in a less cold spot. And I saw the first bald eagle of the season this morning, also about a month earlier than I expected. They winter here and fish the river, and in January they’re very common. But not in October.

A big old ruffed grouse, the biggest we’ve ever seen, was hanging around the woodshed yesterday pruning and eating the twigs from some brush. It was so large I thought at first it was a rabbit, but then I got the glasses and got a better look.

Haven’t seen the cougar again, which is fine with me, but the fact that it made an appearance so close to the house has everyone a little ruffled. It makes you pay attention (and carry a pistol) when you’re out walking around. Logging has reduced their habitat, and with the new restrictions on hunting, the populations are exploding, so I expect we’ll see more of them.

Tonight feels like black bean soup with vegetables and sherry to me. I think with a big plate of Southern-style hot biscuits it will suit my mood perfectly.

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