Friday, February 23, 2007

Signs of Spring

The weather has warmed up this week, and there are early signs of spring everywhere. For starters, the southern winds are here in all their persistent glory.

The birds have really started singing. It's the cardinals that I particularly notice when I go outside, but the white-crowned sparrows contribute their plaintive whistles and sometimes I'll catch the redwings or meadowlarks adding their melodies too. Even the woodpeckers have become extremely vocal back down in the draw.

The male red-winged blackbirds have started puffing out their epaulettes when another male flies near them at the feeders. My heart gives a little jump every time I see the soft, threatening puff of vivid red and yellow.

And I'm seeing males and females of all 3 of my main woodpecker species in at the feeders (downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and flickers). I even saw a red-shafted flicker, female, in the draw earlier this week. That's a little unusual for Kansas, where yellow-shafted flickers tend to be the rule.

Most excitedly, I looked out my kitchen window about 3 days ago and saw a splotch of yellow in the grass. Closer examination revealed a beautiful bunch of crocuses in full bloom. (Note: does anyone know why Blogger isn't allowing me to load photos in portrait format any more? Every time I try to upload one, it changes it back to landscape format.)

Finding the crocuses led to my first real gardening in our new home yesterday: I spent 45 minutes or so pulling out Bermuda grass from the remains of the old flowerbed where the crocuses were. In the process I discovered several other clumps of bulbs beginning to push their way up to the sunlight. It wasn't a big area at all, but my hands feel battered and bashed this morning - I'd forgotten how unforgiving Bermuda grass is to remove. I foresee long, painful hours ahead this spring.

After carefully getting out all of the grass that I could, I bedded the plants back down with leaf mulch...wondering at the time if this was futile, but wanting to cover the bare soil at least a little. It was no surprise, though, when I got up this morning and discovered that the wind had thoroughly removed all of the mulch overnight. We ARE back in Kansas, after all. I guess Windswept Cottage is beginning to live up to its name. (Obviously this photo is from before the wind had its way with the mulch.)

I don't like bark mulch as well as leaf mulch, but I think I'm going to have to give it a try. Of course, there are no guarantees that even that will remain in place.

Speaking of which, I wonder if you can get a wind meter anywhere? I'm curious to know how fast the winds are blowing out here. It's always fun to have something to brag and/or complain about!


Paul D. said...

Wonderful picture. As for the wind meter...I am sure sure if you google home weather stations or anemometer you can find one. You might look at edmunds scientific's web site as well.

Gaia Gardener: said...

Thanks for the reminder about Edmunds. I hadn't thought about that. I've found several possibilities via google, but haven't decided yet how much my simple curiosity is truly worth!