The Great Outdoors

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Once we reach May, I really don’t want to use the heat anymore. I mean we are well into spring and closing in on summer so I shouldn’t need artificial heat. Today was one of those borderline days. The early morning temperatures were in the low 40’s so the house was a bit cool this morning. Knowing we had a sunny day ahead, I managed to keep the heat off. I did put on my gloves when we took Rocco for his walk. Again, I hate the idea of wearing gloves in May but my hands freeze too easily.

One of the things my parents managed to impart on all four of us was a love of animals. We are zoo people. We grew up between two bigger cities with zoos and summer usually meant a day trip or two to each. Dad was a driving machine so a 2-3 hour drive to drag 3-4 kids to walk around a zoo in the middle of summer was just something we did. Didn’t seem unusual. I know that if there’s a zoo in a place we are vacationing, then we’ll find it and my brothers and sister are the same way.

In the same way, they also left us with an appreciation for backyard wildlife and bird feeding in particular. I can identify nearly all of the common birds in this area which is a bit of trivia that I thought wasn’t that special until I started talking with people and realized that it wasn’t as common as I thought.

Anyway, I only start off with this because the spring time not only brings flowers and flowering trees but several migratory birds come back through the area. It is again like bringing color back into the world. Granted, we do have cardinals and blue jays that overwinter but the spring brings many more although they aren’t as easy to spot.

So when a summer tanager just randomly perched on the deck outside our bedroom, I naturally got all geeked out. Actually thought it was a scarlet tanager but they have black on the wings and this guy was all red. Saw two orioles this morning while taking Rocco for his walk. Got the right angle with the sun behind me and just lighting up the bright orange of the oriole. People are running through the park with their headphones on and I’m scanning the tops of the trees trying to get a look at something that just flew in. The good thing is that Rocco is older and not as interested in pulling me along so he’s fine with just hanging out in an area and checking out all the messages left by other dogs. And eating a few blades of grass when he finds one that interests him.

After getting some errands done, my wife needed to work so I took the time to sit out on the deck and read. The temperature had warmed enough that sitting in the shade was comfortable. Had a hummingbird zoom up to our feeder – saw the first one just a couple of days ago. We have not planted any flowers in the boxes along the deck because its been too cold and too wet but we’ll have to get some in there pretty soon to make sure the hummingbird hangs around.

The two barred owls started having a little conversation with each other. They weren’t close together so it might have been territorial with one announcing his (or her) presence and the second responding to say “stay out of my space”. I’m pretty sure one lives in an old tree in the woods behind our house because we’ve seen them around several times and heard them a lot more. I guess owls aren’t strictly nocturnal because I was wondering what these two were doing hooting at each other in the middle of the day. Still, I do like having owls around the house. It never really gets old hearing them call – well except if it is in the middle of the night and they are right outside the bedroom.

The only problem with sitting outside is that all the trees are just starting to open up so there is pollen everywhere. I know this because my eyes start to itch like crazy and I had to retreat indoors. Love being outside but my allergies are not crazy about it.

Still, it was a relaxing way to spend a few hours on a perfect spring day.

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