RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Puget Sound

Excerpts from a Hummingbird Book I Wrote

 

Several years ago after spending countless hours (years) with my Little Winged Ones and reading anything I could get my hands on for information and then taking notes as I surveyed, scrutinized, examined and study them from every aspect one could… I decided to write a little book about the Little Winged Ones. 

I actually wrote the book backwards, doing the conclusion with all the information about them from migration to habitats, the flowers they liked, what kind of water sources they liked to you name it.  I was writing down everything that I saw, heard and read.  I found it quite exhilarating… as much so as the little hummingbirds themselves. 

I am now doing the illustrations for the little book.  I am having a blast doing each one.  I do not care how long it takes me, the time I put into the little book is very precious to me.  In the end whether I sale one copy or give them away it means little to the measure of pleasure they have given me.

The title of the little book is Midnight Nectar… this comes from a special part of this poem that I wrote… the hummingbird characters and personalities are what help set the title.  I do hope that each one of you enjoys the excerpts from the poem and a little from the books conclusions of as much information that I thought a reader would want and could enjoy, for those that asked for me to share sorry it took me so long….

 

Midnight Nectar  

The Little Winged Ones

 

 

I watch in wonderment at the little wings ones, the hummingbird’s flight of play.  Flashing the colors of their gorget, they cast beams of color like a prism in sunrays.  You see them flitting here and there, their iridescence feathers glowing, bright, shimmering, and radiating a mixture of colors as they dart from place to place…

 

The sight of each little winged ones impressive plumage is eye-catching as they put it on display.  All their colors of rufus, greens and blues, purple, and even copper are all blended and fused to see as they captivate.   Gold and orange, and reds dispersed in many different hues its contrast the identity enabler and too by their size and shapes…

 

They flash each their metallic colors as they put on a show, which is entertaining, sometimes comical as they engage with one another in as many ways.  They make musical notes from the exhilarated speed of their little wings with a constant whirling and hovering here, and their flights of speed so swift , look and see it is high, ever so high over there, each  its own everywhere…

 

Watch as the little winged ones ascend high out of sight then rapidly plummets with a “peep” as it promptly levels off just above the ground, then flies away, bright and smart and oh so quick on their uptake.  Amazing acts these little winged ones, what a show as they try to assert, contend, and outperform on a dare, which one will succeed, they are all very competitive…

All this takes lots of nectar the sweet juices is their food, their fuel.  Sit and watch as they linger at their chosen flowers all of pure raw flavor.   Sipping nectar for their flights and their games of play, watch it now as it makes the chase; it tags, and then it quickly flies away…

 

The hummingbirds I write about are those that spend spring, summer and the part of autumn here in the Pacific Northwest.  Four species that call our home theirs for part of the year are the Anna’s, Allen’s, Rufus, and the littlest of all the Calliope’s.  A few of the Anna’s Hummingbirds live here at Hummingbird Hollow year round.  They are very adaptive at surviving the winters that can get very cold, here in Washington State where the temperature can sometimes be in the 20’s degrees and at times a lot colder.  To survive the night, they fluff up their feathers and adjust their thermostats, decreasing their body temperatures by half and reducing their heart rate which can range can be up to 1260 beats per minute.  Their high body temperature of…

 

I observed for the first time several years ago a new, performance that was put on by a hummingbird during the hottest part of the summer.  The lawns were all golden brown from lack of rain.  While I was relaxing in the shade, I watched a hummingbird land on a slight slope where the wild grass was dried and the blades were all laying one on top of another on the ground.  The hummingbird landed and then commenced to lie down and settled on its belly in the dried grass as it spread it wings wide on both sides.  It laid there sunning itself for a long period time.  I was not only surprised but it intrigued me so.  I had never to date read anything on this behavior.  I thought maybe it was a fluke, but again I was thrilled to watch and scrutinize this same behavior on several occasions over the years after the fact of what seems to be a routine occurrence…

The little hummers never bore me, quite the opposite.  My interest and need to know more has never diminished, if anything I am like a sponge and try to gather and saturate my mind with as much information as I can.   I never tire of watching and studying them; I am thrilled beyond words at their courage to face anything head on.    They entertained me with all their antics and their pure stamina, with their staying power to weather any storm, and their determination in all of their actions.  They have never let me down.  This information is from the four species that live here at Hummingbird Hallow…

Hummingbirds need twice their weight in water every day.  They will drink the dew collected in leaves, or on grass and flowers.  Customary water sources such as birdbaths and in ground mini ponds and Koi Gardens will have to be specially adapted for the needs of the hummingbirds.  The hummingbirds and songbirds require very shallow water for drinking and bathing.  They do not like more than an inch and would prefer even less than that.  The birdbaths and such that we provide for other birds will need to be adapted for the little birds use.  You can add rocks, or you can lay a layer of sand for the correct water depth needed, even too use some small pebbles so they can enjoy and make use of your different water sources.   If need they will use the birdbaths and such but on a limited basic, by letting the tips of their wings dip in the water as they drop down and whiz across the water.   They two will dip their bills in for a quick drink.  Keep the birdbaths clean and give them fresh water every day during the hot summer months.  Here in the northwest even though we get lots of rain, I clean the birdbaths every day.  You want them sterile, you do not want them to pass on any disease(s) to each other and too there are many other birds that use the same water sources.  If you decide to put out feeders for the birds, be sure to keep them sterile, keep nectar fresh and put out only enough seeds for a few hours, we add to the feeders we use a couple of times a day.   Do not use any chemicals of any kind at any time… 

They love to play in the mist from water fountains. They will all join in and chase after one another and the mist drops.  There is much enjoyment to be had if you just take the time to watch them in all their energetic and enthusiastic high-spirited flights of play.  Always chasing one another, raindrops, water mist from fountains, even water from lawn and garden hoses (they love it when you are watering and do not mind that you are right there holding the hose.)  Remember to watch them playing chase with the snowflakes in the wintertime.  They seem never to exhaust their energies in whatever, they find to amuse themselves…

I hope you enjoyed the excerpts that I have chosen.  The book has not been edited at this point, if anyone knows a good book editor let me know… I need one bad….

(All of the photos I picked for this post are of Female Rufus Hummingbirds.)

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Hummingbirds in Snow

On watch of nectar… Female Anna Hummingbird

Wintry Holiday for the Hummingbirds

I have been told that sometimes when you ask you will receive.  Our moist cold air turned to snow last week…finally; we received over ten inches (some in the Northwest received over twenty inches, in the mountains it was in feet…) of the beautiful white fluff.   I have to say it was beautiful and we were very blessed to be about the only ones that did not lose power during our “winter storm.”  We had very high winds and it was snowing so hard at times it was a white out.   The site was stunning to say the least.

Our storm here in the hollows came and went for several days; the temperature was just a little bitter (and add the wind chill to that) more than what my body can suffer so the little walks I took were very short and only in the first couple of days of the winter blast.

I did get out and about and took a couple of pictures I thought I would share with you, I wanted so badly to take a walk about when we were at the height and depth of the snowstorm but after the few little jaunts I had taken I just could not muster up the needed strength and my bodies temp had plummeted to the point I wondered if it would  return to normal… but I think you will enjoy the pictures of our winter wonderland.  I too took a few pictures of things in my gardens.

My favorite pictures are of course the hummingbirds; I am taken by their pure resilience and stamina when it comes to enduring the freezing weather we get here in the Northwest.  They kept me busy watching them chasing the snowflakes as they drifted to the floor of white.  Buzzing the drifts and taking dives they were very busy just keeping themselves occupied.  Sometimes with the high wind gust I thought they would be carried off just as the snowflakes… wouldn’t it be something to have the fortitude of the little winged ones!

Male Anna Hummingbird

Female Anna Hummingbird

Nectar… Fuel for energy and to keep warm

Nice landing in the snow

Last season’s Robin nest topped off with snow

A Triple Drip!

One Drop in Time

I love old stumps… this one is from 1904

Down our Lane

Looks like white linen… time for tea!

Thick cushions of snow

In the pictures you see of the hummingbirds looking up, they are keeping watch over their nectar juice in the hummingbird feeder (they took turns)… the one thing that keeps them going in the winter’s whiteout….

Pork Barley Soup and Just Words

Ninnie had a bad day, but you cannot help but love her!

Bear with me today I feel in a ‘wordy’ mood!

Winter has settled in here where I live.  No snow, but cold air, cold wet air… no matter if it is a sprinkle, or a drizzle, could be muzzling, misting, in the form of  fog or even hail, light showers or  a deluge or some call a downpour… raining/torrents of cats and dogs it is still cold precipitation (of one kind or another.)   All always accompanied with grey skies.  But that can be a plus… when the sun shines it is a moment of perceived heaven.  You always take the time to enjoy the flash of rays that cast light… the rare winter sunbeams.  The casting light, reflect… bring thoughts of summer past or summer comings… one thing you know in the great Northwest sun basically makes itself known it seems only in the summer months with little minute sneak peeks during the rest of the year… but what a surprise… an attention getter… it is when beams of the sun rays are blessing you with a fleeting moment of the sun’s light.

We lost our electric the day before yesterday; an abrupt change in the weather front with high winds… I was trying to gather Ninnie and some things to settle in for the afternoon and the wind chimes made me take sudden notice that they were being carried on the wind now hanging horizontally… making mutable sounds as they tried to chime with the same notes but it was as impossibility while wafting on the wind like a sailboat on water.   

About the time I get Ninnie to the back door hail was added to the mix… it was drumming  on and bouncing off the roof and deck so hard it muffled the wind chimes scaring Ninnie to the outer reaches of the yard.   There was no way I was going out into the weather to try to… One… try to catch a terrified… anxious cat, I won’t even go there.  Two… knowing Ninnie like I do (she feels she will melt if one drop of moisture touches her) with wet fur… it always brings out the best in her… not!… Three… one arm people do not have any business trying to save a scared to death cat… nothing good can come of it!    

There was more than one danger in even attempting to do so.  So I stayed in the door frame so she could see me (I wonder does she realize that I do not like being wet and cold either!) until things settled down enough that she would know when she could make an abrupt dash for the door, which is what eventually happened. 

For the rest of the day she was not of very good sorts (take another look at that face… I’ll wait!) I think she thought I brought it all on and I was the only one to blame.    She will soon get over another of what she thinks is a personal attack on her life! Things did settle down quicker than it took the hail to melt. 

The hail was the closest thing to snow we have had this winter (unless a heavy frost counts) here in our neck of the words, I love snow and if it is going to be cold and wet I say let the precipitation be snow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

We again have high wind forecast for this afternoon and evening.  Everything has been made ready.  Ninnie is not allowed out for the rest of the day, and she is none too happy with me (again.)  She will have to live with it, when the winds start she gets all paranoid and it is hard for her to keep things indexed in her little brain.  Sounds being carried on the wind are hard for all animals’, one of the reasons they bed down.   As soon as Ninnie realizes what is going on she will do what she normally does… sleep through it.  She always sleeps through all the difficult situations in her life.   

So many stories, but have used up my words for today….

 

 

T made pork barley soup today.  It is very simple but so delicious!  I enjoyed it immensely!  The hot broth felt so good going down… his recipe as put to me…  brown some pork in olive oil add a chopped onion and a sliced up clove of garlic, throw in a couple of diced potatoes, sliced carrots, add a small handful of barley and couple jars of water.  Season with some salt and pepper and simmer for an hour or two.   Add some parsley at the end.  He said he just throws it in the pot and if you try too hard it won’t be as good….

 

A New Year… A New Beginning

Space Needle, Seattle, WA New Year 2012

New Year… New Beginnings

I cannot believe that another year is all but here… where did the year go? It must have been marching along double time or better.   As the Christmas decorations were being repacked and stored and readied for next year I was thinking about those things that did and did not happen in this year that is coming to a fast close.

What would I like to change about next year, for one slow down time?  Knowing full well that is impossible I thought I would do something I could control… make life easier.   In all that I do and contemplate doing I am going to (try) to think it though and make the most of whatever it could be.

I do not generally make New Year’s resolutions because they somehow get lost in the first weeks of the New Year.  No matter how hard I try to do what I know is best for me… I will never be one to be tied down to resolutions, I can resolve some thing’s so much easier when put to paper, but to put the resolutions into practice in the normal  day-to-day life… it just does not seem to mesh with my lifestyle.   I am more of an in the moment kind of gal.  It is one of those changes for me that came with maturing many new years ago.  I actually liked the change!

I am not one that needs to tell myself to exercise; I love walks and such without much push.  I normally eat a pretty balanced diet… there are times that I get off the path so to speak but a light diet makes me feel good so I am not long derailed so to speak.  I love learning and think I will continue to sponge in as much information as I can… and hope to continue to learn should I live to be a hundred.  I can hope!

What I do need to do is something that I miss terribly.  I love helping those that need help through the food banks and such.  I need to make time available to help where ever I can… I use to spend a great deal of time getting donations for the food bank throughout the community.  Life in general caused for drastic changes in my life some time ago and I had to give up my volunteer time.  But with a little effort I know I can at least put in a couple of hours a month to help in whatever way I can physically to help feed those little mouths.

I wonder how many of us take the time to give a little of ourselves to the need of others.  If you made a list what would you put at the top that you would like to do to serve others… making opportunities in a small way that could possibly make life happier, healthier… making a difference no matter how insignificant (it may seem) in someone’s life.

I would love to hear about the things that each of you do or would like to do to make a difference.  There are so many areas that need volunteers: schools, nursing homes, hospice, hospitals, libraries, food banks and the list seem(s) to be never-ending.

I want to take this time and thank each of you for taking the time to make visits here at my blog and for your comments, they mean a great deal to me… my wish for each and every one of you is for the best of health, happiness and why not add in a little prosperity for this new year of 2012, may it be the best ever….

Space Needle, Seattle, WA New Year 2012

Eating Apple Cider

 

I cannot believe that autumn is essentially here.  I notice it mostly in the morning when I get up.  You can feel the chill in the air.  There is a thin layer of fog as I look out my window.  Over the Sound, the fog is dense, and you can hear the foghorns from all the boats of varying size on the Puget Sound.  It is a very heavy trafficked area with the cargo ships coming and going from the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.  Add to that all the fishing and pleasure boats of varying sizes.  We also have the ferryboats from several different areas all coming and going from very early in the morning until very late at night.  A few nights ago I noticed when I had to get up in the middle of the night that I could really hear the foghorns, I looked out and we were under with a very thick fog.  I knew there were some cargo ships waiting to dock in the ports… some coming from great distances.

With fall comes harvest time.  Tom picked the apples from our trees the other day.  We each had one when he took a break.  They were so crisp and luscious.  The taste reminded me of a delicious apple cider… they were like I was eating a cider drink.  I know you do not eat apple cider, but the test was so similar to apple cider that you felt you were sipping and not chewing.  As a child, I loved to have heated apple cider with a cinnamon stick so too my children loved theirs the same.

As I took a break at the garden table a dragon-fly came by to see me, it stayed on my arm for a while… it looks like it has a smile on its face!

It takes me back to when we first moved to Washington.  It had been a long two weeks on the road from Yorktown VA to Puget Sound, Washington.  The afternoon we arrived, we found out that school was starting the next day.  You do not know how this Mother felt to know that the children would be in school all day long, especially after that long journey all cramped in a vehicle and with our little sheltie dog, Mini Molly Moo Wigglesworth, our miniature Lassie look-a-like.  She was the least of our troubles.

That first week in school here was heaven-sent.  Busy with getting things in order, such as where we would live and hoping that our household goods would arrive on the date given.  All the paper work sent home from school with the children took hours to fill out, and then there were the school trips sent for parents to give permission for your child to go on.  Their very first field trip here in Washington was to “Scandia Pumpkin Farm.”

This pumpkin farm had been in business for generations I was told.  The elderly farmer and his ancestors had all grown pumpkins on this very farm.  Each year they invited the children from the local schools to come and pick out a pumpkin in the special pumpkin patch that they had grown just for that purpose.  Each child once they had picked the pumpkin they wanted paid one quarter for it.  After choosing the pumpkin and paying the elderly pumpkin farmer poured each a cup of hot apple cider.    All the children loved their hot apple cider and were happy with the pumpkin they had found in the pumpkin patch.   This one was always a chosen field trip for me being a room mother; I always enjoyed it as much as the children.

Eating the apple the other day while sitting under the Apple tree brought back so many memories from my childhood to my children’s childhood.  We had trips similar to this when we lived in Connecticut.

We still have a few plums to pick, I had one and it was simple wonderful.  The blackberry season has now ended.  And I feel so blessed, with so many blackberries that I was able to make vinegar, syrup, tarts and froze enough to get some preserves and other things in the future.  Tom actually made a blackberry cobbler with wheat germ the other evening it was large enough for two small portions of the wonderful tastes that come with harvest time.

Then it decided to take a sun break on one of the apples, blending right in!

The apples will bring us some of our favorites… apple butter, apple sauce, pies, tarts, bread, muffins, or a wonderful tarte tatin, there are so many more uses that I can think of for these wonderful apples.

The leaves are all about to change and what breathtaking beauty they will bring along with all the wonderful flavors that come each fall.   Each is a treasure to me since childhood.

It sure is nice to be able to have the freshness of fall at your backdoor.  I would share with all of you if you did not live across the pond so to speak.  I hope that each of you have a wonderful, colorful fall and a bountiful harvest of wonderful tastes, friends, and love too….

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