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March 2011

February 2011

Going to the Birds

On a recent walk I saw what I thought was a dark garbage bag caught in the high branches of a tree.  I took a second look and realized it was a turkey, approximately three stories up!

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As I watched he spread out first his tail feathers, then his wings.  It was early in the morning, so I  wonder if he was stretching after a good night's sleep.   The rest of his clan was waking in the trees around him.   I could hear them calling softly to one another.  Occasionally one would stretch a neck or puff up some feathers, then settle back in to roost a little longer. 


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I don't know if the photos can really convey just how large and out of place these birds looked. Birds around here, especially the ones that stick around through the cold months tend to be small.  A blue jay looks (and acts) like the school bully at the bird feeder.  He arrives with much flapping and squawking, scattering the diminutive juncos and chickadees like leaves.  So a turkey, a bird that stands as tall as a kindergartner, is truly a sight.  To give you a better idea of their size, a couple years ago I was driving to work and the traffic had come to a stand still.  There on the center yellow line of the road was a turkey.  He looked completely unfazed by the cars inching past him and wandered haphazardly first into one lane and then the other. Every now and then he'd walk up to a car and look in one of the windows.  That's how tall turkeys are.

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A few days after the tree sighting, I was walking down the same road and saw the turkeys congregating in the center of the road.  Occasionally one would straighten up, flap its wings and then settle down again.  There was one tom (male) that had its head down low and kept circling like a dog herding sheep.  Wikipedia says that mating doesn't start until March, so I'm not sure what the circling behavior was about.  You can see his antics, along with turkeys taking flight in my little video below. 

 

Did you hear that cry as the turkey took off?  Apparently (thanks again Wikipedia) turkeys have several calls.  I wasn't close enough for the camera to capture the softer coo-like sounds that the birds were making as they milled about. 

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Today I was on the same street, hoping to see the turkeys and they did not disappoint.  There they were, taking advantage of the sidewalks like good little citizens.  Then the door of a house opened up, a man stepped out with a bag and the birds mobbed him.  They scurried like creatures half their size, slipping on the ice and banging into one another trying to get at the seed he was throwing.  I wish I'd caught that on film!

 

 


From the desk of farmer Caroline...

How much snow is too much snow?

Too much snow is when you are standing face to face at eye level  with your 600 lb., 3 ft. high pig and you are on the ground outside their pen.

Too much snow is when you are walking past your goats and all you see are ears moving around the shoveled paths in their pen.

Too much snow is when you are seeing your cows at a whole new level in their pasture and there is only 1ft of fence showing.

Too much snow is when you can climb on to your poultry house cage roof from the snow bank and make a snow angel on the second story roof.

Too much snow is when I have time to sit and write this!!!! 

Cheers! Hope you are enjoying the snow as much as I am!

- Caroline

via massaudubonblogs.typepad.com

I loved Farmer Caroline's perspective on our wealth of snow and wanted to share it. This came from the Drumlin Farm blog.


Making the Most of It

I remember the snow piles of my childhood as giant mountains, waiting to be hollowed out igloo style.  I remember once after an ice storm,  I was able to walk about 8 feet into my yard on top of the snow and ice.  Then without warning, I fell in up to my waist and began to scream for help.  I thought the snow would pull me under like quicksand did on Saturday morning cartoons.    For reasons lost to  time,  my mother lay a ladder out across the yard, as if I had fallen through the ice on a pond, rather than snow in our front yard.  I grabbed the end, pulled myself out and crawled across the rungs, back to the safety of our walkway.  Snow was awesome, in every meaning of the word.  

Today I am an adult.  I'm at least a couple feet taller, and for the first time since my age has been counted in double digits the snow is again as giant as mountains.  Take a look at this picture from a local parking lot.  Of course the snow has been piled by plows, but just look at how it dwarfs the SUV (which was in turn taller than me).

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On a recent walk I saw one family had taken advantage of this bumper crop of snow to turn a small slope in their yard, into a snow tubing slope that I would pay to try.  It starts with a mound of snow at least 7 feet high, that the kids use ladders to scale.  Once at the top they zip down a steep slope, rocket over two jumps and ease to a stop in a big snowy bowl.  They must be the most popular kids in the neighborhood. 

My two way street has become 1.5 lanes.  I've seen more neighbors talk to one another this week as they try to maneuver around illegally parked cars, than I've probably seen all year.  The snow is particularly high at intersections.  Drivers have no hope of seeing what's coming the other way, so we all inch along and hope for the best.

I was surprised to see a sizable tunnel had been made into one of these snowy monoliths not far from my home.  What made it surprising was that no children live at that house.  I looked at the meticulously snow blown driveway and imagined the homeowner carefully doing the chore that must be done, but all the while eyeing that pile and planning his man cave.

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We got a bit of sun yesterday, and the world started to melt.  Our driveway which has been a sheet of ice all week, became a series of icy pools.  A family of sparrows splashed about as if the water weren't just a couple degrees above freezing.  The robbins were out in force, eating whatever defrosted, soggy berries still clung to the bushes.  Contrary to what I was taught in elementary school, the appearance of robbins does not mean spring is just around the corner.  Many robbins actually choose to winter in New England.  Why some migrate and others stay, I have no idea.  However Ms. G (the local prognosticating groundhog) and Punxatawney Phil both could not see a shadow this year, so there's good reason to think spring will be here sooner than later.  That sounds just right to me.  While I wouldn't mind staring up into a couple more night skies trying to catch snow flakes on my tongue, I also wouldn't mind giving my shovel a well earned retirement.


Star Spotting

Boston isn't an entertainment hub like L.A. or New York, but we do get our share of celebrities.  I've even run into a couple when I've been out on walks.  I saw the chef/restaurateur Todd English enjoying the sidewalk dining at Blue Ribbon BBQ.  If you're ever in the area, I have to recommend their cornbread, or more accurately their corn cake! 

While walking in Boston's Back Bay one evening I passed a man with curly hair that looked incredibly familiar, but couldn't figure out  how I knew him.  Had we worked together?  Did I recognize him from campus?   It was five blocks before I realized I'd never met him, but I'd seen him in countless movies.  His name? John C. Reilly

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Sadly, I was not walking through downtown Lexington in August of 2009.  At least not at the right times.  If I had been, I would have seen Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams filming scenes for the movie The Fighter.  According to a write up in Lexington's Colonial Times Magazine, there are scenes in the movie where the couple goes to a movie at our town's little, two screen, independent theater!  I wonder if they shot any scenes in the loft-like upstairs theater.  Somehow I suspect they went with the more traditional main one.  I heard somewhere that the bead store next to the theater got a bit of a makeover as a thrift shop for the movie, but that wasn't mentioned in the article.     Reportedly hundreds of people lined the street to view the filming.  How did I miss all that?  I guess it's not such a small town afterall.  

The article says "Heather Aveson has been to the Venue twice to see the film and each time she reports that the audience responded with applause and enthusiasm as the Lexington scenes appeared on the big screen."  I have to admit, I wasn't especially interested in seeing The Fighter when I saw the previews, but now I want to see it just to play "spot the landmarks".  It wasn't that long ago that I was at that very movie theater to see The Ghost Writer.   A murmur of recognition went through the audience when Ewan McGregor's character crossed the iconic Bourne Bridge leaving Cape Cod.  I'm sure the same thing happened when The Town, set in Boston/Charlestown, was in the theaters.  I know it did in my living room.  We rewound a chase scene to figure out exactly where in the North End they'd filmed!  And of course Good Will Hunting is full of local shots.

So give three cheers for greater Boston's newest movie star!

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