Eagles’ Nests

A few days ago I shared with you the adventures of a bald eagle family in Florida. I hope that you have checked in on the live cam awaiting their return to the nest. If not, take a look at: https://dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html

Looking at that huge nest which is home to this family got me thinking about the wonder of how nests are built. All birds build nests but none in North America as large and sturdy as those of bald eagles. I did a little research and this is what I learned.

Both males and females work together to carry the materials and design the nest but the female does more of the actual placement of the pieces that construct the home. The eagles’ nest can be as much as eight feet across, twelve feet deep and weigh over one ton! The interior of the bowl is lined with soft down from the parents and other materials such as lichen or sod. The sticks used in construction are large and can sometimes be carried in the parent’s talons for miles. It takes approximately three months to complete the huge nest and this process just precedes the female laying her eggs. Most bald eagle pairs use their nests for many years, they simply do a little renovation as necessary. This process results in the nest growing in size and weight each year and it may be used for over thirty years. It is also believed that the couple working on the nest together strengthens their bond.

Placement of the nest can be in any type tree or when unavailable even on the ground or on a cliff. The taller the tree the better so that there is the ability for the parents to observe the surroundings for danger. Nests are usually near a river or lake for foraging for fish for the babies to eat.

The source of some of this information is Journey North.org and Photos are by Pixabay

Lab Girl

Book Review Monday

“Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren is a book that covers it all and does it brilliantly. Jahren is a serious scientist whose excitement about her work is infectious. She studies soil, seeds, plants, and especially trees and it is hard for the reader to not become involved in her work in the lab and in the field.

The author has many challenges including being raised without affection or the assurance that she was loved. This, as well as her bipolar disorder, made her relationships complex. She honestly shares her life’s story professionally and personally.

I recommend this true story which is a national best seller.

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The Tree House

The pandemic has changed the way we do everything. All visits with my friends and family are outdoors and that is fine in the nice weather we’ve been having. Recently I was invited to a friend’s house in Floyd Knobs, IN. It is in a beautiful setting with trees of all kinds around the house. It is often referred to as the “Tree House” because the deck surrounding the house is in the tree tops.

We had a nice visit, solving all the world’s problems as we often do when getting together. Without the Corona Virus I probably would not have spent several hours at the tree house. I am grateful for that afternoon.

I keep trying to find the positives, the gains, during this time of so many losses.

Autumn Poem by Sylvia

silent woodland

on an autumn day
i stepped onto a well worn path
and entered the forest,
enveloped by a blanket of warm rich colors
that pulsed under a vibrant blue sky

as i walked, the path descended
then ascended in return,
creating a repetitious pattern of undulations
like a roller coaster carpet of dirt and rock
beneath my feet

the trail carved its way through the hillsides
that were littered with fallen leaves
and newly sprouted mushrooms

dead trees had become host to a number of
earthen colored fungi,
deeply rooted in the soft decaying bark…

dead trees that in their death, were now spawning new life…
one life gives, so another lives

halfway through my hike i stopped
and noticed there were none of the
usual woodland sounds…
not the soft sigh of an easy wind
nor the chirp of a single bird…
not even the trickle of water
in the now barren streambed

silence… only silence…

until i began to walk and the dry leaves crunched underfoot…
i could hear the steady rhythm of my own labored breathing
and it was then that i realized
that for now and for this moment
perhaps i
was the voice of the forest…
the voice in this silent woodland

written by: Sylvia L. Mattingly,  January 16, 2018

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Photo by Pixabay

Reforesting Faith

Book Review Monday

“Reforesting Faith” by Matthew Sleeth, MD

This book was a gift from my sister-in-law. When I first saw it I wondered if it was about religion or about saving the trees. It turns out that it is about both. I have read the Bible my whole life, but I never read it thinking specifically about trees. As it turns out trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any other living creation except for humans.

The author is a medial doctor who used to be a carpenter. He has become a minister and now lives in Lexington, KY. His book makes the case that trees are essential to everyone’s understanding of God. Sleeth points out trees from Genesis to Revelation in a very conversational way. After finishing this book I will never look at trees or read the Bible in the same way.

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“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” John Muir

 

The Year of Perfect Vision

the year of perfect vision

fall colors have begun to seep in…
staining the landscape
and in places, leaving the trees to bleed…

summer has lost its tenacious grip…
ebbing now against the winds
of change…
receding into the depths of its own
dusty shadows…

the earth is releasing a bounty…
sighing with the fall of every acorn, every walnut, every persimmon…
every parcel of nourishment
that nature has sent to sustain itself

the colors of autumn are growing
in brilliant hues and intensity…
that the eyes of humankind
might be opened…
peeled back in order to truly see
the value in the world around us…

nature tugs at our sleeves…
urging us to see…
to develop perfect vision…
to be guardians of the earth
on which we live…

and at its urging
we are swept away…
swept away
by a sea of  color and transformation

here…
in the last passing days of October…
just a few months shy
of the year of perfect vision

Sylvia L. Mattingly
October 21, 2019
In the company of cats.

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Photo by Pixabay

Another Poem by Sylvia

October day

a placid stream
meanders through an October day…
quietly reflecting the autumn trees
that line its banks…

a sprinkling of fallen leaves
floats upon its surface…
casually drifting when
nudged by a gentle breeze…
collectively gathering along its fringes
like thoughts
along the fringes of our minds

a wooden bridge spans the gap
between two shores…
reflecting the connection
between humanity and nature

those who are drawn here
listen with open hearts
and open souls…
listen to the voice of nature
that speaks without words…
that whispers in the wind
sighs in the pine boughs…
and reflects itself
in a placid stream that meanders through an October day

Sylvia L. Mattingly
October 17, 2019

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Photo by Sylvia Mattingly

Trees

Trees Reach for the Heavens

It seems that trees are abundant. There are so many kinds and sizes and they change predictably season by season. It would be easy to take them for granted and I probably did at one time. During the early 1990s, I had an experience that changed that. I now look at trees through a different lens, respecting their fight for survival against the many odds such as weather, fire, and most destructive of all, humankind. 

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While walking on a two-lane country road, I witnessed the disfigurement, the destruction of trees along that quiet little community. A few limbs needed to be trimmed to ensure drivers’ vision would not be blocked in the future. It could be done piece by piece, but the road department workers apparently thought that was too slow so they devised a way to chew off the intruding growth expediently. Using both a bulldozer and a Bush Hog in a vertical direction they sped along the road shredding, disfiguring and raping the trees. These are my notes upon my return from that walk so long ago. 

Trees, arms flailing, bones cracking, leaves gurgling under the weight of more bodies piled up. 

Giant, crashing ahead, beeping back, ahead again belching his awful breath. 

The birds cry out as Godzilla stamps through their homes. 

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“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Martin Luther

 

 

 

 

Spring

Today I look at the flowering trees and think of you.

When we enjoyed them last spring we had no reason to think it would be our last dogwood season together. 

Now you lie in the cold ground with woods of redbud all around, but cannot see, or smell, or move to raise your eyes skyward. 

But, then I see an unexpected crane, a cardinal or a deer and I wonder if that is so. 

Sue Baugh Mattingly – April 15, 2015

 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Today at the Park

During this time of year, the woodlands change almost by the day. As more trees give birth to leaves the view changes. Some things so obvious during the winter months are now obscure. Spring brings the same beauty each year yet it is forever new. Today there were wildflowers not seen just a couple of days ago. These are phlox and I believe mustard. 

The redbud trees dotted the hillsides and gave a party look to the usually monochromic woods. 

Daffodils I noticed today made me think of a family who had probably lived on this site many years ago. It is not unusual to spot blooming bulbs decades after their owners are gone. 

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“Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.” Gustave Flaubert

POEM

This Winter Day

Why can’t you decide?
First, you let a few white flakes float down
then you drop an anemic sprinkle on the ground.

I decide this cloudy day I can abide
then the sun peeks out from behind the trees.
Winter Day you are such a tease.

At least there is no ice on which to slide
but the Meteorologist says just wait a day
and you’ll need your sleigh.

by Sue Baugh Mattingly – January 26, 2019

Springtime Walk

Back to the Park

For various reasons, some more important than others, I have not been to the Parklands to walk for a long time. Mostly it’s just that during the winter months I’m a wimp about the cold temperatures and it seems that spring has been a long time coming here in Kentucky. Finally this past weekend the temperature was just right and I returned to Pope Lick Park, my favorite along Floyd’s Fork. Other areas of the Parklands are more elaborate and have very interesting features, but Pope Lick is more wild in places and more intimate, except for the soccer fields, but the walk around them illustrates kids and adults interacting in the most positive ways. Whether a team or family event, the atmosphere is competition at its best. 

The Walk

As I began my walk I eagerly looked forward to the signs of spring, but they were not as abundant as expected. Most trees had tiny tender leaves springing forth. There were signs of wildlife, but I saw only a few birds. I did document the extensive work of the resident woodpecker population.  The grass was mostly green, but there were dried grasses all along the trails. 

The further I ventured, the more interesting finds, including some of my favorites. There were cattails shedding like cats, mushrooms living well on dead trees and a sure sign of springtime, May apples. 

The 1.5 mile walk revealed very few wild flowers, or perhaps they are weeds, but they bloomed nevertheless. I wasn’t disappointed, but a little letdown that springtime was not waiting there for me as I had anticipated. 

The Encounter

Then I spotted a tree that was apparently very glad to see me!

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December

Trees

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The beautiful autumn leaves are gone and the deciduous trees look a bit like skeletons against the sky. 

For many of us, our thoughts turn to indoor evergreens burdened with red and green or multi-colored lights and ornaments.

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Decorations in your home may be blue, white and silver for Hanukkah or they may reflect a different tradition such as the celebration of first fruits which is Kwanzaa. Many European countries celebrate Boxing Day and each in a slightly different way. Ōmisoka is celebrated on the last day of December by the Japanese as the prelude or bridge to the New Year. Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, may occur in December but will not again until 2030.  

Holidays

Celebrations are very personal depending on one’s country of origin, religious tradition or cultural preferences. We usually call such days “Holidays” whether or not they are official holidays in a particular country. The best way we can demonstrate love, show respect for others and be open to enlightenment is to not only share our values and beliefs but to try to understand those of others.

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 Greetings and Best Wishes

I feel good whether I’m wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. The fact that someone is wishing me well is what is important. To me, the only appropriate response it to wish them well with any words that they have used. It isn’t the word that matters most, it is the thought, the wish, the greeting. When unsure what tradition another person celebrates it does not seem to me that an all-inclusive greeting (Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) diminishes my personal tradition, which is Christmas. 

So to the ninety-two followers of “Crooked Creek”  and readers from thirty-five countries other than the United States, please allow me to wish you Happy Holidays filled with love and hope for a kind and peaceful world. 

 

 

 

November

Winding Down

November was not a favorite month for many years, but I have learned to appreciate it more. In the past, I thought of it as rather colorless and simply a time to be traversed to reach December’s cold, snow and Christmas. 

This year somehow I have learned to appreciate this bridge month between autumn and winter. The neighborhood trees have been beautiful and one especially has brightened each of my days. I see it, perfectly framed, through my office windows subtly changing colors day by day. Only over the past 48 hours has it lost its bright glow as seen below, as the leaves have dried and withered, many falling to the ground.

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After a several week hiatus, today I returned to one of my favorite places, Pope Lick Park. As I walked listening to the rustle of crisp leaves blowing along the way, I realized that I would miss this month, November. It has been generous with its nature, colors and warm sunshine. It has been much more than I could have anticipated or earned, filled with love and affirmation. 

There were a few birds along the trail today including a noisy flock of crows fussing as I passed. Yes, I know the proper term is “murder” of crows, but they didn’t seem mad enough to warrant using that word! I saw one squirrel who I hoped found the nuts I had strategically placed under some trees. With most of the leaves now carpeting the ground the trees looked stark, especially the sycomores reaching their chalky limbs up to the sky. 

 

So, in a few days, we say, “Goodbye November.” You have been a good month and I look forward to your return in following years. 

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Challenge Accepted 2

Challenge Accepted 2

The Crooked Creek Poem Challenge was an idea born over four months ago on Facebook when Cindi Carman used George Ella Lyon’s poem as a template to write her own “Where I’m From” poem. Cindi, an original follower of this blog, has graciously agreed to share that poem here. 

Version 2

Where I’m From by Cindi Carman

I am from black crushed pepper,
from Irish butter and Yukon potatoes.
I am from sunshine mixed with blue skies and silver linings,
from lightening and fierce winds.
I am from the pines, red oaks and sugar maples
from trees that whisper in the night.
I am from family dinners and traveling casseroles,
from Bessie Viola and Mary Leona.
I am from never give up and be thankful for everything,
from help others who are less fortunate.
I am from hold your shoulders back and sit up straight
and you are owned by the company you keep.
I am from roller coasters at Kings Island
and swimming at Otter Creek.
I am from city streets and safe neighborhoods,
from the bluegrass distilleries and rich farmlands.
I am from Jam cake and fried green tomatoes,
from Mom’s fried pork chops and Dad’s Army soup.
I am from Barbie dolls, record players and Captain Kangaroo,
a big white basket on the front of my bicycle,
from cookies hidden under my Mrs. Beasley doll.
I am from the laughter of cousins chasing after lightning bugs.
I am from diaries, scrapbooks and antenna T.V.,
from family and laughter and love, I am.


You are still invited to share your own story of origin by using Lyons’ poem as a template. See the Poem Challenge post (July 29) or click on link for more information: https://www.sausd.us/cms/lib/CA01000471/Centricity/Domain/3043/I%20Am%20From%20Poem.pdf

You may add your poem to the Comments Section (remember that + bubble at lower right of your screen) as did another reader, Gerri Nelson who is from the Pacific Coast.

Thanks for your participation Dear Readers!

Challenge Accepted

Thank you to Syl Mattingly who submitted this poem in response to the challenge of July 29, to write a personal version of the poem by George Ella Lyon, “Where I’m From.”

Where I’m From

i am from white clover . . .
from lightening bugs and night-crawlers

i am from the soil
in the garden
(rich and earthy . . .
it smelled like Grandma’s root cellar)

i am from the mulberry tree
and
the water maple
whose roots i played on . . .
encircling and cradling me

i’m from Paint by Number Jesus
and
Davey and Goliath . . .
chewing gun chains and stamp collections

i’m from the golden rule
and the salt of the earth

from “mother may i,” swing sets
and welded tricycle handlebars

I’m from Fisherville,
wooded hillsides and Floyd’s Fork . . .
a white horse named Cricket

from the days when the creek rose,
floodwater filling the house
and my Mother crying as we watched

I am from the journals that i wrote,
revealing my thoughts,
a flood of feelings and emotions
dredged from my soul

i am from that season
when nature enveloped me
and kept me hidden, safe within those wooded hills

by Sylvia L. Mattingly, August 7, 2017

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The Good Wife

The heat had subsided and autumn had arrived with the week-end. The skies were the bluest and the clouds the whitest. The sun was warm and I had planned to enjoy a local festival, but alas, it was not to be. Good wife that I am, I spent Saturday doing all the chores my husband and I generally did together. Due to his back injury, I had to do all the household stuff, like laundry, cooking and cleaning, alone. After completing it all, I was ready for something more challenging, something outdoors on that gorgeous day.

Our two acres, which usually looked like a park, no thanks to me, was really in need of cutting. I thought it was a perfect time to try out that new John Deere tractor my husband, Raymond, thought was so great. It was a small garden tractor with tilt wheel and other neat gadgets I had never used. I was sure he would appreciate my help, since I knew how he liked to keep the property looking neat. After twenty minutes of his assuring me that it didn’t really need to be mowed, I was undeterred.

The thing really did run like a deer, but it was not a dear to handle. No matter how hard I chased a snake I was unable to run over it, which of course, meant there was a big snake out there holding a grudge. The orchard part of the property now looked rather like a crazy quilt, but there were dozens of beautiful butterflies on the ground enjoying the fallen fruit and I couldn’t just run over them as though they were a snake! They were like monarchs except electric blue! None were lost, thanks to my fancy maneuvering.

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We had a lot of trees in the yard. The big ones still bore my marks from the last time I had mown, thirteen years before, following Raymond’s car accident. The little ones, hopefully, would heal as well this time. Of course those blue spruce seedlings would never see the light of day.  Too bad Raymond didn’t tell me that he had planted them, or maybe he had, but I sure never saw them, at least not while they were vertical.

The whole thing took a few hours to complete. At first Raymond watched his “woman” proudly from the deck, smiling at me as I waved to him with each circle I made around the house. Then, I noticed that each time I drove by his posture was a little more slumped. Finally, his head was hung in his hands. I guess he was in pain, poor guy, so I smiled encouragingly, gave him a thumbs up and kept up my speed.

Finally, I was finished, except for the trim work. I hopped off the tractor and headed for the shed to get the weed whacker and a small push mower, but he called for me to come have a coke and rest with him on the deck.  While I sipped the cold drink, he explained that both the tools I needed were out of commission. He, regretfully, said that he could not find the string stuff for the whacker anywhere and that the little push mower had already been “winterized,” whatever that meant. Just when I was ready for something more physical than just riding around! I was quite disappointed, because there really was a lot of trimming needed, about two feet around each tree, flower, walk, structure, etc., to be exact.

That night at supper when my husband asked the blessing, as he always did, he prayed something like this: “Lord, if you can’t heal my back soon, please hold off on the rain until it frosts.” Now, what do you suppose he meant by that?

Written September 15, 1990 and Edited for Blog September 3, 2016