Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

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Beauty in the Breeze

Yesterday was one of those breezy but glorious days. The high temperature was 62 degrees and the sky was full of big puffy clouds that occasionally blocked out the sun in the most breathtaking way. When I took Jazzmin out for our afternoon walk, I paused on the way back in the house to observe the way the wind was swirling the tall grass in the field behind my house into shimmering waves that seemed to breathe along with the breeze. The power and beauty of the wind is something I have always admired and it was extremely worthy of that admiration yesterday.

Around 4 p.m. I felt this inner tug and voice telling me that I needed to spend some time outside. Knowing better than to ignore such feelings, I decided to lay a blanket down in the lawn in front of my smaller storage shed and sit on it for a while enjoying the beauty of the day. I hooked Jazzmin to her tree lead within a few feet of my blanket and she set about busily sniffing away at squirrel trails. With my thick green comforter spread out on the ground, I then spread myself out on it and laid on my back feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. By that time, the temperature had dropped into the mid-50’s so I was wearing my sweatshirt, tank top and yoga pants. I was “sun bathing” completely clothed as it were and considering I’m not a big fan of tanning it worked fine for me.

I closed my eyes for a while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and then eventually rolled over on my stomach to watch the huge cumulous clouds move over the back field like a thick, fluffy blanket. Dragonflies flew by periodically, I saw a few butterflies too, and amid the tall grass, I could see red – winged blackbirds, starlings and bobolinks flying up before disappearing back down into the grass. It was all so amazing and peaceful that I was glad I’d made the time to go out and enjoy it.

Another periodic visitor in my gaze were turkey vultures flying low over my house and then soaring up on the winds and out over the valley to the west. Eventually I decided to stand up and walk over to the western edge of my property so I could see where the turkey vultures were going. I was quite surprised to see at least 20 of the huge birds soaring at various heights over the properties down the hill from me. I surmised that there must have been appetizing roadkill somewhere down the road to attract so many of the scavengers. I understand that many people might find turkey vultures and the fact that they’re scavengers ugly, but I admire them for their huge wingspan, grace in the air and the essential role they play in the cycle of life. If we humans are going to keep hitting animals that try unsuccessfully to cross the road in front of our vehicles, the least we can do is show proper respect for the turkey vultures who clean up after our mess.

As I watched the large birds circle, I took a few pictures with my phone even though I knew they would just look like dark specks among the clouds.

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

I had just lowered my phone when I realized that one of the circling birds didn’t have the same shape as the turkey vultures. At first, I thought it was a hawk but then I saw that it was much too large. A moment later the sun came out from behind the latest swath of clouds and in the warm golden glow, I saw the white head and tail that revealed to me that I was looking at a bald eagle.

My heart swelled in joy at the sight of the bird and when it broke off from the turkey vultures and flew northeast temporarily disappearing beyond the canopy of my trees I walked quickly toward my driveway to try to catch another glimpse of it. I was therefore elated when I saw that the bald eagle had turned and was now flying directly over me as I stood in my driveway. Tears immediately flowed from my eyes as I saw the great bird closer and there was no denying those beautiful white head and tail feathers. I held my phone up to take a couple pictures and hoped I got something recognizable because I couldn’t see anything in my viewfinder due to the glare.

bald eagle above me

Another zoomed in pic. Bald eagle directly above me.

As I watched, the bald eagle flew gracefully from north to south over me as I stood in the driveway, then over my yard and into the field behind my house, eventually soaring beyond my sight over the southwestern line of trees.

The dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The small, dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The tears were still streaming down my cheeks because I felt so blessed by the visit of the great bird and its powerful spirit and I didn’t even bother to wipe them away. I let the tears dry on my face as I sat back down on my blanket, overcome with feelings of awe and amazement. My heart and spirit pulsed with gratitude that the universe had sent me such a powerful messenger. Aloud I thanked the Creator, Great Spirit and my father’s spirit for reminding me once again that I haven’t been forgotten and that even though I might not know what it is yet, that I have an amazing destiny ahead of me. I am eternally glad that I listened to that inner voice yesterday telling me that I needed to sit in the lawn for a bit to enjoy the day and witness the beauty in the breeze.

Wrong forecast, right day

spring dawn by JulieAnn Corbin

For the past few weeks if the forecast calls for overcast skies and/or rain, it’s pretty certain it will be overcast and/or rain. Even if the forecast doesn’t call for such conditions, it’s pretty certain they’ll arrive. Yesterday the forecast said fog in the morning then clearing and becoming mostly sunny. Well, it was certainly foggy in the morning but it never really cleared and I can count the times I saw the sun through the clouds on one hand. On top of that, the predicted high was 55 and it only got up to 46. I was rather bummed because I really wanted to see the sun after days of cloudiness and rain.

I didn’t have much hope for seeing the sun today as when I checked the forecast last night it was predicting rain and clouds all day long. However, when I woke up this morning, the sky appeared brighter than usual and lo and behold, when I looked out the window, I could see the sun! I was so happy I almost did a little dance! I managed to control myself though and went about the usual morning duties of waking the girls, making their breakfasts, packing their lunches and seeing them safely on the bus to school. You can bet I was smiling the whole time though!

plum tree in country by JulieAnn Corbin

Plum tree, my back yard and the farmer’s field beyond.

After I did a couple freelance blog posts, the clouds had returned but the forecast had changed from all day rain to chance of scattered thunderstorms. I considered that a vast improvement! As it wasn’t raining yet when I finished my work, I decided to tackle cleaning up and arranging my backyard bird oasis. I started the bird oasis two springs ago and every year it’s in the same spot, but always a little different. I put a little fence up around my bird feeder poles and I set planters of flowers around them with a fountain/bird bath in there somewhere.

After mowing the grass that had grown a foot tall around the formerly fenced border of the bird oasis, I then arranged the area, put the little fence pieces back in the ground and filled the fountain/bird bath. Unfortunately, when I turned the fountain on, it didn’t work so I’ll need to buy a new pump to get it running again. Not a big issue and the fountain can serve as a water holder for now. True to form, I hung my bird feeders, crouched down to fix a few things and then stood up whacking my head on the bottom of one of the feeders. I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that at least once and it’s usually more than once…

backyard bird oasis by JulieAnn Corbin

Needs a few more flowers and feeders but otherwise good!

I usually move all of my bird feeders off the deck and into the backyard bird oasis, but I’ve grown so fond of watching the birds out my desk window that I’ll be leaving some on my deck this year. That means I have to get a few more for the oasis, but there are two hanging back there now and the finches have already found them and started feasting.

Once the bird oasis was arranged, I had some lunch and then took Jazz for our daily walk. The sun popped out a few times as we walked, which helped warm the day up further. After the walk I eagerly spread the comforter out on my deck swing, grabbed my beading supplies and settled out on the swing to focus on beading up flower earrings. I hooked Jazzmin up to the lead I attached to the deck and as it’s long enough for her to sit in the grass next to the driveway, she happily stayed there watching for squirrels.

Beading on that swing with the birds eating at the nearby feeders and Jazz on squirrel patrol nearby is one of my new favorite past times and I beaded away blissfully for a couple hours until I realized it was past dinner time. I wasn’t especially hungry yet, but I figured Jazz was so I brought her inside and got her dinner before assembling my own. Once I was done eating, I was back out on the swing, refusing to waste a single moment of warmth and periodic sunshine after being trapped inside for so many days lately.

beaded flowers by JulieAnn Corbin

My beaded flowers and new bead mail. Tons of happiness!

Eventually the sky turned rather dark, the temperature dropped and it started to sprinkle as a little rain cloud passed over so I decided it was time to call it a day and head inside the house. I took my beads inside and then went back out to fold up the comforter to bring inside and I realized that my cheeks were sore because I’d been smiling so much while I was beading. My mind, body and spirit had really needed the warmer temperatures, sunshine and fresh air that I got a huge dose of today and although the forecast had been wrong, the day had gone very right!

The Power of Sitting Still

downy woodpecker by JulieAnn Corbin

Yesterday was a bright, beautiful, sunny spring day so I decided to sit out on my deck swing in the afternoon. The swing is rather large and can fold down flat into a bed, something I used to do more often when I wanted to take naps outside on nice days. The swing was a Mother’s Day gift many years ago when I was still married and although it wasn’t easy to relocate from my ex’s house to mine, I wasn’t about to leave it behind.

Due to daily assault from sun, wind, rain and sometimes snow, I’ve already had to replace the seat cushion and the original canopy ripped through a couple years’ ago. The current seat cushion is starting to rip too so I cover it with a bedspread when I sit out there and a few days ago I had the clever idea of using plastic tablecloths as a new canopy. I’ve used a sheet in the past but that doesn’t keep the rain off if it’s sprinkling lightly and I want to stay outside, but the plastic tablecloths offer some protection, come in various colors and patterns and are easy to replace when they wear out. Jordan helped me put on the two new plastic tablecloths I purchased from the dollar store yesterday and I attached them to the canopy frame with some tablecloth clips and duct tape. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity and duct tape!

After placing a nice, thick, seashell-themed bedspread on the slightly ripped seat cover, I sat down on my swing and enjoyed the gentle rocking motion in the warm sunshine. I had a small notebook with me to jot down ideas for my jewelry designs and business plan and so I opened that up and started writing things out in cursive. I usually print my writing, but I periodically write in cursive so I don’t lose a writing ability that schools don’t seem to want to teach anymore. Both my printing and cursive are nearly impossible to read because I’m left handed and my teachers didn’t know how to teach a lefty, but I can usually decipher it or make it more legible when I write slower.

As I was writing, I started hearing little scraping sounds on the deck railing and I looked up to see a downy woodpecker hop-flying from one railing post to the next in an effort to creep closer to the suet feeder without me noticing. I have the frame from a child-size cushioned swing on my deck and although the seat part is gone, I hang bird feeders from the frame so I can see the birds when I looked out the window next to my desk. My cats love sitting on top of the bookshelf by that window to watch “Bird TV” too.

Sitting on the deck mere feet from the feeders, I continued to watch the male downy with his spot of red on the back of his head and I remained very still as I watched. He eventually felt confident enough to fly to the suet and begin eating and I smiled, happy to be able to watch a bird so closely.

A few minutes later Jaycie came outside and wanted to sit in the swing with me. She sat down next to me and I told her that if she sat very still, the woodpecker or other birds might come back and eat. Although Jaycie managed to sit quiet and still for a few minutes, no birds came to the feeders and she eventually grew bored and went down the deck steps to swing on the swing set (her favorite outdoor activity.) I didn’t really expect my 9 year old to be patient enough to wait for birds, but I’m sure someday she’ll appreciate the merit of sitting still.

Eventually Jaycie went back inside the house and I remained on the swing, writing in my little notebook. The longer I sat there, the more comfortable all sorts of birds became with me and within an hour, there were chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, goldfinches, purple finches, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers frequenting the feeders. A pair of cardinals flew into the nearby trees, but they weren’t brave enough to come to the feeders and the male chose to sit in a branch and scold me for daring to sit near his feeders.

Although I wasn’t sitting perfectly motionless because I continued to write in my notebook, the birds were no longer as afraid of me and I could quietly observe them as they came and went from the feeders. Chickadees are by far the bravest birds and a couple of them came to the feeder hanging on the big swing frame within arm’s reach of where I sat. Someday I hope the chickadees trust me enough to eat from my hands, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure with patience and perseverance, it will.

sparrow goldfinch and nuthatch by JulieAnn Corbin

Goldfinch on top left feeder, sparrow on middle blue feeder and nuthatch on deck below feeders.

Sitting still on a swing may seem like a waste of time to some people who feel the need to always be on the go, but to me it’s a necessity. I need my quiet time in nature to recharge my spirit and refocus my energy. Moreover, I was still being productive as I worked on ideas for my jewelry and practiced the dying art of cursive. You don’t always have to be moving and in a rush to accomplish great things, sometimes taking some time to sit still can carry you further on your journey than you imagine.

The return of familiar songs and soaring

Adult male Red-winged Blackbird

There was snow on the ground yesterday morning but today started out warmer than it had been for the last week and it just got better from there! The forecast calls for 50’s and 60’s all week with plenty of sunshine and the occasional rain. Rain is fine because we need it for things to start growing and to wash off the roads that are still white with salt.

When Jaycie and I headed out for the bus this morning there was a hawk soaring in the sky and he glided from west to east upon the breeze as we watched. I told her that I gauge the arrival of spring by when I see the first turkey vulture because they don’t stick around our area all winter. When turkey vultures return and start gliding through the skies on their huge wings searching for roadkill and carcasses, then I believe that spring is truly on its way.

Turkey vulture

A few hours after Jaycie got on the bus, a turkey vulture soared over the trees across the road and I smiled feeling as if the universe had heard my words this morning. Now that I’ve seen those familiar scavengers soaring in the sky I’m certain that spring is coming and that this nice weather isn’t just some cruel trick. I spent the morning working on my writing projects inside but by noon, I couldn’t resist the call of the beautiful outdoors any longer. I got Jazzmin strapped in her backpack, tied up my sneakers and grabbed a light sweatshirt because while it was 53, the wind gusts were making it a bit cool to go without a coat.

As Jazzmin and I walked, I heard the familiar songs of birds that had returned from their winter vacation to the south. I heard the songs of robins, red-winged blackbirds and killdeers. Although the “Winter Wonderland” song states “gone away is the bluebird” a few of my bluebirds never left and I heard their song all winter long. Now that it’s warmer, there will be more bugs around for the bluebirds to eat and they will be more plentiful,  which always makes me happy.

Eastern Bluebird

I feel a special connection to all the birds that frequent my feeders through the winter and into the spring and who make their homes on my property. Just through watching and listening to the birds in my yard an on our walks, I’ve learned to identify various species by their song, size and plumage. Quite often I hear birds but don’t see them and I feel a small surge of satisfaction that I can recognize them just by their song. I’m still not good at identifying the different types of hawks I see around because they’re not really fond of close observation, but eventually I’ll sort them out too.

Northern Goshawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned hawk

Red-shouldered hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Right now I’m just enjoying the return of the familiar songs and soaring of spring!

Wings of Arrows

See if you can spot the hawk...

See if you can spot the hawk…

The weather yesterday made it feel like April instead of February and I took advantage of the mild temperatures by taking a nice long walk with Jazzmin. We went up the big hill, which we haven’t in many months and as we neared the hill, I saw a hawk sitting in the bare branches of a tree alongside the road. I’ve become really good at spotting hawks from a distance now and I slowed my pace knowing he would fly off as soon as we got close. As soon as we were within 20 feet, he took off just as I’d expected. I can’t take decent distance pictures with my camera phone, but I snapped a couple photos as he flew out of the tree and across the field next to the road.

A bit further down the road I saw another hawk soaring in the sky and I stopped to watch his graceful movements as he rode the wind. I see hawks quite often and I know they’re one of my spirit guides/spirit guardians/animal totems. Seeing one is always a good omen and I take them as a sign that I’m headed in the right direction with my life, my feelings and my thoughts. Hawks are like arrows pointing me on my way with their graceful, beautiful wings and I feel so blessed that they watch over me.

Although today wasn’t as warm as yesterday, I took Jazz out on a walk because it’s my duty as her pack leader and it’s good for both of us. I’d just reached the end of my driveway when I heard a hawk cry in the sky. I stopped and turned back toward my house, peering into the sky for the source of the cry. After a few moments of searching, I saw the hawk soaring high up amid the clouds and blue sky and I smiled.

Happy that I’d seen a hawk so early on our walk, I headed down the road and glanced toward where the hawk had been. Much to my surprise, I realized there were two more hawks flying with the first hawk. By the time I reached the end of my road, there were four hawks circling in the sky and they had broken up into two couples. I stopped again and just watched them in awe because it had been quite a while since I saw four hawks flying together.

When we returned to my house, I felt even more blessed as I saw that the four hawks continued to circle near my home. The couples had broken apart, one set soaring over the road down the hill and the other soaring over the field behind my house. I was honored that they remained nearby and I’m certain they’re an indication of positive things yet to come in my life. With my future traveling on wings of arrows, I know that everything will be just fine.

The abundance of turkeys

two turkeys crossing road

Usually when I ask to see a specific animal as a sign I ask for a hawk, heron, eagle, owl or butterfly. I can honestly say I’ve never asked to see a turkey, but I certainly take it as a sign when I see them. Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few turkeys and this tells me that the universe is trying to send me a message.

There’s a family of turkeys that lives on the farmer’s land behind my house and for the past month or more, I’ve seen them crossing the field almost every day. Sometimes there are two adult turkeys, sometimes there are four, and at last count, there were eight baby turkeys. I enjoy watching them move across the field and often find their feathers when I take Jazzmin on walks up the farmer’s access road.

Outside of the field behind my house, I’ve also been seeing turkeys on my trips to New England. During the July trip with my girls to New England a turkey flew across the road on the drive out in an area where they’d had to blast away rock to make room for the road. On our most recent trip, I saw two turkeys in the shoulder of the expressway just standing in the grass. Then later a male turkey crossed the road right in front of us when we were on our way back from lunch at Friendly’s in Amesbury. He came out of the tree shadows on a sunny day so I almost didn’t see him in time to stop, but when I did stop, he just gave me an unimpressed look and walked nonchalantly across the road.

This past Saturday evening I decided to take Jazzmin for a walk up the farmer’s road and we’d only walk about 50 feet up it when I started hearing rustling in the grass field on the other side of the trees. I stopped to listen and soon heard inquisitive clucking noises. Rising up on my tiptoes, I was just able to see a male turkey’s head looking at me over the slight rise at the edge of the road. Smiling I settled back onto the heels of my feet and decided to stand there and wait quietly for him to continue his journey.

As we stood there listening, I heard the rustling move a bit further down the tree line and within moments, a single male turkey emerged from the trees and crossed the farmer’s road. Two more adult turkeys followed and then the younger turkeys scampered quickly across the road, some of them taking flight because they were unsure if we were going to move toward them. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a turkey fly, but they’re not the most graceful creatures and I always admire their efforts to get airborne.

turkey1 turkey3 turkey4

I was smiling through the whole experience while Jazz whimpered a bit because she wanted to chase the big birds and I wouldn’t let her. Once the turkeys were gone, we turned back down the trail and continued our walk where we saw several butterflies, deer and a hawk. It was certainly one of the most interesting walks I’ve had in a while!

Turkeys are a symbol of abundance and the universe is going to great efforts to remind me of the abundance in my life with all the recent turkey sightings. I know I have many blessings and the universe wants me to remember them all even when I go through tough times. I have two amazing daughters, a great family, good friends, a loving loyal pup, three cats that make my life a daily adventure, my own home and a job as a writer, which is so much more than I ever imagined I’d have. Despite any challenges I face, I will continue to have a good heart, the best intentions, a strong spirit, a vibrant energy and the stubbornly tenacious willpower that’s gotten me this far and that will carry me into whatever the future holds.