A Wren Story

Wren
One of the wrens last winter

Feeding birds is a love I inherited from my parents and grandparents. We love the the birds — and especially the little wrens. They have such spunk, such personality. We wanted to make a home for them, so we bought them a little wren house and put it on the lower deck. Isn’t this a great home for a wren family?

house
The wren box

 
This is their new bird bath — it’s heated. The birds sat around on the edge of the bird bath all winter. I imagined that they were wrapped in little towels pretending they were at the spa.

bird bath
Bird bath (heated)

 
The wrens love the suet. They are so cute when they hang on the feeder.

Suet
Suet feeder

 
We feed, exclusively, hot pepper suet (because the squirrels don’t like hot peppers). We get this at Home Depot.

Hot Pepper suet
Hot pepper suet

 
Check out another new addition — a covered bird feeder. We got this to feed the bluebirds, but the wrens eat there too. (Actually, the bluebirds never came, so the wrens had it all to themselves.

Covered bird feeder
Covered bird feeder

 
Here’s what goes into the covered feeder — mealworms!! (Woo Hoo!!)

Mealworms
Mealworms

 
Yes, these are actually mealworms — here’s the bag they came in. They are dried mealworms, but you can make them look alive by putting oil on them. (Eeew!)

Mealworm bag
Mealworm bag

 
So, it’s the perfect place for a wren family to settle in — Right?

Nesting season came, and there was no wren nest in the box. Not the first week. Not the second week. Not the third week. 😦

I went over to Neighbor Deen’s house — and what did I find? I found my wrens had built next door at Deen’s house.

Nest
The wren's choice for a nest

And not only had they built next door at Neighbor Deen’s house and not at our house. They built their nest on top of a string mop. (Ouch!! Rejection!!) Oh, well. That’s life.

We kept providing them food and water — because we love the birds — even if they rejected our beautiful, perfect little wren house on the lower deck.

After a few weeks, the eggs hatched. The nest fell apart as the little birds grew. Here they are all hunkered down just a couple of days before they fledged. You can see their dark feathers and little yellow beaks.

Baby birds
Baby birds

Thank God for the birds … especially the wrens. Do you have wrens nesting at your house? What’s the secret to becoming a wren landlord?

The (Great Horned) Owl Reality Show

The Owl -- or Big Foot
The Owl -- or Big Foot

During the week I was on vacation in Colorado I kept hearing a strange bird during the night. I thought it was a confused blue jay. (You know how sometimes birds get confused and do strange things?) It was loud — screechy and annoying — especially at 3:30 a.m. outside my window. After hearing the bird for several nights I marched outside after dark, armed with a flashlight, and determined to let the bird know that it was time to sleep. Turned out it wasn’t a jay. It was an owl — a really BIG owl. (Here’s a link to some information on — and much better pictures of —  the Great Horned Owl.)

So, in the place of TV and the internet (neither of which we had access to), we watched The Owl Reality Show for the next few nights. Just as the sun went down, we headed outside with flashlights, cameras, and the tripod. One the second night, we got lucky and watched the owl for 15 minutes or so as it ate its breakfast. It was perched on the top of a tree recently trimmed by the electrical crews.

After a couple of nights enduring noisy humans with flashlights and cameras, the owl moved to a quieter spot. But it was really fun while it lasted. Thanks be to God, creator of heaven and earth — and the Great Horned Owl.

Growing in Adversity

A potato -- growing in adversity

A potato — growing in adversity

It’s not an alien life form. It’s a red potato. I found it on the floor in the pantry behind the recycling bin. Who knows how long it had been laying there in the dark, sending out shoots, looking for life. It’s another image in my series of pictures on growing in adversity — how living things (including people) are able to survive and grow in the face of overwhelming circumstances.

JoAnn’s Spring Wildflower Tour

One morning in the early spring, my phone rang. My friend, JoAnn Miller, asked, “Do you have your camera today? The wildflowers are in bloom.” That afternoon, she drove me on a special tour of the wildflowers along highways of middle Tennessee. JoAnn took us through parks and clear into the next county to find the wildflowers.

As we drove through the rain that day, she said to me, “Now, around the next curve, you’ll see a whole hillside of Dutchman’s Breeches.” Or “Up here on the right is a bright red flower called Fire Pink.”  Or “Later in the spring, the Bluebells will cover the sides of this river bank.”

I was amazed at her knowledge of these tiny, delicate gifts from the creator. We drove over 50 miles, and JoAnn knew which roadside to watch for the Trout Lily and which hillside to see the Shooting Star just coming into their peak. She showed me a glimpse into her world, where her open eyes and years of patient watching have led to a gifted knowledge of springtime beauty.

How many worlds do we miss because we don’t take the time to pause, look, and learn about the immense creation around us? Praise God for the lowly wildflower and for those, like JoAnn, who really see them.

Grandpa’s Peonies

Grandpa's Peony
Grandpa's Peony

Grandpa’s peonies started blooming yesterday. My Grandpa Wilson was a gardener. His entire back yard in Norman, OK was dedicated to a garden that he started harvesting in February (potatoes) and finished harvesting in late fall (turnips). He rotated crops, planting and harvesting three vegetables per season in the same rows. His compost pile, at times, was so tall that he had to walk up on top of it — about 5 feet in the air — to dump his compost bucket.

Grandpa was born in the early 1900s in Kennelworth South Africa. His parents nearly starved during the siege of Kimberly in the Second Boer War. The story is that they were starving, but Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma had planted a garden and knew there was food to be had. Great-Grandpa took a sack and snuck through the enemy lines one night to get to their garden. Though overgrown over with weeds, the plot was full of vegetables. Great-Grandpa filled up his sack and brought the food back through the siege lines.

Grandpa Tom didn’t have a lot of use for flowers (“You can’t eat them”), but there were a peonies planted in the back yard. After his funeral, I dug up a clump, put them in a grocery sack, and brought them back home to Tennessee. Early in the spring, they bloom, bringing alive memories of my Grandpa Tom. I’m blessed.