Thursday, January 25, 2007

Images in the Sky!

Stepping onto my front porch yesterday, I looked at the sky and saw a heart. If you look closely and enlarge the photo, you’ll see a jet flying in or out of Charlotte Douglas Airport above it. As a child, I remember spending time with my little boy and girl friends laying on our backs in the grass, gazing up to the clouds in the sky, looking for dogs, leaves, or faces. It was a game we loved to play. Also, we enjoyed looking for four-leaf clovers and the first to find one was the winner. There was no prize involved. Being “the first” was a prize in itself. We’d try to outsmart flies and cup them with our hands before they’d get away. (Yuck) Lightning bugs were held captive in empty pickle jars. (Stinky) The weeping willow stems served as clothing for our Tarzan dramas and we made mud pies for dinner. Playing hopscotch in the alley, dodge ball, jacks, yo-yo, marbles, pick-up sticks, and “Go Fish” are the things we did because we wouldn’t dream of staying indoors unless we were punished - oh, the agony. On rainy days, we read books all day. Taking walks to the country store for a loaf of bread for our Moms provided revenue in the form of soda bottles we found along the way, enough to buy a coddie or a handful of bubble gum. Often, we fought and argued over those soda bottles. Some of my friends didn’t have a bike so we shared our bikes and took turns riding. We even made our own skateboards out of one “key” skate and a Golden storybook. We sat on the storybook and flew down the sidewalk! Some boys made a real skateboard with a 30-inch two-by-four piece of lumber and nailed ½ of a metal roller skate to each end. I'm dating myself, here, but I don't care.

We had real imaginations in those days and a desire to explore and create our own fun. We were never bored. We lived in a more carefree society then, and our parents didn't always lock the doors at night. I’m glad we didn’t have electronic games and computers to entertain us all day while eating candy and snacks over the keyboard. There were no cell phones, IM'ing or text messaging. We ran down the street to see our friends and knocked on their doors, instead. New toys came at Christmas and birthdays, only. I often wonder what my childhood neighborhood friends are doing now. Do you? Do you remember some of the games I played?

For the first time in my life, I saw a Red-Bellied Woodpecker today. Could be a female but looking at the photo, I'm not sure. This bird was working away on a tree near the tennis courts in my community. I drove into the area looking for a hidden pond I could see from the main road but instantly heard some racket from this woody in an ancient tree. Noisy and beautiful! I look forward to seeing one at my house when I have some new feeders...

This morning I found European Starlings on campus. These birds seem to be agitated and loud but it was a pleasure to see them, way up there.

Three things I've noticed about myself since I carry a camera with me most of the time:

I can drive and scan treetops at the same time (a little scary).

I can walk briskly while looking upwards without tripping (very scary).

I can hear better, i.e. my radar is finely tuned.

What I thought was a Song Sparrow during my short walk this afternoon turns out to be an Ipswich Sparrow, I think. I say this because the bird resembles a Song Sparrow but has yellow eyebrows and is paler than a Savannah Sparrow. Interesting.

Not a bad day.


Anonymous said...

I love the cloud-heart photo. That is really neat. I remember lying on my back looking for cloud imagines with my friends and later with my son. Those were wonderful times.

We didn't have tv until I was 12 and when my son was growing up we lived out of town. Our only stations were mostly snow, so we listened to music (he still loves rock and roll) and took lots and lots of long walks by the river. I am so glad we had that time together.

It sounds like you had a great day. I did too. I drove up to my dad's house to spend the weekend. On the way I saw numerous hawks, a bald eagle, and fields full of Canadian Geese. I'm the same as you, I see all kinds of photo opportunities while I'm driving (not always a good thing). As a matter of fact I drove almost 25 miles, realized I'd forgotten the camera and headed back home to get it. I couldn't imagine a road trip of any length without my camera.

Anonymous said...

Great heart clouds - but my favorites are always that Carolina blue sky. That's an amazing color and it makes me yearn for Emerald Isle....

Good job on the birds!

amarkonmywall said...

I still have a few four leaf clovers pressed into a childhood copy of Grimms Fairy Tales so this post, with memories of childhood imagination, makes me smile.

That heart appears to have Cupid's arrow going through it? Or am I imagining things?

You and Susan have had good birding days. She has a red-bellied, too. I had one at the feeder all the time in Michigan as well as a Northern Flicker- sometimes, at first glance they confused me. As sparrows still do. Good luck with that. :-)

Anonymous said...

I remember playing for hours outdoors, double dutch, hopscotch, rollerskating (the ones that fit on your shoes and had a key),biking, "exploring". And always lots of books because we didn't have TV. Funny, I still like to do some of the same things...gave up the roller skates though.
Your new bird discoveries amaze me!

Susan Gets Native said...

Mary: That last one is a white-throated sparrow. Cute little birds with bold yellow brows and white chins and throats.

I can't tell from the photo if the RBW is male or female. How to tell:
Males: The red goes all the way down to the neck.
Females: The red stops at a gray patch on the nape of the neck.
I love reading your growing as a birder. You scan the treetops as you drive...good way to find raptors, that way. And get into accidents, too. Be careful!
Love the cloud heart.

Anonymous said...

Mary - I love different cloud formations and this heart one is fantastic!! It's like nature was telling you it loves you!
I loved reading about the games and things you used to do when you were a kid. I'd have to think about all of the stuff we did, but it was always outside if it was my choice - even in the dead of winter. We'd just come in for a change of mittens or some food and back out again.
The things that come to mind are riding bikes all over the place, hiking in the woods, horseback riding, climbing trees, catching snakes during the day, catching fireflies at night, sleeping outside under the stars, looking for fossils since they were all over the place, snow skiing, sledding, tobogganing, building snow forts and tunnels. There's tons more, but I remember being very creative in our play time!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Anonymous said...

Love your heart and congrats on your red-bellied woodpecker! Keep up the great work!

KGMom said...

Oh yes, I remember the games I played as a child. Since I grew up "overseas" (my parents were missionaries in Africa), I had a totally different kind of playground. Where we lived there were HUGE granite rocks, so I and my friends played "cowboys and Indians" as we chased around the rocks. We chimney-steepled up small spaces and jumped from rocks 20 ft. above the next rock. It's a wonder we survived!