Sunday, March 30, 2008

Winter? Spring? and a little pond surprise


Those who live farther north usually know what to expect regarding weather. Snow, ice, or cold temps until April, with a few warm days in between. Winter is holding on up there, still, but the heady smell of spring drifts by, giving promise. When spring arrives, it will hold on and blossom.


Not so, here in southern North Carolina where winters are milder but spring is a tease. It visits for a few days then Old Man Winter throws a punch. Freeze nips new growth. I had planned to switch my crystal in the kitchen from snowmen to marine mammals this weekend. I’ll postpone it for next weekend, perhaps?


Bare-bellied Bostons don’t adapt well to gray skies and wind chills in the high thirties. Heck, we’re all a bunch of sissies down here. Even golfers cancel tee times if it’s below fifty degrees but Michael will suit up and play in any weather because we’re originally tough northerners. But I will admit my blood has thinned since living here and I chill easily.

The only photos of the weekend:


I stood a few feet away from a Mourning Dove on the front porch. Maybe a little slow-minded, ya think?



His molt is almost complete! I giggled at Iris’s description of Goldfinches as “Flying Lemons”.

I'm going back to Friday when it was seventy-seven degrees before the overnight plunge to thirty-nine.


The pond had its annual cleaning a few days ago. Notice the varied colors of the pond rock and how crystal clear the water is.


The build-up of algae was washed off rocks, the bio-filter was cleaned, and the pond looks bright once again. Soon, the Canna will surround the waterfall and hide the bio-filter, giving it a tropical look. Throughout the year I net debris from the pond but I hired someone to do the heavy cleaning. It’s worth saving my back and the knowledge I gain from a pro.


Notice that I choose small areas of the pond to photograph, because, believe me, the weeds are dreadful and the flowers have not yet begun to bloom. There’s a real mess to clean up. That’s a job I look forward to soon.


Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a garden snake slither across the water surface, smooth as glass. Small - less than eighteen inches.


Harmless? To humans, yes. To tadpoles, no. To Koi, probably not. To small goldfish, yes. If I should see it again, I might get the rake and a bucket to relocate the cute thing. You see, I enjoy tadpoles, bullfrogs, and toads too much. Thoughts on or experiences with garden snakes in ponds are welcome!

Michael and I headed to south Charlotte in the rain yesterday to visit the best pond supply store and nursery in the area. I only wanted to purchase some plants and bacteria (and browse...). It was an eighty-mile round trip and Mapquest screwed up the directions. Being lost for a good twenty minutes gave us a nice tour of upscale Ballantyne. That wasn't enough frustration. We arrived at the nursery a week too early for plants and bacteria! Without making a purchase, I skipped in the drizzling rain to keep up with the impatient and irritated Italian who rushed out of the place. He was already in the truck with the engine running when I snatched up a crisp twenty dollar bill from a small evergreen near the sidewalk. Climbing into the passenger side of the truck I said, “Did you lose any money? Count your twenties.” Without pause, out came the money clip and he flipped through, “No.” I said, “Good, the twenty is MINE!”


Best photo of the week – taken on Friday while it was almost eighty degrees. Bumble Bee had a crush on me, or my sweet perfume.

Davidson just lost by one basket (ugh) and Gina quizzed me in basketball:

It's Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, right? Go Tarheels!


beckie said...

Mary, so glad you let someone else do the grunt work on the pond. Your expertize lies more in the artistic aspects! Great pictures again. The girls look a little impatient with you for not getting to the door quick enough! Hope your week is better than last.

Anonymous said...

It was extra cool here too Mary. I think the high all day was about mid 40's with the wind chill. And no hummers yet......


Julie Zickefoose said...

Oh, let the little garter snake stay! He's more interested in earthworms and crickets than goldfish. They don't tend to be aquatic, and they pretty much stick to insects and invertebrates.

I'm wondering if your tame mourning dove is planning to make a little twig nest in your hanging basket cocoa liner...looks suspicious to me.

Hoping for barn swallows for you this year!

Anonymous said...

We are still experiencing winter and hope it is gone soon! Your flowers, flying bugs, snakes ... inspire us with snow on the ground that spring is coming! Thanks for making me smile with your photos!

KGMom said...

How on the earth did you get the bee in focus? That's my challenge--when I go to shoot moving items, my camera focuses on the still objects behind and the moving item is a blur.

Carol Michel said...

Snake! Mary, there's a snake by your pond!! Want to borrow one of my hoes to shoo it away?

Okay, I'm calm now. Listen to Julie Zickefoose, she seems a lot calmer about the snake.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Nora said...

Hey Mary, your pond is lovely, I always wanted a pond so I enjoy yours. I have spend way tooo long reading your blog tonight...beautiful pics. Hope your weather is warmer.

Wren said...

Wish I had someone else to do the pond cleanup, but not in this little town. I thought we'd get to it this weekend, but it was snowing. I can barely see the fish in there, and no little snakes today. In the summer I've seen them fish for baby goldfish successfully, definitely aquatic. It's fun to watch them hang above the water then slide in. That must be what happened to the pollywogs too.

Stacey Olson said...

Beautiful pond. It should be great this summer for all the little critter. :)

Alyssa said...

Oh that water looks good enough to drink! The fish are beautiful and it's nice to see goldfinches that are actually "gold". Maybe you get some little coats for the Bostons - then they won't mind those nasty windchills so much??
Too bad your shopping excursion turned out to be a disappointment.
And I'll bet the $20 didn't even cover the gas!! Maybe next week . ..

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary....Oh dear, I am afraid I like the snake and would keep him in the garden. We have grass snakes here and I love to watch them glide across the local ponds. It is a very personal choice isn't it?

Loved the bee, you know me and my bees. I reckon it knew it was safe with Mary!

Birds as always beautiful and sorry you had a wasted trip to garden centre.

Have fun Mary.

The Atom said...

In love with your blog!! :-) I love flora and fauna of all kinds!! Adore snakes though can't recognize many species. The one you got there is beautiful!! :-) doesn't seem too aggressive though.. Are you keeping it as a pet? the pond and all and so many beautiful creatures all around you!! I must say I'm jealous!! :-) Its just awesome!! Cheers!!

Jayne said...

The pond looks great Mary. I know what you mean about the tease. It was mostly overcast and nippy here this weekend too. It rained and rained all day Saturday, but we need it. Love your flying bee!!!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

How wonderful to have so much life around your sparkling pond once again. I would leave the snake. I bet he eats slugs. They are my best slug oppressors. If I was that little snake I would be afraid one of those big fish might have me for dinner. Your fish are so pretty. You must not have racoons for them to be able to have grown so large.

The girls look so forlorn waiting for someone, anyone, to open the door and let them inside where it is warm.

Have a good week...

Seabrooke said...

It's starting to thaw here but your spring's still well ahead of ours. I'm looking forward to seeing those blossoms once they open. Your pond is wonderful. I'd love to have something like that in my backyard one day. I'll need to start by getting a backyard, I think. :)

The Quacks of Life said...

i once saw Eurasian Goldfinches described as looking like they had dipped their faces in a pot of strawberry jam.

brucesc said...

Another wonderful post, Mary! With such good pictures!

Where do you find someone to clean your pond? Mine hasn't been touched in 3 years and is pretty awful. But the goldfish still thrive and breed. We gave up on koi when we saw a great blue heron fly off with one a foot long! What does the bacteria do for the pond?

You need to get little Tarheel varsity sweaters for the girls' cold tummies.

Mary said...

Beckie, the pond is a little too large for us to clean ourselves and our backs are a little too old!

Angie, it still cold - no hummers here yet, either.

Julie, OK - the snake stays. Thanks, Chimp!

Tom, it looks like spring but sure doesn't feel like it!

Donna, I took maybe 40 shots of the bee hovering in front of me. One out of 40 isn't bad...

Carol, you wouldn't hoe a harmless snake, now, would you? :o)

Ocean, you have more than a pond, lucky one.

Wren, this is the first time I've SEEN a snake in the pond. I guess they are good at keeping certain populations under control.

Stacey, it's very beautiful come June and July. I'll show the whole pond then.

Alyssa, at $3.27 gallon, that $20 wouldn't help much. But at least we found the place and will go back soon (after I make a phone call ahead of time).

Cheryl, I don't mind snakes at all. Especially the smaller ones like the one in the photo. Black snakes, on the other hand, get relocated immediately.

Unstable Atom, thank you for visiting. And, no, I do not keep snakes as pets. No thank you :o)

Jayne, we're getting nice rains lately, too. Hope the trend continues!

Lisa, Chloe & Bella are sissies, too. Spoiled, cute sissies.

Seabrooke, we built our first pond in 1998, and have built one every time we moved. This is our third. I would miss the sound of the waterfall very much.

Pete, the male goldfinches look messy also :o)

Brucesc, I don't know what part of SC you live in but Pondscapes of Charlotte is on my sidebar. They've done award-winning work for Disney! Any pond installer usually offers cleaning and maintenance services. After a thorough cleaning it's suggested to add some doses of beneficial bacteria to your pond to jumpstart the biological filter. As far as herons, I'd have my problems with them, too, but not so far here in Charlotte. Fingers crossed.

Naturegirl said...

Mary it is such a delight to come by and see all the birds and your pond activity!! Kind of makes me miss my garden& pond but ..not the temps that are experienced by friends back home!
How about that bird that flew into your house...(((Birdlady))) that must have been a hoot watching how the dogs reacted!
sunkissed in Arizona and
loving it NG

Donna said...

Hi Mary,
Love your photos, especially the bumble bee and the mourning dove. The snake freaked me out! I am very, very afraid of snakes, and I think if I had one in my back yard I would have to move!
It's been raining here for days and it was so cold yesterday I thought I was back up north!

Enjoyed your post! Have a good day and thanks for making me smile.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

that is an AMAZING bee picture! How did you do that?

We have a little pond and I don't think it's ever looked that clear. Hmmm....maybe it would be a good thing to bring in a professional for a good cleaning.

I love the little snake!

Anonymous said...

The redbuds are so gorgeous right now, aren't they? Josh and I drove the few miles up to the Martinsville race this weekend and I was in love with the delicate pink/purple of their blooms. Our dogwoods are on the verge of flowering, too. It was a bone-chilling day, sitting in the stands all day, but the spring blooms definitely made up for it. And it sure is nice to have rain for a change!

Susie said...

Hi Mary,
I love how your pond is so sparkly and crystal clear. Your pictures just bring such joy to blogland :)

Anonymous said...

What beautiful pictures. I live in Michigan and am so ready for spring.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

A wonderful post, as always, Mary. It's so good to see all those "spring things" going on there. Your pictures are beautiful. We haven't had snow on the ground in CT since the beginning of March, and this week, we're expecting the temps to go into the 60s and maybe even to 70! That should bring on some spring things for us, I hope!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Oh my goodness you have a Bumble Bee friend! I adore the bees! This one is a cutie!
The girls do need Tarheels sweaters. Go Tarheels.
I have all my money on them this year..all five dollars.
Chilly here. Spring has sprung but very slowly.
Happy April!

Susan Gets Native said...

I'm making a pond in my yard this year, by Gawd!

LOVE your bee! I don't know how you do it.

Mel said...

Smart bumble bee, who wouldn't love you? ;)
I want to see how the pond looks after the cleaning, I can't wait for the next posts!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mare, Stop by when you have a chance...I have an award for you.

P.S. Love your pond pics--mine is still frozen :-(

Chrissie said...

Your pond looks great, Mary :-) One thing I have never seen here in the pond is snakes!

Anonymous said...

That bee is just toooo cute! What an incredible shot!

Crayons said...

I always enjoy visiting your site. You have such a great eye, and you seem to have a lot of fun just living.

dmmgmfm said...

Gads girl, your photos just get better and better. I so love seeing the world through your eyes.


Bek said...

Great bumble bee picture! It almost looks kind of fake - with it not moving:)

Cathy said...


Oh my!

And those precious pup faces :0)

Interesting that Julie says to spare the little snake. How neat to have beauty and drama right in your own backyard.

Happy April, Mary !

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, that bumble bee photo is amazing! Nice shot! It beats basketball hands down!

TR Ryan said...

Beautiful photos - again those fish!!! Those colors! But the bumblebee might just rank as all time favorite!!!!