Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: out of season

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why, precious wee orb

fall is here, you are fragile

i fear no hatching

 

out of season by Angie Quantrell

 

I discovered this nest yesterday while on a walk. Several other eggs were spread about willy-nilly, but these two were nestled as much as possible. I felt so sad for the out of season eggs. No chance at hatching or survival. Why?

But still beautiful.

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Haiku Moment: stilted legs

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land meets sea, blue green

burgeoning life; stilted legs

walks both, scurries on

 

stilted legs by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, near Shelton and Potlatch, Washington

Opportunity provided by Hypatia-in-the-Woods, Holly House

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Bird Sighting: 2 Pileated Woodpeckers & Haiku Moment

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red crest, heavy head

hop, skittle, scrape, taste, chitter;

wary woodpeckers

 

pileated woodpeckers by Angie Quantrell

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I feel like I struck gold! Or black and red, the colors on my 2 feathered guests.

I almost didn’t see them, as they were very quiet. I went out the Holly House front door to my car and spotted huge black birds, one on a dead stump, clawing to grasp and dig in, the other on the ground scooping bits of snack with a sideways tilt of the head.

As soon as red-crested heads popped into view, I knew exactly what they were. And they were huge! Due to my constant perusal of A Guide to Field Identification, BIRDS of North America book, in particular the page on woodpeckers and flickers, I recognized them. But only when I saw them in person did I realize the immense size compared to the flickers and scrub jays I usually identify. The guide says their length is 15-inches. Fascinating.

According to the guide book, pileated woodpeckers are “uncommon and local; a wary bird of extensive deciduous or mixed forests” (p. 180). I feel like I won the lottery. Here there were two uncommon and wary woodpeckers gently hopping along the driveway, chittering quietly to each other, sort of like chickens chat as they go about their day.

I watched them until they hopped beyond the bend of the driveway. They didn’t take off while I observed, and didn’t seem too bothered by me. They seemed a bit gangly in movement, young, perhaps teens? Not sure if they were mated or siblings, but I was thrilled to listen and watch.

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I love that Holly House has a copy of my favorite bird book. Their book is in much better shape. The pages are stuck in the proper place. What a special opportunity! Smack dab in the middle of a mixed forest, plenty of deciduous and coniferous trees and stumps for all to enjoy. Says the resident who learned the black bear is back and loves to scrub at trunks for bugs and wander behind my cabin on his dusk forays. Yikes! I would like to see him (or her) but only from my car or cottage window.

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The Ecosystem of a Sunflower Forest

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We have a Sunflower Forest.

Not intentionally, but as happenstance. Last year, I planted sunflowers. This year, the birds planted sunflowers (leftovers from their grazing and dropping last year). I love my Sunflower Forest. It really does resemble a forest with all its many layers, shadows, heights, and wildlife.

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Just this morning, I was again (and again) gazing out the window to enjoy the peeping antics of goldfinch families. They flit, flirt, fight, and feed throughout the Sunflower Forest. Swarms of bees, many varieties, wasps, and other flying hungry insects buzz and float around the Forest, a veritable cloud of life shifting back and forth. I don’t need a fish tank for gazing and relaxing. I can sit on the deck and watch visitors enjoy the Forest. Relaxation and entertainment all wrapped into one ball of delight.

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It’s interesting how our brains work, those miracles of human technology. Thoughts and ideas zip and zing along brain pathways so fast I often find myself wondering How did I get to that thought from this?

Take ecosystems. As I watched the Sunflower Forest with rapt enjoyment, I realized it was an ecosystem in its own right. Our Forest is approximately 25-foot-square, give or take a straggler standing tall along the edges. The top height is at least 15-feet, well as tall as the RV, which rests high atop tires and tire stops. That’s plenty of ecosystem space for the myriad of wildlife I see every day.

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The Undergrowth (Forest Floor):

I’m so excited about this level of the Sunflower Forest. Baby oak trees have sprouted from last year’s planting of numerous (I mean NUMEROUS) acorns I brought back from my cousin’s house. I love science activities and free exploration and invited my grands to play at will. They did. Played and planted. Baby oaks have been discovered in very surprising places!

Other nature on display in the undergrowth layer: weeds (of course), ants, spiders, worms, earwigs, beetles, frogs, millipedes, roly polys, mystery bugs, snails, grasshoppers, and cats. Our cats LOVE hiding in the Sunflower Forest.

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The Understory:

In the Sunflower Forest, the understory is crammed full of bamboo-like stalks, mottled leaves, dappled light, and fluttering life. I imagine myself small, wandering amidst the trunks of sunflower trees, climbing too high for my own good. Tall weeds populate this layer, plentiful, but not enough to trouble sunflower trees. Anything that creeps, climbs, and flies traverses the Sunflower Forest understory.

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The Canopy:

The majority of my sunflower trees litter this layer with bright blossoms, wilted petals, and plump seeds. This is where the action is! Goldfinches love the canopy of bright yellow, fragrant and fruitful. Before the seeds were ready, nearly as soon as the first few yellow faces opened to the sun, goldfinches made forays into the canopy, checking to see if food was available. They didn’t stay long, since seeds were not even pollinated yet. But now? Layers of unopened buds, fully exposed golden orbs, droopy petals, green seeds, and ready-to-go seed buffets lure our state bird (Washington, goldfinch) by the droves. I love the families, fledglings peeping loudly and shuffling their feathers, waiting for mama or daddy to bring the seeds to them. Parents, proud and busy, race to pop seeds into open mouths. Several males pop in, notice each other, and fight for feeding rights. Never fear, my little finches, plenty for all.

Also seen in the canopy layer: red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, finches, butterflies, spiders, yellow jackets, and multiple varieties of bees and flies.

 

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The Emergent Layer:

I hadn’t thought much about this layer, the very tip top of the forest and everything above. Until this morning, still observing the finches, I noticed the shadow of a fledgling hawk pass across the top of the Sunflower Forest. Aha! Besides the very tallest of sunflower trees and nearby ornamental corn, our emergent forest layer is filled with other wildlife. The hawks (two parents and the tween), crows, starlings, magpies, and geese regularly putz back and forth above our heads. The only ones we all keep sharp eyes on are the hawks, of course. Hunters they are, and Junior is especially attached to our pasture, nearby power lines, and a few strategic trees. I can only guess how many friends have met their end as he learns to fly, land, and hunt.

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So there you have it. The Sunflower Forest and its ecosystem. I’m sure your garden, yard, or field has yet more exciting nature (flora and fauna) inhabiting the different layers. Take a look. Grab that cup of tea or coffee and sit for a bit. Who do you see in the different sections of your ecosystem?

 

 

 


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Book Report: Remembering Joseph Chickadee by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

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Remembering Joseph Chickadee

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

Mascot Books, 2019

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I love bird watching and travel with my falling-apart bird identification book at the ready to help me name the birds I see out car windows.

What about the birds I read about in books? Love, love, love birds!

Remembering Joseph Chickadee is a delightfully illustrated picture book telling the story of a bunch of birdy friends saying goodbye and remembering their friend, Joseph Chickadee.

It sounds sad, but it really isn’t. Instead, I enjoyed the stories of friends sharing happy memories of their friend. A Remembering Celebration was held in the woods where Joseph was a leader, helper, and friend to many feathered community members. The different birds told of their encounters with Joseph and all the ways he had helped them. As I read, I thought this picture book would be a perfect way to gently help young mourners as they face the loss of a loved one. And, of course, readers will learn about birds.

Why I Enjoyed this Book:

~ I loved the imagination in the story. A Remembering Celebration for a beloved community leader-grief and celebration in the bird world. Young readers will be able to put their imaginations to good use as they read Remembering Joseph Chickadee.

~ The illustrations are wonderful! I love the collage, watercolor, cut paper look of the different books. This book is very nicely done.

~ The availability of this book for use with grieving children is perfect. Readers can see how others grieve and remember, and perhaps, with gentle discussion, can apply the ideas to their own lives. Not that this book needs to be read only with grieving children, but all young readers can learn empathy as they hear about Joseph.

~ Birds! I learned new information about different birds. Maybe this book will spark an interest in readers to learn more about birds or encourage them to go outside and go for a bird walk.

I thoroughly enjoyed Remembering Joseph Chickadee. Thank you to Nancy Peck Youngdahl for writing this book for readers. Thank you to Mascot Books for my review copy, which I now get to share with the young readers in my family (we just focused on birds last week, one of our summer weekly themes). Thank you!

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Book Blurb:

When wise and kind Joseph Chickadee passes away, other birds of the forest come together to remember him and celebrate all that he did as a leader and friend. Follow along in this story of love, loss, and grace and Joseph’s family and friends say goodbye.

KID KANDY:

Play Dough Nest

Materials: play dough, sticks, leaves, rocks

1. Go for a bird walk. Watch for birds and peek at their nests in trees and shrubs. If you don’t find any nests, look in picture books or online for pictures of nests.

2. Warm up the play dough by playing with it. Form a nest shape on a plate.

3. Decorate the nest with sticks, leaves, or rocks. Birds often add soft materials to the bottom of the nests to protect the eggs and new hatchlings. Find something soft to place in the bottom of the nests. Let your nest dry.

4. Keep watching for birds!

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Khloe and her play dough bird nest (the rocks are eggs).

 


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Welcome, Summer Guest Bloggers!

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Note: Nana Angie here. For a bit of fun, I’m challenging (urging, coercing, guiding) my grands to be guest bloggers. This first time, I typed as we discussed and they told me what to write. Perhaps the older 2 will be able to type their own posts later this summer, which I know will zoom past. I’ll probably alternate blogging families so that I can keep up with what is happening behind the scenes as two of us at a time focus on blogging…(5 kids + 1 puppy = 8).

Hope you enjoy our escapades. Happy first day of summer!

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Hi, I’m Hayden. I’m 10 years old and just finished 4th grade. Next year I’ll be in middle school. I’m so glad it’s summer.

This summer I’m spending lots of time with my Nana. Last week we were learning about birds. And we made a bird nest out of play dough and pine needles. I found a fallen bird nest at our apartment and it was just sitting on the ground. I picked it up and took it to my Nana’s house and we observed it. It was cool and stinky!

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We also went on a walk around the field and looked at birds. We found a hawk. It was cool. It was looking for food. Other bird activities we did were painting bird houses, stamping bird pictures on paper, and reading bird books.

Next we are going to learn about gardens. See you next time!

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Hi, I’m Khloe. I’m almost 8 years old and just finished 2nd grade. Next year I’ll be in 3rd grade. I always swim at the pool at my apartment in the summer. That is going to be fun!

My Nana is teaching me and my brothers French words. I know “Bonjour, Grand-mere, merci, s’il vous plait, and counting to sept (1-7). It was fun learning about French.

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We also learned about birds. My brother picked up a bird nest for us to look at and study. My favorite bird activity was making a bird nest out of play dough. I used sticks, pine needles, play dough, and leaves and rocks for my nest.

I will see you next time!

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My name is William Gage Aucutt. I’m 4. I’m going swimming. I’m going to the apartment. And I go to the RV. Then I go to the park. I liked painting my bird house. I like to paint. And I like to go everywhere. Everywhere.

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: sunflower forest

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sunflower forest

shadowing minions below,

giant bird fodder

 

sunflower forest by Angie Quantrell

 

This year, another garden experiment. Last season, giant birds (to the minions living below) messily (and carelessly) tossed seeds as they gobbled from sunflower trees. This season, let’s see what grows.

A forest!

 


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Despite my love for cats, I adore birds. I just can’t put feeders out. That’s like saying, “Here, kitty, kitty! All you can eat buffet!” My Monet is a great hunter on her own, without my baiting traps for her.

So, I enjoy the birds that fly beyond her reach or call from barns, trees, and migration routes. She can’t get to those. In my car I keep a falling apart copy of a bird identification book. It’s amazing how many birds I can spot, research, and identify while my honey is driving over rivers and through woods. I’ve learned much about birds on our road trips.

After reading this post via Writers Rumpus, I discovered more bird books I need to read. Just in time for winter birding! I’m sending a big thank you to the authors, illustrators, and Kirsti Call (Writers Rumpus). Thank you!

Go check it out. You will learn a thing or three.

via Flying High with Gifted Authors Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple


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Dead Stuff

by Angie Quantrell

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dead stuff

every. single. day.

dead stuff is delivered.

fur. teeth. tails. tiny feet.

feathers. skulls. wings asunder.

the odd beak.

legless bugs. drips of blood.

eerie green body parts.

dead stuff. in life. in dreams.

felines hard at work.

freeze. winter. come soon.

put to ground the endless corpses

delivered as gifts.

pause the need for caution

when opening the door or

placing feet along the body strewn gravel,

blending in, creating traps for thoughtless tread.

drop. temperature. ice-over.

to sleep. to fly south. to hibernate.

what happened to lumps of fur nested

in front of roaring fires?

rest, kitties, rest.

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You Nest Here With Me ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

 

You Nest Here With Me

Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

(Boyds Mills Press, An Imprint of Highlights; 2015)

 

I recently was given a copy of You Nest Here With Me. Thanks, Heidi Stemple!

That free gift, however, did not influence the fact that I had already fallen in love with the lyrical story and gorgeous illustrations of this picture book, having borrowed it from the library.

I see You Nest Here With Me as a good night story told by a mother to her daughter. The mother shares the nesting habits of many fascinating and captivating birds. Eggs, nests, habitats, birds, nestlings (is that a real word?) – and a human mama and her little girl. This is a perfect, calming, getting-ready-for-bed book.

While this picture book does not read like a science text, readers will still learn amazing bird facts. Readers can learn even more when they take the time to peruse the final pages where the authors share interesting information about each type of bird.

Readers will love You Nest Here With Me. I love You Nest Here With Me. Birds of a feather flock together. Tweet tweet!

KID KANDY

Look for Nests & Build a Nest

  1. Go on a nest hunting walk with your family. Spy high and peek low to find nests. Trees, shrubs, empty containers, bird houses, grasses…birds are very creative when they build a nest. How many nests can you find?
  2. Pull out some blankets and wrap them around yourself to build a nest. Grab some books, curl up in your snug nest, and read away!

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