Tag Archives: squirrels

Home at 1010

I remember a columnist from years ago named Gladys Tabor. She wrote about her garden, seasonal flowers, about feeding the birds and digging pesky vine roots, pruning roses or picking berries. I’m not the gardener or the writer that she was but I’d like to take you around our corner and just shout out a few hallelujahs for the blessings God displays for us.

Our tubs of herbs along the outside of the back porch are green and luscious with rosemary, parsley, basil, lavender and mint. I hung a bunch of everything in the kitchen to smell good and to dehydrate. We bought two red geraniums for the porch which I can see from the den window. There’s something about red geraniums that makes me feel good all over. And Charles transplanted a patch of a dozen or so small purple iris around the maple tree south of the porch. The white ones in the same bed have done their thing and bowed out. The purple flags, as my mother called them, are smiling center stage.

The mulberry tree is at the height of its season, berries thick on the branches, the whole tree in motion with squirrels and birds feasting. The squirrels have had to find a new way to the mulberry since we cut down the two large oak trees which they had used as connectors in their super highway. We meant no offense in particular to the squirrels, just became concerned that at least one of the big oaks might land some windy night across our bedroom. They were both rotten and hollow. But Charles, in preparation for the tree felling, also took out a massive bank of old shrubbery–azaleas, wisteria, etc. So now, not only are the squirrels missing their highway, but they hardly have any cover on that side of the yard. They sneak across a wide open stretch either in one headlong dash, or, often, a few feet at a time, stopping to sit up erect like meerkats on the prairie before tackling another stretch. Once they scale one certain large pine they have it made–a leap to the cherry tree and then protection all the way to the arms of the generous mulberry. That pine is a giant stairway to freedom for hundreds of tiny squirrels’ feet.


Mulberries are sweet even before they are ripe!


Charles’ sister Revonda came and sat on our porch with us Sunday afternoon. We talked about old friends they knew when growing up in Thomas County schools. Our cat, Sassy, brought a skink to the screen door and meowed for attention. We talked about her and didn’t rescue her victim which was all but dead. Birds flew in and out of the feeder area. Squirrels scaled the pine and leaped to the cherry tree limbs, then to the mulberry. We caught up on ours and Revonda’s grandchildren, then called the third sibling of the JB Graham family, Ronnie, up in Michigan. The temperature was forty degrees there to our very pleasant seventy. We’d forgotten about Sassy and the skink when suddenly we spied her lugging a baby rabbit up the driveway. She tried to settle in by the screen door to give us another show. But our sympathy was warm for that little bunny. Charles stepped out and made Sassy release it. We laughed with glee as the small “Peter Rabbit” took to his feet and made a very quick and bouncy exit. I knew for sure at that moment I was not married to a “Mr. McGregor.”

Along the front porch are knockout roses. When five-year-old Kaison spends the day with me, we include in our activities, “dead heading” the roses. He is surprisingly adept with the clippers and gets almost too much pleasure snapping the dead blooms off with an “off with your head” to each one. He and I fill the bird baths too. I chuckle remembering my father-in-law who used to call out to Mama Graham, “Elizabeth, here’s those pesky birds flopping around in the bird bath. They’re going to splash all the water out!”

When Charles and I walk around the yard in the evening, we always stop to see how our new blueberry bushes are doing. Charles has worked so hard testing the soil and preparing it then to blueberry specifications. There are berries now on each little tree and we’re hoping to have some soon enhancing our cereal. In a couple of years we’re expecting to make muffins, cobblers, and stick some berries in the freezer.

Brown thrashers are here. We saw a beautiful one at the feeder outside the breakfast room today eating voraciously. They only grace us with their presence during their nesting time but I greatly enjoy seeing them for those few weeks–flying in and out of their chosen bushes. The feeders are busy, too, with cute little black-capped chickadees, tufted titmouse, bright cardinals and purple finches. We woke this morning to the sound of birds singing from low bushes and high in the pines. A mockingbird trilled his thirty-minute repertoire from the cherry tree as if he would burst if he couldn’t sing. A few minutes ago we spotted our first hummingbird of the season.

I heard about a shrub called a “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” plant. We found one at Nesmith Nursery in Thomas County and just finished settling it into the soil near the butterfly garden. We’re told it blooms sporadically all summer and that on any given day there will be yesterday blossoms of pale lavender, today blossoms of almost purple, and tomorrow blossoms of white. We’re giving it to each other for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, a fun new acquisition!

Thanks for wandering with me. (And thanks, Gladys Tabor of long ago, for your inspiration.)

So many blessings close by! With the psalmist, let’s say Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. (Psalm 103:1)

1 Comment

Filed under prayer

May Day

The first of May is here, to some remembered as May Day, to others just another day, to some an opportunity for political rallies and protests. When Charles read the date on our devotional this morning, we exclaimed, oh, it’s May Day! My thoughts immediately flew to the happy times when my little sister and I would create small paper baskets, fill them with wildflowers, and attempt to surprise family members with our flowery donations. A great part of the fun was in sneaking up on someone, setting the basket down, and running before they could see who was there. Of course part of the fun also was in peering from behind a curtain or a barrel to see the reaction, hopefully a big smile, on the face of the surprised recipient.

I remember my mother’s sharing her memory of May Day when she was a girl in the early 1900’s. She and her classmates danced around a Maypole, weaving ribbons in and out. That had to be a lot of fun! Mamma quoted poetry while she churned or kneaded bread. In the spring, her poem was apt to be Robert Browning’s “Pippa’s Song” which says: “The year’s at the spring, And day’s at the morn; Morning’s at seven; The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d; The lark’s on the wing; The snail’s on the thorn; God’s in His heaven–All’s right with the world.”

News of severe riots around the country, the earthquake in Nepal, injustice everywhere, fill the air waves till it seems the television might just explode sometime. Yet–God’s in His heaven, aware of every detail on earth, and will ultimately right every wrong. Believing that, I can take great joy from observing the wildlife celebrating May Day in my backyard.

The mulberry tree is a center of attraction. The mulberries are slowly ripening for the enjoyment of browsing humans. But they are totally tempting right now to squirrels and all kinds of birds. Before I could find even one ripe berry, birds and squirrels were so active in the tree, it looked as if it were dancing. Now, whether or not the wind is blowing, the tree’s light, flexible limbs and branches are a-sway with silent music. I can see as many as four or five squirrels at a time feasting happily. I’ve seen them stretch themselves from one limb to another until I’d hold my breath waiting to see whether they broke in two or fell to the ground. The squirrels have a highway in the trees for crossing the yard but there is one space between trees they haven’t found sky passage for, so they have to scamper across the ground. Then they scale a pine tree, leap to limbs of an Indonesian cherry tree, and from there, by way of a Japanese magnolia, they’re in the heavenly mulberry tree.

The birds have it easier. They fly in and out at will. They do have to keep a close watch because fellow birds and squirrels are not always kind. Each one believes God made that tree for him and only him, or her. When it comes to sharing they’re not always any better than the rest of us. I observed a war take place an hour ago. No winners, that I can tell. One squirrel is still fussing.

From the porch I can also see several bird feeders and a bird bath, all very well used. I especially enjoy the little titmouse with his chip-chip-chipping and the tiny black-capped chickadee. They fly in, grab a sunflower seed and then whir up to a tree bough to enjoy their snack.

Our martin house remains empty for another year. Charles has learned that martins, like many other creatures, are choosy about their place of abode. Given a choice, they have been observed repeatedly to rent more natural places, like gourds, rather than sturdy houses made just for them. Ours is a condominium, just the right height, made to order, but–no takers!

Brown thrashers are nesting here. They love thick camellias. What a beautiful, wise bird is the brown thrasher, a really good choice, I think for Georgia’s state bird. Take my advice, though, and do not ever try to look in mama Thrasher’s nest unless you’re ready for a swirl of angry wings around your head and a scolding you won’t forget. Did I say they are loyal? They are ready to go to bat in a heartbeat!

Cardinals are year-round splashes of cheer and they sing so sweetly too. And then there’s my all-time favorite, the faithful mockingbird that tries to re-tell everyone’s story, or song. And the songbird family would not be complete without little wrens chirping busily and making the cutest dwelling places in old boots, every nook and cranny, even (one year, at least), on the backside of the mailbox.

The other day I saw one of the cats ready to pounce on a baby sparrow who was learning with difficulty how to fly. I stopped the travesty that time but can’t say it didn’t happen later. The food chain is quite evident right here in this small acre. Cramer, another cat, sidled up to the door, proud of the lizard, still wiggling, in his mouth.

The wind is up today and the temperature delightfully cool. A great May Day! A great day for walking with other survivors in American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.. What a privilege that was, not only to walk with other survivors but also with my most precious caregiver, my husband! And, no, I didn’t mention the other May Day, the one you use when your plane or ship is failing. Let’s stick to celebrating a normal, happy day this May First!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Mulberry Tree



This is not a botanical dissertation. It is not an advertisement of fruit trees. I claim no academic knowledge concerning the subject. It is not a cookbook or a health issue or a devotional. It is not a poem or an essay or a short story. I have no intention of trying to make you a lover of mulberries or to persuade you even to bake a mulberry pie or tart.

I simply want to tell you about my mulberry tree I discovered just this week.

We’ve been so busy moving in and adjusting ourselves and our furniture, pictures and other belongings to our new place that I hadn’t studied every tree in the backyard. But I noticed several times in coming and going that squirrels and birds really were doing acrobatic performances in this one particularly graceful tree. Squirrels sometimes inched to the ends of very limber limbs and then all but fell trying to get something that was obviously very important to them.

I finally set out to find out what the important things were in that tree. That’s when I found it was loaded with the most interesting berries I’d ever seen. Similar to blackberries in size, but not as black. Very juicy when I tried to pick one, softer than a blackberry. Knowing I’d found no dead squirrels around, I deduced the berries must not be poisonous. I tasted one. Delicious! I went for another and another. I began to get excited. What did we have here?

In the yard where we lived across town we had satsumas, oranges, figs, blueberries, kumquats, and pecans. Here, we didn’t have the first fruit tree, I thought. Until I discovered this beautiful tree on the inside of our circular driveway. I brought some berries in to show my guys, my husband and 19-year-old grandson.

My grandson, who is not botanically inclined, immediately guessed those might be mulberries. I was duly impressed. (He must have listened when I sang “Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush”!!!) His granddaddy agreed that maybe Charles D was right, but said he didn’t know enough to make a guess.

I broke a branch and brought it to my computer so I could compare leaves, fruit, arrangement of same to examples on internet. It seemed like a good match, even to the fact that the leaves vary on mulberry trees, of which there are about twenty species worldwide. Leaves may be lobed or not, smooth on top or hairy. The berries can be red or black or stages approaching those including a stage on nearly all mulberries when they are white.

I had just decided that the next thing I would do would be to find a recipe for making mulberry pie.

That’s when Sally came over to pray with me about some urgent needs in our families. As she got out of her vehicle, she called out to me (this is the honest truth), “I’ve just made a mulberry pie and we ate nearly the whole thing. Natalia and Clay brought me some.”
My mouth dropped open. I hadn’t heard until then of anyone in our neighborhood or town who was either growing, harvesting, cooking, or eating mulberries.

I do remember one little mulberry tree in the meadow of Pinedale where I grew up. We had picnics around it. I don’t remember there ever being anything on it!

Needless to say, I did get a recipe and proceeded out to the tree to pick mulberries. I needed three cups. After trying from the ground, I hauled a step ladder out. Perched precariously, I tried to snag enough berries to make a pie while birds and squirrels began to protest. After twenty minutes all I had were about a dozen berries. I surveyed the situation again and got down off the ladder. I believe that tree belongs to the birds and the squirrels. I’d rather not have that pie than to end up in the hospital with a broken back. I brought in what I had and they were very delicious on cheerios for breakfast this morning!

Have at it, squirrels and birds! I’ll just enjoy your acrobatic shows and forego the mulberry pie–unless some kind, adventurous soul wants to share some with me!

P.S. Thanks, Sally, for the “out-of-this-world” slice of mulberry pie Charles and I each enjoyed at your house last night after church! The taste is milder than blackberries, a subtle, soothing taste. I may, after all, have to try again to pick mulberries. Sally said Natalia and Clay drove their truck under the limbs. Sounds like a good thing to try.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized