Nature Observer – December 2020
December has been a cold, wet, snowy month. We often have all types of weather in the span of 24 hours which is one of my favorite things about Central Oregon. We can have a snowstorm in the morning but by late afternoon the sun is shining, and I get to enjoy the sparkling snow and the blue sky.
I spend a lot of time watching birds at my feeders when the weather is storming outside. They zip in and out, sheltering only briefly under the roof overhang of the feeder. We watch the geese land in flocks down by the river and observe as they walk along poking here and there for something to eat. The sparrows will pop out from under the shrubs to get a bite to eat from seeds that have fallen from the feeder, then quickly dart back under the shelter before we can get a good look at them. Our gray squirrels leap around in the treetops where they search for cones still hanging on the tall pines. It seems as if there is always something going on out in the yard.
It’s our December world.
I cannot help but think back on the past twelve months sitting here now in mid-December. What a wild ride of a year for our family! We’ve had our serious struggles along with everyone else: unemployment, cross country moves, dating during COVID, caring for elderly parents who are in and out of lockdown. On the other hand, there were high spots like the celebrating of joyful outdoor weddings of two of our children and a summer filled with staying close to home and getting creative with how we can socialize safely with our children.
There has been kayaking, canoeing, floating, hiking, nights around the fire pit, bike rides, and lots of fishing.
These are all things we normally do together, but we had to be thoughtful about the execution of these activities this year.
I needed to have some “normal” in my life and I found it while hiking a trail or paddling my kayak.
We started our big garden remodel back in May and little did we know that it really was the project that would keep us sane and bring us a place to sit in peace with the world seeming far, far away. We could sit and watch the birds and insects from our little bench placed under our newly planted crab apple tree. Swallows took up residence in the nesting box within a few feet of that bench. The nuthatches and finches came to drink at the bird bath.
I’ve come to realize that there were more benefits to that garden than I could have ever imagined. It gave me a reason to go outside, it provided beautiful cut flowers to have in vases inside, and it was always a thrill to go out to the wildflower patch and spy a new variety of flower blooming.
I look back on the photos of the progress we observed as we dug the dirt, built the boxes, planted the seeds, saw the seeds sprout, enjoyed the first flowers, and welcomed the bees and butterflies and birds. This project was a joy!
In the end, it’s the place that our middle son married his beautiful bride, right there under the tall sunflowers we planted from seeds. During the ceremony, a chickadee was sitting on a flower right over their heads and it was such a happy moment even in this crazy mixed up year of 2020.
2020 gave us something wonderful after all. If it weren’t for the COVID shutdown, we wouldn’t have had such an extensive garden, we would have missed out on all the wildlife visitors coming to enjoy the garden, we probably wouldn’t have had a garden wedding, and I would not be looking forward to the promise of next summer’s flowers and bees and birds.
Maybe you had an experience like mine this year and stumbled into a project that kept your spirits up. Thank you to all of my faithful readers who have encouraged me this year with comments and email.
I’m looking forward to some winter fun and garden planning over the next few months.
We’ll be starting the winter series of Outdoor Hour Challenges January 8, 2021. There is still time to purchase a membership and follow along with us.
Please use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist membership.