Tag Archives: pecan

Cedar waxwings

Waxwings

A flock of cedar waxwings visited last week.

The winds are blowing from the south one day, the north the next, a phenomenon of late winter-early spring that seems to mirror my city girl vs. country girl identity crisis.

It’s also bringing birds.

One of the things I loved most about our house in the city was the way in late winter, just for a day or two, a flock of cedar waxwings visited. They’re like a party of masqueraders with that band of black across their eyes and those tufts on their heads that make them seem like they’re always racing forward, head into the wind.

The first time they came, I heard them before I saw them: a quiet but insistent chorus of little chirps. It was a clear morning but it also sounded like rain. I looked up into the big water oak in our backyard, saw a sea of buttery-yellow bird bellies and realized they were raining blue-black berry poop all over the patio. A very small price to pay for the sight. (The Mr., of course, has hated them ever since.)

They loved the cherry laurel near that spot, technically a neighbor’s tree. The neighbors built some kind of pavilion thing back there and the tree died, but the birds came looking for berries anyway for a couple of years.¬†Once, a baby flew into the large windows of my studio and landed in a potted ‘Cecile Brunner’ rose, where it was speared by a small thorny twig.

Horrifying. And yet, how else are you going to get so close?

It wasn’t dead, but it was stunned, and I picked it up. Birds weigh NOTHING. I pulled the twig out, set it on the ground and left it alone. When I went back to check on it later, it was gone, hopefully recovered and not devoured by something.

So imagine my surprise last week, on a cold, clear morning, to hear a familiar peeping as I bundled up on the deck with a cup of tea. Of course it made perfect sense! We have three cherry laurels, two of which tower above the house.

The flock swooped back and forth between the cherry laurels and a fine vantage point from the top of our big, bare pecan.

Okay, winds of change; life in the country is good.

Branching Out

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There’ve been times in the past seven months I’ve wondered about my sanity. It’s not the reduction in square footage but this whole notion of figuring out where, exactly, we belong. It usually hits when I have to get in the car to drive to work in Houston, which is about an hour and 15 minutes door-to-door. I have never lived more than 15 minutes away from work before, and I abhor freeways.

But on mild winter evenings like this, eating dinner on the deck out here in Blue Bell Country, it all seems worth it. Our old pecan tree isn’t all that beautifully shaped, really; it leans to the north almost precariously, while behind it in a neighbor’s yard grows a perfectly symmetrical big live oak. But both are at their deciduous, ferny-looking best just before sunset this time of year, every branch silhouetted black like the fans of delicate corals in a sea of cornflower blue sky.

Squirrels are still scurrying across their branches, and the mockingbirds are chirping their last calls before morning.