Duck of Earl

Master of his domain

“Oh m’god, what is THAT?!” This is the reaction of most folks who meet The Duck of Earl for the first time. One friend mistook him for a large, concrete garden sculpture, until he moved. A few have been surprised to find him standing suddenly behind them, making a noise like those raptors in Jurassic Park.

I’d like to share Earl with you, because he deserves his very own story. In the few weeks he’s been with us, he has shown himself to be a real character. Not a day goes by without hubby Carter or I telling each other, “Gads, did you see what Earl did today?” Because he is always doing something.

Duck of Earl is a young, huge muscovy drake. He came along as a “bonus” to the nine fertile duck eggs his owner gave me for our duck Lucy to brood… Continue reading

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THE CRACKS IN EVERYTHING

My log hive

Years ago, when I was reading about the meditation technique of Centering Prayer, Abbott Thomas Keating wrote that the great contemplatives either meditated or spent a great deal of time in nature. I never forgot that: That I could exchange hours on a meditation bench for hours in deep nature and somehow achieve similar benefits.

I’ve shifted over to a Buddhist meditation called Vipassana now and I especially love the writings of Tibetan Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, famous for his practice of walking meditation. I do a bumbling version of that when I move very purposefully through my back yard, quieting my mind so that I can focus on the tiny perfections of nature.

Hahn says that there is perfection in each moment, but we must be quiet enough inside to recognize it. Each day, I realize more deeply than the day before how addicted most of us are to moving very fast, racing into the future with no appreciation for the present… Continue reading

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CULTIVATING WONDER

After a full night of freezing rain, MillHaven is coated once again in clear, glistening glass. The ducks, Bella and Lucy, hid in their coop yesterday afternoon and I had to push them out to add more fresh straw just as the ice rain began falling.

They waggled their tails at me and muttered “Woot woot woot” while I filled their feed dish and cleaned out their kiddie pool. “Woot Gawoot!” they trilled as soon as they realized I’d drawn them a fresh bath, and into the pool they slipped as ice pellets thunked against the sides of the pool and splashed into the water.

“You two are freakin’ nuts,” I told them… Continue reading

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A Simple, Heated Hummingbird Feeder

Froggy, it’s cold outside!

Here in the Pacific NorthWest, we have Anna’s hummingbirds. These little jewels are a bit larger than most, and their larger size–and habit of eating many small insects–enables them to stay in area that get pretty cold come winter.

As folks feed them, the Anna’s hummers are moving northward, counting on winter hummingbird feeders for sustenance. I only put out feeders in winter, to accommodate these hearty souls. In summer, I grow plenty of flowers so no need to give them sugar.

In really cold weather–like the kind we are having now–the feeders freeze, which can be deadly to the hummers. Each cold morning, it takes a hummer over an hour to come up out of torpor. They go into this hibernation-like stage at night to conserve energy. By the time the little bird finally awakens, her energy reserves are about exhausted… Continue reading

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Feast for the Animals

Just a bit of moonlight peeked into our house early Christmas morning. Hubby John Carter made my morning with this bee-yoo-tee-ful glass ornament!

Wowza! And slippers and a garden raven and lots of strong coffee and morning hugs. Lucky me! Early afternoon, when the sun was bright an cold, son Johnny and granddaughter Taylor came by for Christmas dinner. Taylor wore her new reindeer outfit, but we all thought she looked more lambish than deer-ish… Continue reading

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KEEPING BEES IN STRAW: A New Joy

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“Anahat” hive enters the primordial, manure-plastered Sun Hive

It has been five months since I brought my bright and beautiful Sun Hive home, and just three months since I escorted a small cast swarm up a wooden ramp and into its dark and enfolding interior. Small the swarm may have been, but the bees took to the woven hive like they had been born to it, building up their comb and their numbers in an explosion of creative energy… Continue reading

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Bless the Mothers

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Mothers have been on my mind lately. My friend just lost her mother last week to cancer. My own mother passed just a year ago now. Chipper, the mama squirrel who has been visiting me for peanuts for four years now has not come around for several months now, and I fear the worst. In my beehives, the queen mothers are working hard to keep their little universes afloat: Some are thriving, some have failed… Continue reading

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BLOSSOM: LISTENING FOR THE VOICE OF WISDOM

Wake up, Mommy!

Wake up, Mommy!

It is cloudy and cool, this pre-equinox day at MillHaven. When I walked out to the garden shed to check on Blossom O’Possum, the ground was still soft from the rains of the past few days. I did not expect to find him there in the shed, and I didn’t.

It’s been two days since I released Blossom for the second time. Between the first release a couple weeks ago and this recent one, he’d been living in my guest bedroom with his litter pan, fancy cozy bed, and bowls of tempting possum morsels like banana, cat food, pureed vegetables, and garden bugs. Oh, and my homemade yogurt. He could never get enough of my organic yogurt… Continue reading

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LATE SUMMER: THE BRAMBLES AND THE GOLD

Golden Rod flaming

Golden Rod flaming

The morning is overcast, with occasional bright bursts of sunlight. Up in the bee garden, late summer is making herself known on the tips of shriveling leaves, cracking flower stalks, and drooping sunflower heads laden with blackening seeds.

A few bright spots remain to sing of summer’s bounty and memories of lush abundance on the hillside of MillHaven. The goldenrod on her tall spikes lights up the yard like golden torches. The little blue and pink stars of borage still call to the bees. Deep purple asters are just beginning to pop like firecrackers… Continue reading

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ON BLOSSOM O’POSSUM, AND EXISTENTIAL DREAD

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Blossom sleeps in my slipper.

Last evening I sat nestled in the grass in the peach hues of the late-summer gloaming. Clippers in hand, I sat sifting dried stalks of phacelia through my fingers, breaking their seed heads into a paper bag. Across the yard in the still of twilight, the swift whose noisy nestlings sing in our chimney was busy diving headfirst to her babies carrying the last bugs of the day. Bella and Lucy, our Muscovies, wandered the bee yard on their short, thick legs like a pair of floating barges moving along green rivers of grass… Continue reading

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