Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Haiku



Traveling this high
mountain trail, delighted
by violets.


--BASHO

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Biltmore Estate Spring Gardens, Asheville



Since I have written about the Biltmore Estate before, here I will focus on the gardens. A friend invited me to go with her to tour the outdoor gardens at the Estate one lovely spring Sunday afternoon.

The ride in from the main gate was beautiful with stands of bamboo and flowering shrubs lining the drive. The gardens are located to the left of the main house and parking is just past the Walled Garden. The gardens and landscaping were originally a project of Frederick Law Olmsted, highly sought after during his time.

The prime time to view the gardens is in spring. During early April the gardens are a profusion of the last of the daffodils, tulips, bright yellow and white forsythias, pink cherry and magnolia trees. Later in the month dogwoods and redbuds add their two cents worth to the abundance of color.

In May the azaleas, poppies and snapdragons are the featured flowers. It is hard to visualise such a large expanse of land covered with flowers. I am sure it must look similar to the tulip displays in Holland in spring.



The Italian Garden boasts three pools, manicured lawns and ornate statuary. The Shrub Garden features all sorts of flowering shrubs in delicate pinks and whites. The Walled Garden that day had mainly daffodils and small blue pansies and hyacinths. It was too early for most of the tulips to be blooming.




The glass Conservancy designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, is a grand testament to the turn of the century with its ornate details. This building houses the plants and flowers used for decorating the main house and bedding plants for the gardens. Inside here are also the Palm House and Orchid House filled with ferns, tropical plants and exquisite orchids of all colors and sizes. It would be a pleasantly warm sunny place to visit in the cold winter months.



The Spring Garden veers off on path of its own past huge banks of forsythias, cherry trees and various evergreen shrubs. Further down the path the Azaleas (not in bloom when we went) brighten the day with their intense pinks, oranges and deep mauve. Visitors were camped out for the day with blankets on the lawns and Frisbees to pay catch.

We hiked through the gardens for several hours, coming back to the main house to to use the rest room and peek in the shops.





To top of this beautiful spring day we drove over to the Inn at Biltmore Estate near the Winery. Along the route we had a great view of the French Broad River, full from spring rains. Walking paths line the river in many spots and visitors were taking full advantage of the warm sun. At the Inn we sat ourselves on the balcony of the main foyer overlooking the river and ordered sodas and snacks. Many others had the same idea and the tables were full. Surprisingly the drinks were very inexpensive - $3 for a never ending flow of ginger ale, cherry coke and a triad of nuts, wasabi peas and chex mix to nibble on. In cooler months you can order the coffee tray at the same price and towering heaters keep you toasty warm while enjoying the view from the balcony. Completely relaxed and worn out form the day we finally headed off home.

In April the Biltmore Estate is open from 10 - 7 daily with the gates closing at 4pm. Full admission is required to view the gardens and access the Inn. Call ahead for more information and reservations/tickets. Their number is 800.411.3812 or go to www.blitmore.com.

Corner Kitchen, Asheville



This is one of my favorite restaurants. I love the location - in the Biltmore Village in one of the original Victorian homes that were built for the Estate workers. The building is over 100 years old and had been lovingly restored by the owners.

The kitchen is wide open so you can see the care and expertise that goes into your meals. There is seating in a parlor room to your right, some seating in front of the kitchen and then in a glass porch with a bar on the far left of the house. Outside in warm weather a small courtyard has seating under umbrellas. I prefer the glass porch or outside. Upstairs there are smaller rooms for overflow or private parties.

We arrived in time for Sunday Brunch. The wait staff is friendly, charming and very attentive but not overly so. Brunch offers salads, meat dishes and waffles along with egg dishes. I ordered the cream cheese omelet with potatoes. My friends ordered the make your own omelet. We all enjoyed our entrees and would have stayed for dessert (I highly recommend their homemade desserts, especially the souffles) but we had a schedule to keep. Alcohol is only served after noon on Sunday so if you want a drink with Brunch, go later in the day.

The food is fresh, using local produce when possible. I would call the menu eclectic southern - lots of traditional southern favorites with a new twist. Breakfast on weekdays features pancakes, eggs and fruit dishes ranging from $5 - $8 per entree. Lunch consists of sandwiches, salads, burgers and their special chicken pot pie which my mother loved. Prices range from $5 to $9. The dinner menu changes weekly and will include items like meatloaf, Mahi Mahi and steak fillet. Prices top off at $25 per entree but start at about $4 for soup. Brunch prices start out at $5 and goes up to $13 for the entrees.

We have eaten here for a number of years and take everyone here when they visit us. We have never had a less than perfect experience so do check it out.

The Corner Kitchen, located at 3 Boston Way in Biltmore Village, is open for breakfast and lunch Monday - Saturday: 7:30am - 11 and 11:30am - 3pm. Dinner is served everyday from 5pm on. Brunch is offered on Sunday from 9am until 3.

For more info and to make reservations (a must) call 828.274.2439. Their web site offers a look at the menus at www.cornerkitchen.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Turkey


Life in the mountains seems to bring lots of day to day surprises and turkey sightings are my favorite.

Up in the High Country they liked the wooded hillsides of the country clubs nearby. Huge flocks would congregate in one yard, on the golf course or just in the road. I never expected to see so many here in the Asheville area. I know I have turkeys on our acreage but have not seen them myself - just a feather here and there or scratchings under a tree where they forage for acorns that the squirrels have buried.



My husband works in Arden and just before you get to a busy intersection a small flock hangs out in the yard of one house - they may put food out for them. I guess the tom decided to try his hand at traffic duty one day and caused chaos on the main road by walking around in the center tail out in a fabulous display! He survived and is back in the yard for now.

A friend lives in North Asheville and the turkeys have pretty much taken over her neighborhood. If you don't drive aggressively and forcefully through the streets there, the turkeys will engage you in a game of chicken! And they will win. Most people back down.

The funniest story from that neighborhood concerns the kids waiting for the school bus. Usually it is still dark with a bit of early light filtering through the trees and the kids will be huddled in a group half asleep waiting for the bus to pull up. Suddenly something dark and large drops out of the tree next to the group. More huge dark lumps follow like invading paratroopers, sending the kids screaming and running trying to avoid the attack. They realize it is only the turkeys. They roost up in the branches and drop down at dawn much to the kids surprise!

Let's learn more about these crazy birds ---

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is native to North America.

Adult male Wild Turkeys have a small, featherless, reddish head that can change to blue in minutes; a red throat in males; long reddish-orange to greyish-blue legs; and a dark-brown to black body. The head has fleshy growths called caruncles; in excited turkeys, a fleshy flap on the bill expands, becoming engorged with blood. Males have red wattles on the throat and neck.

Turkeys have a long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings. The male is substantially larger than the female, and his feathers have areas of red, purple, green, copper, bronze, and gold iridescence. Female feathers are duller overall, in shades of brown and gray. The primary wing feathers have white bars. Turkeys have 20,000 to 30,000 feathers. Tail feathers have the same length in adults, different lengths in juveniles. Males typically have a "beard" consisting of modified feathers that stick out from the breast. Beards average 9 inches (230 mm) in length. In some populations, 10 to 20 percent of females have a beard, usually shorter and thinner than that of the male. The adult male normally weighs 11-24 lbs. The adult female is typically much smaller at 6.6-12 lbs. The wingspan ranges from 49-57 inches.

Wild Turkeys are surprisingly agile fliers and very cunning, unlike their domestic counterparts. Turkeys are very cautious birds and will fly or run at the first sign of danger. In flight they can reach a speed of 50 miles per hour. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile (400 m). Turkeys have many vocalizations: "gobbles," "clucks," "putts," "purrs," "yelps," "cutts," "whines," "cackles," and "kee-kees." In early spring, male turkeys, also called gobblers or toms, gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males. The gobble can carry for up to a mile. Males also emit a low-pitched drumming sound. Hens "yelp" to let gobblers know their location. Gobblers often yelp in the manner of females, and hens can gobble, though they rarely do so. Immature males, called jakes, yelp often.

Turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating hard mast such as acorns,nuts, and various trees, including hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinyon pine as well as various seeds, berries such as juniper and bearberry, roots and insects. Turkeys are also known to occasionally consume small vertebrates like snakes, frogs or salamanders. Poults have been observed eating insects, berries, and seeds. Wild turkeys often feed in cow pastures. They sometimes visit backyard bird feeders to search for seed on the ground. Turkeys are also known to eat a wide variety of grasses.

Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food. Early morning and late afternoon are the desired times for eating.



Males are polygamous, so they form territories that may have as many as 5 hens within them. Male Wild Turkeys display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings. This behavior is most commonly referred to as strutting. Their heads and necks are colored brilliantly with red, blue and white. The color can change with the turkey's mood, with a solid white head and neck being the most excited. They also use their gobble noises and make scrapes on the ground for territorial purposes. Courtship begins during the months of March and April, which is when turkeys are still flocked together in winter areas.

Males are often seen courting in pairs with both inflating their wattles and spreading tail feathers. Only the dominant male would strut and drum on the ground. The average dominant male that courted as part of a pair fathered six more eggs than males that courted alone.

When mating is finished, females search for nest sites. Nests are shallow dirt depressions engulfed with woody vegetation. Hens lay a clutch of 10-14 eggs, usually one per day. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days. The poults leave the nest in about 12–24 hours.

(Above information from Wikipedia!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Springtime in the Mountains



Spring in the mountains is a gradual process unlike in the North when winter lingers and spring comes in a rush and then it's over. Spring here is a gentle unfolding of smells, blooms and warmth and I savor every moment.




The North Carolina mountains are unique in that this is the upper most region for southern plants and the southern most region for northern plants - we have double the blooms for months on end.

It begins in February when the snowdrops poke through the frozen ground, followed by crocuses, daffodils, jonquils, Lenten roses and others. Violets are coloring the mountains where I live now and forsythia line the driveway with a brilliant yellow.




Bradford pear trees, looking like frothy Easter eggs shower white blossoms in the breeze. Cherry trees with wispy pink branches bloom next. The hillsides are colored with delicate peach, pink, white and mauve. The deciduous trees are budding and blooming - a softer version of fall but all the more beautiful after a bare bleak winter.



Happy Spring!

Book Review: The Carolina Mountains by Margaret W. Morley

This book is a reprint of the original edition printed in 1913.

The author Morley was a well educated and well off woman of her time. Born in Iowa, she lived from 1858 until 1923. She was an avid writer, promoting the understanding and conservation of nature and compassion for wildlife. She penned eighteen books for children, many illustrated with her own pen and ink drawings. Two other books were aimed at adults including this one.

She associated with the likes of Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Hooker Gillette in a community of artists in Connecticut. It was through Gillette that she visited Tryon, NC, located in the foothills of the Appalachians. She purchased a house here and began her travels throughout the mountains, collecting information and stories for her books.

Obviously this book is dated from the Victorian era but I found the descriptions of what the mountains were like almost a hundred years ago captivating. With the road system at the time very primitive, Morley traveled from village to village on horseback, on foot or in covered wagon, camping out if there were no accommodations. Pretty impressive for a Victorian woman.

So many of our North Carolina mountain towns, landmarks and customs are described in her travels including, Grandfather Mountain, Asheville, Flat Rock, Chimney Rock, Roan, Highlands. For history buffs, nature lovers and those who like to read non fiction, this book is a wonderful glimpse into the past, a basic text in the mountain geography and a cultural essay on the people's customs. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and my husband has already delved into it.

Folk Art Center and Allanstand Craft Shop



On the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few miles north of Asheville, sits the Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. It is surrounded by pines and dogwoods in a peaceful relaxing setting.

In the 1930's when the Parkway was just being built, a joining of the National Park Service and the Southern Highland Craft Guild took place. The Park Service wanted to create a facility to interpret the Appalachian mountain culture on the Parkway. In 1980 the Craft Center opened and now houses galleries, a library, archives, craft shop and information center/bookstore for the Blue Ridge Parkway and National Park Service.

The center is filled with all sorts of traditional and contemporary crafts of the Appalachian region. They also sponsor educational demonstrations and programs. During the summer months you can watch crafts being made in wood, textiles or clay. The guild membership stands at over 900 artisans selected by a jury for the high quality of design and craftsmanship reflected in their work.

I have shopped at the craft shop in Blowing Rock at the Moses Cones Estate for gifts for years. I love their jewelry, cards, pottery and wood works. Some of my favorite artists have been with the guild for a number of years and I have enjoyed seeing their work evolve over time.

The main gallery hosts changing exhibitions during the year. Check with their schedule online for free demonstrations and current exhibits. The Allanstand Craft Shop located at Milepost 382 on the Parkway, is open year round. Their phone number is 828.298.7928. Their web site lists the other galleries and shops in the state as well as one in Kentucky and another in Tennessee. Check out www.craftguild.com for all the information on the shops.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St.Patrick's Day!



St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays but how many of you know the information behind the symbols for the day?

The Shamrock
The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Irish Music
Music is often associated with St. Patrick's Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend, and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs.

After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her reign,Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the spot.

Today, traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass, or aluminum), and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).

The Snake
It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within two hundred years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

Corned Beef
Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick's Day to share a "traditional" meal of corned beef and cabbage.

Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick's Day at the turn of the century.

Irish immigrants living on New York City's Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

From www.history.com (The History Channel

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tod's Tasties, Asheville

I had been hearing about a restaurant on Monford Ave. for a while but never got over there. My husband and I stopped in recently for a quick lunch while doing errands.

Tod's is tiny and located on the left side of the street just past the Chamber of Commerce on Montford. You can't miss the red roof! When you go in, the front has an enclosed porch for outside dining in season and the kitchen/ordering station is just inside the door on the left.

Tod's is known for everything being hand made in house - breads, buns, biscuits, bagels and pasties using NC produced organic flours. Produce is sourced locally when possible. Coffee is free trade coffee and they carry local microbrews on tap. Pretty amazing considering the size of the place!

It is self serve - ordering at front and getting the food brought to you. Beverages, silverware and napkins are on the upper level. Seating is at a bar overlooking the front or at tables below on a lower level. The place is well organized, clean and the staff efficient and friendly.

I ordered the Tuna Melt on homemade wheat bread and my husband got Tod's special sandwich with cappicola, salami, Dijon mustard, Swiss on challah bread. Both of us were very happy with our meals. The bread was fantastic and fresh. We got a side order of Tater tots, my favorite. Nicely done, light and crisp.

This would be great place to come for breakfast considering they make it all themselves. (Note to self to come back.)

Tod's is open from 7:30am until 9pm. Call ahead for the dinner menu as it changes weekly. Breakfast is served until 11:30, lunch from 11:30 on. Prices range from $1.95for a bagel to $13.00 for a dinner entree. Most sandwiches run about $5-6.00. Located at 102 Montford - for more info call 828.505.3701.

Stop by and see what fresh food is for yourself!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Linville Falls, Before and After Hurricanes 2004





With all the rain we are having now, I thought it would be a good time to share these amazing photos of Linville Falls. I have written about the hiking trails here in an earlier post.

In September of 2004 the High Country got hit with 3 hurricanes, back to back to back. The latter two were just one week apart. We measured the rain and had received 18 inches during one storm before the gauge blew away! Both came after dark so we could not see where the Linville River was or how high it had risen. The Linville Fire Department was situated on the other side of the neighborhood bridge during the first hurricane but could not get to us because the river was over the bridge and cut us off.

We were lucky. The river came withing feet of our house but stopped there. Many of our neighbors had water up to their knees in their homes. By daylight we could see how high the river had gotten. One of our cars had been completely in the river before it started to go back down. Our neighbor Jerry actually caught a trout with his bare hands that was swimming in the vacant lot next to our house.

All this water continued down to Linville Falls damaging many trails and overlooks there. The park was closed for the rest of the season due to the damage.

I hope we never see another flood like that again. The last one happened during the 1940's and that too was very severe in the High Country.

Photos courtesy of Ray's Weather.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Full Moon Tonight


The full moon names originally came from the Native Americans that lived in the northern and eastern area of the United States. They named the recurring full moons a distinctive name to help them in keeping track of the seasons. The name was applied to the entire month in which the full moon appeared.

These names and variations of the names were used by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. The full moon for March is the Full Worm Moon, with the following name variations: Full Crow Moon, Full Crust Moon, Full Sugar Moon, Full Sap Moon. The reason the full moon in March was named the Worm Moon, as the sun increasingly warmed the soil, earthworms became active and their castings (excrement) began to appear.

Crows are out and about during March, the snow has a crust like surface, and March is Maple Sugaring season – the sap begins to rise in the sugar maple. Welcome to March and soon we will welcome Spring.


Full moon folklore - historical archives / Old Farmer’s Almanac

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Labyrinth Center, Fairview




It was a warm golden Sunday so after brunch I headed over to the Labyrinth Center in Fairview to walk the labyrinth. Wherever I go I try to find a labyrinth in that location. I guess I am lucky that this one is close to home.

Located on the grounds of a retreat center that also offers, Reiki treatment and classes, massage, foot reflexology, herb walks, herbal consultation and labyrinth design, it is a welcome respite from day to day life. The labyrinth sits on a knoll surrounded by tree covered ridges at the end of a dirt road. The quiet is blissful. There is a box at the base of the knoll to pick up brochures and leave a love offering.

It is a simple labyrinth of one circular path going inward to the center. The paths are lined with rocks and various mementos left by others. Two trees guard the entrance and I find as soon as I step between them the energy changes.

There is no one way to walk labyrinths, which have been in some form an integral part of ancient cultures like the Celts, Mayans, Greeks and Native Americans. A brochure is available at the site which explains one way to walk but I prefer to wing it each time.

I choose a problem or mantra to focus on as I walk and take slow deliberate steps. I always find that my breathing quiets like it does when I meditate. But then labyrinth walking is a form of meditation and prayer.

When I first came to this labyrinth, my husband and I had recently moved to the mountains and were on a spiritual quest that day to visit the labyrinth and then on to see Sufi dancers in Cullowee at the university. It was a stormy day in spring with driving rain. We got lost finding Fairview and hoped it would be clear enough to actually get out and walk. Once we arrived, the skies cleared just long enough to walk and we stepped up to the two trees.

It may have been the electrically charged air from the storm or the fact that this was my first time but as I stepped through the trees the energy in the atmosphere was palpable. I was filled with such intense emotion that tears ran down my face. As I reached the center a calm peace filled me and that stayed with me as I walked out.

My husband is not so spiritually inclined and was doing this for fun. But he even noticed the change as he stepped through the two trees. He said it felt like he was high or drunk the whole while he walked to the center and out. His perspective on the world was altered for the time he walked the labyrinth.

If you would like to try this walk, you can call the Labyrinth Center at 828 628-1706or visit them online at www.labyrithcenter.com

Sugar Beet Cafe and Deli, Fairview





A new restaurant recently opened in Fairview on Rte. 74A. It is located at 1185B Charlotte Highway in the old Huddle House store front next to the Eblen gas station and quick mart - not a very glamorous location but definitely worth going.

Sugar Beet, owned and operated locally, features breakfast and lunch. They offer eggs from free range hens, organic coffee and tea, local produce in season, meats from Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, breads from City Bakery and Boar's Head deli meats.

My husband and I stopped in for brunch on Sunday. There was a good crowd, despite the economy and the wait staff was friendly and helpful. I ordered the Sugar Beet Benedict special which changes daily. Sunday's was with spinach, eggs, tomato and a great Hollandaise sauce on English muffins. Don had the Down Home Breakfast with two eggs, biscuits, grits and a side order of sausage. We were both quite pleased with our choices.

The menu is extensive offering everything from eggs, pancakes, French Toast, omelets, sandwiches and build your own breakfast or sandwich. The food is fresh, healthfully prepared and served with a smile. Prices range from $5.50 to $7.95 per entree.

I loved the vintage decor of white and green tiles, red leather counter stools and red booths. The servers wear aprons with a cherry motif. The crowd is the usual eclectic Asheville with all ages represented.

If you are out this way, stop in for a quick bite of healthy local food. I predict this place will be around a long time.

Hours are Wed. thru Fri. from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. from 8:30 until 3. For more information call 828 628-0094. Happy eating!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring is Coming!





Lots of flowers are blooming in the yard...a sure sign spring is coming! The warm 60 degree days don't hurt either.

Daffodils, Lenten Roses, Jonquils and I am not sure what the blue flowers are. I still have to rake the old leaves out of the beds and get some seeds started for this year.

Luckily the previous owners years ago were landscapers and planted so many wonderful flowers, shrubs and vines all around the house. They have not been cared for recently but this summer we will change that!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Suet and Bird Deaths


There seems to be a trend of sick and dying Siskins and Goldfinches.

It looks like there may have been a severe Salmonella outbreak and yes the peanut butter recalls might be partially to blame. Suet containing peanut butter or peanuts has been recalled and once it is in the wild population it is spread through feces.

So if you see dead birds around your feeders or sluggish sick birds, dispose of the seed in the feeders, wash the feeders with a mild bleach solution and discontinue feeding for a few days to let the fecal material around the station get washed away by snow and rain.

To be on the safe side make your own suet with the recipe below from Birds & Blooms, Feb. 2009.

2 cups cornmeal
6 cups water
1/2 cup bacon drippings
1 cup flour
1 rounded teaspoon sand
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon red pepper
Raisins, nuts optional(avoid peanuts)
Mix cornmeal with water, boil and cool. Add remaining ingredients. Mix in enough additional water to bind mixture together and pour into small foil pie pans. Bake at 400 degrees until brown. Hang the pans in a tree and watch the birds flock to the treat.

Snow Day!




We finally got some measurable snow at our house! It came down fast and furious for a while there and left a couple of inches of wet heavy snow. The trees are lovely with the snow sticking to the branches.

My husband and I took a hike into our land while it was still snowing heavily. What a beautiful scene...all white, quiet except for the crunch of snow beneath our feet. The daffodils, already up and blooming were covered with snow. We saw a few animal tracks along with a couple of downed trees from the wind a few weeks ago.

Back at the house, the birds were flocking to the feeders. With spring coming closer we are starting to see more varieties of birds. This morning Dark-eyed Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadees were all visiting the feeders along with a Carolina Wren. There are lot of blackbirds around right now moving through. Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds are all around now as well.

This won't last long with our temperatures rising to the 60's by the end of the week.

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