How do our fine-feathered friends withstand the snow and cold?

We just got hit with a couple of back-to-back snowstorms, bringing back painful memories of last winter here in the Northeast (four feet of snow!). I love to feed the birds and have often wondered how they survive blizzard-like conditions.

Just to show how wonderful creation can be, here is a very informative article about how birds survive storms. They may appear to be small and helpless, but obviously their Creator has equipped them well for survival.

Bryce Mullet Winter Robin
Bryce Mullet Winter Robin, Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s a tease:

With threats of a monster blizzard barreling towards the Northeast this weekend, many people are stocking up on supplies and planning movie marathons. But how will the birds survive the storm? The answer is threefold: Location, preparation, and adaptation.

Shelter in Place

When bad weather hits, birds generally seek shelter in microhabitats, such as inside a thick hedge, or on the downwind side of a tree—in this case, being petite has its advantages. Hunkering down in these spots can protect them from wind, rain, and even cold (it’s warmer closer to the ground). Birds that nest in cavities, including woodpeckers, bluebirds, and chickadees, can also hide out in their tree holes.

Click here to continue reading.

If you’ve never fed birds before in the winter, give it a try! You can be surprised with some amazing visitors:

bluebird on suet-640
Rare February visit of the Eastern Bluebird (5 of them came to the feeders!)

As you can imagine, this made me quite late for work! 🙂 God’s creation is a wonderful thing.

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Finding light and life in the midst of January stillness and cold

My January column for the Catholic Free Press

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The long Christmas break (along with the mild weather) is over and reality comes back with a thud. The prospect of a long winter ahead is daunting especially with memories of the epic snowfall amounts of last year still haunting many of us.

I once anticipated January with dread. Winter can be dark, oppressive and confining: the arctic air and biting winds… the deep snows burying the landscape … ice covering the streets and sidewalks … darkness that greets us when we rise and meets us at the end of each work day.

January is a quiet month. Birds don’t come to the feeder; their songs no longer greet me in the morning. Crickets and locusts have gone silent at night.

January was a month without life.

outermost-houseThen I read Henry Beston’s classic, The Outermost House. Beston chronicles a year of his life spent in solitude in an isolated one bedroom cottage which he built and christened the Fo’castle. Built in 1925, the 20 ft. x 16 ft. cottage was located at the edge of Coast Guard Beach in Eastham (now part of the Cape Cod National Seashore). Named a National Literary Landmark in 1964, it was washed out to sea by the Blizzard of ’78.

Originally planning to spent two weeks at the cottage, Beston was so taken with the “beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea … that [he] could not go.” During that year he wrote of the change of seasons and its effect upon his surroundings: the birds, animals, and insects; vegetation; the sand and the waves; the stars in the night sky. His prose is poetic, painting vivid pictures of color and texture. He describes the chaos and despair aroused by a devastating blizzard which nearly washed away his cottage, putting his life in peril. Yet even in the bleakest of settings, Beston’s writing inspires wonder and awe.

The Outermost House changed my perception of January because of Beston’s descriptions of arctic birds migrating down from the north, resting on the beach in the dead of winter. That description lifted me out of my own small circumstance and reminded me that life still goes on around me.

Brian Gratwicke Arctic tern, Flickr Creative Commons
Brian Gratwicke Arctic tern, Flickr Creative Commons

There was not only life, but light in the darkness: “Light came slowly into the world, coming not so much from the east as from some vague, general nowhere – a light that did not grow brighter but only increased in quantity.” It reminded me that by the end of January, the sky becomes pink again by the time I leave the office. The days are growing longer and the light, brighter.

January is not unlike time spent in the womb, waiting to be born. The caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly within the confines of the cocoon and breaks through into the sunlight. The baby, its delicate features forming nine months inside the dark, protective womb of its mother, emerges into the light at birth.

We just celebrated the coming of such a baby who brought his eternal Light into the world. His Light pierces the darkness and brings new life.

Ivan Saracino Christ's nativity, Flickr Creative Commons
Ivan Saracino Christ’s nativity, Flickr Creative Commons

So, rather than give in to the melancholy that can come with the conclusion of Christmas and the reality of winter, I seek instead to embrace this Light. It may be cold, snowy and dark outside but within, that Light will increase in brightness and quantity as I take advantage of the quiet of January to bask in it.

The arctic birds are returning to the Outer Cape. The days are growing longer. In the repose of January it is time to partake of the Light of Christ.

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Come and meditate on the words of Pope Francis

Are you enjoying the Pope’s visit as much as I am? I have been glued to EWTN and CatholicTV, listening carefully to the words of the Holy Father.

Do you find as I do that his words are pregnant with meaning? That you need time to process what he has said?

I do. My head is full. Today I took some time to walk outdoors to a favorite spot in the Wellesley College botanical gardens to sit, pray, think and sort out my head. I took pictures of this “outdoor chapel” and I will share them with you, so you can go there too to think on the words of Pope Francis. Continue reading “Come and meditate on the words of Pope Francis”

Fun Facts Friday: Dr. Seuss and historical women books; feral cat success story; fun in the mud; kayak adventures; singing for the Pope

Books

This book cover image released by Random House shows "What Pet Should I Get," by Dr. Seuss. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Random House
This book cover image released by Random House shows “What Pet Should I Get,” by Dr. Seuss. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Random House

“What Pet Should I Get?”, a recently discovered Dr. Seuss work, is on sale starting July 28.

Apparently. Dr. Seuss’ wife discovered a carton with manuscripts in the attic. AND, this book is just the beginning!

How cool is that???

historical novels

Novels About Real-Life Women Are Saving Forgotten History

Some fascinating women in history are explored through these interesting historical fiction novels.

Cats

people for happier cats

People for Happier Cats – Compassionate Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Pilot for Feral Cats

This is an amazing initiative by Tinykittens.com with a feral colony of cats. The first experiment, that of trapping a pregnant feral so that she could give birth in in a warm and safe place resulted in her four kittens being totally socialized and adopted out to loving families while the mother cat was returned to the colony where she would be the happiest.

forest kittens

Nature/Education

fun in the mud

Fun in the mud: Children benefit from exposure to nature

How many of us remember making mud pies? Hiking in the woods? Splashing in a stream? Observing birds and butterflies? Every kid needs to experience the outdoors and this program offers some amazing options.

Kayaking

kayaking through the caves

Kayaking Through the Apostle Island Sea Caves

Check out this video of a kayak trip through the Sea Caves of Apostle Island – heavenly!

veterans kayaking

War veterans say kayaking helps them cope with combat trauma

As an avid kayaker familiar with its therapeutic benefits, I can see how this would be a tremendous benefit to our vets.

Music

As you all seemed to enjoy the video I posted of Sarah Hart singing “Praying from a Broken Heart” so I thought I’d share this:
October 26, 2013 – Sarah Hart singing in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis and a crowd of 150,000; Sarah meeting the Pope at the end of the video

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Taking a moment to just … be …

Last Sunday was a stressful day. It was one of many.

Sometimes life travels too fast. The plate becomes full to overflowing. Carrying a load of worry and frustration can become oppressive.

Time to off load my burden … time to take out the kayak. Continue reading “Taking a moment to just … be …”

Latest Catholic Free Press Column – Lessons learned from crazy cat people

This is my latest monthly column for The Catholic Free Press.
I have now admitted in print that I am a crazy cat lady! 🙂

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I am a crazy cat lady. There, I said it.

While I have two cats of my own, that’s only the beginning. I also follow live kitten cams online and chat regularly with the many viewers. My main reason for visiting Facebook is to follow the lives of foster kittens after they have been adopted. Continue reading “Latest Catholic Free Press Column – Lessons learned from crazy cat people”

Fun Facts Friday: Nature from an app, powerful women, movie gotta-see, circus cats and more!

Ever wanted to bring the outdoors in, especially to your office?

USA, New York City, Central Park, Scenic waterfall
USA, New York City, Central Park, Scenic waterfall

Listening To Nature Sounds At Work Can Boost Your Mood And Productivity: Listening to the sound of crashing waves or a babbling brook isn’t just useful for helping you fall asleep — it may also help you to focus at work. Continue reading “Fun Facts Friday: Nature from an app, powerful women, movie gotta-see, circus cats and more!”

Fun Facts Friday: Nature from an app, powerful women, movie gotta-see, circus cats & more!

Ever wanted to bring the outdoors in, especially to your office?

USA, New York City, Central Park, Scenic waterfall
USA, New York City, Central Park, Scenic waterfall

Listening To Nature Sounds At Work Can Boost Your Mood And Productivity: Listening to the sound of crashing waves or a babbling brook isn’t just useful for helping you fall asleep — it may also help you to focus at work.

You can download an app for that!

WHITE NOISE
WHITE NOISE

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Who makes history, and why?
And who are the top ten most powerful women in the world, and why?
Check out Forbes most powerful women list

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Speaking of powerful women, anyone know who this is?

arabella mansfield

Hint: Think Alan Dershowitz in a dress …

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And yeah, I want to see this movie:

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on the kayaking front …

lewis and clark

Lewis and Clark go Urban Kayaking

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You think cats can’t be trained to perform? Check this out:

circus cat
The Amazing Acro-Cats: the touring circus that proves cats can be trained

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But no all cats are so cooperative (and I don’t blame the first one at all!)

Puyallup’s Siegfried and Roy?
Cats can turn wild when these groomers go to work

That’s it for this week.
Do you have a fun fact link to share?
Write me and I’ll share it with next week’s Fun Facts Friday!

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Fun Facts Friday: from Kayaking to Babs to Jackson Galaxy and beyond!

 Fun Facts Friday is back! Lots of great stuff this week:

kayaking in the front yardOn the kayaking front …

There’s been a drought on west of epic proportions when it finally did rain, check out how this man celebrated!
Kayaking in his front yard!
Continue reading “Fun Facts Friday: from Kayaking to Babs to Jackson Galaxy and beyond!”

A gift from my sister: It’s never too late to live your passion

My older sister is a wonderful painter so I commissioned her to paint the Be As One bridge. Isn’t it beautiful?

http://christinehoylehoude.fineartstudioonline.com/
http://christinehoylehoude.fineartstudioonline.com/

My sister has ties to this bridge just as I do. She wrote the following on her website:

“The Wellesley College Bridge is iconic to me as is Wellesley College.  My family and I have a rich history there.  It all started with my mother who attended Wellesley College many years ago.  My husband and I were married there followed by my son Jeff and Amanda, who were married right out on the lawn near to this bridge.  There are photographs of us on the bridge with Azaleas and Dogwood blooming on our wedding day.  My sister captured this image on a beautiful Spring day while she was out in her kayak.”

Christine is like me, acting on her passion after raising a family and helping to run a successful business. In her retirement she is making up for lost time, just like I am with my reading and writing. On her website she writes,

“So now I am becoming the artist I always wanted to be and feel so inspired by it every day!  It is NEVER too late to start and make that change to be who you really are.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Visit Chris’ website at http://christinehoylehoude.fineartstudioonline.com to see the rest of her paintings and to order your print.

 What is your passion? How are you living it? Are you like Christine and me, living your passion after your kids have grown? Share your stories.

Click to Tweet & Share: A gift from my sister: It’s never too late to live your passion http://wp.me/p2D9hg-CE

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