Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

It's springtime here in California. Don't hate me because I live here, oh New England friends. It's not my fault you're still surrounded by snow when I can hear birds chirping outside my window. You can't blame me for getting out the summer clothes and planning on wearing a short- sleeved shirt later today when it warms up... can you? If it makes any difference, Todd considers himself seriously deprived because of the lack of snow here and is determined on finding a way to attend Dartmouth so that we can move to New Hampshire next year. I keep trying to tell him that someone who declares "I shouldn't have to wear a sweater in my own house!" when I scolded him for turning the heat up while he was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt will likely not acclimate easily to New Hampshire winters but he's a stubborn one and may have to find out for himself.

Nevertheless here in the central valley entire orchards (chances are some of the the fruit and nuts in your grocery store come from right around here*) are gloriously awash in tiny pink or white blossoms. Todd and I went for a walk around our condo complex the other day after  dropping the kids off at the bus stop and we saw two frogs in the pond. They were... making more frogs. Also we saw our resident Giant KoiTM and a pair of ducks who are hopefully (though not at that very moment) making more ducks so we'll have ducklings again in a few months. While the kids were gone over the weekend we saw five turtles, countless tiny koi plus the trademarked giant one, rescued two frogs from the swimming pool and saw several more frogs in the pond. Some of them were...making more frogs. Speaking of which I consider it my duty to educate you about the fact that apparently frogs can swim while they're...making more frogs. Stuck together, as it were. Todd and I accidentally startled one pair and then snickered like teenaged boys when they swam frantically away in tandem. Oh- we also saw lots of snails, though they're not as exciting since we see them all winter long. And a chicken!! but I'm getting ahead of myself.

* Yes, ha ha, we are all fruits and nuts here in CA. Now be quiet and stop bothering my grownup readers, DAD.

A few weeks ago we saw some sort of large bird of prey sitting in a tree visible from our balcony. It was, frustratingly, just close enough for us to figure that it was some kind of raptor without being able to see any more detail than that. I like identifying birds, so I was cursing the fact that we do not own a pair of binoculars. Earlier this week though, I saw the same bird fly out of a tree right over our heads while I was walking the kids to the bus stop. The tree was just a few yards away from the bus stop and it seemed like there was some sort of large nest being built. The bird flew back and forth a few times and gave a distinctive laughter-like cry. Clearly he was not happy about the humans under his tree.

I went home and did some googling and figured out that we have a Cooper's Hawk living on our street. This is the time of year they build a nest in order to start a family. T and I walked the kids to the bus yesterday and we saw one bird (sure enough there are two of them, though I haven't managed to see them closely enough to tell the male and female apart) fetching twigs for the nest. We went walking on the nearby bike path and we saw quite a bit of our new neighbors. They apparently hunt in the empty fields by the bike path where lots of plump and juicy ground squirrels live. I found a pellet on the ground under the nest this morning (hawks eat cute wittle fuzzy things whole and then hork up pellets containing fur, bones & other indigestibles, just like owls!) and was sharply reprimanded from above when I stopped to look at it. I plan to be on the lookout for a pellet that hasn't been trampled by schoolchildren so that we can take it home and dissect it with the kids because I am weird like that. I mean, scientific. I am scientifically inclined that way.

The chicken was a bit more confusing. We startled it poking (pecking?) around in a front yard a few houses down from the corner the bus stops at. It's an extremely suburban neighborhood, not the type of place you'd expect to see a chicken, but then we seem to attract them. Before I "met" them (in person) Todd and the kids had an abandoned chicken nesting in the basement well under their kitchen window in North Carolina. We chicken-napped compassionately relocated it to my uncle's house in South Carolina on the Great Cross-Continental Road Trip of '10, also known as "Our second date." Therefore clearly random ownerless chickens are drawn to our family in some strange way. However we fear for this one's continued existence. You see Cooper's Hawks used to go by another name... Chicken hawks.


Amanda in RI said...

Now I need to watch Looney Toons. "I say, I say...come he-ah boy!"

Sus said...

I'm going to get chickens someday. I will even name one after you :). Chicken Jess!