Nature blog: Heaven wears pink

This post originally appeared on March 25, 2012 on Nature Writing.

During my nature writing class at Chatham University’s MFA program, I had to keep a weekly nature blog. Each of us picked a place and spent thirty minutes in that place each week, and then wrote a blog post about it. I’ve just bought a house and moved away from this place, so I thought reposting these entries would be a good way to celebrate the time I’ve spent there. I’ll tag each one “natureblog2012.”

Eastern redbud


Pink has forced itself onto the hillside. The daffodils have wilted, and magenta hyacinths have sprung up–seemingly overnight–next to them. An eastern redbud shrub has also made its presence known, its capsule-like flowers crowning the wood pile thicket on the border between my yard and the abandoned house’s yard. In another month or so, the rose of sharon will bloom, in keeping with the pink theme.

The trees of heaven have finally budded, their compound leaves still tiny and admittedly cute. I will not feel that way when I’m sweeping them up in the fall, since the stems don’t compost as quickly as normal leaf matter does and throw my compost bin off balance.

Since the “dead” tree has turned out not to be dead at all, I climb as far up the hillside as I can to see if the non-tree of heaven has exploded into bud like the non-dead tree. I can’t climb very far up the hill because of the debris, so all I can see is that the tree has budded. Based on the different rates of bud growth, I will guess these two trees aren’t related after all.

Rose of sharon buds

The rose of sharon shrubs (which are apparently related to hibiscus shrubs), are in full bud. The buds are pushing the seed pods off, but many still of the empty shells still cling to the stems. Different types of plants have come up through the dead-leaf carpet, and I imagine I’ll have to start coming out with gloves soon to avoid getting attacked by the stinging nettle.

As I stand here, a black-capped chickadee swoops in front of me. At first, I think he might be a finch, but as he sits on a nearby branch examining me, I realize he can’t be anything other than a black-capped chickadee. He’s too freaking cute. His head is disproportionately large for his plump body, and he cocks it in a manner not dissimilar to the way my puppy does when she is curious about something. I try to train my camera on him, but as soon as I raise it, he flies away.

The cardinal

Almost as soon as I lower my camera, I catch sight of the male cardinal to my right. Birds have never been active when I’ve been in the yard before. Perhaps their mates are incubating eggs and need food, or perhaps their babies have already hatched and are hungry. Or perhaps they really just can’t ignore the nice weather. I manage a far-away shot of the cardinal before he flutters away.

Then the chickadee–or another one, I’m not sure–comes back. I try again to catch him on electronic film, but he’s too quick, almost as if he’s playing a game with me. I laugh, and figure it’s probably time to head back inside and leave the yard to the birds.


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