Slogging through July

July finally showed up in all of its, well, Julyishness. This week has been full of high humidity and temps (along with random thunderstorms that pop up) and it’s been more fun to stay inside than out. I have done my best to try to stick with my exercise routine – getting up and walking about 6 a.m. before the heat really sets in and getting 2-3 miles in. It’s usually these walks when I get to spot the best wildlife. Fawns abound this time of year, and I enjoy seeing them – that is, when their mothers are not fixated on licking every last bit of seed out of my bird feeders.

I have never been one to be really consistent with keeping a bird feeder full, but this year I went all out and purchased one of those multi-tier feeders with hooks, spikes, and dishes for all sorts of food. In the spring, I put orange slices out for the oriole, and they seemed to love that until they moved on to greener (juicier?) pastures. Now I fill the majority of the feeders with a standard ol’ variety of bird seed, then I fill the dish and one feeder designed like a schoolhouse with what I call the “good” food. I suppose it’s like the people who love nugget ice, calling it “the good ice.” This food is spendy (at least to me, it is), but the birds love it. Each morning, I take a red Solo cup and fill each feeder with one cup of food. After that, I sit back and watch the influx of birds as they flock in for their all-day grazing party. I desperately need a bird book, for my bird-identifying skills are limited, but I know I have the standard variety of Iowa birds, such as blue jays, cardinals, cowbirds, mourning doves, woodpeckers, and a bunch of little tiny brown birds that I have not identified but are probably some type of wren or sparrow. Oh, and the squirrels. Don’t forget the freaking squirrels. So far, the squirrels are pretty content to sit on the ground and eat the leftovers, but there’s one that I call “fatty” that likes to try to scale the pole and get up to the cup where I keep the “good” food. Fatty also likes to chase away any other squirrels that dare to venture close while he is enjoying his meal. Fatty is a brown squirrel, but there’s one little gray squirrel who seems to walk everywhere rather than hop (which makes him distinctive), and every time he comes creeping up on the buffet, Fatty chases him away. At least, I think it’s a him. I might want to read up on the gender identification of squirrels while I’m looking up various bird species.

Anyway, the bird feeding station is a hit, and sometimes I just sit and marvel and how busy it is. Birds, squirrels, and bunnies move in at various times of the day, and sometimes they’re all there at the same time. All it takes is one blue jay to make the birds scatter, however. Then it’s “big gulp” time for that dude. I am amused at how they will go to the dish of “good” food and just wolf it down like they’ve been starving for days.

I have thought at times that it would make for a relaxing live video to shoot the bird feeding station with the pond gurgling in the background. And then I remember that my A/C unit is right next to there, and during this time of year that is all that would be heard on the video.

Despite the heat this week, it has been fairly pleasant at night, especially once the sun ducks behind the trees surrounding the property. The other night, as the clear sky reflected lightning from a tower of storm clouds 40 miles away, I sat outside for a few moments around 11 p.m. and listened to the pond while my hyperactive dog took one last gander around. It was quiet, and it was humid enough to make sitting there pleasant, and I reminded myself that sometimes it is important to take these little moments of zen. My crappy cell phone does not do the best with nighttime pics, but this gives you an idea of what my view was.

A month from now, I’ll be back in the classroom, and these moments of zen will be more important than ever.

Cheers to the rest of July!

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