Wednesday, April 06, 2016


In recent years, I've not been photographing the birds that come to call at the farmette each spring. I don't use a telephoto lens and, too, I'm not a real birdwatcher. I don't much care if I've spotted one type over another. I just like their chipper music and their occasional blast of color.

And this is why I made a quick exception today -- the day is wet, gray, not too warm. That cardinal that came for a morning visit? He looks like he could be a featured model in a beautiful early spring canvas.

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And speaking of birds and color, I hereby announce that our new hens have finally given us their first egg. It came from Henny -- our Easter Egger girl (yes, that really is what she is called, unless she is an Ameraucana breed, but I don't think so). How do I know it's hers? Well, we've been warned: she lays color tinted eggs.

In Henny's case, the egg color is an unfortunate pale green. Actually, let's be honest here: it's a downright ugly green. It recalls to you the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, only of course, the inside of a Henny green egg is the same as a regular brown or white egg. All eggs start off being white, but as they pass through the chicken's oviduct, some breeds throw out a pigment -- genetically predetermined for the duration of a hen's egg laying career. Henny's has a brown tint to is as well -- a real charmer, no?

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Henny, couldn't you do something just a tad more cheerful?

As is our habit on rushed and gray mornings, we eat breakfast in the kitchen.

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I look out with longing at the porch. This stalled spring is not what you want to see after a season of little snow and dull colors outside. Never mind -- a few more days and we'll be on our way again to full blown spring.

I'm at Snowdrop's home in time for her breakfast and bath routines. The little girl is bouncy today! On the chair, off the chair, then on again, expounding.

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The cats watch her from a distance (as is their habit). When one parades close by, she offers him her penguin toy, but he will have none of it.

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She is used to this haughtiness on their part. She turns away and finds a more enthusiastic audience elsewhere -- in grandma.

She picks up a remote control and starts her game of running with it from one room to the next. They say toddlers don't really know how to run. Those who say this have not seen Snowdrop on the go.

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This is when I know it's time to suggest an outing. You need only ask -- "want to go for a walk?" -- and her whole demeanor changes. We hunt for shoes, jackets, a penguin companion. She is so anxious that the expedition not be derailed -- that she did not misunderstand, that it really is an outing, yes, right now, outside, yes, yes!

She breathes a sigh of relief once I put her in the stroller.

It's not exactly inviting outside, but it's just a tad warmer than yesterday (in the mid forties) and the rains have acquiesced -- holding back until we're done with our hour long adventure. Yes, we do go to the distant coffee shop and you might think that this is why Snowdrop loves the walks so much, but I don't believe that. She shows no impatience as we stroll through the neighborhood. She is interested in what she sees. And she seems happy to listen to the songs that I sing during our walks. They're always the same: going there it's this, coming back it's that.

At the coffee shop, we go through all our usual habits -- the waiting, the ordering, the picking up of the high chair...

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I almost don't bother taking out the camera -- same old crumb eating image, after all -- but honestly, it always makes me smile to see Snowdrop so captivated by someone at another table. This is what deserves a photo.

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The two women who catch her attention are delighted by her and I see that this at once pleases her and causes her to turn just a little more shy than she used to be. I tell them that we have this habit of coming down here -- an excuse for me to sip an espresso and for her to get a bit of another world in her day. The women are school teachers and we all wonder if modeling patience and quietness and yes, friendliness in a cafe stays with a child (they argue vehemently that it does). Snowdrop does display her best manners this morning by waiting patiently by the stroller, penguin in hand, until I am ready to put on her jacket and swing her inside.

I don't know a parent or a grandparent who does not want a child to be polite and respectful. Snowdrop is surely on her way to being aware of her environment and of the expectations that come with participating in something that is inherently an adult activity. (At home, she has her pranks that she loves playing on me to get a reaction going. Even at this age, the girl seems to sense that this is okay for home, but not for a coffee shop.)

In the evening, the rains threatened again, but another truck came by and dumped its load of chips on our driveway. We have to make a dent in distributing the shredded bark and so I heave loads onto crucial spots, while the cheepers watch, hoping that below that load of timber there would be a pot of gold. Or in the alternative -- worms. Or at the very least -- stale bread.