Sunday, May 10, 2009

On My Way at Nature Remains

I am 21 minutes from Dayton looking down on Ohio from the plane. The brown earth of springtime lies open and bare before me. Along the meandering creek beds the greening has already begun. From my vantage point it looks like the bare brown heart of the earth is laid open with green arteries and veins flowing over its surface. It is the pulsing, pumping life of springtime and with it the breath of migration has begun. I will spend one night here before heading off to the New River Birding and Nature Festival.

Nina meets me at the airport and I find a slim soft spoken woman with wildly wonderful brown curls. We chatter all the way to her home like two little magpies in her car. It is an easy friendship. As the highway gives way to country roads I am looking out the windows trying to see whatever birds I can. My eyes drink hungrily of this foreign landscape. While the grass has already greened up, the trees are just starting to put forth their tender green leaves. A few trees still have their blush of red buds. In fact, I am amazed at all the tiny pink flowers of Eastern Redbud trees and the white lacy dogwoods in bloom. While I have come to love my desert home, these are the signs of spring that I miss.

The land around me is somewhat flat but soon gives way to rolling hills as we travel east. Small farms dot the roadside with ponds and trees and fields. A few are fenced with wooden fences looking like horse farms from Kentucky. The road is slender and winding as we drive into Nina’s yard. I am at Nature Remains.

Nina shows me the guest house where I place my stuff in the room. I quickly grab my camera and binoculars and we are off to the woods like two young wood nymphs. We barely step out the door when tree swallows swoop over head. The Eastern Bluebirds fly up to say “Hi” and a Carolina wren hops up to sing. Nina shows me her pond where a spotted sandpiper is probing the mud at the far end. I have never seen a spotted sandpiper before. Lifer! We wander past the old wise barn and out to the woods beyond. Cardinal pairs are everywhere and in the trees the Carolina chickadees chatter and call. While I have seen Mountain Chickadees and the more Common Black-capped, these are my first Carolina Chickadees. Lifer! All of these birds are my first Ohio birds.

We listen to the wind as it moves through the treetops in the woods. These are tall oaks and pines and spruce. There are ash and maples. These are the trees of my youth, the strength of the forest, and home to so many birds. At our feet the trilliums bloom, forest flowers, delicate and beautiful. Nina shows me her vernal pools, clear and dark in the forest, stagnant and green in the open field. We walk past the Tree Swallow nest boxes where the sweet female watches us unconcerned. She knows she is safe at Nature Remains. She knows that Nina is her friend.

I barely remember what we eat for dinner tonight. I only slept for 45 minutes the night before. I am so full of wonder and excitement. I am awed by this place I am at. Nina has a nature preserve as her backyard. We sit on the patio at dusk and hear the Barred Owl call. Then we hear its mate and we watch them move like ghosts through the forest above us. It is a magical moment and I am giddy with the memory of that haunting sound and the sight of the silent gray shadows moving through the tree tops as I drift off to sleep.

Birds Seen at Nature Remains 4-25-09

  1. Red-shouldered hawk
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Solitary sandpiper*
  4. Mourning Dove
  5. Barred Owl*
  6. Ruby-throated hummingbird
  7. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  8. Downy woodpecker
  9. Hairy woodpecker
  10. Eastern Phoebe
  11. Blue jay
  12. Tree swallow
  13. Barn Swallow
  14. Carolina chickadee*
  15. Carolina Wren
  16. American Robin
  17. Eastern Bluebird*
  18. Eastern towhee
  19. Field Sparrow*
  20. Song sparrow
  21. Northern Cardinal
  22. Brown-headed Cowbird
  23. American Goldfinch

* Life Birds (Though I remember seeing Eastern Bluebirds when I was young this is my first official sighting for eBird)


Anonymous said...

A lovely account of your day at Nature Remains Kathie.
(two young wood nymphs - a picture in my mind) {:)

Mary said...

I imagined Nina's home exactly the way you described it. I would be like a child in a toy store there.

Nice start to listing your trip birds, Kathie!

Kathie Brown said...

Roy, thanks! Glad I made you smile!

Mary, I'm just starting to get around to everybody and my grandbaby comes to spend the day today so I won't be blogging this afternoon or tomorrow morning as he is staying overnight! There is so much to write about and I wish I had taken more pictures!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Kathie--As much as I love my home, like anyone, I sometimes take what it offers me for granted. Imagining other paces, others' travels--I sometimes long for more.
Sharing it with another, especially one from across the country, is a wonderful reminder for me of all that is here.

Thank you for recording our time together so sweetly.
I, too, am picturing the wood nymphs! :-)

bobbie said...

How wonderful that the two of you could meet and share this beautiful time. You write so beautifully of it, Kathie.

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

It's so nice when we can cross each other's paths,it appears you both had an incredible time and could probably use are good night's sleep.

Anonymous said...

Next time, let's all meet at Nina's before we go to West Virginia. I'm sure she won't mind.

By the way, it's a good omen you saw a carolina wren so early in your trip.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I've imagined Nina's place just as you described it. What a wonderful way to start your birding vacation!

Gaelyn said...

Kathie, this is marvelous. What a wonderful way to end a long day of flight. Nina's place is just what you needed. Those spring memories tickle my heart also.

Your writing is so delightful to read. I always feel as though I'm there with you, in all my senses.

I look forward to more of this journey.

Dawn Fine said...

I am having a grand time reading all of the posts from the gals and guys that met at the New River festival.
What a wonderful post this was...I agree with Gaelyn..your writing is a delight to read.
I haven't commented on all posts..but I am always coming back to read..
I adore that part of the country...and am so excited to be staying there next winter again.

Diane AZ said...

I loved learning about the flowers, trees and birds at Nina's place. Beautiful post. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

Deborah Godin said...

So much fun following all of you connecting and record so many great sights and sounds!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing your stay at Nina's with us, Kathie. How wonderful and gracious of her to host you! Glad you got to add some life birds to your list right here in OHIO!!! Your list from the day looks very much like what mine would look like from our yard/woods. The fact that Nina still has Trillium in bloom gives me some hope - I thought I had missed it all already for the season, but maybe there's still a few lone flowers out there....