|Mom and Dad with seven of the great-grandkids in 2008. |
Two more were born after this, and Mom made a quilt for every one of them.
There were other moments of sadness in January, too. Shortly after the first of the year, we lost my garden buddy Tarzan, who had been suffering from diabetes.
At the end of the month, we also lost our granddog Bear. A Mastiff, he was a rather intimidating sight to strangers at the door, but in reality he was a gentle giant.
Youngest grandson loved his big old Teddy Bear.
All in all, it was a lousy January.
And here it is March...
Weather-wise, we haven't had a bad winter. January was one of the warmest Januarys on record, and I don't think we've had a day below zero (-18 C) all winter. We had only one really bad day when the wind, more than the few inches of snow, caused hazardous driving conditions and forced all the schools to close.
Snowy days like those are the best time to hunker down indoors and enjoy a little bird-watching from the comfort of a warm living room. The usual feathered friends appeared at the feeders, like this white-breasted nuthatch.
And the friendly tufted titmouse.
Even the red-tailed hawk decided to come in for a closer look, though I don't think he was interested in the feeders. He stuck around for awhile, and I certainly hope he didn't find any little birds for his lunch here.
The male downy-headed woodpecker came by for his favorite suet treat, and then the female also appeared.
They weren't the only couples to visit, however. On one snowy day, we counted at least 5 pairs of cardinals foraging on the ground and at the feeders. Perhaps they were checking out the premises for suitable nesting places soon?
The cardinal is our state bird and my personal favorite.
I love their bright red coloring, especially against a backdrop of snow.
The red-bellied woodpecker, once a rare sight here, has now become a permanent resident, I think.
There have been many other visitors, too, including the blue jays that I wasn't quick enough to capture in a photograph. But the sweet little chickadee is a cooperative photo model.
Since the beginning of February, the weather has been fluctuating wildly, to say the least. One day the temps hit 70 for a new record, and daffodils could be seen poking up through the soil all over the place.
And just a few days later, we were back in full-blown winter. And no, I know this isn't a stand of daffodils--it's sedum--but the daffodils were nowhere to be found on this snowy day. I think my poor daffodils are confused, thinking one day that spring is here, only to hide away and go into hibernation the next.
The weather experts are predicting an early spring, and I, for one, would be so happy if they are right.
Spring is my favorite season, and I always find my spirits lifting this time of year no matter what the winter has been like.
In the past week, we have seen signs of its imminent appearance, first with my small stand of snowdrops that appeared suddenly through all the leaf debris.
And just a few days later, the first crocuses opened up. All happy signs of so much more to come--I can't wait!
Usually, at this time of year I join in with Beth at Plant Postings for her Lessons Learned meme. I haven't had much time to think about gardening this past winter, so I can't say I've learned much about it recently. But I certainly have learned some life lessons these past few months, and there is one in particular about my mother that I always want to remember. My mother was a typical woman of the 50's--a housewife who put family first. She cooked three meals a day from scratch, sewed most of my clothes, tended a large garden and canned enough produce for the winter, and drove a tractor when my Dad needed her help. She never wrote a book, built a building, or was famous in any way. Yet when friends and neighbors came to offer their condolences after she passed, they all commented how she had helped them at one time or another, always with a smile on her face. The comment I heard over and over again was that they had never heard my mother say an unkind word about anyone. I know they were sincere, because I honestly never heard my mother say anything negative or unkind about anyone either. What a wonderful legacy! I only hope I can follow my mother's example more in the coming years. This world could certainly use a little more kindness.
Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.