Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carrots for Christmas

Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium today
I am excited to belong to the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology project, recording the timing of seasonal events such as leaf budding, bloom times, and bird arrivals. I wrote about my blog's new purpose in March in the posting, Phenology: My New Favorite Science. (Please click on the highlighted print here for information.) Unfortunately, because I spent most of the last three months in England, I missed the unusual mild spell that occurred this December in NE Pennsylvania which followed an 'odd Autumn'.  As I looked around my garden today, though, I found evidence that this winter season had an unusual beginning, including buds on the blueberry bushes and spring bulbs making an appearance.

Crocus - December 27, 2011
Daffodil - December 27, 2011
 We planted a weeping redbud last spring...

Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis "Covey"
        ... on my recent return from England I found it looking interesting but rather bare sans leaves. 

also known as Twisted Lavender Redbud

On closer inspection, are those spring buds I see?

I am so happy with this redbud and can't wait until spring when it is in bloom. Meanwhile, I love the winter interest that the bark provides.

Back to the phenology project: A few miles south of here, dandelions are blooming, and new leaves have been spotted on the elderberries!

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is way down this year, and this is true in my garden. Early morning brings a few visitors to H.H.'s bird feeder, suet and heated water dish, but there are far less than usual for December. I photographed only three or four this morning ...
Downy woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

I spotted some sweet black-capped chickadees in the woodland walk, but haven't managed to capture them on camera yet.

One benefit of the mild weather is that the ground isn't yet frozen. This enabled H.H. to dig up some neglected carrots in the kitchen garden. Fresh, home-grown carrots with Christmas dinner -- a pleasant surprise.

It is great to be back in the USA and blogging again! Thank you so much, dear friends, for your good wishes and prayers during my three-month ordeal in England. My 92-year-old mother had a fall in September, then a mini stroke, which necessitated a long spell in the hospital. Mom lives alone and, as I am an only child, there really isn't any one else for her. I worked hard to make her house safe for her return from hospital, including replacing the coal fire with central heating, but soon found she needed more care. She didn't want to go into a home, but chose a flat in a beautiful sheltered-accommodation facility where there is 24-hour care. I packed and moved her possessions (she lived in that house for 40+ years, so a lot of boxes went to the charity shop). I installed her in her new flat two weeks ago. She is settling in, but it is a big change for her. However, I am feeling less worried about her now that she is in a safer place.

I am still feeling exhausted and I'm sleeping a great deal. I made three trips across the Atlantic in such a short time, and I am too old for all this jet-setting. But I had a wonderful, relaxed Christmas. Today, I will relax further as I visit all your wonderful blogs!

I hope your holidays are very merry and I wish you a healthy, and blessed 2012!

Pamela x

Black-eyed Junco

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