Just one designers ramblings about things that inspire me, observations, and advice about marketing.

Archive for the ‘Birdwatching’ Category

A day of new beginnings?

The very first work day of the new year is one that usually brings with it excitement and energy. Hanging up the new calendar and the turning over of the new year somehow allows us to beleive that we can kick start a new plans, break old habits and make new promises.

Why is it that a man made concoction such as a calendar can mean so much to so many people. Aren’t we really tracking the natural movement of the sun and the earth and the moon with the glossy gridded paper that hangs on our walls, or glows at us on our personal devices?

Didn’t we invent the calendar so that we would know when to reap and when to sow? Isn’t what that drove us to create the calendar in the first place?

I sometimes think that as a people we are too connected to the paper calendar, and too disconnected from the earth and her seasons, that we miss the rich information that is so easily gleaned without a grid or a guide.

No matter what my calendar says, I tend to “feel” the seasons by the light outside my window and the angles of the sun. And I am sensitive to the sounds of nature around me, that alert me to whats coming.

I write this while I sit in my office surrounded by technology and calendars and instant access to weather reports and the latest radar storm tracking. But when it comes right down to it, most of the basics can be found right outside my window, day or night, any season. And when I stop long enough and pay attention and learn the signs, I feel more balanced and prepared for what lies ahead.

No matter what the calendar tells me. I don’t need the weather man to know what’s coming when I see gray clouds roll in and flutters of birds flock to my feeders, I know – without radar – that sure as sure, a storm is rolling in.

When the turkeys band up and strut through the yard, fall has absolutely fallen.

When we are lulled to sleep by the hoot of the great horned owl winter is truly upon us.

We are entering into a transition from winter to spring when the red fox will start to call, with its frightening and alien yelp.

Sparkly branches

And the smell of the thawing earth is my sign that I need to start thinking about seeds, and plans for planting, and mud season.

I think every day that we get on this giant blue orb should be another reason to think about a new start, a new day, a new opportunity. Its a shame that people grasp so tightly onto one day of the year when each and every one of them provides an opportunity to start so many things.

Happy New Year, Day, Experience, Challenge, Observation.

And may each day of 2011, bring more.

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10 Minutes of “solitude” on a Sunday Morning

I moved back to Southern New Hampshire about twelve years ago. I actually grew up here, which in my area is a rarity. I came back here after spending many years in Boston pursuing my education and career. One thing that I have as a native New Hampshire-ite, that others may not, is an understanding of what this area looked like many years ago. Which gives me an appreciation for where we have come from, even if its a little bit tainted by my feelings about where we are going.

Part of knowing what New Hampshire was like when I was a child spurred me into making sure that my outdoor environment is a little bit of an echo of my memories of growing up here.

I’ve planted native wildflowers, left the white pines of all sizes throughout my property, have segmented a small area as a wild meadow, and in general we garden with the environment instead of fighting it. Here where the soil is mostly rocks, this is the key. They don’t call it the granite state for nothing. This means, very little actual lawn, learning to love rocks and ledge, and making peace with slugs and japanese beetles by planting things they don’t like quite as much as roses and raspberries. After years of finding out what works and what doesn’t we have coerced our sloped partially wooded yard into a flowering, fluttering oasis.

With the day to day of work, schedules and dogs and children I don’t always get the time to relish the environment that we have built. But Sunday morning the sun came up bright and happy, there was a lovely breeze that taunted me with its freshness, and I sat and I watched uninterrupted, for a whole ten minutes.

The birds and other animals that share our environment were pretty happy that morning, and I made a list of all that I saw or heard in that short ten minutes of personal meditation.

10 Wild Turkeys ( 1 hen and 9 chicks)
gold finches
house finches
chipping sparrows
2 house wrens
4 ruby throated hummingbirds
red winged blackbirds
grackles
robins
blue jays
1 flicker
1 hairy woodpecker
1 red bellied woodpecker
2 catbirds
Rose Breasted Grosbeaks
Chickadees
Tufted Titmouse
Cardinals
Chimney Swifts
Chipmunks
Grey Squirrels
Red Squirrels
Several butterflies of all shapes and sizes
And the call of a very happy sounding Carolina wren.

I’d say I had a quite a bit of company for my ten minutes of “solitude”, and enjoyed every moment of it.

Monday Rambling

Well its another Monday, this one seems all buffed up and ready to shine. The sky is blue and the sun is almost blinding after starting the morning with some light fog that gave the early hours a little bit of dreamy mystery.

It feels like a summer day, slow to start, and still like a cat, tense with energy and waiting to pounce. My morning walk had that same kind of energy. Within the wood, there was not much going on overhead, the birds were fairly quiet, and so I walked in the cool damp, knowing that later I would wish for that coolness again.

The soft pine needles and mud muted my footsteps. Dappled sunlight tricked my eyes and and lulled me into a bit of a trance. Step, step, step, step, stream ahead, jump, jump, jump to each stone to cross without getting wet. Then step, step, step almost to the edge, I see the open sky through the trees and BAM! Into the sunlight that lit up the world. the brightness woke me out of my trance and the sounds of dozens of birds singing and calling treated my ears to a festival.

The meadow was filled not just with birds, but with puffballs that were, in their former lives, dandilion flowers. Each poof composed of tiny seeds waiting for enough of a breeze to take them on their journey. But this morning, they were too damp to take to the air, each soft round fluff ball patiently waited for the morning sun to dry them out, with a glow was other-worldly. Each tiny hair on each tiny seed was covered with dew making each one look like a soft, feathery, luminous snowball.

Tree Swallow, BroadView Farm, Derry, NH

Inquisitive Tree Swallow

The tree swallows even seemed to shine more brightly than usual, or maybe it was just because they honored me with some eye-level aerodynamics.  Their metallic iridescence never fails to inspire and amaze me.

Now to carry that feeling with me all day and hope that it powers my creative pursuits.

A walk on the red side.

Lately I’ve been taking to walk one of our local conservation properties in the morning. The old farm property consists of fields, wetlands and woods preserved for eternity, for the habitat of a wide variety of plants, birds and animals. it also affords those of use who enjoy nature, to walk, birdwatch and otherwise envelop ourselves in the tranquility and peace that is found within a natural environment.

Every season there is something different to see. In early Spring most vibrant are the red-winged blackbirds with their stunning carmine red epaulets. They flit about strutting their stuff, establishing territories in their little part of the wetlands. They are some of my favorite birds, at least today.

Red Winged Blackbird, New Hampshire

Their flashy color is unmatched in its brightness, you can see these guys showing off from a great distance. I think the red almost glows because it is so perfectly set off by the stripe of buttery yellow and ink black of the rest of its feathers. The combination is truly a remarkable one, and I look forward to their return to our swamps every year.

Like designers, birds often use colors to get their job done. By dancing around and flashing their feathers they attract mates, ward off enemies and communicate lots of complex messages that we humans have only really begun to understand. In combination with song these messages are impossible to miss, and enjoyable to witness.

They also – like us – have great deadlines to meet. Up here in the North country, there are only a few short months to find a mate, nest and bring up a proper brood or two of chicks. Its important work, and they stop at nothing to ensure that they are successful, and sadly sometimes do whatever they can to ensure that their competition is not. But its a birds life, and they live it well. And I enjoy watching the process. Red Winged Black bird New Hampshire

Each morning on my walks I always find something inspiring to bring back with me to the studio. Today it is a few photographs and the knowledge that there is a world outside these walls that is so rich with material for the senses. It’s what keeps me going no matter what my own deadlines and obligations of today might be.

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