Most days, fol­low­ing a brief period of cof­fee and news con­sump­tion, I launch into a caffeine-inspired frenzy of laun­dry, house tidy­ing, email, writ­ing and client-related or other work. Now that we are empty-nesters and week­end soc­cer and school events are a thing of the past, week­ends are often filled with bread and cake bak­ing, errands, major clean­ing or repair projects and—in season—gardening.

But some days…

Well, some days I just can’t quite seem to fig­ure out what to do. I don’t feel par­tic­u­larly inspired by any poten­tial plan. Do I want to sew? Nah. Do I want to make jam? Meh. Do I want to re-arrange the book­shelves? Not really.

Today was one of those days. I spent about 45 min­utes half-heartedly pick­ing up one project and putting it down, wan­der­ing around and look­ing at all the things that needed doing. Noth­ing was really cap­tur­ing my atten­tion. So I was stand­ing upstairs, look­ing out the win­dow and pon­der­ing my lack of enthu­si­asm. That’s then I saw them.

The cedar waxwings are here!

Cedar Waxwings on Win­ter King Hawthorns. (Click on photo to embiggen.)

The cedar waxwings only make an appear­ance here once a year and it’s always within about a two-week period in Feb­ru­ary. In 2009, they were here on Feb­ru­ary 11—yes, exactly three years ago today. In 2010 and 2011 they were here Feb­ru­ary 19. That’s impres­sively reg­u­lar for a group of ani­mals with­out the ben­e­fit of a Google calendar.

Cedar Waxwings on Win­ter King Hawthorns. (Click on photo to embiggen.)

The big attrac­tion for the cedar waxwings are the Win­ter King Hawthorns that line the dri­ve­way clos­est to our house. They are full of lus­cious red berries even in Feb­ru­ary. The cedar waxwings fly in in a huge flock, perch­ing in the trees sur­round­ing the hay­field. You can hear them chat­ter­ing away and see them swoop­ing down in groups of three and four, help­ing them­selves to the berry banquet.

Within three or four days, the trees will be denuded of ever last berry and the cedar waxwings will move on to the next stop on their annual itinerary.

Nat­u­rally, I was inspired to whip out the cam­era and the honkin’ big lens. It didn’t mat­ter that it was cold and a lit­tle driz­zly. I finally had found my project. Good thing I was stand­ing around gaz­ing out the windows!

Cedar Waxwing in Win­ter King Hawthorn (click on photo to embiggen.)

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Harry (enter­ing the house): What is that hor­ri­ble smell?

Me: Smell? You mean dinner?

Harry: No, worse than that. It smells like Sarah was sprayed by a skunk again. Did she?

Me: No skunk. Now that you men­tion it though, there is a rank odor in here.

Harry (fol­low­ing his nose): UGH. It’s these things!

Me: By “these things” do you mean the hyacinths?

Harry: Is “hyacinth” the word for stinky flower?

Me: Aren’t they pretty? I forced them in these cute lit­tle hyacinth vases.

Harry: You forced them to do what? Smell bad?

Me: No, silly. Those are the bulbs you kept ask­ing me why I was keep­ing them in the refrig­er­a­tor. But now that you men­tion it, I have had a dull headache since they started bloom­ing. But aren’t they pretty?

Harry: Okay, but they stink. Can you put them some­where we can see them but can’t smell them?

Me: Good idea.



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Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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