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It is December 17th.

There are bluebirds house-hunting in the garden.

They start early--I've heard of them looking at prospective real-estate in January, and I won't swear this is out of historical range--but god, it seems early. I feel the urge to apologize to them. The garden is a shambles, it's been cold and wet and miserable and I haven't felt any desire to get out and spread cow manure on the garden.

Today is a blindingly sunny day, not horribly cold, and more birds than usual are out in the garden. I usually don't see bluebirds all the way back here. They like the neighbor's open yards. (Some day I will sink a pole in the grassy area by the driveway entrance and set up a bluebird house, but sinking poles in this clay is a grim prospect.) We've also got a smattering of woodpeckers--not uncommon, but there's a flicker and those rarely wander into the garden. They were extremely common when I lived in town, but for some reason, my current yard doesn't appeal to them as much.

A golden-crowned kinglet seems to have settled in here for the winter, much to my delight. Thrush-Bob is still demanding mealworms on the deck. (Kevin slogs out in the morning, chanting "Blood and mealworms for my lord Thrush-Bob!")

Everything's kind of dormant and in stasis right now...but dude. Bluebirds. There's a thing.

Also posted at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there!

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I hate you in your wisdom of leaving Minnesota. It is a beautiful warm day here today. Gray, +28F and only about a foot of snow on the ground.

Enjoy your garden and work on it at your own pace, I will think about growing things in a few months.

It terrifies me that you felt the need to add the + in front of 28F. It implies that -28F is a freaking option. *shudders*

Not only is it an option, but it is a temperature that happens most years, usually not until January or February though.

So far the coldest it has been in Minneapolis this month is -11F. Near where my parent live in the colder part of the state they have had -29F weather already.

Frozen wasteland is not an inaccurate description.

Geez. Moving from the south to central Kansas was crazy enough (what is this white stuff?!). First time I'd ever dealt with whole weeks below freezing. At least we never dipped below 0F.

Also makes my Minnesotan grad student friend who would happily run in a tank top when it was about 30F in January down in Arkansas. Compared to home, it must have felt like a heat wave.

I used to go to a convention in Atlanta in early January each year. It was generally mid-positive 50s Fahrenheit. You could easily tell roughly where anyone was from by what they wore to go to dinner in:

I (Chicago) and the Minneapolitans generally just went out to the car without additional clothes: in the corduroys and turtlenecks we were wearing to deal with the irregular hotel climate control.

The locals put on what I consider medium coat-age: heavier than a slicker, not puffy, sometimes with a scarf, almost none bothered with a hat or gloves.

Then there was the poor lone Floridian, in a Michelin Man coat, hat, scarf, EARMUFFS, and two layers of gloves. He looked like he was ready to do the Iditarod. :->

Also, even up here, 20degF is much colder in early November than it is in February, because of what you've gotten used to around it. Likewise, 50 is fricken egregiously unfair the first time you it it in September, but by March it's cause for hallelujahs and leaving your coat entirely at home!

-28 is not a particularly big deal in Minnesota. Sure, even the locals will admit it's very cold and wrap up, but the real horror is the odd occasions it hits -50 or thereabouts. Schools can be and have been closed for cold.

This, let me add, does not happen every year.

Put out live mealworms and all sort of birds show up. We too get the bluebirds.

I sorta love Kevin, for that line alone.

(Clarification: in a non-threatening, hands-off, friendly Platonic way, of course.)

Digging deep enough to set a sturdy post in clay... that's one of those jobs where hired grunts suddenly look really nice. Or, you have teenagers about, right? :P

I had a ruby crowned kinglet fluttering around my front porch a few days ago. Such twitchy little guys.

Inspired by you, I've finally started a yard list, too -- though it's a little week, since I've lived in the house four years and I know there's things I've forgotten, and I stopped feeding birds when I got cats (insert moaning about cat angst and ethical cognitive dissonance here). It does include a salamander, though, and i'm hoping it'll help me appreciate the bugs more.

The male house sparrows here (in northern CA) are already house-hunting and staking out turf, but then again, they're house sparrows. They're weird.

Which reminds me, if you do get a bluebird nestbox up, you'll probably have to take precautions to keep the house sparrows out (unless, for whatever reason, your area is low on house sparrows to begin with). I've heard some pretty gnarly horror stories about what can happen to bluebirds if house sparrows decide to move in.

Oddly enough, we are almost entirely sans house sparrows in the yard. Don't know that I've ever seen one. They hang out in town, but the pickings are too tricky a few miles out.

Y'know, they can be strangely patchy like that. It's similar here in my current city: you only ever find them at a few distinct spots around town and almost never at neighborhood birdfeeders. They love the grocery markets, the co-op, and the big dairy barn on campus, but they don't hang out in the residential areas. Which is odd because while there ought to be plenty of decent pickings and nest cavities in the city, the birds just aren't there.

In contrast, my parents' place in DC is swamped with house sparrows. You can't feed anything without attracting a sizable gang of rowdy house sparrows to the yard, which will line the fence, their little beady eyes staring judgmentally and impatiently into your soul, as you refill the feeder. They nest anywhere they can find a nook, be it gutters, eaves, or drainpipes (doesn't always end well for bird or homeowner).

(I'm hoping to research these lil' bully birds as part of my graduate program... yes, they're nasty, yes, they're invasive, yes, birders and everyone else hates them, but I find something kind of charming in their sheer assholishness and durability)

When human life busy, suddenly look back, everything will be attributed to insipid, calm. Ordinary days, we always keep quiet zhiyuan, mood and attitude to smile to the life, cherish the good, will feel real, flatly light life is true, happiness, happiness is in the heart of every one of us.

Live or freeze dried meal worms?

I had FOUR Trumpeter Swans fly over my head while I was in my backyard today. Holy cow, they have loud wings!

"What's that noise!?"
*looks up frantically*

GNARRGH AAAARGH AAARGH You just started up an earworm of Zippety Doodah in my head. You know, all that "Mister Bluebird on my shoulder", etc., etc., etc. AAAAAAAAARRRRGH.... Still. Bluebirds; that's pretty neat. Pardon me now, must go squeegee out my brain.

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