The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
December 1999

Feeding the Masses, December 17

Title of the Month: Root and Butt Rots of Forest Trees

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Feeding the Masses
Friday, December 17

Went out this morning (cold but not below zero) to feed the birds. The sparrows started lining up on the fence as I filled the two feeders, then waited, staring pointedly until I left, to start squabbling over who could get the most seeds out of the feeder the fastest. The aerial acrobatics are impressive.

Some birds ignore the perches and wait below for falling seeds. Sparrows are messy eaters, so the bottom feeders, as it were, probably get more food with less wasted energy than the fighter pilots. Eventually the pigeons will catch on and arrive and complicate things more. They are too big to use the feeders, so must wait below for charity.

I know to most people sparrows and pigeons are junk birds, but except for an occasional blue jay, crow or a cardinal, they are what we have in the city in the winter.

I first started putting out seed to amuse the cats. Dover will watch through the window for hours. It's very important to keep Dover amused in the winter unless one wants to play string endlessly or have him chase the very vocal Nelly all over the house. We don't feed the birds in the summer when the cats are out, only in the winter.

A few days ago I glanced out the kitchen window at the fence where I usually put a peanut or two for the squirrel, and caught a blue jay making off with it. First time I've seen a bird (besides a hawk) take advantage of a squirrel!

This morning the squirrel was carrying a frozen green tomato from the garden along the fence, came to the peanut, and sat there for several minutes trying to decide which one to carry away and which one to risk leaving. She left the frozen tomato. If the blue jay was watching it must have been disappointed. The squirrel was back a few minutes later to bear the green tomato away in triumph. Yum, frozen green tomato....

I've now spread most of the chopped oak leaves that the oak leaf fairy brought me this fall. We still have no snow cover and many new perennials need covering. Tomorrow I'll try to get Denny to help me re- spread the straw from last year over what's left and that should do it.

Seed catalogues are coming already and I'm drooling pathetically as I look though them. Ah the promised colors, scents, and forms. Ah the glorious displays of glistening fruits and savory vegetables, the promises of long seasons of fruit and bloom, and staggering yields. Turns me to mush every time.

They never show wilt, mildew, weeds, or places where the neighbor kids' football landed, or what the plant will look like if your definition of light shade is different from their definition of light shade.

The Solstice is near, and the year will turn. We've shared with Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, and various other organizations. Feeding the birds is all very well, but cold, hungry humans need food and warmth, too.

Share the light, my friends. Make it grow even brighter in someone else's heart.


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright 1999 by Terry A. Garey.