By Becky Nelson
Things are popping around the farm. We have a new hoophouse which is set to house our tomato crop. Greens, rhubarb and radishes are being picked. The first planting of peas and beans are up and thriving. Corn is planted. Hoophouse cucumbers and squash are up and growing. The leaves on the trees have exploded. The black flies are incessant when it gets dusky. It finally looks and feels like early summer. The lilac and blueberry blossoms are in full bloom and we expect raspberry blossoms soon. Strawberries are coming. Asparagus is being picked.
Spring is about to bounce into summer.
Seeing the different flowers send me into nostalgic rambles. Lilacs make me think of Memorial Day celebrations. Daisies make me think of my wedding. The lovely lilies of the valley that are in blossom now make me think of my youth, visiting my aunt who planted these beauties that now have spread around the base of a fir tree she planted. The bird feeders also remind me of her as she was an avid bird watcher.
Even though we are told to take in bird feeders, I keep them inside during the night and put them out each morning. I get a few birds and more than my share of gray squirrels and chipmunks visiting the feeder. The other night, I had already pulled in the bird feeders and had spilled some seed into a planter near the feeder hanger. I happened to be putting a dish into the sink and glanced outside to see a couple flashes of bright blue. I thought perhaps a bluebird had come to call, but instead I recognized an indigo bunting. It wasn’t long into my watch that another, then a third male bunting came to the planter for a snack. I could see a couple of drab brown birds with them, so assume that their mates had come for dinner as well. I was thrilled to see the buntings. Just a few days before, I had seen a rose-breasted grosbeak and a purple finch visiting the feeders. I hadn’t seen any of these species for years.
This spring we have encountered some other interesting visitors to the bird feeders. Porcupines seem to have had a resurgence around here, and visit the bird feeders often. I started putting the feeders out during the day and pull them in at night after a bear came calling a couple of weeks ago. I had emptied the feeders and left one by the front steps that had just a little bit of seed inside. In the morning, the feeder was in the middle of the driveway by a puddle and the bruin’s track was easily visible beside the feeder. He or she was very considerate and had not broken the feeder to bits, which was a nice surprise. A nearby track, either a porcupine or a raccoon, was a little muddled, but it was obvious that the bear had made the visit for the snack. Seeing the tracks made me remember looking at tracks as a kid with my Dad and sent me on a nostalgic memory tour.
It is funny how the sight of a bird or the smell of a flower can bring back memories for me. I can remember drawing and coloring beautiful birds I found in the identification books in the family library and taping them to my bedroom walls. I can remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen with binoculars, looking at the birds outside and thumbing through similar books to identify the delightful visitors. I can remember the feel and setup of my childhood home and that of my Gram with great detail, right down to the smells of baking bread and feel of the fabric on the chairs. All from the sight of a bird. I can remember the hopes and dreams and feelings of a day decades ago when the lilacs were gone and the future seemed so far away.
I hope you all have the opportunity to foster these memories with your kids, your grandkids or your neighborhood kids. The little things like birdwatching, cloud watching, leaf identification, flower picking and enjoyment of the natural world around us is priceless and may mark a memory in that little mind that will last a lifetime. Take time to enjoy the outside world yourself. A peek out the window at a beautiful sunset, rolling down the window of the car to enjoy the breeze and the smells of spring and summer... these little moments can help to soothe the angst of the day and feed the soul. Take a minute. Or two. You might just see and indigo bunting or notice a bear track in the mud.
Becky Nelson is co-owner of Beaver Pond Farm in Newport, New Hampshire. You can contact her through the farm page on Facebook and Instagram, visit the retail store or email her at email@example.com.