The robins are merrily going about their spring business these days.  Lovely to see their fat presences in the landscape.

Spring robin

Watercolor sketch of robin

Robins, 52 Wreaths Project

Watercolor sketch of robin



It’s daffodil season!


Watercolor painting of daffodils

Robin with daffodils


Daffodils, 52 Wreaths Project



Sandhill crane

Sandhill crane





Spring Progression

March 3, 2016

Watercolor sketch of plump robin

Watercolor sketch of plump robin


Another watercolor sketch of robin

Another watercolor sketch of robin

“The first phoebe-bird, the first song sparrow, the first robin or bluebird in March or early April is like the first ripple of the rising tide on the shore.”
— John Burroughs, from “The Spring Procession”

Signs of spring are starting to surge.  Let the procession begin!



Robin with nesting material

Robin with nesting material

“Something about a robin makes me feel he/she would be very good on committees.”
— Gladys Tabor, Stillmeadow Daybook

Watercolor sketch of robin with nesting material

Watercolor sketch of robin with nesting material

Another watercolor sketch of a robin

Another watercolor sketch of a robin

What We Get for Nothing

June 18, 2012

Robin at the birdbath

A Living
by D. H. Lawrence

A man should never earn his living,
if he earns his life he’ll be lovely.

A bird
picks up its seeds or little snails
between heedless earth and heaven
in heedlessness.

But, the plucky little sport, it gives to life
song, and chirruping, gay feathers, fluff-shadowed warmth
and all the unspeakable charm of birds hopping
and fluttering and being birds.
– And we, we get it all from them for nothing.

The charm of birds being birds

Fresh from the bath


“How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wintering robin on the apple tree outside my window

I like to think of Thoreau the bird-watcher.  His world around Walden’s Pond was filled with the sights and sounds of birds, and many of his writings noted their activity.  He came up with some very imaginative descriptions, for example the barred owl as “winged brother of the cat” or, “The hawk is the aerial brother of the wave . . . ”

I don’t see many bird species in the city of Seattle.  I am at a disadvantage as a bird-watcher because I have significant hearing loss and I can’t hear most bird songs anymore.  But I try to pay attention.  The two most common birds in my life are crows and gulls.

Crow with blue-black feathers at Green Lake

Urban crow

California gull with distinctive dark ring on beak and polka-dot wing tips.

Thoreau was an early ecologist, and he very aptly linked the loss of habitat with the eventual decline of bird populations.  We’d do well to heed his cautionary quote.

Jello Mold Farm

Jello molds decorate one of the garden sheds at Jello Mold Farm.

This weekend I returned to Jello Mold Farm in the Skagit Valley to see what a flower farm looks like in winter.  It is very much the dormant season, with the fields at rest.  But that doesn’t mean rest for the farmers!  Dennis was out making compost, and Diane was busy with her work spreading support for sustainable flower growing practices among local and regional growers.

Diane and Jello Mold Farm were recently featured on an episode of PBS’s “Growing a Greener World.”  I urge you watch the broadcast.  It’s a great introduction to the practice of local, seasonal, sustainable flower growing, and you’ll “meet” Diane, whose enthusiasm and passion for her work are infectious.  The episode  showcases some beautiful scenes from Jello Mold Farm during the summer when the gardens are a riot of color.

Winter at Jello Mold Farm has its own kind of beauty.  The palette is more subtle.  I’ll be sharing more photos from my visit in the next few days.  Here are a few to set the stage:

Droplets of melting frost sparkle on some netting over a flower bed-- enchanting!

View of snow-capped Mount Baker from Jello Mold Farm

Bed of sunflower stalks

Robin in corkscrew willow. I like how the branches frame the bird's silhouette.

Greenhouse, garden stakes, and chair

Roll of netting seen through the greenhouse plastic

Straw-covered flower beds

Bucket of string, ready for the new season

Garden stake

Plant starts through a greenhouse window


The Passing of Winter’s Woe

February 20, 2011

“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.”
     — Dr. J. R. Stockton

Desiccated petals

Primroses in a window box

First robin, harbinger of spring

“Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter’s woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air.”
     —  William Morris

Spring arrives in discrete moments — primroses, crocuses, robins — pushing through the dormant landscape.