Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Meaning for Neighborhood


That said, I feel the need to rant. I realize at this point that I have no readers, which is probably for the best. I would probably be getting hate email and losing friends left and right.

So here goes. Friday evening, as I was sitting in my garden with my husband and an old friend, fire alarms started going off. It sounded close and at least two alarms. Then we smelled smoke. My husband, Brian said it smelled like a house fire. He was right. About eight blocks away a twin house burned. A four year old boy lost his life. A family lost a son and a home. Another was burned. Cops, who have kids of their own (one of which is my neighbor) tried in vain to save the kid. What a mess. Those are the facts to the best of my knowledge.

Now for my rant. I live on a nice, quiet street. Unfortunately, guys with extra cash have taken advantage of Chester's economic problems and bought up houses near me. These landlords are renting these houses out at a profit, I suppose. The problem is, those of us who have lived here all of our lives resent these "vultures" coming in and outbidding people who would become home-owners and, hopefully, part of the neighborhood. You know, take pride in their properties. What we have instead is a constant change of neighbors. It is very stressful to us long-term owners who take pride in our neighborhood and the community. The renters moving out leave a mess, and the landlords aren't in any hurry to clean it up. Crime moves in like a stray dog living under a porch. It makes my neighbors and me upset. I have a house two doors away with a broken window on the porch. The lady next door has lived here over 40 years and is ready to move herself. I would hate to lose her as a neighbor. I've known her all my life.

Now back to Kameer. An empty house is much better than a burned out one in which a child died. We can do nothing to bring that little boy back. What we can do is reach out and treat our community as a whole. It is vital. Understanding fosters communication. Perhaps our "renters" deserve the same respect that us homeowners have. We should get to know our neighbors. We should also try to understand the differences between people and develop a mutual respect. I don't want to hear your car stereo blasting out front, and I'm sure you don't want to hear me practicing the bagpipes. Enough said.

From what I read, Kameer's family lived in a rented home. He and his family were and are still part of the community. I didn't see that fire last Friday, but I did see the smoke and smelled the smell. I know I'm not the only member of the Chester community that didn't know Kameer but will miss seeing a bright-eyed little boy out playing with the other kids. I am very sorry for his loss.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

For the Love of Hummingbirds

I am a very lucky volunteer. I've found my niche. Ruby-throated hummingbirds. I never tire of their antics. They eat, fight and nest all without much notice to most folks. Unless you have a garden full of flowers they prefer or a feeder. I have both. It took me years to attract hummingbirds and entice them to stay and breed. Like I said, I live in a metropolitan area.
That's not what makes me a lucky volunteer. I found that I love working with (or for) hummingbirds. I've been helping them out for quite a few years. I got my first two of the season yesterday. Both males. Both impact injuries. They probably hit windows (which is an issue I will address in the future). I am not much of a writer, but I am fortunate to work with such amazing creatures. Their will to survive surpasses any other creature I've seen. I guess you have to be tough to survive what they survive and be so very tiny. One of them died this evening. I was sad for a moment, and then I remembered what a privilege it is to work with and learn from these most tiny and determined birds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Images of a Disaster

I bought a newspaper today. I only do so when I go out shopping. It gave little coverage of the environmental catastrophe that is taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. At least I didn't think so. They did, however, show a photo of an oil soaked bird struggling up against a ship. Not very nice. Don't get me wrong. I have no desire to see oil soaked birds, or anything else for that matter. What I do want to see is comprehensive coverage of the events taking place. Do hairdressers know that human hair is used to soak up oil? They stuff it into nylon stockings. Dog hair, too. Old fur coats. I thought about shaving my head until I realized that my pitifully thin hair won't make a difference. All those salons that throw out the hair at the end of the day will. That's what I want to see in the paper. That oil soaked bird in the photo represents thousands of creatures at risk or already affected. Don't feel sorry for it for too long. Call your hair salon and tell them to donate all that hair they sweep up! Dog groomers, too! All that oily goop has to go somewhere. Let's at least get it out of the water.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Tribute

"...and when my life is over and my body goes away, the part of me that you have gained will forever stay."-Joy MacLean, in a letter to her daughter, Mary.

Thank you, Mom. You signed that letter Your Mother and Friend. And you were both. Thank you for what you gave me. The gift of appreciation for nature's beauty. You taught me not just to look at things, but to see them. That ability has enriched my life more that anything else. To find endless pleasure watching a hummingbird draw nourishment from a flower is something I got from you. One of your many gifts to me. So on this day of celebrating Mothers I sit in my garden and enjoy the gifts of nature as seen through the eyes that you taught me to see beauty through. Thank you for that part of you that I have gained. I love you always.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Little Chickadee

I think Black-capped chickadees are one of Mother Nature's cutest creations. I am fortunate to have a family of them in one of my bird houses. They return year after year to the same box to raise their young. I know their eggs have hatched because of the constant back and forth of both parents. What busy little birds! Today I observed a little face peeking out to grab a quick bite from a now frantic parent. I think the little ones will be fledgling soon and filling my yard with what I call the "hee hee" sound! Good luck my little friends!


The nest box is now alive with the sounds of little ones! That means they should be turned loose on the world in a week or so! I look forward to watching the parents feeding and showing the babies how to survive in the great big world!


Well, after being unable to get online for a few days because of a lightning strike, here's an update on my little Black-capped chickadees. They left the nextbox yesterday, May 17th. There was much chattering and calling all afternoon. I got the feeling that at least one was reluctant to leave the nest, but after some coaxing from the rest of the family, the little one ventured into the outside world. Today was a rainy day, so I am hoping to witness some baby chickadees learning the ropes tomorrow. Watching their antics as they learn how to find food is one of the joys of having a backyard habitat!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Morning Music

I awoke this morning to the lovely songs of migrating warblers. My not-so-experienced ear identified the songs of the Black-throated blue warbler and the Black and white warbler. Also some that I knew were warblers (because they warble) but could not see in the trees. There were quite a few Northern orioles, Gray catbirds and American robins in the mix. What is so special about my personal symphony is that I live in the city. Chester, Pa, to be exact. I live within 10 miles of a major airport, train route, and the intersection of two interstates. If you can wake up and hear the songs of birds here means the birds have quite a presence (0r I have exceptional hearing)! I welcome these delightful visitors to my yard and you can, too. Even if you live in a metropolitan area you can attract birds to your yard and provide the necessary ingredients to provide for their needs and give you the pleasure of your own morning music!