Around The Yard

Today the bank is full of daffodils in blossom. One day they are mere slips of yellow, and the next they are in full bloom. The crocuses are gone. They remained in my lawn for three weeks poking their violet heads through the snow and between blades of grass.

Years ago my husband’s cousin volunteered to weed my flower bed while I was in school. She did not notice the bulbs for the crocuses and littered them throughout the yard during the weeding process. From that time on my lawn has had crocus blossoms everywhere.

I kind of enjoy the proliferation of the crocuses because they are a powerful sign of spring. They certainly are hearty. This year they were buried in the snow at least twice.

I have heard reports of peepers, but personally I have not heard them. My husband used to say they had to be “frozen down” three times before spring really arrived. I am noticing fruit blossoms, so I hope we do not get another hard frost to destroy that crop.

Spring is such a joyful season. It is also a hopeful season. We all look forward to longer days as well as the things that will grow. Spring green is a special shade of green. A few trees are showing green, most of them are not. The woods are not yet showing that glorious green either.

I had snow on the ground last week at Hickory Heights. Neither of my children had ground cover, but I guess the higher elevation made this a prime site. My husband used to say that late snow was a “poor man’s fertilizer.”

Years ago I wrote a poem about the birds that I see regularly around here. Let me share it with you.

Backyard Birds

I marvel at the birds I see,

As they fly from tree to tree.

Robins with their breasts of red,

Gather grass to line their bed.

Orioles bright orange and black

Use fine hair to weave a swinging sack.

Sassy blue jays swoop and dive

Other’s food they will deprive.

Red-winged blackbirds nest in field

Where a crop of youngsters they will yield.

Bluebird males with breasts so red

In wooden houses their traits spread.

Yellow warblers dot the scene

Calling mates ‘mid leaves of green.

Crows rival roosters in their call,

Cawing at daybreak to awaken all.

Woodpeckers sound like hammering men

Drilling for bugs in forest and glen.

Purple martins apartments fill –

No rent is due, no lease, no bill.

The bobwhite’s largest claim to fame

Is its call which repeatedly echoes its name.

Humming birds are oh so swift

Diving for nectar then nest ward drift.

Killdeer run about the stone

Laying eggs left all alone.

Sparrows nest where people dwell.

Pine and yew protect them well.

Barn swallows dive, bugs to nail.

Notice at once their fork-like tail.

Indigo buntings are bright, bright blue.

Chances are good you might see a few.

Grosbeaks sport bills thick and short.

Winter’s close by when they report.

Mallard ducks with young in tow

Scoot ‘tween lily pads and where fern grow.

The mourning dove, with woeful cry,

A pointed tail, black spot behind the eye.

The barred owl, a puff of feathers round its head;

Dwells in woods, sound like a dog, instead.

Red-tailed hawks with broad wing and round tail

Circle wide while upward they sail.

Canada geese, stockings upon their necks,

In V-formation southward and northward trek.

Woodcocks with feathers that whistle

On moonlight nights their love trills bristle.

Wood thrushes plump of body, rusty of head

Sing like flutes from woodland beds.

Crested cedar waxwings, peaks upon the top,

Bob tails tipped with yellow as round the ground they hop.

The starling, short-tailed, resembling a crow

Sings from treetops and chimneys to all below.

Birds fascinate the young and old.

Track where you see them we are told.

Information about the birds comes from my observations as well from data in Roger Tory Peterson’s “A Field Guide to the Birds.” Peterson grew up in Jamestown. I had the opportunity to interview him years ago when he and his wife came to town for a dedication. What a fascinating man he was. He signed one of his bird prints that I purchased as a gift for my son who was graduating from veterinary school. Peterson held an honorary degree from The Ohio State University, so he considered it an honor to do that.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at