Tag Archives: Spring

The Blossoms of the Heart No Wind Can Touch

“Blossoms are scattered by the wind and the wind cares nothing, but the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch.” ~ Yoshida Kenko ~

Cherry Blossoms 2014 D

What do April 1st, a visit to my doctor, cherry blossoms and my Tall & Handsome have to do with one another? A day and week I won’t soon forget.

I was long overdue for a check up with my rheumatologist. I’d been scheduled to see him back in January, but I was actually too sick (imagine that!) to drive down to see him – the round trip is about a 75 to 83 mile trip depending on the route you take.

I had rescheduled but, that appointment just happened to coincide with one of the snow apocalypse that hit our area this winter. We had two, yes, count them, TWO here in the Deep South this winter. So, strike that appointment.

The next appointment was set up for April 1st. That’s when I should have said no way, uh huh, not in your lifetime sista. NOT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY. But, fools tread where angel dare…

So, I went to said appointment. Going there I navigated one of the most treacherous and accident prone stretches of roadway in the great State of Alabama. That would be the boon daggle called US Hwy 280.

But, there was a pay-off going on April 1st. As I pulled around into the back parking lot of the doctor’s office, I noticed a glorious cherry tree in full bloom. A breath of fresh air – spring had sprung.

Could it get much better than that?

As I am prone to do at times, I’d tucked my camera into the Jeep when I left the house. I made a mental note to snap some shots of the cherry blossoms before I left.

When I finished taking those shots, I decided to take the “scenic route” home hoping for more photo ops – and that, my friends is where things went horribly wrong.

I was about three quarters of the way home and was once again in an area of traffic. Let’s call it rural/suburban traffic. Nothing like what I’d navigated  earlier in the day. I’d stopped and picked up something for dinner because it was getting late and was heading home.

I was approaching an intersection known as “The Crossroads” which has seen its fair share of accidents. On this day it was not destined for me to pass through that intersection unscathed.

I was cruising along well within the speed limit, not tail-gating the vehicle in front of me. I took a split second to glance to my side and when I looked forward again the vehicle in front had suddenly stopped.

Oh, snap!

I applied my brakes…and kept moving forward. I realized I wasn’t going to stop in one surreal moment.

And, I didn’t, until I rear-ended the vehicle in front of me.

I felt a teeth rattling jolt, mostly in my head, left shoulder and chest and heard a very unimpressive “thump”. I remember thinking, “That’s it? That’s what an accident sounds like?”

I was stunned and in shock – I’d had the breath knocked out of me. I began to take stock: air bag didn’t deploy, felt my head and didn’t feel any blood and the windshield wasn’t broken. Good.

But, oh, the pain…

I knew I needed to call 911. A bystander stopped and called. Next, I knew I would need a ride home. I’d seen smoke rising from the top of the hood and had a suspicion my Jeep wasn’t going anywhere but the back of a tow truck – and, I was right. I couldn’t reach Tall & Handsome at work, so I called the next best person every Southern gal would call – Daddy.

So, long story short, Daddy arrived on the scene to pick me up. On the way home my aching mind was racing. So many thoughts.

“We just paid that darn Jeep off in November.”

Thank God I didn’t receive a citation or ticket – that’s a good thing.”

“Thank God no one in the other vehicle was hurt.”

But, guilt flooded over me. I had reached this stage of my life, my age and had never been in an auto accident before. Well, there goes a pristine record. T & H and I have had enough to deal with – not with each other but, with the challenges life throws at us. I had just laid a big one on us.

I started thinking about the cherry blossoms I had taken pictures of just a couple of hours before. So beautiful and full of hope – much like life. I’d also noticed some individual petals had fluttered to the ground and were laying there fragile, bruised and unprotected – much like we feel we are sometimes with life’s challenges.

Cherry Blossoms 2014 F

But, when I got home, my Tall & Handsome was home and the first thing he did was to rush to my side, wrap his long, strong arms around me and comfort me – no incriminations, no chastising – just a safe harbor, because like those cherry blossoms the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch…

…He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 NIV

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Auto Accident, Birmingham, Cherry Blossoms, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Tall & Handsome

Earth Laughs in Flowers, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

blooming vinca

We’ve just passed the Easter season. I hope everyone had a blessed holiday and spent it in a treasured way…making memories.

Everyone has traditions. They vary from season to season, holiday to holiday, ethnic background to ethnic background and family to family.

I always like to recall the traditions of Christmas because it amazes me the varying traditions around the world. Of particular interest to me are the different foods of Christmas because I also write about and blog about food.

Here in the South the standard fare is turkey and/or ham, sweet potatoes and pecan pie. Then, the menu varies from there, BUT there is a variety of different menus even here in the South. In the Northeastern US it’s not uncommon to find someone’s momma’s lasagna recipe at the Christmas table and in the Southwest Tall & Handsome assures me Posole will be found on most holiday tables.

Easter traditions are much the same.

When my son was young, every year it was this momma’s goal to have the best Easter basket waiting on Easter morning. Then, of course there were always dyed eggs and the obligatory egg hunt (weather permitting of course, then if need be it moved indoors). For us, it also included Sunday morning worship service and gathering at the table making memories with the extended family.

It also usually signaled the official “I-can-take-a-deep-breath-and-smell-spring-in-the-air” time. Spring really was out of the starting gate come Easter.

And, that also meant the regrowth and budding of Nature. That glorious time of the year when everything awakens, puts on its best and presents a real Technicolor show to thrill our senses.

I absolutely love it!

Our spring the year has been, for lack of a better word retarded. No, I’m not being pejorative, but what I’m saying is that it has been slow and delayed in developing. Two weeks ago it appeared we were on the backstretch of winter headed for the sure thing…Spring was here!

But, then IT happened. The mother of all severe thunderstorms. I have lived through several tornadoes and even so, I have never seen anything like what hit us on the 18th. We were without power for almost 30 hours.

It was during that time as we stumbled through the house with flashlights and candles, I broke my big toe with a huge Maglite flashlight and the batteries on all our devices began to run down that I looked at T & H and said, “You know, electricity was a mighty and wonderful invention.”

We finally scavenged around, found the Uno cards and spent quite a bit of time playing Uno by candlelight…

After that the weather turned bitterly cold again. We even had a few snow flurries…yes, in March in the Deep South.

So, I was very concerned that all my freshly budding beauties that had awakened prior to the storm would be destroyed…my mint, my oregano and my lovelies with their gorgeous blooms.

Well, yesterday when we left to take the short drive to my folks’ house to break bread for Easter and make wonderful memories to recall in years to come, imagine my delight to see a kaleidoscope of color every where! Purple, pink, white…you pick the color. The air had that freshness to it, too.

Yes, Earth was laughing with flowers…everywhere and telling Old Man Winter, “so long, pal”…at least for a season…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Birmingham AL, Easter, Flowers, Holidays, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Springville AL

Everything Holds Its Breath Except Spring, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Everything holds its breath except spring. She burst through as strong as ever.” ~ B. M. Bower ~

varigated vinca 2013

I was wandering around in the backyard this weekend taking stock of all the many outdoor projects that need to be done to get the yard back into shape. My conclusion: It could take us a life time after the damage the former tenant did ( both indoors and out) while we were living out of state. It has made us reluctant to become landlords ever again.

As a former horticulture major, I took pains to ensure the yard had a wonderful beginning and foundation. I was looking at some pictures recently from those bygone days. Unfortunately, the yard was wrecked by the tenant and very little resembles those early pictures. At one time about 12 vehicles were parked at various locations around the yard without regard to lease constraints and damage it would do to the yard. Seriously…how do you totally eradicate a Japanese Maple?

It is going to take patience…and time…

One wonderful thing I have discovered has been the growth of native trilliums in the backyard! That is a definite advantage to living on a little mountain top in the Southeastern USA. You would expect to find these in a more secluded area, so I was thrilled to spot them a couple of years ago when we took possession of the house back.

It was warm this weekend…in the 70s! I wanted to see if we had trilliums yet…and we do. They are beginning to burst into life, along with some other early spring harbingers including today’s picture, variegated vinca vine.

But, as they say, “if you don’t like the weather in the South, what a minute and it will change…” (Kind of like life, isn’t it?) I think we’re all holding our breath because as I write we expect severe weather to arrive today and colder weather to return. There has even been rumblings of the “s” word (snow!) appearing on the scene before the end of the month! That gives me concern for all the awakening new life that graces us every spring.

I’ve felt like I’ve been holding my breath, waiting to exhale for a long time. Life has a way of dealing surprises and turmoil (much like the weather) to you, be it health, financial or in personal relationships. Sometimes I feel like I live waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop…and sometimes when it does, it’s an anvil. I’ve even mentioned a time or two there are days I feel like Atlas trudging up a steep incline with the world on my back…

It may be the mountain girl in me…my ancestral roots, but, when I take time to  meander through Nature and experience the magnificent design we have been blessed with, I find myself no longer holding my breath…I can breathe…and I can exhale…

So, cold weather, snow…life…come on! I am stronger than you think, my Rock is my refugee…and, I can breathe…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham, Horticulture, Nature, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Vinca Vine

Backyard Trillium, by Beverly Hicks Burch

backyard trillium

Spring ushered in very early this morning, so it’s official! Spring has sprung!

Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t have anymore cold weather. Nineteen years ago, right before spring ushered in we had the infamous Blizzard of `93. Yes, it was an honest to goodness blizzard in the Deep South. I had 24” of snow in my backyard. There were people without power for weeks.

We’ve also had snow as late as April. One year I had an apple tree in bloom when a surprise snow storm blew in and dumped a few inches on an unsuspecting population. The snow on the blossom laden apple tree was too much and it uprooted the tree.

It’s not cold like that now. As a matter of fact it’s been warm…very warm…warmer than it should be. It was 86 yesterday. That’s a little disconcerting because overly warm weather in the spring can result in bad storms later on.

March, April and early May is considered our top severe weather season. Last April 27 is a sobering example of what can happen this time of the year, but as Jan. 23 of this year pointed out, tornadoes and severe weather is not limited to this season only. In Jan. the place of my childhood was in essence wiped off the map.

But, looking forward and to celebrate spring, I thought I’d shared today’s picture of the day. I love for spring to roll around because I know it will bring the trilliums to my backyard. That is one of the bonuses of living on a mountain top. I’m not totally sure, but I think this might be a trillium reliquum which is found only in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and is considered an endangered species. I plan on taking care of these babies as long as I can…which means leaving them alone and just letting them grow wild…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Central Alabama, Enviroment, Horticulture, Mountains, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Spring

Signs of Spring, well maybe…

sign of spring 2011

Well, maybe these pass as signs of spring in the land of palms trees and sand…

 

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Filed under Brunswick GA, Georgia, Photography, Picture of the Day, Spring

Wild Birds Fast Food and Fly Through, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Wild Birds Fast Food and Fly Through

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Shortly after we met I introduced Tall and Handsome to bird watching and bird feeding. Since he’s indisputably dotty about animals, it didn’t take him long to get “hooked on bird feeding”. And when he gets hooked on something, he does like to jump in with both feet…

So like the good Dr. Frankenstein I am I took him to a very special place one day…and there has been no looking back. Periodically we return and during those times I’m not certain if I’m creating Dr. Frankenstein’s bolt-necked creature, or his lab assistant Igor…or maybe a combination of both because when I gazed out into the back yard Sunday afternoon I realized I had created the proverbial, albeit loveable monster.

And, the monster had not one, but two creations of his own…and they look like this….

Wild Birds Fast Food

Wild Bird Fast Food

Wild Birds Really Fast Food

Wild Birds Really Fast Food – see the room for MORE feeders?!

Stop by for a Drink 2

Wet Your Whistle Stop

Yes, little feathered friends in the neighborhood now have their own Wild Birds Fast Food and Fly Through…and Water Your Whistle Stop. The addition this year to the “chain” was the Wild Birds Really Fast Food Stop. (Just in case you haven’t figured it out, the “special place” I introduced T & H to was a wonderful little store called Wild Birds Unlimited. It is like “Birds R Us” for birders. Check the phone book or the internet for a location near you.)

Sunday, after the obligatory refill of the feeding stations…and more trimming of tree limbs to make sure those darn tree rats (also known as squirrels) stay the heck off the feeders, we sat back and watched the little feathered visitors help themselves t0 “lunch”. And yes, since confession is good for the soul, and in case you haven’t noticed, I HATE SQURRIELS! They are disgusting, stingy, food snatching tree rats…and those darn tails are just too darn perky…like Katie Couric.

When we first started birding together, T & H did not share my derision of the overly perky, unwelcomed little critters. He even shuddered slightly when I called them “tree rats”. He tried everything to appease them…baffles and then even much to my disgust feeding them! Oh yeah, just what I wanted…more tree rats in the yard lined up with little tin cups banging on everything demanding more!

I’m surprised T & H didn’t go out and line them up and have what I call one of his Freudian talks with them.

“Now, little guys, this isn’t the way we build a yard team…a  friendly environment team. This part of the yard and feeders is for you guys and the other part and feeder are for our little feathered team members. If we all stay on task and support each other the yard will work great, everyone will have enough and it will be reminiscent of the Garden. Group hug and ooah-yah!”

Oh yeeeah…the squirrel feeders worked about as well as a spaghetti leash on a hungry pit bull after he saw a stray chicken…only thing that happened with that little venture was we ended up with a yard full of empty peanut shells…and empty bird feeders…

NOW?!

Well, simply stated, I think I have won a convert when it comes to the tree rats…no, Honey, I think a blow torch might be a little overkill…even for tree rats…but, I appreciate the thought…

After a long stretch of patience and sitting like statues on the deck, I was able to snap a few of our little diners…but, I just missed the red-headed flicker.

We knew we had hummers already because the food was disappearing, but we were delighted to see one making herself at home!

Enjoy and welcome to an additional bonus of springtime in the South…

Lady Cardinal Leads the Way

Lady Cardinal Leads the Way

House Finch

House or Purple Finch stops by…

Maybe I Will and Maybe I Won't

Hummm…Maybe I Will or Maybe I Won’t…

My tumming is getting full

My tummy is getting sooooo full…

Can You See the Interloper

Can you see the Interloper? He’s eating the suet cake and is a Brown-headed Cowbird…in the Blackbird family.

I really Want to

This male cardinal scoped out the feeder for the longest time before he finally visited. He was in a distant corner of the back yard when I caught him hiding.

Oh yeah I Made it Oh yeah! I finally made it!

Welcome baby girl Welcome Baby Girl! Looks like a baby female Cardinal…

One last little fellow This little fellow seemed to prefer the ground

The Shot I Waited For All Afternoon

It’s not easy catching Hummingbirds still! I waited all afternoon just to see if we had any visiting the feeder…and Viola! There she is!

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Backyards, Bird Feeders, Birds, Cardinals, Hummingbirds, Humor, Nature, Spring, Tall & Handsome, Wild Birds, Wild Birds Unlimited

Hummingbird Food, by Beverly Hicks Burch

For years I gardened for birds, hummingbirds and butterflies. Yes, there is a “method to the madness” when trying to draw these little critters to you garden and yard.

For instance, to draw those tiny little dive bombers called hummingbirds, lure them to you garden with trumpet shaped blossoms. They are also attracted by bright colors such as red.

I took the pictures below this afternoon while I was out on the deck. Those beautiful pale pink trumpet blossoms are on the azalea shrubs around the deck.

Of course azaleas are almost synonymous with “South” When you think of spring in the South you can’t help but imagine a rainbow of azaleas every where. They are among my most favorite.

The azaleas in my yard are evergreen, but there are some native azaleas that are deciduous and fragrant! Either one can add a glorious splash of color to your yard in spring…and feed those tiny little dive bombers called hummingbirds…

Hummingbird food

© Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Quilt Room with a View, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Quilt Room with a View

By Beverly Hicks Burch

The expected high today is forecasted to be 74°. And, that’s not the warmest it’s been so far this March!

When I walked into my quilt room after lunch, I couldn’t help but notice the view. I was greeted by a decidedly cheery scene…Nature in change and announcing the season. Two of my favorite spring floras are beginning to bloom and show further signs that cold weather is behind us…for the most part…

The dogwood is usually in full glory by Easter…the smaller one on the left seems to be a “late bloomer” ;-). Underneath are various other shrubs including the red azalea…with some more “late bloomer” straggling along there. The larger evergreen is a Gardenia which will be in full bloom by June with fragrant, creamy white blooms…I love to float Gardenia blooms in bowls of water around the house! What a yummy fragrance!

Who wouldn’t feel inspired to be creative with this view cheering them on?

The only “negative” trade off is a back deck absolutely inundated with pollen! Wow, is it abundant! When Watson the Wonder Dog goes outside, he leaves little pollen paw prints everywhere….Ahhhh-Chooo!!! The pollen is so thick, it looks like a light dusting of snow…well, yellow-greenish snow…but, I’ll take the trade-off for the view out front.

Hope you enjoy my Quilt Room with a View…

quilt-room-with-a-view-2009-1

Quilt Room View – Spring 2009

Quilt Room with a View 2009 - 4

Dogwoods, Azaleas and Gardenia…

After - All Better Now 1

The Window with the View – after the storm that surprised us last July and left a big pine tree on top of the house…right over the Quilt Room – I didn’t hang things back on the wall since I knew I’d be packing up again for another move…

After - All Better Now 4

Part of “the” stash…the rest is still packed in boxes somewhere….

After - All Better Now 3

Books and such…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Azaleas, Dogwoods, Gardenias, Georgia, Photography, Quilt Room, Spring

There are Signs…by Beverly Hicks Burch

There are Signs…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I know I mentioned temperatures have been in the lower to mid 80’s the past few days. Keep is mind this is the South…wait just a minute and the weather can change…we live with a real mixed bag of weather tricks.

Just two weeks ago a “potent” storm was bearing down on us. Many locations in the South were hit with snow and freezing temperatures. Fast forward to a few days to those 80+ degree days and you’ll understand our schizophrenic weather patterns…especially if you consider today is cloudy with highs in the mid-50’s. Tomorrow is going to be cool and rainy…

I was afraid the cold a few days ago might damage the blooming season on the azaleas and other early bloomers, but the other day I was out on the deck and noticed the shrubs looked like they were still laden with blossom trusses. That bodes well for blossoms!

The rain has been good for the region…we have been in a drought and the bonus has been green sprouting everywhere…and signs…signs of spring just around the corner…guess that’s a pretty good trade-off.

Almost Apring 4

The Dogwood in the yard is trying to say it’s time for spring…

Almost Spring 3

The Azalea is green and may just bloom yet…

Almost Spring 2

Even the Sedum in the pots on the deck are ready for spring…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.

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Filed under Georgia, Photography, Plants, Spring, Weather

Lonesome Dove, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Lonesome Dove

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Spring is around the corner and daylight savings time has “sprung forward”. (I hate loosing that hour!) That’s a clear sign things will soon be turning warmer and we’ll see changes all around us. Days are becoming longer and I’ve detected the return of certain little friends.

As kids we were taught that “robin red breast” was a sure harbinger of spring. I personally look for other sign such as the “chirp” of one of my favorites, the red cardinal. But, the past few mornings I couldn’t ignore the symphony that greeted my ears…all the chairs seemed full with different voices from different species. A sure sign spring IS around the corner…and their way of celebrating the fact that temperatures have climbed into the lower 80’s the past few days.

For years I’ve loved watching our little feathered friends. Along the way, I’ve discovered and uncovered some interesting and sometimes startling facts I hadn’t known beforehand.

For instance, I love to put out feeders for hummingbirds and enjoy watching their antics. Their tiny bodies belie their ferociousness and how territorial they are. Watching them at the feeder is like watching a military dogfight in action. I have had some little fellows buzz so close to my face and just hover there…inspecting me and determining my right to be so near their food source…that I could hear the frantic flutter of their tiny wings.

I’ve also learned birds are also creatures of habit. They return to feeders year after year if you continue to put them there…move them and they just might have a hard time finding them…move away and they’ll return even if the new person puts out feeder or not…those birds will be expecting those feeders though.

All this reminded me of a couple of incidents I had years earlier. The first time was when I lived in my first house. I’d had a hanging basket on my front porch. One day I went outside to water the plant in the basket and was quite startled to discover a creature in the basket!

Upon further inspection, I discovered my interloper was a momma dove sitting on her nest. Well, I melted and left her alone and watched out for her the next several weeks. Before I knew it there were a couple of downy heads popping out over the top of the basket. I had the privilege of watching the family grow until the babies spread their tiny wings and flew.

Seeing this once would have been special, but I was soon to discover that when it came to nesting doves seem to be creatures of habit. This momma dove returned to my front porch for the next several years, and I made a habit of leaving that basket there for her.

You still may be doubting and thinking, “Well, that was just one dove and it could have been a really messed up bird.”

Fast forward about 15 years or so. By then I was living in my third house up on a little mountain northeast of Birmingham, AL. I hadn’t been in the house long and we were in the process of landscaping. I had purchased some forsythia to plant on the lot and I still had one gallon sized pot left on the deck waiting to be planted.

One day I happened out onto the deck and my eyes couldn’t believe what they saw…yep, sitting there quietly trying hard not to be seen was another momma dove sitting on her nest. I was gobsmacked.

So, for the season there were strict orders to let the family grow in peace…and they did. Before I knew it, she was gone as silently as she had landed and taken up residence.

The next year was tumultuous for me. Gomez walked out and abandoned me after 27 years of marriage. I was very sick, 9/11 happened…let’s just say it was the year from Hades and a year I wish I had a delete button for.

But, one morning when I was on the deck I happened to look at the forsythia and to my surprise and delight, there she was…my little, lonesome momma dove. I felt like she looked. She had return as was her nature and habit. She looked so peaceful and calm. Watching her that year reminded me life can be normal even when it seems like the world is falling apart. It also reminded me of a Bible verse I had heard all of my life…since I was a small child.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear: you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12 6-7 NASB.

In these uncertain times maybe we can find the miracles in the small, hidden places…like a forsythia pot…

Dove (1)Dove (2)

Little Lonesome Momma Dove

Dove (3)

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Bible Verse, Birds, Birmingham AL, Dove, Gomez, Life, Luke 12: 6-7, Photography, Spring