Spring's marching orders

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Okay, readers, listen up. You can put it off no longer. Spring is here and waiting for you to get with it. And no, hammock time does not count.

Get those birdfeeders cleaned out and and filled, but I’ll let you off light if you want to taper off feeder food. Dave, our bird guy, says feeding birds is for our pleasure in seeing them close-up. Winter through mid-spring is when they need us to help feed them. Take your cue from the weather, especially the temperature.

If you think you are seeing more birds than usual, you are probably right. At our feeders as well as others’ there are more goldfinches still scarfing down peanut butter and suet cakes than we’ve ever had. Word gets around, even in the bird world. We had a similar plethora of pine siskins when we first moved to Georgia, but none for years now.

Bluebirds too. For several years we had half a dozen competing for that just-right birdbox. Something happened, we know not what, but suddenly, no bluebirds. Soon learned that bluebirds love regularly mowed grass and the bugs that mowing scares up. We have trees, no grass, and that means no bluebirds.

We don’t have hummingbirds yet; they’re usually here by March 31. Keep their feeders clean and filled. You know not to use colored sugar water in the tubes. Red flowers nearby will offer their own invitations.

I claimed first place in daffodil blooming – until this year. As mentioned frequently, mine all send up leaves, and then flowers, before any others around town – March 31again. The weather won the contest this year, and our daffodils dawdled half-way through April before they bloomed.

Pollen is late – the odd weather patterns this year. Be nice to the pine trees. That gold dust that drifts all over town may make your clothes blotchy and the porch furniture rusty looking, but the rule is this: If you can see pollen, that’s not the pollen that is bothering your sinuses. The stuff that tickles is too small to see.

This is as good a place as any to tell you what you may see me doing along the cart paths this time of year. Remember pokeweed? It’s a tall dark green plant that grows in the hedgerows in rural settings or alongside the cart paths. When it first heaves into view early in the spring, the leaves are delicious.

Wait until it flowers and you’ve waited too long.

Where my mother grew up in the Blue Ridge hills of south-central Pennsylvania it made what the farmers called a spring tonic. Maybe, but I don’t recall it bothering me in that way.

Cut when leaves are up to about six inches long. When the stems are thick and pink, you’ve waited too long.

I cut ‘em, rinse ‘em, and cook ‘em as I would greens. The beauty of pokeweed is that wherever you cut it, it will regrow once and possibly even twice.

So where I cut pokeweed, it grows back double. Can’t beat that for environmental responsibility.

One more revelation and we’ll call it a spring. Am hearing from time to time about coyote sightings. Yes, even in gentile Peachtree City. Coyotes love – well, just about anything. Dogs and cats are prey, and bird nests with eggs in them are gourmet victuals.

A reminder: More songbirds are killed by cats than by all other causes combined.

Note: Fayette County observes Yom Hashoah, the remembrance of the Holocaust, next Sunday afternoon at 4, at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church., Peachtree City. Congregation B’nai Israel and the church invite the community to participate.

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