I hear birds.

I heard a meadowlark in the honey locust right outside our bedroom window yesterday morning.  Five years ago, I wouldn't have paid much attention to this.  Birds didn't impress me too much.  I thought it was pretty neat that they existed and flew and stuff, but I didn't really notice them much. But now, I can't help but notice them.  This may sound a bit too groovy, even for me, but I think they make me notice them.

Since living here on the Homestead, they have become hugely symbolic for me.  They are one of the first signs of spring.  And, I'm not sure why this is, but I notice them now in a fairly big way.  Actually, I do know why this is.  It's because we live in a quiet place with a 120 year old apple orchard. Birds love this place.  The trees are so old and gnarled the birds have turned each tree into a bird house.  They are so beautifully worn, with perfect holes that lead to some cavernous wonderland inside.  I expect  woodland creatures to pop out of them and start talking to me.

When the Northern Flicker calls, I hear it.  Above the din of two children, music, husband and general household noisiness, I hear that bird, like it is calling to me.  Before realizing it, I am out the door trying to find it.  I talk to it, telling it how handsome it is, asking it not to fly away.  Saying things like "I won't hurt you birdy-wirdy, don't worry." Truly feeling breathless with fascination when I get within viewing distance of such an elusive creature.  I think it is magic.

Yesterday must have been the first time the meadowlark whistled its song outside my window because I heard it loud and clear.  The pathways in my brain are there now: I hear birds.  Not all.  Some of the little chirpy birds that don't seem to have distinct calls are lost on me.  But those songbirds and flickers really get my attention.  The flickers, only because they are annoying enough to drown out the rest of the chirping.  The meadowlarks, though, are so sing-songy it makes me smile.

Western Meadowlark

My husband's mother was a real bird lover and noticer.   She could name birds that flitted past her window without too much hesitation.  I'm not there.  In fact, I don't know many of the birds that make the Homestead their home, but the few that I do notice I consistently notice and have formed a bit of a relationship with.

These fascinating flying creatures are wild with excitement this time of year. The orchard is chattering with calls that sound like baby cries, whistles, fire engines, cats meowing and cats purring, clicks, chirps and chitter-chatter.  It's truly amazing.

Walking around, poking carcasses.

So, I have been taking some pictures of the beautiful landscape up on the hill above the Homestead.  It's called Waterworks hill or Randolph Hill depending on who you talk to.  But, this area is frequented by runners, hikers, dog walkers and nature enthusiasts at all times of the year, especially when the sun shines.

Something that makes me feel all warm and tingly inside is that I can access this most amazing trail system by just setting foot out my front door, walking lazily past the chicken coop, and climbing a steep hill that then turns into gentle switchbacks up to the top of a ridge that overlooks Missoula.  In the spring this ridge that we walk will be covered in wildflowers and bunch grass craziness.  But for now it is still brown and a bit severe looking. We have been hiking up this hill every sunny day we have been fortunate enough to be around for.  On our journeys we have found...

a deer skeleton.  Asa had many questions about where it's hair, blood, and skin were.  But mostly he just wanted to poke it with sticks.  And then we discovered...

a hill to run down, probably 30 times.  And...

a hill to sit down on after running down it 30 times.

And one of the many cool bird houses on this hill.

Oh the birds up here on the orchard and on the hill, oh-my-god, they are amazing.  I had something akin to an epiphany last spring when an entire flock of Mountain bluebirds perched on grass branches ahead of me while on a hike.  Every time I approached them they flew up a little bit further on the  trail and then perched again waiting for me to catch up to them.  This continued along the entire walk up the hill.  It just so happens that during that walk I was working out some very personal shit, and those bluebirds were answering my questions, for real.  Believe it, cuz I'm totally serious.  I'm in love with them now.  And, I did see a glimpse of one the other day.  I can't wait for them to return.

More about that later.  In the meantime, I am on a quest to save money to buy a better camera.  The one I am using I got at a garage sale for five bucks.  It's been reliable, but it's super slow and my pictures don't even begin to do this place justice.  So, I'm doing a little goal setting that will benefit anyone who cares to visit this blog.  thanks.

Changes afoot…

My dear friend Erika and her lovely husband Shane are helped me with a Homestead blog facelift.

There is plenty of loveliness happening around these parts.  Yesterday was an amazingly beautiful day.  The sun was shining bright.  I sprinted out the door so fast that I forgot to bring the damn camera. The boys and I went on a walk up Waterworks/Randolph hill for two hours, and about midway I realized I had forgotten the camera, but decided I wasn't going to even attempt to get the kids to turn around to go back and get it.

So we kept on. It was blissful, one beautiful step after the other.  I tried to imagine the brown grass being replaced with green bunch grass and WILDFLOWERS, oh the wildflowers on that hill are breathtaking.  I get weepy thinking about how magical it is, really.  To think that just a few decades ago, you could see that amazing mountainous, sweeping hillside view in the spring without it ever being interupted by highways and sprawling suburbs. I think about how thankful I am for this spring feeling and the warmer weather.  Imagine what that must have been like for folks living without heaters, and truly living off of root cellar food all winter!  They must have been elated by the prospects of spring.

Our garden is planned on paper.  The snow is still covering part of the plot, but not for long I think.  We have so many special events happening this spring and summer.  Mayday parties, weddings, gardening playdates, picnics, shenannigens.  I'm giddy.