Tuesday, November 11, 2008

birds and music

Guess who showed up at my feeder this morning?
I know for some of you, cardinals are quite commonplace. But I live at the northernmost edge of their year round range, and they rarely make an appearance here. To see one within days of improving my temporary feeder array was wonderful. He has been hanging around all morning.

This pair of male purple finches showed up on Sunday afternoon. Their color is so exquisite.

As you can probably tell, I have been spending way more time than I should sitting by the wood stove, looking outside. I have a holiday from work (Veteran's Day) and I picked up the banjo at 7:30 this morning. Sitting by the round table, with a cup of coffee and some music in front of me, I lapsed into a state of concentration I rarely achieve while playing, where I am able to play a couple bars of music over and over until my fingers have memorized it. I must have played "Cripple Creek" about 20 times. I need to do this more often.

I had the chance to play music with a few other people Saturday night at our friends' annual barn dance. Since there were two fiddles, a banjo and a mandolin already, I decided to fill in with rhythm on my octave mandolin. That instrument is not exactly a fixture in old time dance music, so I don't know what the others thought of it. I didn't really care either; I was playing the right chords, in tune and tempo, to songs I mostly knew already, sometimes taking liberties with the rhythm. And I was having a great time. Playing for a dance is more relaxed than playing in front of an audience; the people are occupied with dancing, there isn't the give-and-take of solos like there is in bluegrass, and there is plenty of time between tunes, while the caller teaches the next dance, to sip a beer and chat with the other players.

I have to get back and throw another log in the wood stove, and I think my mandolin is calling me now. I need to build up those calluses on my fingers again.


Lynne said...

Good for you Deb! It sounds like your playing today is really feeding your soul. You have to get ready to be a Hobo Niece!

carolyn h said...

Deb, I wonder if your cardinal is yet another example of climate change? When I was a kid, my grandmother told me that cardinals were uncommon where I live. Now, they're as common as the proverbial hen's teeth. Also, for years, I had to travel to Maryland to see Carolina chickadees (and then i had to be lucky). Now, they are regulars at my feeders, though still less common than the black-capped chickadees.

Carolyn H.

pablo said...

Hey, howzabout posting another video of you playing. I loved the one you posted so long ago!

Jayne said...

I'll trade you a dozen cardinals for those two purple finches? :c) I can hear the mandolin from here.

Appalachian Lady said...

I love Cardinals--their color brighten the winter long after most of the red berries are gone from the woods.

troutbirder said...

Enjoyed seeing your cardinal visitors "up north". Also having just returned from babysitting in Colorado I was in agreement with your post on the conservation amendment and glad to hear it passed.

Deb said...

Lynne- the possible musical meeting with a Hobo Nephew has me inspired! :)

Carolyn H- Yes, in my lifetime cardinals have gone from rarely seen around the Twin Cities to being seen as far north as the Canadian border. I don't think feeders are totally responsible.

When I lived in Missouri back at the turn of the millenium, we were just at the border of the Carolina/black capped chickadee divide. I think we saw mostly Carolinas. Which reminds me, reports of Carolina wrens in Minnesota are not as rare as they used to be either.I'm selfishly waiting for the day when I see a tufted titmouse at my feeder!

Pablo- You know, the thought of making a video actually crossed my mind yesterday, when I had some quiet time at the house by myself. But I had to wash my hair first, and find the tripod, and it was all downhill from there.

Soon. I promise.

Jayne- I keep forgetting how special purple finches are. A couple years ago I met a birder from St. Paul MN who had yet to see a purple finch. I was astounded; they are so common around here, away from the city. So I will not take them for granted!

Appalachian Lady- The cardinal was there right at daybreak again this morning, and even in the low light his scarlet feathers were beautiful.

Troutbirder- This is truly an "up north" cardinal; they don't go much further.

I was actually surprised when I heard the amendment passed! It restores my faith in the priorities of people.

BurdockBoy said...

I hope the birds show up at our feeders soon. I stopped feeding them during the summer and they haven't shown up yet. We do have a Downy that has made a hole in our house. I think he's going to live there. I don't think I'll mention that to the landlords.

Deb said...

Burdockboy- I have noticed when I stop feeding birds for the summer, as I do because black bears can really do a job on feeders, the birds come back in a few days. And yeah, don't mention the Downy. Although it really isn't your fault. :)