Wednesday, February 25, 2009
We marked the occasion first with a Karnival party at Emma's German school. As three years is the Great Age of Opinion, she decided not to wear the costume neatly laid out the night before. Instead, a pair of too-small pyjamas would be perfect to make a blue dog. So with a blue scarf-tail and ears hastily sewn on a hat in the car, Emma The Blue Dog was born. With sweets, balloons and oompah music, we enjoyed our own little piece of German revelry.
My family's tradition is simply eating crepe-style pancakes, so on Shrove Tuesday we had fun mixing up a sticky batter. The problem with Pancake Day is that it comes but once a year, and my pancake-making skills do tend to regress over that period. Luckily Thomas arrived home just in time and saved the batter from a fate infinitely worse than frying. My culinary prowess was redeemed the next day when we enjoyed German-style potato pancakes with delicious homemade applesauce.
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake;
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
- American crow
- American robin
- Northern cardinal
- Mourning dove
The following are here all the time but were evidently log-shy:
- Carolina wren
- Carolina chickadee
- Northern mockingbird
- Hairy/downy woodpecker (can't decide which one it is)
- Yellow warbler
- Brown thrasher
- Some kind of sparrow - white-throated, I think
Before next year we have to set up a bird-table to tempt some more feathered friends to join us, and maybe our log will be a little more impressive.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
How does a duck go to sleep, tell me how, how does a duck go to sleep?
It tucks its bill right under its wing, and doesn't worry about a thing.
That's how a duck goes to sleep, quack quack, that's how a duck goes to sleep.
(Going to Sleep on the Farm, by Wendy Cheyette Lewison)
Some of them were sleeping, with their bills tucked under their wings, while balancing on one leg! We decided we wouldn't find that very restful. They were mallards, and were very loyal to their mates, sleeping or swimming in pairs. Emma was also intrigued to notice that geese have tongues, which I have to admit was news to me too. Ok, maybe this is common knowledge, but now I know that most birds have tongues, though different from ours. The goose tongue is a delicacy in some eastern lands, and was considered by the Roman poet Ovid to be an aphrodisiac. We didn't test that.
After walking around to the other side of the lake, we took a 'secret path' to a piece of water off the beaten track. Here we again sat quietly, observing the sights and sounds around us. We first thought it was ducks making such a racket, but then I realised it was a frog croakathon. Spring is in the air! This chorus was punctuated by the loud peck peck pecking of several Downy Woodpeckers, which we could see quite easily as they scoured the trees for tasty grubs. Why isn't the noisy woodpecker in our garden so easy to find?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
- The slugs have two pairs of 'antenna'. Actually they are called tentacles; the longer upper pair is for vision, the lower pair for smell. Couldn't see how many the snails had - they are tiny little things; the shells are only about 5mm in diameter.
- The 'antenna' hide when the slug is frightened. Yes, they retract just as the snail goes into its shell. What's more, the tentacles can be regrown if lost.
- The slugs and snails seemed to be able to navigate out of the soil much better than the worms. They headed right off the rock back down into the moist earth, while the worms just writhed rather helplessly until we rescued them. Oh whoops, I thought I had seen worms move around on driveways and such after a rain, but actually they were stranded here as they cannot move out of soft ground. Sorry, worms!
- Slugs and snails climb right over one another when one is in the way. Nothing to add to that!
- The slugs have a hole on the right side of their body. We wondered if this was for breathing, or perhaps hearing. It is actually for breathing.
And as for the puppydog tails? I pointed out to Emma the tulip shoots that are coming up. She wiggled one and said it was wagging its tail. The wonders of a three-year-old imagination! We found lots of daffodil shoots too, but the crocuses are not yet in sight.