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Monday, January 18, 2016

Stories from the Farm - Over My Kitchen Sink

Last spring I posted an article On Armchair Photography and Other Vantage Points. At that time the magnolia tree in the back yard was still blooming and I could admire it from a rocking chair that sits by a window in the old summer kitchen (which has long served as anything but that, including a work-room, sun-room, guest room, office, and on occasion a one-room apartment).
A cleome seems to peek in at my kitchen sink clutter (2013)

A hummingbird enjoys a drink from the feeder right outside the window (2006)

View of Jacksons' barn after harvest 2005 (one of my first photos of this vista)


Today I want to talk about a different vantage point, the view from over my kitchen sink (same room designation, different room). Whereas the summer kitchen looks out from the back of the house in three directions (southeast, west, and north), my kitchen sink window looks out toward the front of the house (due east). This unassuming little window has surprised me with  many beautiful views through the seasons. A flower bed with two magnolia bushes wraps around this corner of the kitchen. Beyond it the front yard stretches out to the drive way which curves gracefully in from the road welcoming any visitors. Across the road which is bordered by a field the Jackson's red barn stands out against a wide prairie sky in the distance. So in early spring I enjoy the delicate, glowing magnolia blooms and the colorful spring bulbs in the flower bed; in the summer it's the cleomes and the susans that reach clear up to the window sill, the Queen Anne's lace growing across the road, and the hummingbirds that frequent the feeders; and in the fall it's the view of the Jackson's barn after the corn has been harvested.
A pair of Christmas Cardinals adorn my snow-covered magnolia bush (2007).

But in the winter, it's the beautiful sunrises and the winter birds.

The people who owned this old farmhouse for many years must have loved birds. For many years when Ben and I rode our bikes past this place, there was a purple martin house on a tall pole in the front yard. When we purchased the property in 2005 the purple martin house was gone but we inherited several little bird houses hanging in trees. The flower beds and bushes around the old house with its modern picture windows seemed designed to draw in the birds for all to see. For instance the winter birds shelter themselves from the wind and sun themselves on the bare magnolia-bush branches just outside the kitchen sink window. For that reason I have gotten into the habit of taking out the screen during the cold weather months for a better view - and for the occasional photo opportunity.

So let me introduce you to some more of our fine feathered friends:




species of winter birds viewed from the window over my kitchen sink


For a couple of years we had an indignant little cardinal that tracked our whereabouts inside the house and pecked on all the windows upstairs and down. I came to refer to both him and his mate as "the neighbors." Bonnie nick-named him "Red" (2008). 

This little female cardinal looks happily hidden away under our magnolia bush (2011).

Pacifying "Red" (read above) was the main reason I started feeding the birds. I tried distracting him from pecking on our windows in various ways, first by placing the statue of an owl on a broom-handle stake in the flower bed; then by scattering seeds on my window ledge (following the old "if-you-can't-beat-'em, join-'em" adage). Of course that attracted other birds: here is a white-crowned sparrow peeking in the window (2008).

Crowned sparrow on the window sill (2008)

Eventually I purchased a seed-feeder for the shepherd's hook that I used to hang the hummingbird feeder during the warm months. Here are some little goldfinches sporting their subdued winter yellows at the feeder (2008).

Contrast the bright yellow feathers goldfinches sport in the summer  - as demonstrated in this shot outside my kitchen window (2013)!

Black cap chickadee at the feeder (2008)

Black cap chickadee dining on a seed (2008)

Rosy-colored house finches at the feeder (2008)

Rosy-colored house finch taking a wind-break on a cold January day (2016)

Red-bellied woodpecker perching on the old broom-handle stake in the kitchen flower-bed (2010).

Downy woodpecker dining on suet among the magnolia branches (2010)

Blue jay hiding in my magnolia bush (2010)

 I've discovered that a good zoom lens (18x in the case of my Panasonic Lumix digital camera) allows you to stand some distance from the window and still get a great shot of these easily startled little visitors. :)

Starling sheltering in my magnolia bush (2016)

Tree sparrow, isn't he cute (2008)?

This photo was not taken from my kitchen window, but we were fortunate to have a lively little mockingbird spend the year with us in 2013; he would greet me in the winter (flying from tree to tree along the driveway) whenever I went outside. In the summer he serenaded us all day long from the highest point on the property - the tip of a Ponderosa pine tree.


Mr. Cardinal takes a bow (2013)
Sometime around 2010, I moved the feeders away from the house to a maple tree in the front yard to afford the birds a better view of approaching cats. Yes, every old farmhouse has these also - along with a slew of field mice (and even rats). No country person should ever have to buy a dog or a cat. They will always find you. And in our case, they seem to always end up living in the house and becoming our snuggle-buddies. :} So last January I made a quality-of-life decision and invested in a decent pair of field binoculars for my retirement so that I could look outside the big picture-window in the kitchen and still enjoy the birds close-up. Additionally, the birds continue to sun themselves in the magnolia bushes in front of the kitchen sink window, so I still get the occasional close-up shot with my camera. (And moving the bird feeders out to the maple tree by the horse-hitch flower bed gave us the Saga of the Sunflower Seeds the following summers.)


I did also mention winter sunrises at the beginning of this post, didn't I? Stay tuned for more on those. As the sun changes its trajectory toward the south in the dark months, we get unobstructed views of the sunrises (and sunsets) on the horizon in this little corner of the prairie. So I will finish this post with a couple of shots of the winter sunrise from over my kitchen sink. :)

2016

2016


A hearty thanks to all who have found their way to this post! I hope you will feel rewarded (as I did) by these views from my little kitchen-sink window.


The Armchair Photographer (JuneBug)


I missed "Red" when he no longer came to visit, so I attached this cardinal thermometer I found at the farm store to the window to remind us of him (photo on right).


1 comment:

Julie Stewart said...

You write so beautifully about your life at the farm. I wonder if a book would be a good idea as an outlet for your considerable talents. A kind of photo journal with pictures of the home, birds, cats, etc. seems like it would express your love for the place & possibly reach a wider audience. This is lovely as it stand, though.