Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

December 12, 2013

Carrie Stambaugh: A window to the world: 12/13/13

ASHLAND — There is a small stool in the corner of my kitchen. Wedged in between a cabinet and a butcher’s block, the small seat sits below a large bay window.  

It is here that I perch in the quiet of the early morning and through the window take my first peek out into the world each day.

The view is out into our backyard, which is bordered on two sides by flowerbeds and on the remaining sides by trees including a mature forest that covers a significant area behind our home. The yard is full of life in all seasons, with a steady stream of wild and domesticated visitors.

The curiosity of just what might be observed from my humble perch draws me there each day. Almost as if by ritual, I make my way to that corner each morning before I do anything else.

The time I spend sitting here in silence simply observing the tiny wonders taking place outside my window seems to rejuvenate my spirit and prepare me to face the challenges of the day that is just beginning to stretch out in front of me.

In the summer, the rainbow of flowers and plants I’ve been cultivating over the years dominates the landscape. They draw an array of colorful butterflies and busy bees along with giant garden spiders, which like to weave large webs between the stalks and leaves of plants. I love watching the tiny gold finches flutter back and forth between the feeders and coneflower tops. I delight each time I catch a glimpse of a hummingbird pausing only to drink in the sweet summer nectar.

Even in the cold winter months, Mother Nature never fails to send me some type of new flora or fauna to hold my attention for a while.

This week, I was delighted to spot a hairy woodpecker just as I sat down with a cup of coffee one morning.  I watched, captivated, for what seemed like an hour as he hopped his way up and down the trunks of both towering hemlocks that dominate our yard.

The bird didn't seem bothered at all by my stares. Once he even paused to spread his black-and-white flecked wings wide and tilt his little red-capped head in my direction as if to greet me good morning.

Eventually, as more and more of bright day’s sunlight began filtering through the treetops and into the yard, the lone woodpecker was joined by a flock of busier birds. I counted a half dozen tiny white-breasted nuthatches, who zipped about the yard from feeders to trees and back. They were joined in the flock by tufted titmice, a few chickadees and, I believe, a small downy woodpecker or two.

The birds feasted on the sunflower seeds I had filled my feeders with just the day before. They seemed to take turns at the feeder and at various other stations around the yard, often resting in the boughs of the tree just feet from my window, giving me a chance to better admire them.

As I sat there enjoying the morning visitors, a pair of cardinals arrived, too. The male’s red coat shone brilliantly as he foraged in the snow for any fallen seeds while his mate watched from a fence post.  

After a while, a pair of large blue jays arrived followed by a large and noisy herd of starlings. Just as they chased away the other birds, they set me into motion for the day, too.

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