Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Weekend: Birds, Beef and Strawberries

Sometimes the world of busyness becomes overwhelming and I get lost in my head. Do more, do faster, do better! Then I know it's time to move outdoors. 

For the first time in ages I set up the tripod to photograph birds. This year the bluebirds failed to claim their box and a titmouse family moved in. 

Last week we had a scare. The headlights of the car one evening caught the neighbor's cat perched on the top of the bluebird box. I feared a titmouse tragedy, and inspected the ground below, where one tiny white feather rested on the mulch. But the next day the titmice were busy bringing insects, as usual, and disappearing into the hole. Cautiously, I opened the box, ready to photograph the baby birds. The soft mossy nest covered only the bottom third of the box and the little birds were hiding. I was secretly relieved.

The catbirds returned in mid-April. They think the birdbath is theirs.

The garden is lush and green. Not many native plants are in bloom in this lull between spring and summer. But the penstemons catch the morning light. 

I have missed the old routines. My husband and I were finally able to go to the Carrboro farmer's market on Saturday morning and then to the Hogans' farm to buy steaks. 

I like being able to see the cows eating grass or lounging in the shade. The cows were too far from the road to get a decent photo, so I'll go straight to the meat. This grass-fed beef raised by friends is our exception to a vegetarian diet.

Magnolias are already in bloom. It's hard to be sad when smelling a magnolia.

After many weeks of talking about strawberry picking, we finally did it. I need deadlines, and the note on the website of the Whitted Bowers biodynamic farm said this weekend may be the last for strawberries if the heat keeps up. We picked 8 pounds of berries.

They taste as good as they look. I think they're the best strawberries I've ever had.

At the farmer's market, they gave out free packets of pectin for freezer jam. It was easy to make (even for the cooking-impaired).

There is an awful lot of sugar in jam. Best not to dwell on that.

The recipe said it would make 5 8-oz. jars of jam. Hmmm... We also have a ziploc filled with strawberry jam that I decided to exclude from the photo for symmetry's sake.

It would be nice to have a snappy conclusion to this post. But I must get ready to leave the house yet again for another showing. Who requests a showing on Sunday at 5 o'clock? 


Karin / Southern Meadows said...

I am glad to read your birds are safe. We had bluebirds nest for the first time. Their first nest failed. They tried again. Laid 5 eggs but when I checked yesterday all the eggs were gone. I think a snake got them. So sad. Your jam looks scrumptious. I am looking for a recipe that doesn't require as much sugar but at the end of the day I think it is required to make for good jam.

Sheila said...

So sad about the bluebirds. When I first put up the box, I read a lot online about all the evil fates that could happen to bluebird nests. It almost made me want to take the box down! But in three years, all the nests have been successful. Even though I like the titmice, I still miss watching the bluebirds raise their young.

I hope your bluebirds try again!

Yes, I think jam is basically a dessert...

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

My bluebirds were beat out by sparrows again but they claimed a bit smaller house before the swallows. Glad to see titmouse family in yours at least...they are cute...our strawberries haven't started.

Sheila said...

Glad the bluebirds found a house on your property! Such a treat watching them.

My husband saw a family of bluebirds investigating our box yesterday, leading me to wonder: did the titmice fledge already? I miss so much by being at work all day!

Stacy said...

Oh, those strawberries look delicious! I've almost given up on eating them, because the ones at the store are always disappointing. The birds, market, and farm excursions all sound like the perfect respite from busyness.

Sugar in jam...yes...On the other hand, it's not like the strawberries lose all their nutrients. Or is that rationalizing?

Sheila Read said...

Stacy, you make a good point about the nutrients. And, in fact, since the strawberries are so condensed in the jam, they must be extra nutritious!