Saturday, February 27, 2010


Yesterday was thick with snow—wave after wave of swirling white, light and fluffy, that filled the air and, at times, made you think things were getting serious. Most of it didn't stick, not until late afternoon when it finally started to dust over the bare spots. In the end, here along the river we received something less than two inches—just enough to cover and renew what was left of the old stuff still remaining on the ground. About half of that, I think, fell during the night.
Birds are flocking to the feeders, as they always do during and following a snowfall. Of course the cardinals were already waiting for their breakfast measure of cracked corn when I went outside first thing, before Myladylove and I took our own meal. I could hear them grumbling in the darkness. I'm afraid they're going to have to learn patience, since dawn comes ever earlier and I'm not going to alter my getting-up time to suite a bunch of spoiled redbirds.
Another bird that seemed out of sorts was a starling that glared at me from a patch of snow-covered stalks in one of the flower beds. I don't know what his problem was, since the seed and suet feeders were full, the corn was on the ground, and I'd even tossed out a few bits of apples and oranges from a fruit salad. Luckily, I don't have all that many starlings to deal with. In fact, this has been the first winter I've had even a few hang about.
As I stood on the deck this morning and looked around, I was, as always, mildly surprised by how much whiter and brighter a layer of fresh snow appears. Like recently purchased sheets and pillowcases just out of their packaging, placed side-by-side with sets in the linen closet. In spite of being scrupulously washed and bleached, in comparison the older ones always look a bit dull and dingy. The eye, good as it is, sometimes needs such juxtapositions of contrast and tonal scale.
One of the things I soon learned in darkroom work was that photographic papers for making black-and-white prints were all different—that is to say the same rendered tones on a finished print differed depending on brands and product lines. Black was not just black, and white was not just white, but rather a hundred variations of each—some "warmer," others "cooler," depending on the paper used. Developers and fixers—those chemical bathes employed to cause the actual image retained on the paper after it has been exposed to focused light shined through a negative in an enlarger—could also alter the tonality and contrast of the blacks and whites and dozens of in-between grays of the finished print. Even viewed under the dimmest of darkroom safelights—illumination considerably less than that of a single candle flame—a good printer and darkroom technician can see these variations and employ them to his advantage. And you'd be surprised how much this comes into play in fine printmaking—how awful an image can look when printed on the "wrong" paper, and how great it can look when it's matched correctly.
Another place such fine-tuned "seeing" makes a real difference is when sorting pearls. Natural pearls come in all shades and tonal hues. If you're paying the price for a genuine wild pearl necklace, every pearl on the string must match in terms of color. I've heard the very best pearl sorters can differentiate among a couple hundred hues.
This morning we've received the benefit of another seasonal whitewashing. The world is clean, lustrous amid refulgent light. Whether it will prove to be the final snowfall of this winter or not is anybody's guess. Most everyone else I know is tired of winter, tired of the cold, tired of seeing white. If you'd have asked me yesterday, I might have said I was, too. I'm fine to see one more frosting on the seasonal cake.
I say hooray for fresh snow!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


You wouldn't have thought today would have been a good day for fishing—not with the air temperature below freezing and snow falling during much of the afternoon. But some of us are more fair-weather fisherman than others, I guess, or at least aren't quite so compelled to either catch our meal or starve.
Consider this as you will. I can assure you there's at least one great blue heron in southwest-Ohio who won't be going to the roost hungry…not tonight, anyway.
During a period of a couple of hours, I watched the stately feathered fisherman in the photos nail five fish. Most weren't nearly as large as the one (a shad, I think) in the pictures—but neither were they mere minnows. I don't know what that individual bird's fish tally was for the day, or how even a big a bird could eat so much.
There were three other herons working the stretch of river I could see from my window view, either standing along the edge of the water or ensconced in one of several riffles below the cottage. I have no idea whether their fishing success equaled that of the bird I kept the closer watch on and photographed. But judging from what I've learned of heron behavior, if a buddy was getting fish regularly and they weren't, I'd expect an ongoing series of equity squabbles. Today, for once, everybody stayed in place and minded their own business, so I presume fishing luck was good all around.
Of course all fisherman—feathered or otherwise—are a bit secretive when it comes to their favorite fishing holes. When the heron in the photos captured a smaller fish, the catch was quickly swallowed. But when the fish was larger, the sneaky bird would fly into the island's woods, away from the prying eyes of his competitors, where he could take his time getting things arranged and consumed. And believe me, a fish such as the one in the photos is no easy meal for a heron to down.
The fish must be positioned just right in the beak, turned until it points headfirst into the bird's mouth. That way, sharp dorsal spines don't lodge in the upper palate, and side-fin spines won't catch in the throat. The fish is then lifted as the bird's head is thrown back, allowing a straight shot down the old gullet. With a mostly-dead, heavy, and sorta limp fish, this is no easy task—it requires balance, patience, experience, and luck. I've watched a hereon spend more than an hour trying to make all the elements come together at the same moment—flipping the fish up and back again, and again, and again…until finally the process worked. Sometimes a bird gets so tired before it manages this that it has to take a rest, then come back for round two. And once the fish is in the back of the throat and starting down, it can still require all sorts of head shakings, neck undulations, and overall stretchings to do the trick. The whole business looks painful.
Through binoculars I watched the bird swallow the fish. I couldn't get a photo, though—sorry.
The task went fairly smoothly, and the heron got the meal down in less than a quarter-hour. Then it flew back to the same place and began patiently watching the edge of the river…and five minutes later, caught another—smaller—fish. Yeah, I'm thinking glutton.
I did mention it was a good day for fishing—right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Yesterday morning, a misty fog magically erased all separation between earth and sky. Instead, one became the other somewhere in the midst of a luminous white veil caused by cold snow cover and warming air. It was visually impossible, no matter how hard you strained to see, to say where one began and the other ended—everything was muddled, indistinct, an atmospheric mystery both oddly comforting and deliciously disquieting.
I thought it was also a nebulous world of soft, glowing beauty, where a pair of towering elms near a two-rail fence were like faded image on an old black & white print, or a young maple seemed suspended, almost floating.
Oaks in a grove up the road from the cottage looked more ephemeral and less sturdy, not at all their usual indomitable stalwart selves. Why, at any moment, they might simply fade away…even that vigorous youngster which had, so far, failed to give up a single one of last year's now-brown leaves.
Alas, while the photographer in me wanted desperately to spend the morning making pictures, there was no time. I had places to go, errands to run, appointments to keep. My time on this day was not my own. A quick look as I drove along was the best I could do…well, almost. I did have my camera on the passenger seat, and I did stop once or twice, roll down the window, and make a few snaps.
Drive-by photography isn't my thing, but sometimes it's all you can manage.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Sunday a week ago, just after dawn, I was at my desk and had just begun writing a post for this blog, when I glanced out the window toward the river and woods on the island across from the cottage. Suddenly a large bird flashed into view. Whatever it was lit momentarily in a sycamore which leans over the water. The bird hopped down to a lower limb, flapped over to another tree a dozen yards downstream, paused there only a second or two, tried another branch, then flew to a third tree which didn't seem to suite it all that much, either. The bird shifted about and never appeared to get settled—maybe because the limbs were all top-layered with a thick coating of snow, or possibly because the low-angled light from the barely risen sun required the perfect sight angle to see into the pools below.
Even glimpsed between the trees while on the move, I saw the bird was large, dark, and massive in build—too massive to be a heron, though the wingspan was plenty wide enough. But I see great blue herons almost every minute of every day; there are almost always three our four scattered at favorite fishing sites within sight of the cottage, and they're forever flapping up or down stream, rattling, chasing one another, trying their luck here and there. While herons do rest in the nearby trees quite often—sitting on limbs close to the water or branches 80 feet high, in the very tops of some of the biggest sycamores—I see them regularly enough to know that whatever the bird was, it wasn't a heron.
My first thought was turkey vulture. As most of you who read these posts know, there's a seasonal buzzard roost directly across from the cottage, used nightly by well over 100 birds. When they're in residence, I see turkey vultures daily. But the vultures don't typically show up hereabout until mid-March—another month away. Moreover, the bird in question wasn't flying or acting like a vulture, either; besides looked plainly bigger.
When I scrambled to the front room for a better view and managed to get the binoculars on it, what I'd suspected, but hadn't quite dared hope or believe, came into clear, sharp focus…eagle! Another eagle! And on Valentine's Day, to boot! What a delightful, awesome, unexpected gift!
I was so excited I almost hustled into the bedroom and shook Myladylove, still-blissfully-sleeping, awake. She'd be as excited about another eagle along the river as I was, even though she lived on an Alaskan island for several years and saw eagles by the dozens regularly. But she'd also been really tired the evening before, and of course we had plans for the day ahead; I wanted her to be rested.
While I was considering, the eagle flapped on downstream and disappeared around the bend. I retrieved my cup of coffee from the writing room, along with several bird guides, and sat at the dinning room table. Just in case the bird returned, the table has the best view of the entire stretch of stream visible below the cottage.
The eagle had been dark—almost black—though with a few irregular lighter feathers scattered about. The beak had been dark, too. I quickly decided it had to be an immature bald eagle, though given the light mottling, probably a bird in the two-year-old range. Certainly not the white-headed, mature bird I'd gotten so excited over [see here] a month ago, which was the first bald eagle I've ever seen along the river and one of the few bald eagles I've seen in my lifetime. Not that this second bald eagle was any less exciting.
Fifteen minutes after disappearing around the downstream bend, the eagle suddenly reappeared. Again it did a series of stop-and-go pauses in the trees alongside the river, steadily working in my direction. I had my camera at the ready. The huge bird found a limb almost a hundred yards below the cottage and stopped—except this time it stayed…and stayed…and stayed. For the next hour I watched it through the binoculars. Myladylove got up on her own. I told her about the eagle and almost got bowled over as she snatched the binoculars and demanded I point out the distant bird. I finally got her lined up. "Ooooooh," she exclaimed. "What's the matter with you—how come you didn't wake me up!"
The eagle stayed on that limb another hour. Unfortunately, it was way too far away for much of a shot with even my longest lens, though I tried. There was no question about sneaking closer. When the bird finally did move, it flew through the timber along the river. No shot there, either. In mid-afternoon, it reappeared—sailing quickly into view, and just as quickly swooping to the river's surface where it snatched a fish from a shallow pool and hurriedly flapped into the woods of the island across from the cottage. Both Myladylove and I lost sight of the bird in the maze of timber. That whole sequence—reappearance, feeding swoop and catch, and disappearance among the trees—might have taken 15 seconds. No photo-op whatsoever.
I've waited a week to mention any of this because I hoped I could come up with a better photo. However, the young eagle has disappeared, though I've searched a bit upstream and down, watching as best I could from various vantage points along several miles of river. So, you'll have to make do with this admittedly poor photo and my tale. Still, good photo or not, I thought our Valentine's Day bald eagle was just too special an event not to share.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Since moving to the riverside, one of surest signs that winter has entered its final phase comes when I notice a fox squirrel doing a tail-waving balancing act on outer limb-tips of some tree on the island across from the cottage. As I've mentioned before, though the squirrels which daily visit my feeders are grays, the island is populated by larger, reddish-blond fox squirrels.
A squirrel in a precarious balancing position uses its long, fluffy tail as an effective counterweight, much the same way a high-wire walker employs a long pole. Because the big fox squirrels are constantly moving this way and that, shifting positions as they go from branch-tip to branch-tip, their balance point is also changing—thus the tail waves and flicks like some bright semaphore flag. It's invariably the thing that first catches my eye.
What the fox squirrel is doing is "budding," eating the sweet bud tips of certain trees. Late winter is a critical time for fox squirrels. Autumn stores of nuts and grains have dwindled considerably. Food is scarce . Buds offer a valuable source of nutrition. In Ohio, the buds of maples—especially sugar maple, red maple, and rock maple—are at the top of the list, along with elm, willow, and oak.
The fox squirrel in these shots was only about 20 feet up, though it was working various branchlet tips arching over the water. I've included one shot without cropping and enlargement to give you a better perspective. You'll probably have to double-click on all these photos to see much detail; the distance was beyond the best "reach" of my zoom lens.
Sometimes, though, a squirrel will do it's budding in the very top of one of the island's tallest trees, 100 feet above the ground or water. If you watch them through binoculars, you'll see they often have all four paws on a different twig, their body sagging over a fifth, and their long, showy tail draped over yet another one or two tiny twigs…done, I suppose, in order to spread their weight around. Branches sag and bob until you'd swear they were going to break. Plus the limbs and squirrels also swing about considerably in the wind—even as the whole tree sways in slow waltz. The feeding squirrels just ride it out, at home and in control regardless. They'll regularly hang by their back legs only, dangling face-down toward the earth far below, grappling for nearby buds, then holding and nibbling them as you or I might eat corn on the cob—except while upside-down.
Like I said, budding fox squirrels are an annual harbinger here along the riverbank, a sure sign that in spite of cold temperatures and deep snow blanketing the ground, time moves steadily on; soon enough, the seasons will change.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Another snow-filled day—sometimes fairly heavy, sometimes just a few fine flakes sifting lightly from the sky. Also switching back and forth several times from clouds to sun.
A couple of hours ago, when the sky was bright and clear, I stood watching through one of the windows overlooking the river. Snowflakes were blowing sideways. Though I wasn't aware of so much wind, the air was full of this horizontal snow. What made the moment special were the flakes themselves—each sparkling like a brilliant diamond as pellucid winter light flashed off the flat planes off the individual snowflakes, gleaming, scintillating, a scene more dazzling to the eye and heart than mere words can ever paint.
Now it is overcast again and snowing fairly heavily. The feeders are busy, and have been all day—a dozen or more species visible at any given time, and always heavy on cardinals. I don't know why I seem to have so many cardinals around this winter. I also have a lot more Carolina wrens and white-throated sparrows, yet far fewer house finches and goldfinches than usual—though way more purple finches than in winters past.
Moments ago I looked up to see a female pileated woodpecker come flapping across the river, heading directly for one of the suet feeders. A male red-bellied woodpecker, already occupying the feeder, also noticed the big pileated flapping his way. I swear I saw him cringe.
It was one of those David-and-Goliath moments…except in this encounter, the red-bellied David lacked both size and a trusty sling and stone. The square-off was over with a peck and a squawk…the pileated administering the pecking, the red-bellied protesting with indignant squawking. In the end, of course, size does matter—especially if your opponent could chisel a hole through your skull with a single sledge-hammer whack.
The red-bellied did exactly what I would have done in his place, flew over to the safety of a nearby tree and hurled loud invectives at the bigger, badder usurper……you xy&#w2a3k@z redheaded pterodactyl!
Yup, he showed her.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Snow has been coming down, off and on, all day. As a guess, I'd say we have 2-3 inches of new snow on top of the foot or so of packed from last week. Several areas within a half-dozen miles of here are reporting twice as much, and I'm beginning to feel slighted.
Most of the time the snow has been fine, and falling straight down rather than floating—as if it had some weight to it, or was being hurried by gravity. Watching it, I thought about an old bank barn where I once rented a stall for a horse. Whenever the pigeons and swallows in the loft overhead got disturbed, dust and hay bits came sifting down between the ancient floor boards—falling in the exactly the same straight and fast manner as much of today's snow.
Occasionally today, a squall would move through and the flakes would increase in size tenfold and pour fast and furious, swirling so thick you could barely see across the stream—though even then, there didn't seem to be much wind. I kept hoping one of those squalls would make up its mind to become more serious and linger awhile.
At the height of one mini-downpour I looked out and saw one of the herons standing in the Cottage Riffle. My days are filled with herons and their activities, as they clatter and squawk, chase one another up and down the river, or claim a particular riffle and or pool shallows and stand fishing by the hour. The middle of a February snowstorm isn't exactly the best time to be stuck with your feet in the icy water and snowflakes stinging your eyes—but a bird who wants to fill his belly with fish has little choice. I thought this particular heron was looking pretty miserable, somewhere between stoic and grim. Kind of reminded me of winter steelhead fishing days on the Pére Marquette.
Still, as we fishermen know, luck favors the persistent…and you don't get to pick the weather.

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's about that time of day.
The sun is sinking in the west and shows no signs of doing anything spectacular other than disappearing behind yonder hill. No gaudy colors blazing across the sky; no knock-your-socks-off photographs.
Shadows on the snow are turning blue with a hint of purple, the waning sidelight revealing the snow's granularity. The surface looks hard rather than soft; the undulations slightly menacing. It could be the landscape from another planet.
Still, I like this time when the last of the day begins to fade away, and a sort of gentle quiet seems to replace the bustle. Birds still work the feeders. Cardinals call and the white-throated sparrow sings his vespers. In the riffle, the blue heron stands, patiently waiting, yellow eyes ever watchful, as motionless as he is deadly with that sharp beak. Mallards gabble. The kingfisher takes one more plunge into the icy flow.
The river's surface catches the light…golden against the turquoise sheen of ice.
Day and night. Earth and sky. Water and land. Fire and ice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


When I looked out at the river a few minutes ago, I saw the great blue heron standing on a rock in the riffle directly in front of the cottage. Since there seemed to be some amazement with yesterday's post regarding the fact that herons hang along the river all winter long—regardless of snow and cold and ice—I thought I'd make a few quick photos and give a you better look. The sky is cloudy, the sun is down (I think) behind the western hills, and the light is going fast. I had to turn up the ISO to 800 in order to be sure of a fairly sharp image. They turned out well, I think, considering.
Hope you get a kick seeing one of my favorite feathered frostbit fishermen…
Any fisherman knows, you have to be patient…
…except that sometimes, the water looks better in this direction.
There…all set…bring on the fish!
Here…fishy, fishy, fishy…
Winter fishing ain't all it's quacked up be… so who invited the ducks!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I used to live in a house across the road from a small grocery. The store and its parking lot were in plain sight from my family-room window—and since I spent a fair amount of time looking out, I kept pretty good track of the comings and goings at the little market. Friday, being payday for many area residents, was generally the busiest day; from late-afternoon after day-shift workers got off until closing time, a steady stream of patrons parked, disappeared inside, only to reappear some time later carrying sacks of foodstuffs. Many, perhaps with big families to feed, pushed their bags of purchases out in laden carts.
That was the usual drill. But just let a few snowflakes appear—or the TV and radio broadcast dire warnings of an impending snowstorm—and the local citizenry descended upon that grocery like ants on a sugar cube! Hordes of desperate customers, apparently faced with the prospects of looming starvation should they fail to stuff their larders with food sufficient to keep them fat and sassy for a month!
It was quite a circus. Parking spaces were at a premium. Some parked their cars across the street; others left a designated driver at the wheel to circle the block, or park illegally somewhere nearby and keep the engine idling, ready for a fast getaway should a police car appear. Inside the market, shelves were being stripped of their goods faster than stock boys could resupply…and at some point, things simply ran out. Not just edible things, mind you—but nearly everything from chewing gum to hairspray to mosquito repellant, even though mosquito weather was easily several months away. You have to wonder about human nature sometimes—especially when faced with a crisis so small it barely rated as an inconvenience.
Birds and animals are far more orderly and well behaved. Even on a day such as this, which has been one of snow, snow, and more snow—starting in the middle of the night and continuing more-or less nonstop; it's snowing, still, a fine sifting with a few larger flakes in the mix. Not that it has amounted to a lot; perhaps another 8 inches on top of our earlier snow, which had packed some. The most I can measure anywhere in the yard is 12-14 inches.
Still, a bird or squirrel has to eat. Food means calories with means body heat which translates to survival. Critters eat to live—as we all do, of course, except they're usually working on a far narrower margin. In their case, obtaining and consuming plenty of food isn't just a case of going to sleep with a full stomach…it's living through the night and waking up tomorrow morning. Thank God most us us will never know that fine a line!
I've kept my feeders stocked and plenty of grain scattered. And the food bar has been busy from daylight onward. I'd like to think everyone had plenty.
Cardinals have led the charge, as they always do. I don't know how many redbirds live around here, but they're generally the most numerous—and certainly the most visible—species at the feeders. More than once I counted a couple of dozen, males and females, within 20 feet of the front door and deck.
In addition to the cardinals, I had quite a few white-throated and tree sparrows show up; downy, hairy, and red-belied woodpeckers; titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, a few juncos and a handful of starlings; doves; mallards up from the river; and goldfinches, house finches, and purple finches, though for some reason, their numbers are way down from a month ago.
The great blue heron has spent the day standing on various ice shelves or snow-covered rocks, fishing either in the mainstream or the small channel dividing the two islands. Yesterday the kingfisher was diving like gangbusters, working busily for hours; I never saw or heard the bird today, though.
Squirrels have been in short supply. Most, I suspect, are curled up in a warm, communal pile deep in the snug confines of their sycamore hollow nest. Only a couple bothered to make their way from the big tree to the box elder where the feeders hang.
So that the report from the riverbank. Everyone is fed and in fine fettle, including the heron because I watched him nail several not-so-small baitfish while I was having my own lunch by the front window. I'm a pretty good fisherman…but that ol' heron is even better.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The day began with the coldest temperature reading so far this winter—minus 2˚F at 6:30 a.m. When I stepped off the deck and ambled over to the river, I knew it was below-zero because the snow screaked underfoot. That's my word for it—a sound sort of halfway between a squeak and a crunch. I've been tromping around in snow for enough years that I'm getting to be a pretty fair judge of such esoteric matters.
The sun wasn't quite up, but there was light in the sky and the snow-covered earth of the island across from the cottage seemed to give off its own pale glow—enough that I could see a thin, spectral fog rising off the water and hovering in the air above the riffle.
Cardinals, impatient for their breakfast grain, called from nearby trees. I turned back, tossed them their allotted scoops, checked the seed and suet feeders, and made sure I knew where Moon the dog had wandered off to as she made her snuffling perambulations around the yard. Keeping track of a white-and-brown dog in a white-and-brow landscape isn't as easy as you'd think. Sometimes when I whistle and yell, threatening all manner of retributions, I'm chagrined to find her standing beside me, giving me that I-have-a-fool-for-a-master look which all dogs employ when you're in obvious need of a good humbling.
As it turned out, Moon was over near the juniper bushes, seeing what she could flush from their tangled interior. The sun was just making its way above the eastern hill, seeming to get tangled momentarily in my neighbor's evergreens. The morning arrived with peach-pink light, which washed over and colorized everything from water to snow to icicles. A tree sparrow sang a couple of high sweet notes.
An hour later the fog had evaporated and the peach-pink light had been replaced by a strong blue sky. The world was a'dazzle, sparkling in the sunlight. It made your heart sing to just to stand beneath all that energy and look up look up.
The river was an indigo ribbon, a blue so deep and intense it could have been dyed with ink. Arterial liquid of a wintery land, running, pouring, catching the sun and mirroring the trees on either bank.
Now the day is winding down. The sun is on its downhill path to the western horizon. The sky is gold. It is still cold, but above zero, probably in the low 20s, though I'm too lazy to check. There are mallards, up from the river, feeding on the last of the corn by the front deck. In a minute, after they've finished and flown off, I'll go outside and toss out another scoop for the birds, a bedtime snack in case anyone's still hungry.
Then I'll build a fire in the front room and watch the sunset, quietly savoring whatever develops.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Yield not to temptation!
The idea was a cornerstone teaching of my upbringing, repeated often—frequently in an exasperated or stern voice—by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even older cousins, family friends, neighbors, Sunday school teachers, grade school teaches, and anyone else who decided my learning curve showed a remarkable lack of the dictum's adoption and practice, and thus I might benefit from regular reinforcement.
Yield not to temptation!
The axiom got applied to everything from helping myself to that box of chocolates Mom had hidden in the bottom drawer of her bedroom bureau, to reading, say, Treasure Island in school when I was supposed to be studying, or sneaking off on my bike to the gravel quarry, where I loved clambering around on the cliffs surrounding the lake, though I'd been distinctly told to remain in the yard.
Yield not to temptation!
My theory was that if temptation wasn't rewarding, it wouldn't be tempting. Or so much fun.
Yield not to temptation!
I still have a hard time reconciling that philosophy. But I believe in its truth and worth—even it's necessity to living an honorable life.
Yield not to temptation!
Okay, I sorta believe. Sometimes…when whatever it is trying to tempt me isn't doing a very good job.
Yield not to temptation!
No, confound it, I do believe…but I sorta have trouble strictly adhering to that belief—especially when tempting temptation lurks so invitingly.
Yield not to temptation!
As yesterday's snow arrived, every direction you looked seemed to offer photographic possibilities. Snow resculpts the landscape and all objects therein; it's a new and different world, almost magical. And nothing stands out quite so spectacularly amid all that white than a scarlet male cardinal. A single redbird sitting on a snowy limb is like a gleaming jewel.
Yup, I remembered: Yield not to temptation!
While it would have been easy to shoot a redbird photo at every whipstitch, I did not succumb. I am a grown man, not a little boy stealing chocolates or slipping off to play.
I can resist temptation. I can, I can, I can! I have willpower! A mind of my own!
Yield not to temptation!
Do you honestly think I'd give in to a bunch of dandified birds that look like they ought to riding after the foxhounds across some British countryside, or getting ready to parade down the street in a brass marching band?
Yield not to temptation!
No, sir! I am master of my own desires. Resistant to the beck and call of a redbird's beauty. I WILL NOT yield to temptation!
Okay, so Mom was right. Guess I'm going to have to keep working on that one…
Sometimes, yielding still seems like the best way to handle temptation.