Feed the Birds

We stopped at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Farm outside of Tucson to feed all the creatures. Ostriches bite. Bunnies nibble. Goats lick. Donkeys snuffle, wetly. And the larakeets? Oh, the larakeets peck at the seeds in your hand, fluff their rainbow wings and tweet.  It was heaven.  Pure kid heaven. I  could have stayed all afternoon. How lucky am I to have a personal photographer who delights in capturing my own delight as it takes wing!



Let it Snow!

It has been snowing since yesterday morning. The news inflates and catastrophizes the forecast, “Biggest snowfall in 35 years on its way! Fourteen inches!” Not even close. This is Michigan.  It’s winter.  A six-inch snowfall shouldn’t be astounding or frightening. Snow is what should be happening.

This girl’s been outta the South for more years than she wants to count.  But snow will always be magical. I love how it hushes the world. How the sky is so white, and full of what’s to come. I don’t know if there’s a weather-word for a sky full of snow, but pregnant comes to mind. Even last night, as we got into bed, the sky was pale with snow to come.

We’ve shoveled and have taken out the snowblower. Our sweet young neighbor bought a huge snowblower last year and blew our driveway clear last night and this evening as well. Martin and I have just come in from another quick sweep and shovel.  It’s light snow now.  Not laden with the ice and weight of this morning’s fall.

When the snow chore was done I laid down and made an angel. The sky, having snowed herself out, was darker than last evening’s. The tree limbs spread in a tangle above me. Two leaves, brown and crisp yet still hanging on, rustled as the winds passed through. It was such a glorious moment — exhilarating, cold, and cozy all at the same time.  Sixty-five years on the planet and I’m grateful I can still get down and up to make a snow angel. I’m even more grateful that such a simple thing can still bring me such joy.

I’m a Magpie at Heart

Martin and I visited Como on our recent trip to Italy. After a wonderful boat ride around Lake Como, we and our guide began a walking tour of this lovely town. As Francesca shared with us Como’s history and landmarks, a shop window caught my eye. Quicker than you can say George Clooney, I veered in. Francesca followed. Martin did too, although with less excitement.

Sparkly sparkly sparkly!Everywhere we looked were elegant tablescapes featuring gilt tea sets, rainbows of crystal goblets and aperitif glasses, and vintage dresses. Against a huge white ostrich fan, A sea of jeweled earrings, rings and strands of pearls nestled  against a white ostrich fan. A Victrola and a small TV from the 50’s stood guard beneath a stone arch dating back to who knows when. Perhaps even back to 1400 when Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, planted mulberry trees around Lake Como to feed the silkworms. Everywhere I turned was another fantasy of color and sparkle. Every item had been arranged with a superb eye for design.

Owner and curator Maria Grazia Lopez, hosts small concerts, poetry readings and other cultural events in her shop . Taking inspiration from her merchandise, she might offer an evening on the theme of pearls or even a color. Imagine attending amethyst night, sipping violet liquor from a violet crystal glass and listening to music and/or poetry inspired by the same hue.

Maria Grazia making our cappuccinos.

Maria Grazia insisted on making us cappucino, strong and delicious and the perfect foil to the cookies she served with it. An added bonus to the utter charm of the experience: Maria Grazia’s 92-year-old father bakes the cookies every morning.

It was soon time to leave. There were sites to see and gelato to sample. But not before buying a pair of amethyst crystal glasses and a small bottle of violet liquor.


Victrola, please meet Philco!




Sound of Summer

I get excited every time I hear the ice cream truck playing its endless song throughout our neighborhood. There’s the rush of anticipation, then the scramble for my purse while I mentally weigh the merits of a Klondike Bar vs a Nutty Buddy vs an ice cream sandwich. I rue the occasional irritation I used to feel when the ice cream truck turned down our street at dinnertime or bedtime. I hope my kids remember me saying yes more than I said no.

These days the truck comes down our street once a week or so. I always say yes.  Life is short. Sometimes ice cream for dinner is just the ticket. With ice cream for dessert as well! Choco Taco, anyone?



A Cardinal Gift

Last time I wrote about coming across a bird that had fallen from its nest onto the sidewalk below. It was barely breathing. Its eyes were closed.  There was nothing I could do to save it. I shielded it with a piece of bark and acknowledged its life, however brief.

A few weeks ago, I stood at my bedroom window giving thanks for the new day.  I looked out and not six feet from the pane, nestled on a pine branch was a nest.  And in that nest there was a bird.  The tiniest bird that you ever did see.  Featherless, smeared with yolk and exhaustion, sightless, it had just emerged from its shell. Stunning. What timing! I felt as if God had spun a wheel and the arrow landed on, “Show Debra a miracle this morning.” I was spellbound watching a new life unfurl before me.

Over the next two weeks I watched the family care for their hatchling. The mother would sit atop the bird and an as yet unhatched egg. Sometimes she’d leave and the baby bird, its feathers growing in and its eyes now open, curled around its younger sibling still in ovo. One morning I woke up to the sound of the mother calling to the father,”Come on already! I’m hungry. The baby’s squawking. Put on your wingtips and get over here with some chow!” The male showed up moments later. He fed the female from his beak. She performed some sort of avian culinary magic and placed something that looked like a tiny white lentil into the baby’s waiting mouth.  The male sat on a branch nearby, a bright red sentry on alert for danger. I swooned in amazement and wonder. A day or so later, the nest was empty, save for the unhatched egg. A day or so later, it too was gone.  

Kids notice things: tiny things, big things, curious things that we big folks let pass without notice.  Kids at Heart get the best of both worlds: conscious witness to wonder.

P.S. You have to look very closely to see the baby bird. Its beak is open.