Yesterday I spent a delightful hour at the Alys Stephens Center on the UAB campus attending a Coffee Concert performance by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. I love the informality of the morning coffee concerts and the fact that I have a wonderful seat in the Dress Circle with hardly any other occupied seats around me. My seat is so close to the orchestra that the bass players are only a few feet away. I also have a side view of the conductor and can see his facial expressions as he wields his baton energetically. Yesterday's concert featured Haydn's Symphony No. 102 in B-flat major, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and Britten's Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes" which I didn't enjoy quite as much, although the audience gave the conductor and the orchestra a standing ovation. The fourth and final interlude was Storm: Presto con fuoco. Presto con fuoco means very fast with fire- and the orchestra, under the baton of Carlos Izcaray, did play with fire, and with feeling.
Today I did something more mundane: I shampooed half the living room carpet, with plans to finish the other half tomorrow, then I spent some time in the sunshine potting up some of the seedlings. Some of them, especially the arugula, may have to be re-seeded- the seedlings were quite spindly and didn't look at all healthy, but they may surprise me and thrive in spite of theirs puny appearance.
Yesterday I read an article about cedar waxwings that had died as a result of gorging themselves on nandina berries. I' read earlier about how invasive nandina is, so much so that it is causing problems for native plants, but this was the first I'd heard about their toxicity to birds. We have several nandina bushes in the yard that we transplanted from the woods behind the house, where they are plentiful. I enjoy the bright red berries and use them in arrangements at Christmas, and they are providing some protection from the weather on the north side of the greenhouse, but we certainly don't want to contribute to wiping out flocks of lovely birds, so we'll dig them up or cut them down in a month or so. Meanwhile, Mr. G went out and cut off all the berries and put them in the trash. If the waxwings do stop by they'll find slim pickings in our yard this year. We haven't seen many waxwings this year but last year they flocked to our big holly tree outside the kitchen window. The tree was absolutely loaded with lovely big berries, but in no time at all those little gluttons ate every berry on it, leaving us not a single holly berry.
There are no red berries on it this year, but I did notice a few green berries so maybe we'll have some to use in Christmas arrangements this year. A smaller holly bush in the front yard has tiny flowers now. I'd always thought it was a male bush since it never produced berries but now I'm not so sure and it may be developing berries, too. But if it is a male maybe it will produce enough pollen to keep the female trees and bushes busy producing fruit. Bushes loaded with bright red berries are a very welcome sight on dark, dreary, cold winter days.