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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Berries, Birds, and Beautiful Days

Yesterday and today have been beautiful days! The nights have been quite cold but  the sun has been shining, warming up the daylight hours.

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.

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