April 18, 2012
Spring bird migration has come early to the Cumberland Plateau. Usually mid-April is when birds start trickling in — swallows swoop and dart across fields, gnatcatchers and White-eyed Vireos scold from overgrown thickets just beginning to leaf out, the first warblers — Black and Whites, Black-throated Greens, Yellow-throated — sing from still-bare branches of oaks and poplars.
This year, though, is different. With the uncommonly mild winter and early spring, everything leafed out early — most of the flowering trees are done flowering; nearly all of them have leaves. My wife’s garden is weeks ahead of where it normally is. And the birds, somehow sensing this on their wintering grounds in Central and South America, have already started streaming through in earnest. Tanagers and orioles, grosbeaks and buntings, thrushes and several species of vireo — all are here. And in the past few days the warblers have arrived in numbers. Hooded, Tennessee, Nashville, Yellow, Cape May Palm, Prairie, Blackburnian; Ovenbirds and Waterthrushes. I’ve seen more than twenty species of warbler already this year. No doubt more are on the way.
If you’ve never seen a warbler, you owe it to yourself to look for them, or at least Google “Blackburnian Warbler” (as a for instance) and look at the photos that pop up. These are gorgeous birds, decked out in smart suits of yellow and black, blue and gray, green and brown and red. They winter in the tropics and even the dullest among them look exotic. They are tiny — each could fit in the palm of your hand. And their songs — they offer a repertoire of trills, sweet whistles, chips, and bouncing melodies that, for me at least, is the true herald of spring’s arrival.
But this is a limited time offer. The birds pass through on their way to their breeding grounds in the northern forests of New England and Canada. So look for them soon, or wait until next year.
January 12, 2012
After mild temperatures and rains that made it feel more like March than early January, winter has finally returned to Tennessee. And the old man seems ticked off. The rain that was falling earlier has coated everything with a thin but treacherous layer of ice, and the wind is howling, blowing hard, sharp shards of snow in every direction.
I think this will be a great night to start a fire, open a bottle of red wine, and settle in with a good book. Wherever you might be, I hope you’re keeping warm.
February 9, 2011
There’s a beautiful snow falling right now. The past few storms we’ve had have been violent affairs — stiff winds, frigid temperatures. Nothing gentle about them. But there is no wind tonight, and the air is cold but not biting. Sounds are muffled, peaceful. Already we’ve got close to an inch, and though the forecast is for two inches or so, I think we’ll wind up with more. It’s clinging to branches and tree trunks, so that the lights on the house make it seem that the trees are glowing. It’s been a long winter, and many of us are ready for an early spring. But this is lovely.
February 8, 2010
Today’s post can be found at
, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe, among others. The post is called “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” and it’s about the strange things that happen in real life that don’t always translate well to fiction. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, there’s a new contest up on my website:
. Visit the site and maybe you’ll win a signed copy of my upcoming release, The Dark-Eyes’ War!
May 9, 2009
We’re — what? — nine days into May, and we’ve had six inches of rain already this month. That’s not an exaggeration; if anything I’m understanding it. Our lawn is a swamp. The little pond near our house is as high as I’ve seen it and the stream that flows out of it is like the freakin’ Amazon. Here in Tennessee we’ve been in a prolonged drought. Not anymore. The drought is over, the deluge has begun. The sun appeared for about an hour yesterday afternoon, and it might have peeked through the previous morning. But every day seems to dawn grey and dreary, there always seems to be a rumble of thunder in the distance, and when the sun does manage to burn its way through the cloud cover, the air becomes heavy and hot. Rainforest air.
The forecast calls for sun on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, too. But until then more rain. And maybe showers by the end of the week….
March 28, 2009
Crazy weather here. Storms, winds, torrential rain. And now it’s clear as can be and thirty degrees colder than it was this afternoon. There were tornado warnings all around us and throughout our county this evening, but we’re all fine. I hope all my friends in and around Nashville are all right, too.