Saturday, November 22, 2008


In my last post I stated that there were ribbons and greens in the window boxes. Well, after re-thinking, and looking at the picture - I see that those are not ribbons at all - but cotoneaster berries. For those not acquainted with them - they are pronounced ca-tony-aster - one of life's interesting words. They grow all over in N CA and we gathered some to put in with the greens and the candles in our window boxes and three sides of our old school house home.

Two funny (or strange) stories go with these window boxes. One evening we invited some friends over for Christmas cookies and tea. It was dark and I liked to light the candles in the window boxes so we could see the candles from inside the house. We like to sit in the house with the lights off, most any evening, and watch the evening come in. At the holidays it is even more fun, with the candles burning in the window boxes. (If our kids drop over when we are sitting in the dark they call us the moles)

Back to the story - before our friends arrived, I went outdoors to light the candles. We lived out in the country, with woods up behind the house - and a pasture between the house and the woods. I had to walk almost all the way around the house to get to the window boxes at the living room windows, so I was a long ways from the door, and I heard this horrible scream off in the woods - like a woman being tortured. I stopped still in my tracks - while lighting candles - got the last two lit and the scream came again - and I didn't stop for anything - I made it back around the house, up the steps and indoors in record time.

We didn't have any idea what the sound was and were about to call the police when our friends arrived. We rushed them into the house and told them what we had heard (Don could hear it inside the house with Christmas music playing. They said they had heard that a cougar could make that sound - and there were plenty of sightings of cougars in our county at that time -so we didn't dial 911. But we were very cautious about going outdoors at night for a while.

Then a happier story -

We had flocks of these darling little birds - about 2" tall, 4" long and can weigh up to 1/3 ounce. They flit about and eat the berries off the cotoneaster bushes - and they found the ones in our window boxes. We'd sometimes have 10 or more eating there. They are such fun to watch and listen to. They make a little tick-tick-tick noise.

One sunny afternoon, after Christmas, I decided it was time to bring in the candles and clean out the window boxes. I was busy dismantling the decorations when I kept hearing tick-tick-tick - then a bit more insistent tick-tick-tick-tick. Looking around I saw a Ruby Crowned Kinglet - sitting on the deck railing, scolding me for all he was worth for bothering his berries. So I stepped back and he flew in to get a few more nibbles before they were all gone. I decided that they would stay a while longer until the birds had their fill, or had eaten them all.

We don't have window boxes at our new house, but thinking about this makes me consider having some built just so we can see the birds up close. I do have a plastic window feeder that attaches to my studio window with suction cups - and that is fun - the chickadees and juncos feed there and entertain Ben and Jahn and me.


craftyhala said...

what part of Northern California was it that you lived in?

Julie said...

We have cotoneaster here in ND too. We kids used to call them soap berries. Yes, we were dumb enough to try them.

I never used to be afraid to walk around the countryside when I was a kid but nowadays the mountain lions/cougars have moved closer and closer to towns/cities in ND. Sightings are frequent now. Scary!

We don't have kinglets here. How pretty!

Betweens said...

these are just the most adorable birds I have seen!! I have a whole row of these bushes and I hope to see some in Ontario. We do get some beautiful birds but these are just adorable!! thanks for sharing..