I was a bit worried about Blotanical, which has been inaccessible to me for two days now, until I read this message, which the creator, Stewart, apparently sent via Twitter yesterday:
“Hi, blotanists. Blotanical may be down for a few days as we sort out some issues and migrate to a new server. Please pass this message on.”
In consideration of those of us who do not tweet, I thought I’d post it here, too.
Here is a character who doesn’t tweet, either. His song is sweet, nonetheless, bright and cheerful.
It’s the tufted titmouse, my favorite songbird by far. I’ve never met anyone else who loves this bird like I do, and I cannot quite explain my fascination. He’s not nearly as brightly colored or patterned as some, and he doesn’t really do any amazing tricks. Most people haven’t even heard of the tufted titmouse, even when he regularly visits the feeder.
It’s just that he’s so cute and timid and quick, that he takes his seeds away to open them in dignified privacy, that he has that adorable, soft, watercolor wash of orange peeping out beneath his rather ordinary grey feathers, and that he’s so speedy and deft, making some of the bigger birds look clumsy and wrong-footed. (Or should I say wrong-winged?)
But none of that really explains a like or a dislike. One might as well try to define personal taste. It has almost nothing to do with reasons, or at least none that are readily observable and simple to articulate. Sometimes it’s just that way, and we don’t know why. And perhaps it doesn’t really matter, in the end.
The tufted titmouse became my favorite when I was going through a very tough time in my 20s, and I took to watching the birds at the feeder outside my dining room window as a sort of grounding exercise. For some reason, this little snub-nosed fellow was almost always able to cheer me.
During our recent snowfall, I stood outside photographing the garden and the surrounding woods, and I must have been more quiet and still than I realized, for this one came and landed only about 10 feet away on the snow-dusted suet feeder. My movements didn’t seem to concern him at all. So after all these months of trying to capture my elusive favorite on film, I finally got a good shot.
Behind him you can see the vague outline of one of the smaller plots of the kitchen garden, and some long branches salvaged from a cucumber support last summer. I’m hoping to reuse them in this summer’s garden, possibly for pole lima beans. One reason I do love to use real branches as supports, besides their rustic allure, is that the birds feel at home perching on them, and it makes me feel they are more than just passing through on their way to the feeder, but enjoy hanging out in the garden, too.
If you’d like to read more about the tufted titmouse and hear his pretty little song, you can go here.