January 21, 2013 10:36:41 AM
Puffy little dark-eyed juncos are popping in and out of the leftover Christmas tree. The same Christmas tree we bought at Marvin's the day after Thanksgiving. A couple of years back we decided we were no longer able or nimble enough to trek hill and dell to secure the tallest and finest cedar tree in the Prairie. The girls, who had ably helped, were off pursuing other interests and rushed in about Christmas dinnertime and so we succumbed to ease and purchased a Marvin's tree.
With the tree placed by the French doors it is easy to un-decorate the tree and move it outside the doors onto the porch. Then during the rainy, dreary days of winter pinecones are collected from the trees in the field and slathered with peanut butter in the kitchen.
It's a bit messy but then the pinecones are rolled in birdseed and tied to the Christmas tree.
The junco is a quick little bird and will dart in and out of the tree and hop up the interior limbs. The birds don't seem to mind much being watched from the window while they're feeding. Occasionally a red bird will join them. They are friendly little birds and do not fight.
The odd thing about the Marvin's Christmas tree is that it will stay green well into spring when the birds can feed themselves. I don't water the tree or do anything to it at all. I've tried examining the needles to see if the tree has been spray painted. Perhaps it is, but I can't tell.
The Marvin's tree is a good value at $19.99 considering it doubles as a bird feeder after Christmas. Marvin's has a tree bin for Christmas trees at $15.99 which we bought last year. Only this year we figured out the $15.99 bin is like the "scratched and dented" sale, 'cause the tree had a big "wowie" in the middle.
After the bird feeding is over we talked about hauling the tree down to the lake but Sam has reservations about using the tree for fish structure if it's been dyed. So I drag it into the woods where it can become habitat for Prairie bunnies.
Moving the tree must wait awhile. With all this rain and the snow the ground turned into a muddy "slip and slide" and rubber boots will "marr-up" to your socks.
Sam and I spent some time yard grooming while we had those irrational warm temperatures. His rubber boots had a split in them so he cut them off into short rubber booties, but by then his socks where so swoll up he couldn't get the boots on. Looks like he'll be getting some rubber boots for Valentine's Day.
Once the pinecones have been denuded of peanut butter and birdseed you can collect them off the tree, slather them with peanut butter and birdseed and enjoy them all over again.
This winter activity is probably Prairie re-cycling at its best.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.