Wildlife Lessons: A Survivor’s Tale


“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”

~Yann Martel, Life of Pi




I had a different story for you today.  One that started out with beautiful spring skies, and warm breezes, birds chirping and arriving to their summer homes a bit early.  And then the bottom dropped out, and we had this….this frigid cold, and snow….days of snow.  Snow that froze my daffodils and hyacinths to the ground and kept them there for 4 days.




Snow in April is common here.  We get dustings, and even up to 3, 4 or 5 inches.  But it melts fast.  In all my days here, I have never seen so much snow in April, 8 or more inches for 2 days, and no melting even when it stopped.  Cold January and February temps, in the 20s and teens, instead of normal early April temps in the 40s and 50s.



And as I tell this story, our snow is still here.  And my flowers are still suffering.  But the more poignant part of the story was not about me, and my whining about my poor flowers.  It was about the birds, and especially the American Robins.  They came back in March.  The last to arrive were here on the first full day of spring…our lovely warm spring that has disappeared.



We have loads of robins who visit us.  They pair off, and make their home claiming the land between every 2-3 houses.  Staking their territory to start their home and raise their young.  And our pair has been coming here now for 3 years running.  We know because the female greets us every morning by banging on the window.  She is the only one to ever do this, and she has been doing it now for three years.  But that is another story you can read here.




DSCN3136The robins are used to a bit of snow, and cold.  But this snow swallowed the ground, and not a bit of it was left uncovered.  Why is this significant?  Because robins eat worms and insects in spring, which were nowhere to be found in the snow.  See my poor daffodil buds languishing in the snow.




DSCN3151And it didn’t dawn on me that they would be suffering until I saw this.  Our female struggling in the Barberry branches.  At first I thought, why would she choose to perch in this thorny bush, where the branches are vertical and packed tight with barely any breathing space.  And then I saw it….




barberry collage

She was eating the berries formed last fall.  We have never seen any birds eating these berries.  Which is a good thing, as the seeds then are scattered (if the birds eat the berries), and this invasive bush colonizes in forests pushing out the native understory plants.  But this day I was glad for the barberry berries as were the robins.

I do have lots of berry producing bushes that are native and preferred by the birds, but those were picked clean in late summer and fall.





Another sign they were eating these berries, was the tell-tale red droppings in the snow, and on my front porch bench.





They found evergreens or trees with dense branches for some shelter, but their isn’t much here as the trees are not leafing out for another month.  For birds to survive the cold, it is essential they have food, stay still, especially if they can’t find much food, and use their metabolism to generate heat. And they puff up their feathers to keep the cold air away from their skin, and trap body heat.





Of course they need water to drink, but all puddles and ponds were frozen.  So at first, I saw them eating snow often to stay hydrated.  As the snow on the driveway and roads melted and formed tiny puddles, they drank from those.




bird footprints

Seeing their little foot prints in the deep snow, broke my heart.  They seemed to prefer staying on the ground, even sitting on top of the snow in sheltered areas.


I have plans to take out the barberry bush in the next year or so, but I will make sure we replace it with a nice berry producing bush, and maybe add a couple more along the side of the house just in case.  After all, we have lots of bird friends who like berries, so the more the better.




I guess I should have realized the burden this unexpected weather would put on these birds, but we are so used to seeing birds here all winter.  Of course our full-timers, as I call them, are acclimated to our climate and know how to survive.  Unfortunately for the visitors, they are not used to this, but boy they are wired to survive, and find what they need.


I was buoyed by their feistiness, and their determination.  It pulled me out of my snowy weather doldrums, and made me see the bigger picture beyond my flowers….which I bet may survive after all.  I won’t count them out yet either!




With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.



Note:  I’ll tell you the nice spring critter story next month, and give you any updates on the robins.  Also please excuse some of the pictures…between the weather, dirty windows and screens they made for some dark and out of focus shots.



I leave you with another thought about nature and surviving.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Beyond Words: Winter At The Lake


“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one; each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”  ~Paulo Coelho




So we are back again to explore a beautiful spot that lies just across the street….a mere 10 minute walk from my front door.  Several months ago, I started a new series called, Beyond Words.  I wanted to showcase different spots I find, in pictures, with as few words as possible.  I have been focusing on the lake across the street; already seen in late summer, and again in late autumn.



It was time, now that winter was here, to venture across the street after our first big snowstorm, and a foot of fresh snow.  In autumn I visited on the unseasonably warmest day in November.  And on this winter’s day, in early January, it was the coldest day.  I was in many layers bracing myself against wind chills near -20 degrees.  It was so cold I couldn’t stay out for more than 15 minutes without my fingers turning numb, even though I was wearing gloves made for this severe cold.



But regardless, I was drawn back to this beach, this place, to see its beauty now in winter.  So let’s go to the lake…….





It isn’t surprising that no one is here.  I did find a few footprints of another brave explorer.  How desolate it looks, yet very calm and serene.




DSCN2020I have never walked on a snow-covered beach before.  I felt a bit giddy, and just like when I was a child seeing the beach spread out before me….drawing me in.  Knowing I could stay here forever.




DSCN2019Oh the soft feel of the sand beneath the snow….such a different experience.  Looking to the right, is the area where I saw the soft grassy jetty in late summer.  Now it’s icy and snow-covered, but it appears someone is visiting.  Let’s look closer.




geese collageThe gentle waves have frozen in place close to the shore, but there is open water near the jetty.  The wind has stopped and the lake is like glass.  A flock of Canada geese are feeding here in the warmer open water.  They will soon leave as the cold air and winter weather are finally settling in.




DSCN2044And if I shift my gaze a bit to the left and close up, I see the grassy shore now draped in its wintry cloak.




DSCN2045As I pan back, I can see more of this beautiful cove with the pristine beach.  I didn’t want to walk on it.  So instead I shifted back to face the water, and moved a bit forward.




ice collageAnd I took in the view of the lake in front of me.  Snowy beach meeting frozen water’s edge.  Frosty frozen water meeting ripply waves caught in winter’s icy grip, then open water, more ice and the deep blue lake beyond still not frozen.




more geese collage

And out in that open water are more geese.




other shore collageIf I stretch my gaze to the other shore, I see a foggy haze out in the middle of the lake where the warm water meets the frigid winter’s air.  One of the amazing sights on this day was all the blue.  The blue of the sky meeting the many shades of blue of the water.




snowy bench collageAnd as I shift my gaze left again, even the snow in shadow is blue.  Do you remember this bench from the last post?




DSCN2050It is already getting too cold, so I turn to go.




DSCN2048I’ve left my own path….my tracks in the snow here today.




frozen beach collageThere are no children playing on this day as there were in autumn.  I couldn’t resist photographing this sign again.  The thoughts of swimming here are farthest from my mind on this day.




DSCN2015One last look before I hurry to the waiting, warm car.  Soon enough this picnic spot will be filled to capacity with people celebrating the coming of beach weather.




DSCN2051Before I get in the car, ahead of me I see the sun blazing off the snow, almost blinding me as it illuminates the trees far on the other side of the parking lot.




DSCN2053As we were driving away, I was struck by the beauty of the trees no longer colored in their magnificent yellow and orange autumn cloak.  Now instead, they sparkle in their winter jewels.




DSCN2054Each scene more wondrous….




DSCN2055My soul drinking in every awe-inspiring view as we wound our way to the street, and back home.  It is amazing what wonders lay just 10 minutes away, waiting for us!


I’ll be back to visit this spot one more time in spring to give you a glimpse of its splendor, before the beach opens.  With this post, I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 






Special Note:  Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State.  It has a surface area of 79.8 square miles, and is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes.  There are several parks, marinas and beaches along this lake that spans several counties.




I leave you with a few additional thoughts about nature’s heart.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

nature-winter lake

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

End of Month Potpourri-March 2015


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.

~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You




In my neck of the woods, here in the northeast, spring takes her sweet time.  She slowly walks into my garden, and in March she is just beginning to yawn.  Consequently as others are showcasing their lovely spring blooms, I am still watching the snow melt.


But that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty in my garden.  And for this End of Month Potpourri, I thought I would show you some of the beauty of late winter.




The sun comes streaming through the trees and bathes the garden in early morning light as spring comes closer.



DSCN0403The trees glow first as the sun splits through the bare branches, even those covered in chilly ice crystals.




It creates a rainbow on the snow as it sparkles.




Early shadows cast a blue glow over the snow-covered garden.  You can see the melting snow is creating creases in the landscape almost like a creek running underground.




The sun at high noon is shifting its shadow, and glaring off the surface of the melting snow.



DSCN0757A couple hours later, and the shadows have moved farther along the fence playing on the snow.



DSCN0726As the snow melts, it creates ripples and dimples….making it appear as if we are watching ocean waves frozen in place.



DSCN0733And then it will shift, looking instead like sand dunes on a desert of snow white.



DSCN0749And there are other playful shadows, such as this one from the patio table, reflecting its intricate scroll work.




As we get closer, it appears as if we can see right through the melting snow to the water beneath.



DSCN0754And even closer still, a few frozen bubbles….



Those bubbles mean the snow is melting, melting, melting…..soon to be gone.  And all that wonderful water, in the snow, is nourishing my garden and the spring blooms that lie underneath waiting for spring to step into the present.





Note:   The branches at the beginning and end of this post are of my dwarf willow trees.  As spring has sprung, and rain takes the place of snow, they are covered in the jewels of spring raindrops.  Soon they will burst forth in pussy willow flowers.






I leave you with another thought about the change of the seasons and weather.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

bad weather

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Snow Go!




Snow Go!


O Woe,

There’s still snow.

Spring should be here, but the snow won’t go.


O So,

It’s too slow.

For March has come, and the garden wants to grow.


Go Go,

It’s time for you snow,

To leave us behind, and let the warm winds blow.


O Ho,

The bright sun glows.

Chasing the cold from the soil below.


Grow Grow,

For it’s time to sow.

The new life in the garden has now begun to flow.



© Donna Donabella 2015



This poem has me praying to Mother Nature for a March spring.  I love winter, but it is time for it to go and let spring slide on in!  As March continues this gardener’s patience will be tested as there is lot’s of snow to go….



I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

oh no snow

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  



If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 



Special Note:  The snow in these pictures is recent and piled up to over 5 feet in my garden and 6 feet in some spots.  We are patiently waiting got it to melt and go away….all of it!  It seems the critters are too judging by these little vole prints in the above shot.



I leave you with a few words of the “snow go” prayer.   I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

snow go

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.


Creativity In Winter



The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  

~J. B. Priestley



With the solstice behind us and we head into more daylight hours, I thought I would share with you some of my winter, and the beauty it brings me inspiring my creativity.  The first photo is my meadow in winter as the snow makes dollops of cream on the goldenrod seedheads.





The trees are another wonderful place for winter creativity and inspiration.  The snow clothes the trees leaving me to wonder how beautiful a tree can truly be in winter.  This is my beloved silver maple covered in lichen and snow.





We have many types of snowfall, and I love the gentle slow falling flakes shown here against the backdrop of the gazebo slightly off center.





Here’s another tree shot of the same silver maple, but this time it is the red flower buds that stand out in winter waiting for the warm spring.





Then there is the beauty of snowfall in black and white.  Here is it falling a bit steadier with no wind again against the backdrop of the gazebo.





And here is a part of the garden that was recently covered in snow.  The snow washes the landscape clean and there are few colors left making black and white photos of it very intriguing and creative in my opinion.





One other spot that is magical in the garden in winter is the big birdhouse.




creative snow collage

And finally I leave you with a mosaic for the season that shows you more of the bokeh effect (out-of-focus areas of the photo) of snow.  You can see this same effect in many of my photos of snow in this post.



I hope you enjoyed these winter scenes created by nature.  I am linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.  And I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  




I leave you with a bit of a sentiment about the magic of the first snow.   Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.