We’ve finally settled down into a routine and rhythm in our life at Dunnhill. Both last spring and again this spring, we debated whether or not we wanted to continue to live in Baxter County, Arkansas. We find the culture to be both delightful and challenging; we miss the opportunities available in larger urban areas such as dining, entertainment, and even the arts. However, we profoundly enjoy the lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests surrounding us, and our 4 acres is truly heaven on earth for us. We continually work on the flora, both natural and domestic, and creating good spaces for the birds and butterflies, notwithstanding the deer and turkey. Having said all this, we think we have finally decided to stay put, at least for 5 years. Consequently, we’ve been working with an added fervor, and are redecorating the house to more accommodate our lifestyle—we don’t entertain as much as we initially thought, and our family has grown considerably as each of the kids has a significant other, and we have two “new” grandkids.
Each morning, with coffee in hand, we sit out on the patio and watch the birds “come to life” after the weather warms a bit. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds take on sugar water for their busy day, and the American Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Pine Siskins , Carolina Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Robins, Mourning Doves, and Robins eat black sunflower seeds from the tube feeders, and the Pileated, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers, and even the Blue Jays, eat the peanut-based suet.
During the course of the day, we’ll see various species of butterflies sipping nectar from one plant or another. It’s amazing how many butterflies there are around here, if we just look.
I have been chasing a Zebra Swallowtail all spring, but could never get one to sit still long enough to photograph, and then this week this particular butterfly stayed put for a long time, enjoying a small chunk of bark mulch. It would fly off, and then return to the same spot.
We also have had several Spicebush Swallowtails around the garden, and this particular one really liked the periwinkle, though they also like the marigolds despite the repulsive odor marigolds emit. If you look carefully, note that it’s right wing is a little frazzled, perhaps from a difficult journey as it migrates north, but it’s still one of God’s beautiful creatures with lots of color and the notable swallowtail.
Each evening, weather permitting, we sit on the patio and watch the birds, especially the hummingbirds, zoom here and there. There is always a male guarding each feeder, and Kay calls him the air traffic controller for that particular feeder as he will chase off any other males, but allows any and all female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to sip away. Already this year, they are emptying feeders everyday, and we have a half dozen or more.
So, as you see, despite the challenges here in Baxter County, we love our little piece of heaven, and will stay put here awhile longer.