Yesterday around two in the afternoon from my studio window. It snowed for a couple of hours with just enough precipitation to dust everything newly white and sparkly. Above is the closest I can get to a true portrait of the four-trunked maple I consider to be our home's Place/Keeper as well as the property's southern guardian. On the first day after we'd spent a night here, I went out on the porch with a few important garden talismans I wanted to introduce to this Place. One of these was a large whelk shell I'd found in my mother's garden a few days after she died. I took it home and placed it in my own garden the following spring. And then placed it in another and then we came here. I placed the shell very carefully on a large heavy rock that's just below the tree atop a low stone wall that's buried under the snow in the image above.
A family of nuthatches was living in a prominent hole of the middle trunk at the time. As soon as I walked back to the porch and sat down a few of them emerged in order to talk at length and with considerable emotion - curiosity, uncertainty, excitement to be confronted with something new BUT WHY - all the things humans do when something unexpected shows up on their doorstep. I took the shell away when I realized that. Two years ago it finally found a significant purpose when my son moved back home with a 50 gallon fish tank and four freshwater friends in addition to the splendiforous Mama Cat. One bottom dwelling fish desperately needed a private place to Be and so I washed and offered the shell. Felt that helped to balance the scales from having unintentionally freaked-out the nuthatches with the same object.
and then - here's this morning