Cold Start

comments: 82























The weather here has been absolutely freezing. Apparently we're just going to be hurled from one extreme condition (scorching) to another (freezing). I had the heat on last night, and the flannel sheets. I'm not really complaining (much) as this has been perfect knitting weather. All the knitters I know are surreptitiously knitting as fast as we can, trying to finish stuff to wear before the next heat wave. Because honestly, we need sweaters right now. And probably scarves. It's that cold.

Something really, really cool happened to me the other day. I came in from watering out back and I heard this very loud birdsong, and found that there was a chickadee sitting in the dining room. We don't have screens (or mosquitoes), but a bird has never flown into the house before. Birds have been in the house before, brought in in a state of mortal crisis by The Bee. But in this case, she, Old Lady Bee, was sleeping on a chair on the porch, literally right outside the window above which the bird was sitting and singing its heart out. She continued to sleep. The bird flew from curtain rod to pendant-lamp cord to picture moulding, singing and stopping to look around. He didn't seem in distress. My heart started racing a bit. I opened all of the windows as wide as they would go, and threw open the front door. I went outside and watered the front, hoping he would find his way out. I talked to my neighbor for about an hour, and we could hear him singing in there the whole time. A friend of his was flitting around outside, frantically calling for him, but he continued to sing his way around the dining room and didn't come out. I went back in and talked to him a bit. I really needed to come in and go to work (in the back of the house) and wanted to shut the front door. He did more flying from thing to thing. I stood still and talked, very quietly. He tilted his little head, listening. Suddenly he flew down to the lampshade on the entry table. I walked over very slowly and he stayed on the lampshade. I seriously could not believe it. I was two feet away. We stayed like that for minutes. I don't know how many minutes. I lifted my arm and held my finger out to him, moving a bit closer. He tilted his head again and sidestepped away. I stayed like that, with my arm out, until my arm started getting tired. Then I propped my other elbow on the entry table and started holding up my right arm with my left hand. We stood like this for a long time. Still, he didn't fly away. I inched my hand closer. I put my finger up to his feet, holding my breath. He was so small. He put one foot on my finger and then took it off. I kept my finger there. Suddenly he put both feet on my finger and started pecking at the tip of my finger. He was so light. He pecked at the tip of my finger some more. I was smiling hugely, afraid to breathe. Slowly I walked over to the open window, him on my finger, bobbing nervously, the whole time. When I got to the window and moved my arm outside he started to walk up my arm, toward me! I moved my arm further out the window, afraid he would fly off and back into the house! But then suddenly he was off, flying up into the sky.

It was, honestly, one of the most awesome, most amazing things that has ever happened to me in my whole life. It was so, so, so cool. I still cannot even believe it! It was so cool!

I forgot to say that at some point, Bridget did hear me talking and she came into the house through the door and started sauntering back and forth through the dining room. She knew something was going on but she couldn't figure out what, and she never saw the bird. She kept coming back into the room in mild confusion, like she thought she should definitely be involved in something. And she mostly just wanted to go back to bed. The old girl is seventeen years old this summer. She's mostly a wild cat. An old wild cat, now. She's never really sat on my lap, in seventeen years. That's not to say she hasn't been on my lap, but when she gets on my lap (once a year or so) we are both so totally freaked out that it's about as far from a lovely or relaxing experience for us both as it gets. She acts completely bewildered to have suddenly found herself on my lap. She skitters around on my legs as if her paws are on fire. I freeze in place, trying to avert my eyes lest I be caught looking at her (because she will punch you in the face faster than the speed of light if she catches you meeting her eye). It's like having a cross between a squirrel and a goblin for a pet. But she comes home every night, she loves us in her way, we love her in ours, Clover Meadow intelligently tries to give her wide berth (although occasionally she will walk up to Clover and try to head-moosh her, and Clover's entire body stiffens in terror, and we all hold our breath, too, until it's over), and Amelia screams like a banshee every time Bridget comes flying through the room like a fruit bat trying to get out of the light. Little Bee. Our little alley kitten. Doing pretty well for an old girl.

I told Andy I don't think I've ever taken a picture of Clover that more accurately captures her than the one above. Sweetest heart ever. Drives me insane on a daily basis. But I love her so much. Dear love. That face.

I've been ridiculously busy. Andy had the week off and I've just been working, working, working. I drafted a skirt pattern for you. And bought half of the remaining inventory from a quilt shop that closed in the '90s. Not even kidding. More on both of these things soon. New quilt kits coming! Next week! They're really pretty. I can't wait.


What a thrill! I had something similar happen, but it was a poor little birdie that flew into one of our picture windows. I scooped it up and it seemed like it was on its way to meet its maker. I rubbed it for a while, sat on my porch and let it collect its thoughts. It then started to come to, and stood up on my hand, then my finger. After at least 10 or 15 min. It hopped to a rail on my porch and then took flight. It really is an incredible feeling to have a wild bird on your finger. I'm a huge bird lover, so I really loved your story :)

We have birds come down the chimneys and end up in the wood stoves at least a few times a year (obviously when there are no fires going). I have a dedicated set of "bird mitts" that I put on and try to quickly throw open the stove door and gently grab the bird before they can go flying willy-nilly all over the house (in order to release them back outside). About 25% of the time they fly past and then it's all out chaos while the puppers go nuts trying to play "catch the bird!" with mom and my husband freaks out between alternatives of AHHH IT'S FLYING AT ME KILL THE MONSTER and WHAT ARE YOU DOING DON'T HURT THE POOR LITTLE THING!

beautiful ever...
great bird story...looks like a chickadee...
i laughed reading about your cat...

may spring + summer bring you more magical adventures...

Kristen from MA says: June 13, 2017 at 12:42 PM

Oh Alicia, how magical! That bird knew that yours is a gentle soul.

It's cold out here in Corbett, too! I'm working on a Sunday Shawl in cotton that was made by a mother and daughter in Africa, bought from an online shop in Australia, designed by a woman in New Zealand, being made by a country wife in Oregon. I love the internet. We spent the night in Timberline Lodge last week when my cousins were visiting from Oklahoma and Texas.. and I thought of that time when you and Andy were in the lodge and you got some really neat images. I just blogged about it.. it's really cool to spend the night in that amazing place. LOVED your story of the bird in the house.. we've had them in here but it was wild to get them to go out. Mimi looks like she's really in love with ballet.. darling child. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Isabella says: June 13, 2017 at 01:11 PM

Oh, a bird in the house would have terrified me! As a child, we used to get bats in our 1914 four square house until Dad found and sealed their entry. I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing that swoosh sound in my bedroom. Oh, horrors. But I'm glad it was a magical moment for YOU!

Gorgeous picture of your doggy. We've got a new puppy here, my first ever, so I'm looking at dogs in a new light now. I call him Puppers sometime - did I get that from you? I think maybe I did. Love the photo of the water fountain (?) in the wall with the foliage. Gorgeous. The bird story is utterly amazing. Normally birds just panic when they're trapped. He must have known you were trying to help him! Your outdoor seating area looks very welcoming. I hope you have some warm days soon (but not too warm) so that you can sit there and enjoy the outside bird song. CJ xx

I've heard from some that birds are easily manipulated by spirits of our passed-on loved ones come to say hi. I like that; it's so sweet. Maybe?

What a fun story! And I'm so glad you took the time to appreciate the magic of it and let us know, rather than panic and just worry about shooing it out as fast as you could. Sometimes I think I shortchange myself of such moments because I'm worried about what "should" eventually be happening and so therefore miss the whimsy of the moment. Anyway, lovely post! Thanks for sharing.

So glad you have strawberries! I often thought your willow bordered beds in front would be a fun place for strawberries. I had to cover mine this week, barely pink and the birds are snitching.
A bird in the house would freak me out I think but only because I don't want to get pooped on! Your experience sounds lovely...
Excited to see the new quilt kits for sure!
My kids finished school on the 9th and this rainy cool intro into summer vacation is not very exciting for them either.
Have you heard the quote "Rainy days are so gardeners can get their housework done" That's my motto !

A skirt pattern! So YES!!!
And this bird story, you should make a children's book out of it, it was so lovely to read!

This post was so sweet! There's nothing like feeling a connection with a wild animal! Makes you feel like Snow White, doesn't it? I really love your blog, it's one of my favorites to read. Thank you for the beautiful photos and stories!

My late husband had an awesome experience with a baby chickadee. It flew into his open window and landed on the passenger seat as he was driving alone. They traveled together for a while - talk about "distracted driving" and when my husband got where he was going, he took the little bird on his finger and put him on a shrub as he was in a somewhat urban area. He never forgot that day.

Alice Stephenson says: June 13, 2017 at 02:27 PM

I love your skirt! And the sweater that you are knitting! It looks like the two coordinate together.

Your chickadee story is so sweet. She probably wanted to come in just to take a tour of your lovely house.

The chickadee is not a fearful bird; many larger ones are far more skittish. How exciting! And you got a great photo of it. I didn't realize your kitty was such an odd little soul. :)

We've rescued birds before, and what you describe with the pecking we've taken to calling "beak battle" or "thumb battle" (faux battle, really). Because birds are so delicate and sensitive, I think they force us to be slow, quiet, and gentle, and very much "in the moment." Must be why I especially love to see children interacting with birds. I love that you had that experience - so magical!

How magical! It's like the one time we found a hummingbird nest, but even cooler. And that photo of Clover absolutely melted me. Such a sweet, dear heart (and I am not a dog person).

Sounds like a fairy tale over there!

Lyndia from No. Calif. says: June 13, 2017 at 02:41 PM

You darling girl! Love your posts. That bird knew you were a gentle being. As always, love your photos too. Thanks for sharing!

I love the photos of your family, human and otherwise. Your experience with the bird is a tribute to your patience and loving spirit. The bird wouldn't have stepped on your finger otherwise.

Oh, how the child is growing. I can't believe how serious her face looks at times.

Thank you for sharing.

AndreaJane says: June 13, 2017 at 02:47 PM

At first glance I thought your knitting project was a big old pair of underpants and that you had truly gone around the bend. Relieved to see that I was mistaken . ☺

Stefanie P. says: June 13, 2017 at 03:36 PM

What a magical experience with the bird...Obviously he sensed a peace about your home...I LOVE the intensity on Amelia's face in her ballet would appear to be serious business to her...LOVE IT!!!

there are so many things i want to comment on here, not the least of which is your bird encounter. wow. that is the coolest. i cannot believe you actually got the little fella to sit on your finger. you've got the touch! clover is so pretty and i always look forward to seeing her. our fifi is 15 now and deaf as a post, half blind but oh so perky. those corgis. they tug at your heart. i'm so interested in the half quilt shop....that closed. i'm confused and can't wait to hear what that's all about. but the things that make me want to pack and move house cross country is the fact that it is a) cold at your house when it was 95 here in central VA today, and b) the best thing EVER - that you have no mosquitos. seriously? that does it for me. i'm coming west.

That was an amazing bird story. Wow!

Kathleen Grady says: June 13, 2017 at 05:25 PM

What a wonderful series of little vignettes of your life. I loooove the bird story a lot. Well, all these animal stories. And, of course, your darling girl. So comforting. Thank you.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at