Relatives can be treasure troves of information and ideas. Recently I was spending a winter week with my 90 year old mother in Virginia. Among my daily duties there is feeding the animals: putting out a cob of dried corn for the squirrels, and filling a trough of cracked corn for the deer, a feeding box of black oil sunflower seeds for the squirrels, and a trio of bird feeders – black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and thistle seeds. The yard is a flutter with birds: from the reddest cardinals – seven on one occasion – to the biggest crows. Acrobatic squirrels “fly,” and when they’re willing to take a chance of being seen, deer, from last spring’s fawns to bucks with impressive racks, wander up from the woods into the clearing with its promise of food.
Whereas my mother also has suet feeders, a favorite among the woodpeckers, hanging on a line, her younger sister Theresa prefers hanging peanut butter treats from her trees. Both my mother and my aunt are troubled by severe arthritis and must constantly figure out ways to adapt what they enjoy doing to circumvent their limitations. When her fingers began cramping too much to allow her to fill the spaces in a pinecone, my aunt switched to a dried corn cob. What a brilliant adaptation and one that makes sense for young children too.
She spreads crunchy peanut butter on a dried corn cob and rolls the cob in seeds. That is easier on her hands than filling the spaces in a pinecone. She and her son David figured out how to form a holder from a wire coat hanger, and each morning he stops by the house and hangs out a new cob. How lucky the seed eating birds flying into her yard are and how delighted she is to have these feathered friends to entertain her.
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