Mary Lucille Hays

Mary Lucille Hays

Letter from Birdland | Flowers are therapeutic

In Birdland, we are under a heat advisory, and I feel limp with humidity.

Walking to work, I watched a gigantic dragonfly capture a smaller insect. It flew weaving around about 10 feet in the air, homing in on its quarry, and then darted up to hover high above after the capture.

Letter from Birdland | A canine conversation in the forest

"The Philosopher of the North Woods"

A one-act play

Characters: Mary and Michael, a pair of wilderness backpackers; Madame Ursula La Osa: a black Lab; Sir Cullen P. Dingleberry, esquire, a duck-tolling retriever

Letter from Birdland | A plunge into the surf, while the critters revel

When I left you last time, Michael and I were waiting on the beach on Half Moon Bay, Calif., for our boys, Ellis and Chandra, to come back with a surfboard.

Michael was still bodysurfing, but I had retired to a log on the beach to keep watch in case he got into trouble out there. I kept my eyes on him, wondering what I would actually do if he needed help.

Letter from Birdland | A summer to remember

It's high summer in Birdland, and this summer holds the weather of my dreams. The heat is calmed by the soaking rains that foster my amnesia of the bitter drought just a week or so ago, when I despaired of weeding in the concrete pavement my garden had become.

Letter from Birdland | A little help from my friends

I've never seen the corn so high, more than 10 feet in some places, even some individual stalks here and there rising above the crowd another 2 feet.

It has tasseled, bringing the gentle scent of fresh corn silk on the wind and a new layer of color laid on top of the green fields. From our windows, we are high enough to see the tawny corduroy stripes of tassel over the green.

Letter from Birdland | Time to enjoy old favorites and garden surprises

We are looking for rain in Birdland, but the forecast keeps getting pushed ahead like the clouds crossing the prairie that don't have time to stop. First, the rain was supposed to come Friday, then today, and now they're saying Tuesday.

Letter from Birdland | Fine dining in Chicago: Great food, great time

A heavy drizzle is falling on Chicago, and traffic is crawling on Lake Shore Drive. The sky is muffled in low clouds like damp cotton wool, and the lake to our left is a flat greenish-gray.

Letter from Birdland | Flowers have started putting on a show

It's hot in Birdland, and we're looking for rain. Michael mowed a little plot in the corner meadow last week. My husband helps me with my vision of a winding path through prairie plants and flowers, and now we're working on a vegetable patch in the middle of it.

Letter from Birdland | City, country have similarities

Birdland is hot and steamy, but we are in Chicago again. I'm enjoying this dual city/country life. I wouldn't want to leave the farm, but in Chicago, I can see the benefits of city living. Sometimes the city even helps me see my home more clearly.

Letter from Birdland | Changes show life is a process

Yesterday, a front came through Birdland, sweeping away the heat. Gayle came for a walk just before sunset, and we delighted in the cool breeze. She brought another load of plants from her yard — white peonies, vinca and black-eyed Susans. You can never have too many Susans.