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It’s cool and overcast today in Birdland, and we are mostly between blooms.

Only the yucca — delicate framework of white bells — day lilies — the common ditch lilies, not the fancy varieties yet — and bellflowers add white, orange and purple to our yard.

But other flowers are budding out: The roses Michael planted in a circle in my corner meadow are just beginning: A white (with a tinge of pink) has dropped most of its petals, and a new, pale salmon bloom is just opening.

Today, I will weed that bed so we can see the circle in its glory when the flowers open on the rest of the bushes.

While I was in China, I wrote about Maude, our turkey hen, who had sneaked a nest into the barn.

She was still setting those eggs when I got home, and last week, we took her off the nest.

Turkeys hatch in 28 days, and if they hadn’t hatched yet, they would not.

By then, she had rejected about half of her eggs, knocking them out of the nest.

With her safely ensconced in the coop, I collected all the eggs and opened them.

About half were rotten, but eight held developing poults.

Half, again, of those were only half grown — still just embryos in the sack — but four were fully developed and almost ready to hatch.

They had all been dead for a while, and who knows what killed them?

Very sad, but it was Maude’s first try.

Next year, we will keep a better watch on her and try to help her along.

The pond is host to many noisy toads and frogs who serenade us at night.

The water lilies are spreading out to cover most of the pond.

Yellow and white starry blooms open and close with the sun each day.

Most of the lily pads float on the surface, but — I think because it is getting crowded — some rise above to form a sort of umbrella.

A few days ago, we were taking our morning walk and noticed a fat toad sitting on one of the floating pads, but under the shade of one of the upper leaves, in sort of a toad garage.

Now we check for our toad-in-the-hole every morning, but she hasn’t been there.

Instead, a white lily with delicate yellow stamens floats, opening and closing every day in the toad garage.

I made it home in time for firefly season and watch the gentle lights rising over my corner meadow and the bean fields every evening.

They are there, too, when I wake in the middle of the night and peer out the window.

I’m glad to see them, glad to hear birds singing, a raucous racket in the mornings.

I’ve been worried about the bats but saw my first bat the other night.

We got a new fire pit — my plan to dispatch the piles of deadwood we pile up after a pruning or a storm.

It’s very relaxing in the cool of the evening to burn some of the pile and watch the sun set as the sticks burn quickly into embers.

And then in the sky, I saw a lone bat swooping and flinging itself after its evening meal.

It was a comfort, but also alarming, since we used to see dozens every evening.

I worry about the effect of pesticides on the insect population, which feeds bats and birds.

I worry that we’re heading once again toward a new silent spring.

I recently read (for the first time) Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, “Silent Spring,” and understood how she helped win the battle against DDT, so that the raptors that were absent on this farm in my childhood have returned — not only hawks, but eagles!

But now, three generations later, we are once again approaching a newly silent spring, with new dangerous pesticides.

The best part of aging is that we elders can bear witness.

I remember the time of no hawks; I remember (not even that long ago) when the sky above our backyard was filled with a colony of bats that we would watch each evening.

Now, I wait and see only one or two. This scares me.

And I hope I live to see the revival of the insects and of the birds and bats that feed on them.

But they won’t revive without our action.

The best part about writing these letters is that my mind meanders, leading me from one topic to another, inspiring me to reach out for further study.

I started wondering about Rachel Carson and found this page:

I can’t wait to explore.

There is a link to an hourlong PBS special on that page, and I think I’ll cuddle up tonight with my knitting and watch.

I don’t yet know what I can do to help us avoid a silent spring, but I’ve decided that’s my next research project. Won’t you join me in investigating positive actions we can take? Let me know what you find.

Explore in Beauty; Investigate Peace;

Blessed Be

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. If you’re missing your weekly dose of Birdland Letters in The News-Gazette, you can still read them every week in the Piatt County Journal-Republican. Consider subscribing to support your small-town newspaper. You can see pictures about this week’s post on Instagram @BirdlandLetters. Mary can be reached at or via snail mail care of the Journal-Republican, 118 E. Washington St., Monticello, IL 61856. She wants to thank her friends for writing and will answer you all soon.

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