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Staying connected to nature when the weather is awful

Copyright Porbital from FreePhoto.com

This has been a tough year for weather. Here in Texas we are experiencing the worst drought in the state’s history. In the coastal bend of Texas the temperatures have routinely been in the high 90’s and in other places of the state the temperatures have topped 100 for many, many days. With weather like that everyone and everything suffers. Today it is hot enough that I feel like I could bake cookies on the sidewalk. I have no desire to play outside on days like this.

There are things that you can do to keep in touch with nature when you can’t go out.

Make use of windows

It is common practice these days to keep all the windows blinded. In part this can help conserve energy on hot days. The side effect is that it keeps us isolated from our neighborhood and our neighbors, human and non-human alike. In order to conserve energy and still have the ability to connect with outside open the blinds during the early morning and evening hours when the sun is low and won’t shine inside to heat up the house. During the hot weather this is when most animals are most active anyway. Another alternative is to plant trees or shrubs in such a way that they will shade the windows from the hottest times of sun. I have a large mesquite tree that provides shade to my window so I leave the blinds up all day.

To take advantage of my window, I have set up a shepherds crook feeder pole with a seed feeder hanging from it. In addition, I have a humming bird feeder hanging from a hook under the eave where I can see it from nearly everywhere in my room. So, as I sit and type my reports I can watch the hummingbirds come to feed.

Set up watering station near a window

The primary need of all living things is water. During a hard drought like this one water is a major attractant. Because I like watching birds I set up a 4 tiered birdbath outside the window where I work. Each level is designed to attract a different size and behavior bird. The big bowl is popular with the large birds like the grackles and the white wing doves. The smaller bowl on the top is favored by sparrows and other small birds. The shallow low bowl near the ground is favored by the local squirrels and I sometimes see a toad near it.

Set up a feeding station near the window

The second need is food. Lack of water kills everything, plants, insects… everything. Larger animals are dependent on these two base food sources. Insects are by the largest protein base food source and nearly all animals make use of insects in their diets. Plants, that should be seeding right now, are dry brittle stalks with no food value. Putting out seeds will attract seed eating birds and animals. The most popular of all bird seed, the seed that is eaten by the broadest number of animals, is black oil sunflower. It is high in protein and fat, two essential nutrients for animals. It is possible to put out live meal worms in a small dish to attract the pure insect eaters. Most insect eating birds will not eat dead insects. Finally, raisins are a popular treat for birds that thrive on fruit.

Provide cover

After the spring rains stopped I let my garden run to seed and become overgrown with grass and nutsedge. I knew, from past experience, that there were few plants that were going to stand up to the heat that was expected for the summer, even if I kept them well watered. When the fall rains come, I’ll pull all the weeds and plant a crop of seeds to feed the butterflies and bees throughout the fall and into the beginning of the winter. In the meantime thanks to the “weeds” and the two types of jasmine shrubs that I planted, I am enjoying the benefits of having a garden that provides cover. I have a healthy crop of Anole lizards. I occasionally see a toad hoping about. The smaller birds come to the shrubs for cover when the y feel threatened. At night I am with the tiny flying stars that we call fireflies. None of these creatures would be able to thrive if I had done the typical suburban garden thing and pulled all the weeds.

With a little planning you can stay connected to nature even when it isn’t possible or desirable to be outside. I would love it if you would share, in the comments, some of the things that you do to stay connected to nature, even when you are stuck inside.

Image credit: Porbital

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