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February, 2021
This month is one of my favorites as it contains my two favorite holidays - Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day. Plus, it's home to the Celtic celebration of mid-winter, Imbolc.
An act of Duck Devotion
Recently I witnessed an act of duck devotion that took my breath away. I thought I'd share it with you in honor of Valentine's Day.

Every evening at sundown I go outside to put our four ducks “to bed.” They spend their days in our fenced garden, but at night they’re safe from predators in their duck house. Last night I witnessed a heartwarming display of duck love.

DeeDee is the duck we’ve had the longest. Though she looks like a wild mallard, she’s actually a domestic duck. It’s probably close to ten years ago that she was attached by a raccoon then abandoned by her owner at the vet. The wonderful vet treated her then offered her to us. She had been blinded in the attach, but of course we snapped her up!

Perl is the larger white duck, and Gloria is the smaller. Jasper is the gray and white one. Gloria and DeeDee used to be sworn enemies, but they seem to have reconciled as old age set in. Perl is in charge but has definitely slowed down since his glory days. Jasper is DeeDee’s guardian.
Last night when I went out to put them in for the night Gloria was already settled in the duck house under the heat lamp. Perl (small white circle in the photo) was standing at the corner of the duck house looking at poor blind DeeDee (continuous circles) who was helplessly going in circles in the aisle at the side of the duck house. Alternatively, she was knocking into the wall of the house then the side of the raised bed paralleling the house. Jasper was at the top end of the main aisle, heading for the duck house.
Clearly, he heard DeeDee’s distress and when he reached the end of the second aisle, turned left. He stopped in the middle and took a peak over the raised bed. I’m not sure he saw DeeDee but he definitely knew she was there because of the racket she was making.
Amazingly, he rounded the far end of the raised bed and carefully shepherded DeeDee down the aisle, around the corner of the house, and through the open door.
Clearly, he heard DeeDee’s distress and when he reached the end of the second aisle, turned left. He stopped in the middle and took a peak over the raised bed. I’m not sure he saw DeeDee but he definitely knew she was there because of the racket she was making.
Amazingly, he rounded the far end of the raised bed and carefully shepherded DeeDee down the aisle, around the corner of the house, and through the open door.
In Praise of Groundhogs.
Surely a society which has a holiday celebrating rodents is a healthy one! Thank goodness we have Groundhog's Day! I understand that there are actually people who celebrate this holiday with big parties. Sounds fun. My celebrating is limited to just being glad there is such a holiday and watching the news for the antics of the various weather prognosticating groundhogs around the country.

Of course Punxsutawney Phil is the most popular, but there are several others including Staten Island Chuck who once bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor was officiating the Groundhog Day ceremony on Staten Island and when he lifted Chuck aloft made an "oh-icky-poo" face. He received a nip in return. Here's a link to an interesting article on some of the lesser known weather predicting rodents.

I have a friend in West Virginia who has a groundhog residing in her garden, but I don't know if she's a weather prognosticator. I do know she enjoys scraps from the garden. As for me, I would just like to have a groundhog as a neighbor. I'll depend on the local news for my questionable weather forecasts!
Beavers in Love - for Life!
As I contemplated Valentine's Day, I looked up animals who mate for life thinking to feature one of them. There were so many to choose from, including a number of birds. But the creature that captured my attention was the beaver. Their engineering abilities as well as their skill and agility moving through the water are awesome. If you've never seen a video of their underwater comings and goings, I think you'd really enjoy one. I found this one especially interesting: https://youtu.be/26fZcqMeQrk. Also, here's an interesting article about the largest known beaver colony. Another appealing aspect of beaver life, though, is their family life. There's so much to teach the young and that's what I depicted in this acrylic painting from a long eight years ago now. By the way, this is a tiny painting - 3 1/2" by 2 1/2". I wonder if I still have the skill to do this type of work?
This is a completely different beaver-inspired piece, a mixed media spread in my latest art journal. I like both and enjoyed creating both, but in different ways. I find mixed media freeing and also challenging as I try to make sense of unrelated bits and pieces. If you're interested, I recorded a short video with my thoughts and inspirations about working on this piece. You can find it below. By the way, I didn't do much actual journaling on this piece, but what I did says "beavers basking in the light from within, which is love." And so, we circle back to our Valentine's Day theme - the miracle of love, in all its various incarnations. Happy Valentine's Day!
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February Coupon

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 15% discount in my Etsy shop, TheFoxesGarden. Any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Everything in the shop is hand made by me.  From February 2 to 16, just use discount code FEBRUARY15 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and domestic shipping is free.  Click on the image of the barn owl to visit my shop! (By the way, the only items that are not discounted are my books Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor and A Milkweed Christmas - The Inn at Ivy Knoll. If I discounted them, I'd be selling at a loss.)
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Garden Beginnings
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e-mail me at kspoole@hughes.net
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Copyright © 2021 Kaaren Poole, All rights reserved.


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