The end of winter. The edge of the snow glacier receding on the rock wall by my front yard. Snow lasts longer here on the north side of the house, but is clearly on the retreat. What has this to do with food? We'll get there.
The order–grandkids then birds then squirrels–has something to do with importance and responsibility.
I babysat three grandchildren Saturday night for 2 ½ hours. Amelia is 6 months, Tristan 2 ½ and Nikayla 3, but soon to be 4.
I had to feed them supper. Then, today, I loaded up birdfeeders in my backyard, intended for birds, but often visited by the common tree rat of Iowa, the brown squirrel.
Lunchtime for birds this afternoon after the feeders were filled.
The grandkids were pretty easy to feed. I popped a frozen pizza in the oven just before they arrived and convinced them to hang out in the living room for just a minute as I popped it out.
They wanted a “picnic,” which to them means eating at a plastic picnic table rather than the dining room table, and who and I to argue? So I gave the two older ones towels and the three of use trooped out to the deck to wipe off the picnic table before I dragged it inside.
So we wiped and then I dragged and then they sat and enjoyed some applesauce as the pizza cooled. I cut up a piece for Tristan, but Nikayla refused to have her pizza subdivided. So I just warned her to be careful, gave it to her whole, and told her to take a quick swig of her milk should a bite prove too hot.
Lest you worry, blog fans, no, I was not taking much of a risk—I had allowed the pizza to cool for a good 10 minutes. It was by then warm and pleasant but no longer burning hot—but I issued the warning because tomato sauce insulated by cheese and crust can sometimes retain a hot spot.
Anyway, Mr. T, it turned out, was both very possessive of applesauce, and not hungry for it. Nikayla ended up eating probably 2 ½ servings to his symbolic lick. And when I gave him his neatly divided piece of pizza, he ate all the cheese and pepperoni off until he had bare crust and then asked, “more pizza?”
Well, I’m not a member of the “clean plate” club, especially where a 2 year old is concerned. I figure my job is to offer a variety of nourishing foods. His job is to eat what he wants. A tot’s taste preferences and appetite bounce around so much that insisting he eat a certain amount would be to set up pointless mealtime battles.
So I gave him more. Didn’t bother to cut it up, it had cooled more by this time and he was only going to pick off the toppings anyway.
Meanwhile, as I stood in the kitchen and wolfed down frozen pizza, I also opened a container of sweet potato baby food, mixed a bit of rice cereal in, and fed the peanut.
She is a petite little eating machine. I wonder if she inherited the same crazy metabolism that her older brother has. His picky pizza eating was a bit atypical—usually, Tristan eats it all. Little Miss Amelia scrunched her face up and had an unpleasant look, the kind of face we make when we smell a skunk. That odd-looking bad-smell face, however, is her “I like this food” look, and she downed the whole container, then snacked on toddler food Puffs like a little monster.
Did I mention that both she and her brother are thin little things? Amelia is all head with a tiny, tiny little body. She’s not unusually short for a 6-month-old, but she is petite of build. Her brother has massive upper body strength but not a body-builders physique—he’s lean and lithe, probably because he burns off all the food he eats. He’s either sitting still or in full-flight running mode, and he runs more than he sits.
Anyway, Audrey watched them overnight Thursday and reports that there was only one “incident.” She went to fill the birdfeeders on the decks, and noticed Tristan by the door, watching her, bawling his little eyes out.
All she could get out of him was a tearful “feed … birds.” But when she brought him out and let him help her fill the feeders, he calmed right down.
He just wanted to help feed the birds. Whenever he’s around, if someone is doing something outside, he wants to be a part of it.
Well, I fed the birds today. They probably don’t need it. The snow cover is pretty much gone and flowers are already sprouting. No doubt last year’s natural seeds are plentiful for our little flying dinosaurs to snack upon, but we feed them so we can watch them.
And we get squirrels, too.
I don’t hate squirrels, they are cute to watch. But I don’t love them, either. Birds are cuter and don’t try to dig up my gardens. Squirrels cause less harm than bunnies, but they aren’t benign, to a gardener. They are diggers and eaters of bulbs.
Squirrel damage--the rodents often knock the perches off of one feeder trying to get at the seeds. Very annoying.
Well, I feed the grandkids to try to keep them happy and help them grow. I feed the birds to make me happy—just so I can watch them. And I don’t fight with either about what they eat.
Flowers in back gardens seem freaky early on Feb. 5. By the way, sorry, no grandkid photos--I snapped a few, but did not realize I had left the SD card in the computer rather than the camera ...
Final image--shady ground cover in back already seems to have this year's flower buds ready for a warm day to bloom. Hold back little plants--it may look like March in the gardens, but it's not.