In the company of nature, if only on a balcony.

Funny how life and Mother Nature, has taken the opportunity to help highlight the small blessings even in uncertain times. The end of last year was chalked full of fast paced to do lists, work, and holiday rituals. In January, the new year began with an energy that felt somewhat unusual from years past. Then in the subsequent months that followed, everywhere the usual way of life was brought about a grinding halt. By the end of march in Russia it was most assured that things were going to be suspended into the current limbo. Honestly it is challenging to find the blessings and thoughts of gratitude some days. But that does not mean they are not there if you simply want to see them. For me personally, the universe decided that my very “American never take vacation mentality” was going to take a vacation, even if it meant using an unorthodox method. While a bit challenging to handle at first, it is defiantly something that I realise going forward needs to be on the books every year. But perhaps not as long as my current imposed vacation. I have to recognise that there is no need to burn myself into the ground trying to prove my productiveness. So I will be grateful for the lesson of learning to take a pause and slow things down. I am also grateful that I have new opportunities that lay on my horizon.

Titmouse and spring buds. Photo by Jacqueline

Another thing that I feel has been highlighted by this current event is that people are starting to wakeup to many things around them. One of those things is the abundance of Mother Nature. My companions during this time have shown that time will carry on as surely as the season and the cycles of the moon. The birds keep going and the flora grows and blooms all around us. We will all get through this and persevere, nature is really just waiting for us to come to the realisation that we are all strong and we have always have been. When the going gets tough and tragedy occurs humans come together and heal together. Sometimes in order to recognise the problem we have to become so saturated with it in order to be able to intuitively come to the understanding that change is necessary. The media, politics, and social media have been flooding my thoughts for the last few months. The unintended consequence is that I have been able to dig deep and come to the realisation that I need to listen to nature and my intuition more than ever. Nature and our intuitions are under constant assault and need to be protected and utilised with highest priority. Perhaps we need to dial the tech back, and pay attention to the nature around us. Do not get me wrong some technology is good, but I believe that right now Mother Nature is telling us that we need to wakeup and take a step back. I myself am far too guilty of being glued to devices, and that is something that I will take strides to correct.

Kitchen herbs in the window. Photo by Jacqueline

So coming out of this mess that has been allowed to take hold of us. I am making a pledge myself to make a few changes. Firstly, is to carve out time where I do things that do not need tech. I regularly say to others that we need physical work, and that our bodies crave it. So I will be taking my own advice and dedicating time for creativity, and projects that require my hands. Additionally, I will be much more dedicated to my flat and balcony gardening. The garden is not necessarily for food production, but more so for tuning into nature and being aware. Carving out this time will hopefully help me to be more in balance with myself. Helping to make me stronger and keep me truer to my convictions.

More about the company aka the birds.

How I ended up with a plethora of winged friends on the balcony started with my curiosity. A curiosity which stems from them being one of my animal totems. Each type of bird has a special significance and they appear when advice is needed!

The summer feeder on the balcony. This is the latest version after many different prototypes. Photo by Jacqueline

When I moved to this flat, I had been searching for a place where there was more greenery. I selected this flat because of its open balcony that would allow me to do some container gardening and perhaps have a bird feeder. Being situated nearby one of the large parks I was curious about what birds there were. I have a fondness for the winged fauna and so I was eager to see who might come by. So along with my gardening pots, I erected a bird feeder. Which was by no means the beautiful sophisticated one that is now on display, more of just a small basket. It was not long before they became curious about the new resident and began dropping in to have a look. The reward for my efforts was a beautiful mated pair of hawfinches, followed by the house sparrow, and then the hooded crows. And not so much to my delight the flying rats. This is the name that city dwellers have given to the urban pigeon, who congregate in large flocks everywhere to everyone’s dismay.

Juvenile hawfinch photo by Jacqueline

Since starting my balcony birding, I now have way to many to name and keep count of. The beginning was just a small group, but that has since changed. In addition to my year rounders, we have seasonal rotations and special guests who stop by to check what is on offer. I have research each of the various birds and provide them with things that they need in their diets. This means that the buffet is careful curated for them and does not contain things that cause them issues with digestion. And while there are an abundance of mainly sunflower seeds, the main attraction is peanuts! It is quite possible that almost every bird snacks on peanuts. Thus making them in high demand and can cause problems if the feeder is emptied without getting a prompt refill. They are quick to call my attention to the empty feeders and can be rather bothered if I run out of something.

Green finch juvenile. Part of the summer visitors, they migrate south for warmer weather. Photo by Jacqueline

Personally I find joy and pleasure watching them on the balcony. The main focus of the group will be the titmice, the sparrows, the hooded crows, and the woodpecker. You will hear from them regularly, as they are my year round residents. I hope you enjoy the stories we will share about the fun things we get up to!

The starring cast on the 8th floor balcony!

Please allow us to introduce ourselves. Jacqueline and company, would like to share fun adventures and life in Moscow. We do hope that you will enjoy reading about our tales from the 8th floor balcony as much as we love sharing them. Just so you know we will take turns writing about the different events that go on, so we hope that you will not get confused.

Watercolor of girl and titmouse bird. Painted by Jacqueline

~ Let’s begin with our human, also known as the keeper of seeds! ~

Jacqueline is an expat living in Russia. We have dubbed her the keeper of the seeds, as she is the purchaser and feeder filler. She is from the city of Seattle originally and moved to Moscow in 2014. Having fallen in love with the city of Moscow she intends to stay permanently. Her primary occupation according to her is teaching English to corporate students. We find her a kind, compassionate, and quirky person who likes to share positive vibes! Among her interests, is a fondness for nature, probably the reason she spoils us with seeds and enjoys living near our beautiful park. She says that nature has always been a part of her life and that she loves flora and fauna. If you knew her in person you would not be surprised that she enjoys creating things with her hands and spends her weekends cooking or doing diys. We here on the balcony have the pleasure of enjoying a good portion of her diys and urban gardening projects. She is someone who enjoys life in its simplicity, harmony and the natural world. She likes to focus on being happy, positive, and living healthily. Jacqueline’s other hobbies include photography/art to some more spiritual things. However if she is not doing one of those then she’s either doing some fitness, trying out a paleo recipe, or perhaps drinking tea!

~ Friends with wings also known as the company! ~

If you are a bird lover like myself, then you will enjoy my balcony. On the balcony there are several species that stick around the whole year, and then some migrators. I distinguish the company as the year rounders and the guests as migratory or rare sightings. My year rounders are the sparrows, the hooded crow, the titmice, and the great spotted woodpecker. Each of them are wonderful to watch and listen to over a cup of green tea. The great northern titmouse and its cousin the blue titmouse are bright and cheerful singers. The sparrows, both the tree and common house varieties help tend the balcony plants and chat about the day. The crows are harbingers of messages in exchange for peanuts, and yes I do pay attention to synchronicities. And then there is the woodpecker, this bird is definitely my favorite totem. Each of them ensures that I always have joy in my day, something to smile about and keep me in tune with nature.

So once again a warm welcome to our blog and we hope you will enjoy!