May is hard for me to deal with. I love the beauty of late spring as it bursts forth in flowers; however, my allergies do not. I always feel draggy and tired and wonder if something is wrong with me; thinking about it reveals the problem: it’s May. The month is even more difficult for me since my husband’s death as it holds the anniversary of both our first date and our wedding.
So here I am in the middle of May, trying not to feel depressed. I had an agenda for Saturday; there were lots of things I needed to accomplish. One of them was to pick up my little tiller from the repair shop, and I was preparing to leave home when I heard a loud THUD on my picture window. Since my cats were going nuts on the inside, I was fairly certain that a bird tried to fly through the glass. It happens frequently. Sometimes the birds are okay and fly away; at other times they lie stunned on the ground below the window. In a few instances, they have injured themselves so severely that they don’t recover.
When I went outside to see if the bird was okay, I was quite surprised to see a woodpecker lying there. I have seen hummingbirds, robins, sparrows, cardinals, and even a hawk hit my window, but I never expected to see a woodpecker. I retrieved a new pair of gardening gloves from inside my house; after putting them on, I gently lifted the injured bird. Talking softly, I assured it that I was only trying to help it. It began to blink its eyes, slowly recovering from its flying encounter with an unexpected solid object.
I carried the bird to a locust tree, choosing it because the branches forked out low enough that I could place the bird where it wouldn’t fall. I set my patient in the tree fork, only to have it hop into the palm of my hand. I walked around the yard, looking for a place in a maple tree, knowing that woodpeckers seem to favor them. Their branches were too high for me to reach a safe place to leave my feathered friend.
Thankful that I had my cell phone in my pocket, I was able to capture several pictures of the multihued young woodpecker. Because of its coloring, I knew it was a male. I marveled at the wisdom of the Creator God as I observed the sharp-pointed beak and sticky round tongue necessary for the creature to obtain its food. I felt honored that it sat on my hand for so long, seemingly unafraid. Realizing that I needed to get on with my day, I reluctantly placed the bird back in the fork of the locust tree. This time it stayed, clinging to the bark on its own.
Upon my return home, I looked out the window to see if the woodpecker was still there. It was further up the tree limb; I went outside, and it climbed even higher. When it flew to the other side of the tree, I was sure it was going to be okay.
My encounter with one of God’s special creatures reminded me of how many times the Lord has reached into a stressful time in my life and given me a bright and shining moment to hold onto. To me, it is His way of saying, “I care about you. I am here for you.”
The month of May does have its perks. Among other things, it is National Salsa Month, National Salad Month, and National Egg Month. Sunday afternoon found my kitchen in a whirl as I tried three new recipes. They all turned out well, so I am sharing them here.
Smoky Three-Bean Salsa
1 (15.8-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced*
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; cover and chill at least 2 hours.
*Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce may be found in the Mexican sections of supermarkets or at Mexican grocery stores; 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, may be substituted.
Spinach Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette
1 (10-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small purple onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup chopped dried apricot
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled goat cheese (optional)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1⁄2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl; toss to mix.
Drizzle Apricot Vinaigrette over salad; toss to coat.
1⁄3 cup light-tasting olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Egg Salad Club Sandwiches
2/3 cup mayonnaise, divided
4 large hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 celery rib, diced
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 very thin white or wheat sandwich bread slices, lightly toasted
1 cup firmly packed fresh spinach
Garnish: whole fresh chives
Stir together 1/3 cup mayonnaise and next 7 ingredients.
Spread remaining 1/3 cup mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each bread slice. Spread 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side up, evenly with half of egg salad. Top evenly with half of spinach and 4 bread slices. Repeat procedure with remaining egg salad, spinach, and bread slices. Cut each sandwich into quarters; garnish, if desired.
To serve only the salad, omit bread, spinach, and 1/3 cup mayonnaise.