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No Red Efts

13 Jun

 

The restless wind woke me up early, due in part to a mirroring, echoing turmoil inside me.  This time of year it really is light enough to walk at 5.30AM, so out Hawthorne, Pounce and I went.
The year my brother became ill was when I first really noticed the red efts.  They appeared any warm mid-May  morning in the northern edge of the corn field from the woods.  Damp encouraged, rather than deterred them. Their numbers swelled to a couple dozen eft individuals for a few days, then gradually dropped to single digits, disappearing for another year by the end of June.
My brother’s birthday was June first.  Since his death, it has seemed to me that peak numbers of efts occur around and on this date.  They are tiny blazing bits of color; living, moving, breathing exclamation points.  ”  I am here.  Small, insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  Beautiful.  Dutiful.”
Efts , for me, exude hope and beauty.  They are a blessing-  they bring happiness and joy.  They indicate our lives have purpose and meaning.  God has given me life.  How shall I spend it?
A line in one book  read over a few months this winter still has me thinking: ‘We tend to forget that time is linear, that a new day will come.”
This is so true of me.  Most days it seems time is not marching on, but dragging baggage into today from the days before.  Or from months ago.  Or years gone by.
It may be a new day, but the worries come from a series of yesterdays.
What could I have done differently so we would not find ourselves in this hard place?  Could I have done anything?
We did the best we could, we put one foot in front of the other: how did we come to this bog?
It is now mid-June. There has not been one red eft out in the field-woods boundary.  Nor in the woods.  Each day I scout the ground for one.  I forget to look up at the running clouds and twirling sky, at the newly-dressed trees massing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their finest before a concert.  And they are waving to get my attention.
Where are those little sparks of hope?  I keep looking for them thinking they may be what can buoy my spirit with beauty.  And each day almost miss the meadow grass, now blooming and hip deep, or the elderly cat coming through those green waves to be carried and cosseted, or the first poppy popping.
God brings new blessings, new beauties and hopes as time marches on. They may not look like last year’s.  The blessings may come disguised.
At the far end of the field, as I pondered all these things, something caught my eye: a living red-orange exclamation point, a blazing beauty mark  glanced back at me from the dark soil.

 

Autumn Harvests

15 Oct

Jay bought a new bow this fall.  The first new bow in over 20 years.  On one of his first times out hunting with it, he shot a turkey.  He was hunting deer.For a week or so Jay has been watching the deer which come to feed on the neighbor’s oak mast in the evenings, figuring their routes, the wind, where to put a blind, etc.

When he put the blind up in a small spot of woods near the oaks, the deer changed their route.  You might change the way you came to table too if a small box appeared in a corner of your dining room.

So he put up a stand in a white pine higher on the trail they use.  Friday night the wind was right.  He left a walkie-talkie with me and went out. About 30 minutes before dusk he called to say he shot a fawn.B y the time I made it over there, he had also shot a buck.  Two deer on one hunt with bow!

When we walked up the trail the buck had taken and crested a rise, there were two deer in the distance- a buck and a doe.  Two much larger bucks appeared in the further distance.  We eventually retreated and Jay waited for full dark.  Henry came to help him look.

The first buck we had spied had started and turned while we were watching it; the guys eventually found it had startled at the carcass of the buck Jay had shot.

 

A nice 8 point buck which Jay and Daren have yet to decide whether it is a yearling or two year old.

Friday night was also the coldest night so far this fall.  It got down to the low 20’s F.  Sunday I picked these:  a large acorn, one of the few horse chestnuts from our tree, and in the middle one of the first (very small) persimmons from the tree Jay started from a whip.

 

I nibbled just a tad on the persimmon.  This morning, though, I ate most of it.  Then promptly ran to the bathroom to brush my tongue and mouth before I vomited.  The sites I read afterward are correct: unripe persimmon is like talcum powder on the tongue.  We will leave the rest until after frost.  Or put them in a bag with some apples as ethylene gas ripens them.

Stalking the Wild Antlered Beast

18 Dec

Hunting was not as productive this year.  Yet for the first time in his hunting career Jay sighted,  stalked, and shot this 7-pt yearling buck the Thursday afternoon before gun season ended in a fallow huckleberry field a tenth of a mile from our home.

Season Change

1 Nov

The ancients were correct that this time of year is transitional. Just in the past week the weather has changed: snow twice, hard freezes.  Those freezes mark the end of raspberries from the garden, ferns near the house, bright leaves on the trees.

The rest of the apples need to be picked, and the stems of wild rose hips for bouquets.  The lst hydrangeas picked before the snow:

 

The girl spent more of her birthday money on a new haircut:  a long shag.  Almost half her hair was cut off but it is hard to tell, she has so much!

And I am readying for a trip to visit friends in a far off land, my first visit to the Mediterranean and the Mid-east.  Pounce looked last night like he was waiting to be packed!

He has been joining Hawthorne and me on our morning walks.

Field Trip

31 Oct

The four-foot-long orange Corn snake, Goldilocks, who lives here and helps by eating rodents we catch, went on a field trip last week.  A young lady from the local herpotology club picked her up from Jay’s office and then brought her back home after she had visited the local middle school.  She is a perfect color for a Halloween visit!

When the young lady learned that we feed Goldilocks live and freshly dead mice and voles, she was alarmed.  It seems to her captive snakes should be fed only freshly dead captive raised mice!  When I inquired about the reason for her belief, she said that “wild rodents carry disease and may bite the snake”!

Umm.  Yes.  We think that God designed snakes to deal with bites and germs.

Now I am assuming, which is not a wise thing to do, but it is to make a point.  Why would a good Darwinist not want a snake to be challenged by live prey?  Survival of the fittest, and all that.

For my part, I think it is cruel to keep a snake in a tank all its life and never be able to constrict its own prey, never able to hunt, however artificial it is in the confines of the tank, never to eat “natural” food.

For a similar reason I take Goldilocks outside and let her slither around.  Under observation.  Perhaps that is not “safe” either, but, gee whiz, life is not all about safety, even for a pet snake!

Catch and Release

9 Oct

The forefinger largehairy caterpillar eating on the Milkweed fell off the plant I picked so it did not come home to be photographed.  It sure was not a monarch larva.  It was a caterpillar.

The red darning needle dragonfly was rattling under a piece of grass.  Freeing it, holding it in my hand, wondering if I should set it free or keep it for cards.  It was a spectacular  bright red.  It flew off just then and I was happy the decision was made for me.

The Black Swallowtaillarva went back out into the dill and promptly disappeared.  It overwinters as a pupa so perhaps it got ready for winter.

We found one Katydid still alive and kicking in the long grass verge on the side of the corn field.

Earl and Merle Squirrel have increased their range dramatically.  They now go over the lower roof to the west side of the house, they meet us at the door, and this afternoon Earl was on top of the freezer in the back room; I gave him a chestnut, got hold of him and he jumped onto the door and up over the roof.

Jay took Isabelle hunting Saturday and they came home with one goose.

 

And while we were cleaning up the garden, we thought maybe the answer to higher food prices is to feed out the turnips.  One of these would feed a family for a couple days.  Or even longer if no one likes turnips! Turnips as large as your head.


The First Frost

6 Oct

Yesterday morning stepping outside  in the predawn was like stepping into a refrigerator.  There were still a few intrepid insects singing.  A couple early birds.  When the sun came up the crows, squirrels, chipmunks all started their morning calls.  We walked to within 100 yards of a buck feeding  on the corn left in the field.  For breakfast: my mother’s homemade blackberry jelly on home made toasted bread.

Yesterday during the day the east cornfield was harvested.  It was clear sky all day and into the evening.  I harvested the rest of the peppers and most of the tomatoes.  Jay covered the red raspberries with a tarp.  I cut dill.  And while doing so came upon the first (for us to see) Swallowtail larva of the year.

The dill plant with it attached was brought into the house.    The green-red blown hydrangea blossoms were picked and hung.

The Monkshood was just coming into bloom:

Easy to see where Aconitum got its common name, eh?

This morning was like standing in front of the open freezer. The grass and gardens were covered by thick white frost. No insects singing.  Birds were, though, in a frantic “Thank God for the sun” kind of way.  Geese were landing in the newly harvested field.  We walked fast.  How did the spiders work so quickly since the field was harvested yesterday to string innumerable filaments of fine silk down low to the ground amongst the stubble?  And what happened to the spider which had strung a heavy thread of tough silk right at head height on one corner of the field?

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