Monday, April 30, 2007


It seems there are 2 types of days. Days that are full of work (and very little time for pictures) and days that are full of wandering (and everything is a photo op).
Today I have no pictures to share.
I know well that this comfortable, weed-pulling weather will quickly be replaced by the sweltering, clay-baking temperatures. The kind that make you seek refuge inside an air-conditioned room and hope that you made enough progress against the weeds to give the gardens a fighting chance. Heaven knows, there's no point in trying to weed then--they'll just snap off in your fist, roots firmly baked into the earth.
Fighting off the garlic mustard has been a chore since we moved here and discovered it for the first time. I've made good progress--the piles scattered around the yard are proof. But I'm going to have to take it even more seriously. Just when I think I've eradicated it from a section of the ravine, I look out to see a positively huge plant thumbing its nose at me. The stuff just won't die! I read today (in planning my next campaign of attack) that even after pulling it from the ground, the seeds continue to mature. Persistent bugger! I guess that's why garlic mustard is one of Ohio's top 10 targeted invasive species--it grows even in those piles. So, I'll have to do one better--this weekend we'll BURN it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And you'll get a picture!

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Identity crisis

Have you seen them?
The geese that build nests on tiny islands in the Black-topped Sea. You'd think that even though their former fields have become parking lots, they'd at least choose to settle on a grassy edge somewhere. But they choose these--barren, isolated, smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot! Is there something instinctive that leads them to these islands? Something in the site choosing process that says : whenever able, situate your nest on a spot separated from all other land, by a Sea?

Maybe I shouldn't worry. I mean--what's wrong with a goose raising her family next to parked cars? Its not like they'll imprint on one, right?

Sort of sad.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Unexpected company

An ordinary morning can become an extraordinary morning in an instant.
Gloomy skies, damp coolness in the air, smell of coffee in the kitchen--not anything to hint of much excitement. Then he was there...hovering at the window, reminding me that the hummingbird feeder should've been ready and waiting for his arrival.
We've hung the feeder in that spot for years now--and it always thrills me to look up and see him looking in the window at me. He's survived the long trip,...once more--and I feel like an inadequate hostess.
"Oh my, where are my manners? You must be exhausted. Let me get you a drink."

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dendrochronology (or "How old is that tree?")

Thank goodness for gloomy days that let you stay inside and think.
There is an old oak tree that stands at the back of our property. A huge, broad, still fairly healthy, old tree. When we first moved here and scouted out all the "cool" features, we found it and stood as a family, hand in hand, barely reaching around the trunk. The girls were much smaller then, so that's not an accurate measure of its size, but quite a specimen it is!
This year, my goal is to determine its age. I've taken the critical measurement--circumference at 4 1/2 feet above ground. But, that's only the beginning.
We plan to clear a path to it this year. It will be our thinking tree--a place to go and sit beneath its massive arms. But, for now, I sit and think and read about big trees.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


These celandine poppies have planted themselves here--I couldn't have done it better.

The rains we've had the last couple of days have really made the plants come alive--and with the humidity, its like living in a terrarium! I think these came up almost overnight-- can you hear them?

Sometimes, they almost seem human...

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Monday, April 23, 2007

That cat!

That cat showed up mysteriously 4 weeks ago--just walked out from under a hole in the garage door, and began rubbing up against our legs.
It was the first warm day we'd had in a long while. We'd been chatting in the yard with friends, and apparently our voices drew her to make contact. How long she'd been there--who knows? Probably a "drop-off". Our old house and barn leave the impression that we must need a cat, I guess, as it's happened before.
For the next few days, I called friends-who-want-cats, neighbors-who-lost-cats, people-who-love-cats...but found no one. I set up an appointment to have her spayed--just in case this took a while. And we kept wondering what to do with that cat.

This morning, I sat on the swing with her sleeping on my lap--the picture of trust and contentment. Soon, she'd be at the vet's--today's the day. And the agreement was that if she tested positive for feline leukemia, he'd put her down. No need to have her spayed. And, all day, all I could think about was that cat.

Here are the promised pics of yesterday:

This log was decomposing in our field--dragged there years ago when we had the dam on the pond rebuilt. I stumbled upon it overgrown with goldenrod, and got the idea to drag a chunk back to the garden for a nice planter! It looked delicious!

And here's a bluebird box Tony built--read up on 'em to be sure we had dimensions and architectural elements just right :-)

It looks out nicely over the field--soon we'll have the others down the path further.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


Wow! Who could have asked for a more perfect day: bright sunshine, no humidity and temps near 80. Following the chilly (frozen) spring we've just had, its no wonder everyONE was at Lowe's grabbing everyTHING for a day in the yard! It was predictable--like picnic shopping before Memorial Day--but there was no avoiding it. WE had to grab things, too.
The herb garden will (finally) be receiving its long-promised make-over. Here's my strategy: since there is no such thing as bare ground here, if I don't plant something in a spot, something will plant itself! And there's really no point in pulling a weed, unless you plant something else in the gap! So, lavender, rosemary, oregano, parsley and mint will soon be planted. (and azaleas, dianthus, and blue-eyed grass--because they were pretty) I don't know how much I will "use" the herb garden, but at least I won't be weeding it!
And we've got a good start on the bluebird boxes. I know we're late, by a month, but maybe we'll catch the second round? Or perhaps we'll be early for next season?!
Anyway, we dug and hauled and sawed and pulled and planted and watered and staked and...overdosed on our sunny Sunday!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

The buzz

The cherry tree outside the front door has come alive--not only in blossoms, but in bees! It's lovely to look at, yes--but I can't walk past it without stopping to watch the bees. Mostly honeybees, but bumble bees and smaller, fly-sized bees, too. They're a noisy bunch of busy bees!

And I caught what is probably the last days for the trillium. They're already looking disheveled and starting to turn from the bright, clean white to brown. Such a treat to see them mingling with the May apples.

The pond was buzzing, too--hundreds of little fish (bass?) jumping and splashing, churning the water just beneath the surface. Which could be why our pond monster was active, too! (I didn't want to stick my hand out for a size reference) Don't be deceived by the tip of his snout--his head is about 5 inches across!

But, quietly, daintily, down at the other end, this sandpiper feeds.

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Friday, April 20, 2007


This morning brings more activity in the sycamore. The bright sunshine has everyone up and scampering. This spring's baby squirrels are getting lessons in branch hopping. One with a pointy tail stays very close to Mom, bothering her repeatedly to nurse. It seems she's having a hard time finding a route back to the nest--a route that he can navigate with his limited jumping ability. So, she tries tree after tree to get back home. She jumps, turns, and waits for him. If he jumps, she goes on--if he stays behind, she returns and they scout another approach. This could take a while.
I'm waiting for the other adult (another mom?) to return. I noticed her climb down earlier. In her mouth, she had something very large, and round--like she'd gathered the edges of a picnic blanket and picked it up. Like a sack. It looked the same shade of gray that she is--and could've been a baby?? But, if definitely wasn't moving. She stopped several times, as she ran along the ground, to adjust her grip. And disappeared up the bank on the other side of the ravine. Hmmmm.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

All-natural mosquito control

Last night was the perfect evening to spend just a little while on the swing. It had been a long one--packed with errands after an 8-hour work day, and I like nothing better than relaxing on a porch swing in the dark. So many night sounds that clear my mind--almost as good as watching the ocean waves lap at the sand on a beach. Sitting with the kitty who seems to have adopted us as her new family. Just thinking about nothing in particular, when I sensed movement. At first, I questioned I'd seen anything, but the flick of Kitty's head meant she'd seen it, too. So quickly, darting back and forth--bats.
Usually they stand out against a dark night sky, but these were much lower. In fact, very hard to see against the darkness of the grass. And it made me reconsider my walk back into the house. Maybe I should just stay a while, seeing as the bugs weren't bothering me?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New neighbors?

It's always so startling for me to see this strange silhouette in the trees. Not a good picture, I know--but, you get the idea. This tree is the neighborhood "hangout". A sycamore, with a hole. For a while, I thought the pileateds would move in, but they've moved on. I'd do anything to see their young--I can only imagine how adorable they must be! Anyway,...not this year I guess. A pair of red-bellies have peeked in a few times, but they've not stayed, either. We may end up with a squirrel family again. Last year, every time I looked out the window at this tree, there they were--three baby squirrel heads, peering back at me! We'd greet the morning together, looking down on our shared ravine. So, who knows who'll be moving into the neighborhood--I hope it's someone nice. Maybe a wood duck?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What a beauty!

Our old house looks better in some seasons than others. I'd have to say that a pretty spring day, with a yard full of spring beauties is one of the classic looks I like best!

And all the cast off junk of the last century is gradually covered by a new, bright coat of green!

Always good to see my buddies out on their log soaking in the sun. If I had more time, I would've joined them on MY log (the dock across the pond) and spent the morning together enjoying the warmth!

And here's mama, STILL swimming back and forth, mouth full of fresh new shoots for the hungry children.

The sessile trillium out back--batteries ran out before I could hike over to the white trillium on the hill.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

There's always something...

It's as I had feared. The geese have come and gone already--this year's nest another in the series of failed attempts. The picked-through remains of fluffy gray feathers and broken shells are so predictable, I feel like scaring the pair off every time I see them return. What is it about that particular spot on the bank of our pond that attracts them year after year...right onto the well-worn path of every nighttime prowler??
January's ice storm brought down a lot of branches in the woods. I did my best to free the smaller trees trapped beneath the tangles. And, a little off the normal "path" I walk, I found a nice surprise. Trillium!! Slightly over the bank, near the ginseng. In the 15 years we've lived here, I'd never seen them there before. About 20 clusters in all--not a lot, to those who can boast an entire bankful. But for someone who wished for just a handful--

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


Tomorrow sounds like it will be nice--nice enough to go out without the scarf and down jacket!
First stop: the pond to see if our geese are there and nesting. Last week, mama muskrat swam right beneath me, back and forth, collecting mouthfuls of dandelions. Poor thing. The meager amount she's able to carry hardly is worth it for the distance she must travel to deliver it. But, it was a pretty day for a swim, if you're a muskrat.

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