Category Archives: Nature

Garden Surprises

We didn’t grow butternut squash this year. I was delighted  when our neighbor offered us a butternut from her garden.  She thought she planted cucumbers, and was horrified and deeply disappointed when they turned out to be squash. Our neighbor is German-Russian, and the German-Russians here are mad for raw cucumbers in the summer.  The squash were truly a tragedy for her.   We certainly enjoyed the squash at Thanksgiving.

A Lutheran pastor friend of mine  operates a market garden with his family.  They planted what they thought was a very long row of onions, but what turned out to be leeks.  Lots of leeks. They were not familiar with leeks, and live in the only area of ND where there were sufficient rains this summer to insure a vigorous leek crop.  They were at a loss to know what to do with them. He asked me too late to take any off his hands.  They didn’t sell.  I love leeks, and was sad.

We haven’t had too many garden surprises or any other surprises for a while.  I hope I plant spinach this summer and don’t get gourds.  I hope I am surprised by mild weather and sufficient rain.


When have you been surprised?



Black Friday / Tree Friday

While America now knows the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, for the last couple of decades at our house it’s been Tree Friday. For many years this was the day that Child and I headed out to chop down a tree for the holidays.  These days I head down to Bachmans (they have a 25% off fresh trees on Black Friday and they are really close by).

In fact, it was 7 years ago on Tree Friday that I got my nickname from Jacque. Dale had written that day a great bit about Black Friday and used some Shakespearean language to get us going.  My bit was:

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the north and Hansen Tree Farm is the sun.

Open up, fair Tree Farm and await the crowds
Who, already stuffed and sleepy from yesterday
Swing saws and other implements of destruction.

Jacque came up with Verily Sherrilee that day.

So what about you? Taking part in Black Friday shopping?  Online purchasing?  Just taking it easy?

Learning Curve

Yesterday I had to stop while a small flock of turkeys took their time crossing the road. Then today it was a fairly large gaggle of geese that slowed me up; I’ll admit I gave my horn a couple of quick toots to hurry them along.

It made me think about the animal crossing system that they have in Canada along Banff National Park. All along the Trans Canada Highway through the park, they built overpasses and underpasses for the animals to use.  According to Parks Canada, they have documented hundreds of thousands of animal crossings and saved thousands of animals from becoming roadkill.

Apparently coyotes, cougars and black bears figured out the crossings the fastest. Grizzly bears and wolves took the longest.  But no one answers my question.  Did they just open them up and wait for the animals to give them a try or did they try to “train” wildlife, perhaps using bait? Maybe it was it just a “build it and they will come” kind of thing?

It occurs to me that I’ve had animals in my life that would learn something like this quickly, like the black bears and I’ve also had animals that would be trailing behind the grizzlies.

Have you had a particularly smart (or not) animal in your life?

The Odd Couple

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Sometime this last summer I saw the strangest thing—a male peacock crossed the road in front of my car in hot pursuit of a turkey hen.   They disappeared into the woods at top speed.

“HMMM, I thought. Did I really see that?”

When I got home I told Lou about it and we had a good laugh, labeling the pair “The Odd Couple.” They were kind of the Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett of the bird world.  Remember that one?  Two mismatched, high profile celebrities that impulsively got married then inevitably they divorced.

In September before I left for Ireland, I saw a blurb about a similar thing somewhere else on the news or on the internet. I searched YouTube, that faithful documenter of daily life, for similar henomena and came up with an impressive visual library of involvement between peacocks and other fowl.  It turns out that peacocks “sleep” with anybody.  Apparently, peacocks and peahens are the sluts of the fowl world.  I suppose if you have all that impressive featherage, it cannot be wasted.

Here is a YouTube of a news report of a peacock in Victoria, Canada and a domestic turkey .

What sight causes you to say, “Did I see that?”

Fall Back

It’s that time of year again; Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we all (well most of us anyway) in the U.S. get to fall back an hour.

Apparently in all the years that we’ve had DST (starting during World War I and then reinstituted during World War II), no one has been able to do a definite study that proves one way or the other that DST saves energy. It’s a bit of a pain; way too many clocks if you count all the electronics and the clock on the stove is very finicky. Last spring it took me almost 5 minutes to get it changed.

There is one big benefit of DST at our house; we use it as a reminder to change the batteries in our smoke detectors and our carbon monoxide detector. Because of this we know that the batteries are always in good shape.

What are you going to do with your extra hour?  (apologies to Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam and Samoa)

Winter Attitude

When people ask me which season is my favorite, I don’t have to think – winter. I love all the seasons and I love the change from one season to the next, but winter is my hands-down favorite. Brisk temperatures, snow, fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, ugly sweaters – the works.

Even though I adore it, I’m not ready for winter yet. My cold weather clothes are still in the attic, I haven’t adjusted the automatic thermostat in the house and this morning I realized I’m not quite ready to give up my Birkenstock sandals for the next six months yet. I just don’t have my winter attitude yet.

Hopefully I’ll get my winter attitude soon; my feet were really cold today, especially coming home from work today in the cold, cold rain.

What do you need to do to get ready for winter?