Category Archives: Nature

Pohjala’s Daughter

About 15 years ago, we planted two rhododendrons named Pohjola’s Daughter. They were  Finnish cultivars said to be cold hardy. They were sort of root bound, and I remember thinking that I could have done a better job freeing the roots when I planted them.  Well, I was right, since they didn’t get appreciably bigger or bloom until this May, despite my constant fertilizing and fussing.  The flowers were so pretty.  It was a long wait, though, and I thought they were aptly named when I researched the story of Pohjola’s Daughter, and how she kept suitors away by giving them impossible tasks to complete before she would marry them. The story comes from the Finnish epic The Kalevala.  Sibelius used the story for a tone poem.  According to Wikipedia:

The tone poem depicts the “steadfast, old,” white-bearded Väinämöinen who spots the beautiful “daughter of the North (Pohjola)”, seated on a rainbow, weaving a cloth of gold while he is riding a sleigh through the dusky landscape. Väinämöinen asks her to join him, but she replies that she will only leave with a man who can perform a number of challenging tasks, such as tying an egg into invisible knots and, most notably, building a boat from fragments of her distaff. Väinämöinen attempts to fulfill these tasks through his own expertise in magic; in many of the tasks he succeeds but he is eventually thwarted by evil spirits when attempting to build the boat and injures himself with an axe. He gives up, abandons the tasks and continues on his journey alone.

I find  our translation of The Kalevala pretty tedious to read, and I think I need to find a new one, since the stories are so interesting. I also find it interesting when life imitates art the way our rhododendrons did.

What is your favorite epic poem or story to read?  When have you seen life imitate art?

Cats Will Be Cats

Husband and I have had a cat or two (or three) for most of the 30 years we lived in our current house. Some of the cats were mainly indoor cats who went outside occasionally,  and the current two are strictly indoor cats.  They both have their claws, but we are too worried they would get hurt outside. Millie, the Tortie, would love to go outside. She scratches at the door like a dog  when she hears us outside.  She started out life as a hobby farm kitten, but she is so clumsy and impulsive she would make some pretty bad choices and get into some dangerous situations.  She has to be content with her life indoors.

I worry about cats that I see roaming. There aren’t too many in our neighborhood. The white supremacist across the street lets his small tabby roam at will.  I worry about her, too, but I must credit her predatory ways with an absence  of garden raiding bunnies. On the other hand, I wasn’t too happy with her when I saw her carrying a Swainson’s Thrush  she had poached in our back yard.  Outdoor cats and birds don’t mix well. Cat will be cats, I guess. I can’t expect them to all be like our Albert, who was an enormous tabby with a luxurious double coat who was terrified of birds and hid from them under the gooseberry bushes.

Where do you think cats belong?  Tell some cat stories.

Spring Blossoms

We are starved for color in winter and early spring  in the northern Great Plains.  Husband and I have been fortunate in our travels since April to be in places when the flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak.  We were in Brookings, SD last weekend and the flowering crabs, plums, and apple trees were beautiful. In Santa Fe we saw  blooming fruit trees of all types. I was amazed, though, when we were in Los Angeles and I saw blooming Jacaranda trees for the first time.

I have never seen trees that shape and size with blue/purple flowers.  I have no idea what they look like with their leaves.  It is said to be good luck if the flowers fall on your head. The seeds and sap  are said to be quite poisonous, though.  They are  found mainly in tropical climates, but have survived to winter temperatures as low 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think they would winter over very well up here.

What are your favorite and least favorite trees and shrubs?

 

Wallowing

For years I’ve wondered why I get dirtier than anybody else I know when gardening. At the end of pretty much every weekend day, I am filthy from head to foot.  Dirt between my toes, dirt in my ears, dirt all up and down my pants and shirt, dirt underneath my fingernails (even though I always wear gloves) – dirt everywhere!

I see my next door neighbor, Rita, out gardening and she never even gets grass stains on the knees of her jeans. Granted, I have a much bigger garden than she does, what with my “more flowers, less grass” life strategy but it’s still a pretty amazing contrast.  And everybody else I know stays cleaner than I do; YA works hard and also never seems to get very dirty.  Last weekend we dug out the hydrangea bush over two days.  You could hardly tell that she had been working for hours while I was absolutely COVERED in dirt.

I was lamenting this on Sunday afternoon and YA said “do you ever look at what you’re doing?” When I asked what she meant, she said “look at yourself right now… you’re L Continue reading Wallowing

Decade on the Trail – Pictorial

Today’s post is Part Two from Barbara in Rivertown

Today we have a pictorial history to go with Tuesday’s written one. Thanks to all baboons who sent me photos – I’ve used only those that have two or more baboons in them.

I think this is the earliest one in my collection – taken with Dale Connelly at the MPR booth at the State Fair (in 2009? 2010?) Not all in it became baboons, but I do see Sherrilee, Beth-Anne, and Linda in the middle row, and Jim and thigh (that guy in the hat) in the back.
The above is a smaller group in the Seed Art room, maybe 2011
Below was taken at our first meeting, at a picnic table in Wabun Park, by Minnehaha Falls in S. Mpls. BiR, Jacque, and Anna in the background. Also present were Sherrilee, Linda, and Steve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know whose idea it was to start going to museums – the first one I attended was, I think, the Russian Art Museum in S. Mpls – Anna, tim, Joanne, BiR, VS
Then there was the Swedish Museum circa 2012… extra points if you can remember what the exhibit was. VS, tim, Linda, Lisa, BiR, PJ
There have been gardening adventures – at PJ’s yard.  The group shows Bill, Robin, Lisa, Krista, PJ in back; ljb (Edith), BiR, Linda, VS

 

…. and in PJ’s kitchen, where Lisa modeled her prom dress
At Steve’s – well, at Steve’s we took down a tree limb in the back yard of his darling bungalow.
Chain Saw Gan – madislandgirl and S&H(son & heir), Lisa, tim, YA (VS’ young adult), Bill, Robin, BiR, Linda, Michael, and Ben!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had Steve’s surprise birthday party, also at Wabun Park – tim managed to get him there after some ball game, I think. VS, Steve, tim
There have been several trips to Rock Bend Folk Festival. Here’s City Mouse, with the Morning Show’s producer Mike Pengra on the drums.
It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it… And admission is still FREE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda, BiR, Krista, and I think Holly, at Rock Bend – not sure which year…?

There have been a number of events that didn’t get photographed: PJ organized a Guthrie outing for, was it? H.M.S. Pinafore? There have been game nights at tim’s, a painting party at Steve’s before he moved, Pi Day at Sherrilee’s.

But we do have one of a Solstice Parties at Sherrilee’s – Steve, Linda, tim
A few made a weekend trip to Steve’s cabin, up by Cornucopia, WI: Linda, Steve, tim, Krista, Jacque

 

 

 

 

 

 

and a few went south to Donna’s cabin at Spirit Lake, IA – but no photo!

North Dakota Renee made it to a BBC at tim’s when she was in town, of which we have no photo. But Steve provided one of her and husband Chris, taken when they were visiting near Steve’s place in Portland.

There have also been sad times… not only the ending of The Late Great Morning Show, but also the memorial after

Jim Ed Poole’s (aka Tom Keith) death in 2011. This proves that you can get baboons to smile for anything: TGith?, PJ, tim, Joanne, Anna, mig’s S&H in back; Linda, VS, madislandgirl.
A quick meet-up of Barbara and Joanne of Big Lake after the 100-Mile Garage Sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I didn’t have my camera back in April when I met another baboon Linda at baboon Chris’ book signing at the lovely Fair Trade Books in Red Wing. But here’s a photo taken at another of Chris’ signings:
And here is from Chris’ FIRST book signing!

And we even had a congratulations gathering when Beth Ann won the Kemps State Fair Ice Cream contest

No baboons in this shot, but here are the fixins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s been your favorite Baboon gathering or outing? What/who got left out here? (I’m sure I’ve left out some baboons…)

What field trip shall we do next??

Remembrance

I came of age in the sixties, when it was all the rage to be un-patriotic. It felt like blinders had come off for the first time; we didn’t want to accept the perfect glowing images we had grown up with but were seeing America in all its stark reality.  This got ugly fast, of course.  Vietnam vets got the brutal end of this, as if risking life and limb wasn’t enough, but you had to put up with immature folks back home ridiculing you for your service.

Then the pendulum swung back after 911. In shoring up our solidarity we reverted back to flags and flag decals everywhere, freedom fries in the congressional cafeteria and presidents decried if they didn’t have their flag pin in their lapel every time they stepped out.

I feel smack in the middle of this spectrum. Having traveled quite a bit, I feel quite strongly that there are few places where I would prefer to live.  Religious struggles, authoritarian regimes, overly controlling policies (think.. it’s a crime to spit out your gum), racism/sexism practically built into the system – all of these things make me think I’ll just stay here, thank you very much.  On the other side of this fence is my feeling of disquiet about our current political crisis; it’s embarrassing when I travel.  (Except when I go to London, as their problems are pretty overwhelming right now as well so they’re not as quick to judge.)

But in general, I’m glad to be an American and will fly my big flag this weekend and stick my little flags out in the front garden. No picnics or parades, but a quiet weekend of gardening and weeding and thinking of those who have fallen for me.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Big Fish

The fish in the header photo was caught in the Missouri River in ND  about a month ago. It set the record for walleye in ND, weighing in at 16 lbs and some oz.  Its title for biggest walleye was revoked last week when the  Game and Fish department discerned, somehow, that the fish had not been hooked but had been caught by the gills with the fish line, sort of like being lassoed.  The fisherman was understandably disappointed, and insists that he hooked it by the lip. Game and Fish is standing firm, though.  What a let down.

What have been some big let downs for you?  What would you like to go fishing for?