Category Archives: Nature

Kevin’s Lemon into Lemonade

A month ago there appeared on our patio a piece of rusted metal, a found-art sculpture.  But I was onto Kevin. I had seen it beside his truck in the garage. He had found it beside the recycle bin in the winter and kept it to put on our patio in the spring.

It was bare rusty metal, re-rod, gears, metal plate, and barbed wire. But I did not acknowledge its presence. Instead I went out and bought some spray paint, green and red. And yellow. He thought it was a lemon. I tried to turn it into lemonade.

Now he wants it back to take home. We assume a student had done it for a class and trashed it.

Then this morning he called me out. He has permission to come to the window beside my computer and talk to me. He saw five cecropia moths on the south end of the building. He brought one and put it on our patio table.

It hatches, mates, lays its eggs, and dies in only a couple days or so. Thus, rare to see. It is six inches across. Comes from those big fat green worms.  Here is one with a belly full of eggs.

 

After a neighbor had come to see, and Kevin’s wife came too, charming woman, I took my coffee out and watched. Its wing flapping slowly. It rolled on its side, kicked its legs in spasmodic jerks, and lay still. I sighed for it. Then it up and flew off into the woods.

Where have you found beauty, expected and unexpected? How has life surprised you?

 

 

 

 

Seasonal Sounds

I picked strawberries last night after work. The task usually falls to husband, but he was still driving back from the reservation and it looked like it might storm before he got home.

It was quite still while I picked, and I could hear the outdoor sounds in the neighborhood quite well. I heard the harsh sounds of distant lawnmowers getting the grass cut before a possible rain. I heard some birds, and the occasional car driving past. I also heard a sound that I thought was a true summer sound-the distinctive, quiet, sucking  snap of a plump strawberry as it is picked from its stem.  What a lovely sound!

What sounds do you associate with the seasons?

 

 

Siblings

It’s been three years since the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by Pluto, but the non-planet is still in the news. And the latest news is that Pluto has a lot more in common with our own planet than was previously thought.

Pluto has dunes; they’re made of methane ice grains but are sculpted by winds that reach 24 miles per hour. This may not seem like much but since Pluto has less gravity, the wind doesn’t need to be as strong as here at home.  Pluto also has a wide variety of landforms like we do on Earth: plains, trenches and mountain ranges.  Pluto has snow-capped peaks of methane and Pluto may have an icy sea beneath its frozen surface.  Who knew?

If you could choose ANYONE to be your twin, who would it be?

Blackbird, Bye Bye

We have some very noisy black birds in the spruce trees in our front yard. I don’t know if they are Blackbirds, Starlings, or Grackles.  I know they aren’t Crows or Ravens. We have Crows in town. They are bigger than the other black birds, and like to harass and chase the local owls. Husband sees Ravens up on the Reservation. They are quite culturally significant for our native friends and are portents of various things.

The black birds in our trees have hatchlings in a nest who make the most terrible harsh noises when they want to be fed. The parents follow us around the yard and scold us and sometimes swoop. I am ready for the black birds to go bye bye!

Tell some bird stories. Talk about Miss Peggy Lee.

 

Small Wonders

I stepped onto our deck yesterday and I was greeted by the most wonderful aroma. We have Beta grapes growing up the deck verticles and across the rafters atop the deck. They try to run onto the roof and under the shingles so we have to cut them back every year. They also shade our deck from the fierce afternoon sun. Beta grapes are small and purple and are good for jelly. The grapes are blooming now, and the delicious smell was from the grape flowers.  They are very strange  flowers and it amazes me that something so small and odd looking has such a lovely smell. You can see them in the photo below.

Appearances can certainly deceive. When have you been deceived?  What has been small but mighty in your experience?

 

The Wind Died Down

Last Friday, Husband and I left Jamestown, ND after playing hand bells at an Eastern Star convention. (That is a post in itself! ) We left about 7:00 pm.  It was still pretty light, as far north as we are.  By 8:00 we ran into the worst rain storm I have encountered on the road.  We could see the storm coming for miles, a rotating cloud of blue black, with white wind clouds on the fringe, threatening hail.  We learned later that the wind was blowing at 70 mph in this storm. The storm hit with a hard punch, and the rain was torrential. I pulled over and put my emergency flashers on,  since I couldn’t see the road, anything that was in front of me, or any exit from the interstate. It took a good 20 minutes for the storm to diminish and for us to cautiously proceed on our way home.  I found I  was only 20 yards from an exit, but it was obscured by the rain and wind. We saw a pickup and trailer in the ditch not far from where we pulled over. There was no hail, I am happy to report.

We have lived with the wind for 30 years out here.  It is a force to contend with.  Our house is perpetually dusty.  On Saturday, the wind blew steadily at 35 mph with gusts up to 45. The tomato and pepper plants  tossed all day.  They were wind whipped and twisted. They amazingly recover every time this happens.  We chose to stay indoors and dust and clean.  It was so unpleasant to even step outdoors.  One of my secretaries said they were branding calves on Saturday and they had to close the barn door because the wind was blowing dust all over the food for the people helping them.

The wind finally died down on Saturday night. It was such a relief.  Sunday was calm, and we watered and  recovered from the gusts of the days before. In  Giants In the Earth, Rolvaag writes of women going mad with the wind in Eastern South Dakota.  I can relate to them.

Tell about memorable storms. Tell about stories and poems of the wind.

Another Spring Planting in the Books

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

It went pretty well; no serious mechanical issues and, once I finally got going, wasn’t delayed by the weather for more than a day or two.

I planted oats on May 6 and 7th. Then it rained for a few days but that’s OK because I was dealing with commencement at the college anyway.

Then I did anhydrous fertilizer on the 17th. Had college events the 18th and 19th. Started to plant corn on the 20th and finished on the 23rd. (Well, really the 24th, but the field I planted on the 24th is at the neighbors and it’s for the deer so it doesn’t really count).

Started soybeans on the 24th, did get rained out for a day and finished on the 28th. Now all that’s left is cleaning up machinery and putting it away until next spring.

There was the one incident with the valve on an anhydrous tank but it was pretty minor. Spilled really very little. No one was in danger and no property was harmed.

There were 3 fire trucks, our local ‘CAT’ (Chemical Assessment Team) the Incident Command Vehicle, two sheriff deputies, Gold Cross Ambulance, The “Incident Commander” and his car, a call to the State Department of Agriculture, another call to the state Duty Officer, a visit from the local anhydrous dealer, six fully clad firemen, and, a few days later, an inspector from the State Department of Agriculture.

Everyone was very nice and very professional and the firemen gave me a Gatorade when it was over.

But really. It was just a little vapor from a valve that hadn’t sealed.

And no breeze so I couldn’t manage to get ‘up wind’ and just enough leakage that I wasn’t comfortable trying to get back up there and try to tighten the valve myself.

I thought if I could just get 1 guy with a respirator, they could close the valve tighter. It wasn’t supposed to turn into a big deal.

But anhydrous is dangerous and can’t be taken lightly. Just today I talked with a guy whose brother got a burst of anhydrous and inhaled just a little. He’s got a couple small, minor burns (freeze burns) and was hospitalized for a couple days because of issues with his throat from inhaling that bit. He’s lucky too.

I pushed my luck a couple times this year. And I wasn’t even trying! But that’s a story for another day.

 Had any experience with the fire department?