May 31, 2003

Chatterbox Cafe

Outside chores rained out today: Putting metal stakes in the garden to hold the cucumber fence; getting up on the roof of the addition to clean gutters inside and out; cutting grass around the barn; getting pictures of hawkweed and fire pink; laying on the walkway watching clouds skim south in front of the cold front responsible for the lightning I hear just now in the distance. Well, if I can't work outside, I'll just bend your ear.


*** I just tried out my new string trimmer between showers. It works fine, but I couldn't get motivated, overcome both by guilt and by gnats. The guilt came on as I remembered years ago giving the devil to some of my older co-workers who used 'power tools' in an age of dwindling fossil fuels. Shame on them, I said back then. My swing-blade and scythe work perfectly well, and my muscle power is a renewable resource, I chided! Sigh. And now, I have yielded to the dreaded twin buggaboos of economy of motion, and comfort. Gimp wrists will make you give up some of the idealism you had when you were full of that renewable muscle power that no longer renews so readily; and had nice, smooth cartilage surfaces at all the ball joints and bearings in the chassis. So now, well... shame on me. Ya do what ya gotta do.

*** And the gnats, just today, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, are back. It's an anticipated seasonal event. Dreaded would be the better word. They will swarm in huge numbers in August. Until then, we will suffer them only by the dozens every time we go out. Last summer, this is the way I described my infatuation with gnat behavior:

Goose Creek gnats have obviously been trained from birth to study the episode of Star Wars where the TIE Fighters find and enter the tiny opening of the Death Star. Fighter-gnats innately know how to make their way into their favorite orifice: the human ear. Their two-part buzz is perhaps their most aggravating feature, and they are fond of performing it from deep inside the Death Star...just far enough into the ear that a muddy finger-thrust only chases them down into the deadly Earwax Zone. Those that are assigned to battle stations outside the ear walk expertly with their tiny-tickly track shoes in such a way as to create an excruciating itch, especially, as mentioned, when hands and fingers are covered in bean dust or other gardening gradoo.

Image copyright Fred First
*** The blackberries, last year only tight dry knots during the spring drought, are exploding, everywhere! This may be the year to make blackberry wine again! Maybe it is all the moisture: many of the blossoms are tinged with pink, like these here. Black raspberries also are coming on strong, and they are my favorite berry! There aren't (yet) any wild wineberries on our place, but there are some along the road down by an old abandoned house. They seem sort of tasteless eaten fresh. Anybody have any experience with them... the bright red berries that pick clean, leaving the 'caps' behind?

*** We were walking in a friend's woods this week when Ann flushed a Ruffed Grouse. This is not uncommon, but she practically stepped on it before it sprang up suddenly and flew off through the last shafts of afternoon sun. A few seconds later, there were a dozen little grouse chicks scurrying all around under the Woodferns and Christmas ferns near Ann's feet. I went back to my photography, but only for a second before Ann hollered "Fred come here what is that!" The mother grouse had come back to defend her chicks and was fluffed up big as a watermelon, wings lifted, vibrating like a bomb fixing to go off, walking menacingly towards us! I had never seen it before, but I confess, the 'threat display' worked. Dang woodchicken had me running the other way looking for a tree to climb!

*** Our morning cereal is about to get more interesting. Ann found some wild strawberries that escaped the attention of the box turtles and grouse and chipmunks and was able to pick a cupful for breakfast. And, the other day, walking up on the steep parts of our place where we don't go so often, but often enough I thought we knew what was up there, Ann found lots of huckleberry bushes covered with small green berries. Just proved to me that I don't really know this place as well as I thought I did, and there are still surprises for us, even in our own extended back yard! It's just so overgrown with brush up on that ridge. I know! This is a job for my new ergonomically correct string trimmer!

*** New Country Business Established on Goose Creek! Tomato stakes, hiking sticks and pea brush for sale. American Electric Power has hired Asplundh (doesn't everybody know these guys in the big orange trucks?) to clear EVERYTHING from the power company right-of-way, cut down to the ground 20 feet to either side of a line falling under their powerlines. Just so happens, we have about 25 spruce trees up behind the house that lie under these powerlines. I've called AEP expressing my concerns and inquiring, nicely, about alternatives that are less destructive while still maintaining lines free of potential problems. I've marked each tree with surveyors tape. I got NO return call as promised from AEP with a judgement on the fate of our trees. The crew will be back on Monday to work behind the house. And no one will be home. Houston, we have a problem.


Posted by fred1st at May 31, 2003 08:56 PM | TrackBack

Let us know what happens to those trees! I'm scared for them.

Posted by: Fran at June 2, 2003 06:11 PM

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