January 31, 2010

Vole Patrol

Our resident bobcat was back today in full daylight.  She's usually out at dusk, but here she was in mid afternoon, hunting (and getting) prey.  While we watched she made four separate stalks and pounces, and had a meal out of two of those.  She's my secret weapon against the voles that plague my woody plants and tender bulbs!





My amaryllis spoke to me.  Out loud, making clearly understood sounds.

I was sitting in the living room directly in front of this lovely plant on a sunny winter morning.  Reading, dozing in the weak sunlight coming in from the window.  The house was quiet.

I started to hear a small squeaking sound repeated every few seconds.  Like the noise you hear when you run your fingers over the fat leathery leaves of a Bergenia, also called Pigsqueak because it sounds just like a little oinker when you rub it.

My amaryllis was squeaking the same way, all by itself.  Repeatedly.  I looked closely and saw that the big strappy leaves were slowly, slowly drooping, falling over toward the table.  As they moved ever so slightly, they rubbed at the base, making that tiny pigsqueak sound.   Eeeeeitch.  Eeeeeeeitch.

Water me!  Prop me up!  That amaryllis could not have gotten my attention any more insistently.

The soil was not dry, but in the flush of blooming, and with those great big leaves transpiring heavily, it was losing just enough moisture that the leaves were starting to falter, and it was peeping for a little water.  I gave it some, and in a minute it stopped squeaking at me.  In another few minutes the leaves straightened up, and gratefully but silently, it thanked me and let me get back to my reading and dozing.

January 30, 2010

Hot Water

It was 0.5 degrees this morning when I got up.  Zero point five.  There were no degrees floating around outside, none.  I'm pleased to see that the heated birdbath is working.  There's only a little bit of shallow water in there, but it's not frozen, even at zero degrees.

It's called a Kozy Bird Spa, but no respectable bird of any kind was going to treat herself to a spa day in this weather.  Actually, I haven't seen any birds use this bath since I put it up this summer.  Not sure why... maybe it's too close to human activity on the patio?  But they haven't used it when we're not out there, and I see them flit all over the dried Blackeyed Susan seedheads standing nearby.  Maybe it's just too trendy and upscale for the crows here, who prefer puddles and seepage that collects in the road drains?

Starting This Blog

I am a suburban gardener, often seen moving rocks by rolling them on my hands and knees. I have been known to blush at applause. I know the meaning of the word epee, I once drank champagne at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I can roll my r’s credibly when saying arriba, and deer trust me.

Occasionally, I re-read all 8 of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I have seen the sun hover but never set on the horizon on a June night near the Arctic Circle. I have piloted a Cessna aircraft solo, and I camped illegally on the summit of Mt. Washington, with only a toothbrush and a box of raisins.

Wearing only a plastic dry cleaner’s bag, I once paddled under the roaring mist of Niagara Falls.  I was formerly fluent in antique Russian, and I am the webmaster of several obscure internet sites. When I'm bored, I design Arts & Crafts bungalow cottages. I enjoy ice hockey played by small children pushing folding chairs across the ice for balance. I would like to meet Jack Sparrow.

I am an arborist, a shrub sculptor, and a ruthless perennial killer. I heard about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon from a muffled Voice of America broadcast in a Soviet dormitory on the Neva River. I don't sing. I dislike celebrity, yet I am fascinated by Steve Jobs. I have been known to frighten Siamese cats, or at least disgust them. One summer I panned for gold in the Klondike on the Yukon River.

My mastery of botanical Latin has confounded my peers. I own an altimeter. I can tell offsides in a hockey game. I know every candy bar brand that has peanuts in it. I have skiied Aspen Mountain, the Flume at Killington, and Little Joe at Sundown.

I know how to use the word antediluvian in a sentence. While floating down the Snake River I once watched an eagle steal a fish from the claws of an osprey in mid air over my head. I successfully stayed at the Hotel California and was, in the end, able to leave. I read, I travel, I daydream, I plan, and my weeds are all pulled.

On weekends, for fun, I do the NY Times crossword before 10 a.m. without reference books, but never in ink. Years ago I was given a yellow rose by a handsome young Finn in Helsinki.  I have read Don Quixote. In the original Spanish.

I have raised two young men to adulthood, been rescued from drowning, and scattered ashes from a clifftop in Wyoming.

But I have not yet written a blog.
And so I begin ….. January 30, 2010.

(with acknowledgment to Hugh Gallagher who first wrote a similar spoof as a college application essay.  Everything in mine is true.  All of it.)