Home Columns & Editorials Iva's Input Amen for Jacks!

Amen for Jacks!

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Can I get an “AMEN!” out there?

Keep your fingers crossed; Spring may actually be here this time.  For the occasion, all of the Jack-in-the-Pulpits at my place have climbed up to their little green lecterns and are  giving us palefaces H-E-double toothpicks for all they’re worth.  They are in the front where the ferns are finally unfurling, they are on the side by the water feature (which is awaiting a cleaning before it starts burbling  for the birds), they are appearing in the back where they’re giving the myrtle a run for its money.

They haven’t had to compete with the Lily-of-the-Valley yet because the pitiful little roots that I planted don’t seem to have  ventured above ground yet…if ever.  Everyone always tells how these little blossoms will spread like crazy, take over any shaded patch—not in my yard!  The number of times that I have tried to get them going…I can’t tell you!  But I have recently read that they prefer locations with plenty of humus and sand;  the estate here is largely made up of  clay and rocks, so I guess it’s not real hospitable for Convallaria majalis .  It belongs to the family Asparagaceae; there’s something weird about that.  I can’t get too upset about the refusal of our invitation to grow here, I also just read that it’s highly poisonous in just about every part—leaves, stems, flowers, berries, the whole works.  The French call it Muguet; I remember that it used to be a popular fragrance in inexpensive perfume, probably barrels of it sold on Mother’s Day.  It’s also the national flower of Finland, in case anyone ever asks that for the million-dollar prize.

Anyway, if you’re pining for some little green preachers in your landscaping, stop in; we could probably get you at least a small Sunday school start-up.

The other day I discovered that someone else is keeping an eye on the place, at least in the back by the slope down to the creek (Somebody asked me once if I ever  went down there to sit in a lawn chair by the water in the summer.  Not hardly!  The water is about four inches deep behind my place and about the same color as the proverbial creek that folks get up without a paddle.  Miscellaneous items come floating along and sink part-way, until they’re carried far enough to fall over the dam to the east—I can always tell when there’s been a big rainfall, it roars back there.  Besides, the slope down to the water’s edge is usually bright green with poison ivy.  And there ARE mosquitos!).  On a trip around the house while looking at all of the mysterious growing things that are coming up that I have no idea how to identify, we looked back to see a Canada goose right on the edge of the tree line and looking fearlessly toward the house.  Luckily, I have no garden edibles back there—or anyplace, the rhubarb I was trying for doesn’t seem to have come to life, at least not yet.  I have read that having fowl in one’s yard cuts down on the insect population, but I don’t think that I am up to having the honkers wandering all over.  Heck, in lots of places, people pay to have the feathered marauders chased away on a regular basis.  It’s not that they’re necessarily aggressive—though they can be—but that they leave plenty o’ bird manure all over the place.  Definitely a turn-off for the “barefoot boy with cheeks of tan,” or anybody else not wearing gum boots.  This  fugitive from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has not reappeared…yet.  He…or she…probably just wandered over and up from across Center St. where the creek/pond/swamp stretches back almost to North Street; there are waterfowl of all sorts back there all of the time.  He…or she…may well have decided that the neighborhood is going to hell in a handbasket if there’s no more tasty vegetation than what I’ve got back there.  Just keep on thinking that, birdbrain!

Which brings to mind a short piece in the R-C the other day about a mother duck up in Michigan.  It seems that this particular duck has grown attached to an elementary school’s courtyard (probably like the one at the Garfield Middle School) and comes back there every year to make a nest, lay eggs, hatch them out, then walk the ducklings though the hallways to a nearby pond.  She’s been doing this for thirteen years!

The staff and students of the school have named this mama duck Vanessa and watch every year for her to fly in, locate her favorite bush, dig a nest, lay her eggs and sit on them to hatch.  Kids can look out the classroom windows to see the whole process.  I’ll bet food mysteriously appears out there too.  So…when it’s time to head for the water, a volunteer squad tapes black construction paper along the hallways, covering doors and creating a safe pathway for the birds—and, incidentally, keeping the students from frightening the little parade on their way to the ol’ swimmin’ hole.

Which   brings to mind the Peabody Duck March in the luxury Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, TN.  Those Mallards have their own penthouse digs but every day at 11:00 a.m. the little flock—there are four ducks and one drake—comes down in the elevator(to the strains of “The King Cotton March” by John Phillip Sousa), accompanied by  their Duckmaster, treads on a red carpet and proceeds to frolic in the hotel fountain (solid marble) until 5:00 p.m. when the process is reversed.  The Peabody is listed on the National Register of Historic places, is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

If I can keep this place standing for nine more years, I’ll be living in a Century Home.  Maybe we can get the goose to stick around, get in the program and become a tourist attraction.

Hallelujah!