My Red Buckeye is showing off this year—full of blossoms and looking like it ought to be the guest star at the Home & Flower Show. Stop in some time and take a look.
And if you’re walking around the estate, say “Hello” to the critter who seems to me to be the one munching up my newly-planted landscape additions. Saturday morning, on my way to walking about town, I stepped off the front steps and spotted what looked like a woodchuck—or groundhog, if you prefer—taking off from my front planting space for the property across the road. I’m sure that Mark Hardesty wasn’t harboring the varmint on purpose but it was hightailing it to somewhere in the back of his property. Wildlife unlimited on Park Ave.!
There had seemed to be some small excavations around the front yard lately and I thought that I had planted LOTS more things of one sort or another and none of them were appearing in their appointed locations, so this is probably the solution to that particular conundrum. Woodchucks have been spotted in the back before, along with skunks and the legendary beaver/beavers that came up from the creek to fetch construction materials for their dam-building (dammit) efforts down below ; they chewed down, I think it was two trees, and nibbled on at least one other. You could see the track where they hauled their pilfered prizes back down to the water. There were deer across the street once and SOMEBODY came and ate all of my pawpaws just as they were coming ripe. The only other one who was following the ripening process as closely as I was, was Sug Gough (I reported progress to her at church on Sunday mornings), and, somehow I don’t think that she had anything to do with it. This year something took out the top of the larger of the two pawpaw trees; this was not a cut, it looked like a break, but I don’t recall any wind episodes bad enough to cause such damage. Maybe it was an overweight squirrel that was intending to swing his way up to a higher vantage point but miscalculated the weight-bearing capacity of that particular tree. In any case, we’ll have to wait and see how this affects the fruit harvest. Last year something or somebody made off with every last pawpaw before I even got to pick one; not Sug this time either, I bet.
Further encounters with wildlife this week include the sighting of a white-tailed deer that bounded out of a thicket at the old family farm in Wellington as I was walking along on the tractor trail to the “back forty” during a family get-together. I was being followed by three medium-small boys fooling around as such boys are wont to do, so I yelled at them to, “Look! Look! There goes a deer.” Took them a minute to grasp what I was shouting about and they had probably never seen such a sight before, but the deer was pretty impressive, bounding along through the wheat or oats or whatever (I know it wasn’t corn), up over the rise and away. The white tail was a heckuva marker too, flying away.
The boys were something else. They all had sticks to protect themselves from the wild beasts they imagined might be lying in wait for them in the middle of an Ohio farm. The largest of the trio, at one point, from a vantage point behind the other two, called out, “ Hey, you guys, remember I’m the leader.” I’m not sure they noticed. All returned safely to the house.
Where more encounters with “Nature, red in tooth and claw” were to take place.
Somebody—the boys, I guess—spotted a snake…a perfectly harmless snake, out enjoying a sunny spring day, warming up his/her cold blood after it had been a rather unpredictable Winter/Spring/ What-the H-was-that? Speculation was rife among the younger set as to whether it was likely to be a cobra, a rattlesnake or a boa constrictor (If anyone had ever heard of a Fer-de-Lance, I’m sure it would have been mentioned). Finally, the day was saved and the assembled relatives were spared the ravages of amass outbreak of ophidiophobia (abnormal fear of snakes) or herpetophobia (fear of snakes or amphibians), when one of the young dads picked up the unfortunate reptile and took it to a grassy swale where it could head for a puddle or some other safe place. We all escaped with our lives; no venom was expended in the process.
This family gathering, was, by the way, a celebration of a rather advanced birthday—97 years—achieved by my mother, still going strong. The weather cleared up nicely; the drive over from Garrettsville was punctuated by several downpours but by the time I reached the party venue, clouds were clearing out, the sun was beginning to make an appearance and all systems were GO. We had the in-laws, the outlaws and several groups in between. Lots and lots of food, lovely presents, photo albums and pictures to peruse (Mom has been on that farm since 1947!), people whose identity required detective work to determine, people who I remembered from infancy—theirs or mine. The weather was all about uncertainty, for farmers, this is a given : good weather means everybody will be out working—tilling, planting, whatever; bad weather means the party has to be squooshed inside to keep from being rained/frozen/blown out. This worked out just fine.
Coming home was good. You know how sometimes traffic is just zooming along on the freeway, no problems and all-of-a-sudden everything slows down in all lanes for no apparent reason? Then it picks right back up again for no evident cause? Somewhere about halfway home this appeared to be happening; we’re all proceeding and exactly the speed limit, across all lanes, it’s like in Goldilocks—not too fast, not too slow, just right. At some point, I was on a rise and could see the front of the parade, three lanes of traffic, all cruising along at 65 mph, no more, no less. And who was the drum major? A municipal police car, being very scrupulous about speed limits until it reached the boundary of its jurisdiction. I’ll bet the officers were chuckling as they turned off at their exit and observed the resumption of speed behind them.
Happy Birthday, Mom.