Burning Gas–Driving Through a Cloud

About a year before Peggy and I took this trip to the Northwest, our friends Bill and Lois toured the area by train. Bill couldn’t say enough for the scenery along the route between Banff and VanCouver. Peggy and I did it by car, and I can attest to the beauty of this section of mountains. One of my grandest memories is coming down the QEW-1 into a valley covered by a layer of clouds. Everything went foggy for a few minutes then we broke through the cloud layer and the grandest little town appeared before us. On the way out of town we went into the clouds again to break out into the blue sky at the top of the mountain.

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Among the many reasons for this trip was to see this section of Canada, and to show Peggy a real garden.

We arrived in Vancouver during  evening hours, and settled into a hotel near the ferry landing. The following morning we boarded the ferry for the hour ride to Vancouver Island. We checked into the Fairmont hotel and did a walking tour of the historic district. The day was sunny, and mild. We enjoyed the shops and the food.

The Monet Vision is Forming In My Mind

Boy do I regret not going to Arizona this winter. I forgot how dreary winter gets. Even though the days are getting longer and the sun shines bright on some days, the chill gets into my bones. It is funny how one can get acclimated to warmth so quickly. I have only spent three complete winters in the desert, but those three winters have won out over the sixty-nine winters spent in the cold. How could that be? If our bodies acclimate so readily to heat why has so much of civilization settled in the northern cold climates? I certainly can’t understand Eskimos at all. I also have a problem understanding Mexicans who sneak into the cold.  A hungry stomach must win out over a cold body.

Our days are getting noticeably warmer. We often see highs in the forty’s now, but the wind makes it feel a lot colder. Yesterday, I toured my yard io review the ravages of winter, and what has to be done to clean it up. Aside from cutting the many annual flowers I left up for the birds and for winter interest, I have a leak in my pond. That one worries me. It could be simple, or it could mean digging up pipes, or it could mean searching endlessly for a cut or pinhole. I don’t look forward to that. It might take Grey Goose and tonic to put me in the right frame of mind to “gett’r done.” Or, it could mean spending a ton of money to watch it get done. Right now, I have more time than money, but  I am short on energy and motivation. Perhaps the warmth of summer will provide the motivation. In the meantime, I look forward to the signs of spring. They are evident and causing the gardening juices to flow. Literally, the juices are flowing into the trees, and the shrubs, and Mother Nature is waking her babies. It is almost time to propagate and multiply.

Here are some of the things I see in late winter:

Nothing beats a late Winter sunset, welll maybe a Summer sunset, or maybe any sunset.

Magnolia Buds Coming Alive

Tired Rose Hips

Winter Lilac Prunings

Daffodils Coming Alive

 

The Water level Drops Four Inches in 72 Hours

Dried Annual Stems Ready to Cut

Barb’s Last Garden Angel Hidden Behind Spent Shasta Daisies

 

More Perennial Debris to Cut

 

Morning Glory Trellis Blown Down in the Blizzard

Magnificent March Sunset

I’m tired just looking at it all, but the Monet Vision is forming in my mind and I can SEE Summer now!

The Wabbit War Begins

Image courtesy of Warner Bros, free use agreement.

When I was a kid, Elmer Fudd was a popular cartoon character. I had to go to the movies to see him star in a cartoon. That was before television was invented. Elmer spoke with an impediment and pronounced “r’s and l’s” as “w.” Today his speech would be offensive to many liberal senses. The libs would protest that the character was demeaning speech impediments. To me it was funny, and is still funny. If you are offended by written words about lispy speech, stop right here and go to the ACLU website and register a complaint.

Elmer loved hunting and was always in pursuit of a rabbit named Bugs Bunny. He pronounced rabbit as wabbit, and his favorite saying was “siwwy wabbit.” Each cartoon episode involved Elmer in some hilarious attempt to catch the wabbit who stole his carrots. I love Elmer Fudd.

I tell this story because I too am in pursuit of wabbits or illegal aliens as one of my gardening friends refers to them. For some reason, this season the wabbit count is high, and they are voraciously hungry. I have a collection of Asiatic lilies, which I am very proud of, but this year they have been decimated by the wabbits. At first, I thought it was a bug, but one day, I witnessed a long earred furry thing chomping on the tender leaves of a lily plant. By the time I reacted, and placed a wabbit barrier around the stubs, it was too late; the liwys were eaten to the ground

A year ago, I wrote a story titled “Dumb Ass Squirrel #!!&+*^(#?” It described my battle with a squirrel and my bird feeders. Later in the summer, I wrote a trilogy of pieces about another garden creature titled; Mystery-Riddle,  Dumb Ass Squirrel Has Competition,  and Answer to Riddle.

Eventually, I gave up and conceded to the ingenuity of the squirrels. The wabbit is another matter. The squirrels are entertaining; the wabbits are destwuctive. There is no pwant matter thing they wiww not taste. In the pwocess, they destwoy bwooms. One of the fiwst fwowers of spwing is the tuwip. The wabbits wait untiw the bud is high and about to bwoom, then they chomp the stem. The bud ways on the gwound with an uneaten stem stiww attached.  (If you think it is easy to write with a lisp, think again. I want you to get as frustrated reading this as I am chasing the wabbit.)

My war with the wabbits is compounded by, my sweet wife, Peggy. She has a motherly fondness for all living creatures and goes out of her way to feed birds, squirrels, and now wabbits too. Her attitude is that the animal kingdom leads a hard life and they deserve a little tender loving care. (But not my prize lilies dam it.) Peggy will dump a cup full of birdseed on the patio for the ducks, and the wabbits. On the way to the seed pile, the wabbits pass through my flowerbeds and partake of appetizers. A bite here, a nibble there, aren’t they cute?

For the last week, instead of drawing Obama bashing cartoons, and blogging, Grumpa Joe has been busy installing wabbit barriers at considerable expense. Every day he discovers that the wabbit has figured a new route into the flowers. So far, He has discovered a huge chunk missing from his favorite cactus, a denuded potted geranium, coral bell stems, and leaves lying on the ground. All the buds from a bellflower are gone, chrysanthemum buds gone (that one is a favor to me), bell pepper, hosta, and sedum leaves eaten to the stem. What do they leave alone? Wabbits avoid dandelions, clover, thistle, Queen Anne’s lace, and so far, day lilies.

 The war continues.

Guard-Heron

I finally caught him with my camera. Every morning for the last week, I spotted him patiently waiting at the edge of the pond. He hopes to find a fish. I now call him my Guard-Heron because the pond is frozen over and his only function is to see to it that no one else gets into his territory.

Getting his photo was no easy matter. Once I determined where and when to look, I used stealth to sneak up on him. He will scoot at the slightest motion, or noise.  I crawled on the floor under the window line then slowly raised the camera above the window sill. A squeeze of the trigger and I had him. I took a second photo after confirming the first. He was gone. How much longer will he guard my pond? The temperature continues to drop, and more snow is on the way. The fish and other aquatics that make up his diet are safely hidden under the ice. 

Here are the questions:

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron take the Dumb-Ass Squirrel

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron finally move south?

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron become an ice sculpture at the edge of my pond?

Vote for one.

Dumb-Ass Heron

Last week I wrote about a Great Blue Heron that found my pond. He has been visiting steadily ever since. My last words were , “I hope it freezes tonight so he will migrate south.”  The past few nights the temperature has been in the twenties, and the pond is frozen over. He is still here. 

Late this afternoon, I saw him standing at the edge of the pond waiting for it to defrost. How dumb can he be?

I had to look in my Peterson Field Guide  to learn that the Heron’s summer-winter range cuts right through the south end of Chicago. The crazy bird may decide to winter here. I always thought  Herons relied solely on aquatic creatures for nourishment, but I learn that they also take small mammals. Oh well.

@*^#&a;*)Great Blue Heron

     Ever since we installed our pond, I have been waiting for the critters to show up. This summer the deer arrived after four years of absence. They cleaned the yard of every newly planted Hosta.  A possum has dug up the lawn looking for grubs. Squirrels have planted corn seed all about the yard. Slinky the garter snake slithered into the rocks around the water fall.  A red tail hawk often swoops through the yard after a squirrel or dove. The place is a veritable zoo at times. 

      I thought things would quiet down now that the leaves have fallen and the flowers are all gone. Last Sunday morning, I sat having my coffee reading the paper. I could see the window from the corner of my eye when it happened, A huge shadow swooped across the window. At first, I thought is was the hawk. I jumped up to see if he nailed a squirrel. Nope. I looked up at the pond, there he was, Big Bird in person. A great Blue Heron had spotted the goldfish. Before I could say “Peg come see,”  the bird had a bulge moving down it’s long throat. He nailed my largest, fanciest goldfish. He saw me, and took off looking like a prehistoric pterodactyl.

I left to deliver Thanksgiving food baskets with my Lions Club. I got home a couple of hours later. Peggy greeted me with “he’s been back three times already.” Later, I saw him again, but as soon as I made a move for the camera he flew off. It is three days later, and we have spotted him at the pond every day. My friend Al told me he would stay until he has cleaned all the fish from the pond. I hope it freezes tonight so he will migrate south.

My Grand and Glorious Garden (vote if you wish)

I went to the Tribune website today and found  that the Glorious Gardens contest is open for voting. I spent an hour rating photos, and came across only one picture of my garden.  If you go to vote, the pictures will appear randomly, and you have to rate each one from 1(lousy) through 10(fabulous,) before they let you go to the next picture.  None of the pictures are identified by owner. There are so many beautiful gardens it is hard to pick a  good one. Many of the photos are presented multiple times. My guess is that the winner will be amongst the first 50 photos presented because only entrants will have the patience to go through all of the photos. I’m not  sure if I saw all of the pictures. The website does not tell you how many pictures you have to review, or where you are in the process.

I learned alot about what kind of picture to present next year. It seems my idea of what they want, and what I gave  them are the opposite. I love close up flower photography, they look for overall views. Next year, I’ll rent a helicopter and hover over the yard to take a good photo.

Instead of voting for my garden at the Glorious Gardens website, vote by leaving a comment below. Give a rating  from 1 (lousy) to 10 (fabulous), or any number between. OOHs and AAHs will be appreciated. I’ve added a few new pictures below to base your rating on. Others are sprinkled throughout my posts, Vote for my Garden Please,  and on my Gardener page.

Monet Vision, Late Summer Garden

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