Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring greenery

I don't have a lot of trees where I live, so my recent trip to the tree-rich East was a kind of tonic. I particularly enjoyed the mountains of central Pennsylvania, surely one of the most beautiful areas of our great country. Spring there was weeks ahead of my home area (my cottonwoods are still not fully leafed) and there was a richness of green everywhere -- perhaps not the 'forty shades' of Ireland, but darned close. I love the lime and minty greens of a mountain spring, and the effusive meadows, and had them in plenty on this trip.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Mountain Farm

Set off in their own valley, at the end of a one-mile private road. A lovely trout stream between them and the first ridge. An almost idyllic place, but still marked by the unremitting hard work that all farmers live by.

Grain elevators

Towns on the plains can be seen for miles and miles, marked out by their ubiquitous grain elevators. Every town of any size (that means a population of about 250 or more) has one, usually owned and operated by the local co-op. If you're a local, they're a constant horizon-marker and even at night their lights give you an unerring compass mark. (This picture was taken at mid-morning.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As a child I crossed the Mississippi and its lesser tributaries many times on road trips and visits to relatives. I always hated the crossings, over the ridiculously high, fragile looking bridges that loomed over the dark moving waters that seemed so dizzyingly far below. Nothing has changed: I still feel a twinge of unease approaching these now-nearly-ancient steel skeletons. I had almost forgotten how narrow the roads across them were. They seem like something out of a distant era, which indeed they are. This one, like the old days, is over the Mississippi.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I noticed a turkey outside the fence and eased out the front door to snap off a couple of frames. Then I saw that he was not alone. There was a deer grazing just behind him. It's awfully early in the year for a fawn to be so big and still have spots, so I think it is just a yearling with a coat-in-turmoil as it changes from winter to summer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wet, wet, wet

A lot of rain here, both before and after I returned from my trip. I've been trying to mow the front but until today it was too wet to cut. Today, finally I got a window and was able to cut the most obnoxious section at a slightly higher setting than usual. Looks better, but will need a regular cutting in a few days.

Interesting, and a little scary, to see how quickly nature reclaims what we wrest from her.

That time of year

Last night as I was coming back from the shop to the house I noticed a slight flicker of movement on the ground and found a rabbit nest, cleverly hidden in the high grass that I haven't yet had a chance to mow. When I got closer I saw movement behind the one in front and figured that there was at least one other, maybe more.

At dusk, as I ate my supper, Emma stood behind me at the window and I noticed that she was trembling and shivering as if she were having a fit. Looking out I saw Mom Rabbit right under the window and a passel of little ones a bit further out, all jumbled up together. When I cracked the back door to get a picture Mom skiddadled but the babes stuck around for a few seconds before diving back into their hidey-hole. I restricted the dogs to the front yard for their nightly potty duties.

In the morning Emma was desperate to go out the back to investigate, but again I made them go out the front. A little later I went out to find exactly what I expected: an empty nest. Mom had moved the brood as it was getting too much attention.

The nest was well concealed with a small opening, the inside about the size of two softballs, and lined with mommy-fur. I'm sure the babes were comfy and warm therein as even with the almost constant rain we have been having it was totally dry.

It's silly, of course, to try to shield them from the ravages of nature, of which Emma is a part. But I couldn't bring myself not to give them that extra little chance, even though I will be cursing them later as they eat my plants. And it's not even out of the question that one or two of the little dears will find their way into the stew-pot this winter. Such is the life of a rabbit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A minor confession

"You gonna eat that?"

We ate healthy for most of the trip, but I will admit that when we were on the road we would often stop for lunch at one of the Fat Palaces along the way. It was just too seductively easy.

We'd pull in, way in back where there would be room. I'd walk the dogs a bit, then put them in the trailer where it was roomy, comfy, and cool. Then I'd go in and get our take-out lunch: burger and fries for me and a plain burger each for them. I would break their burgers into pieces and let them cool, then their feast would begin. They loved the burgers. Em liked hers with the bun, and Mags preferred just plain meat. Emma was not above casting covetous glances at my own burger. But she never tried to steal one. Mostly because I never took my eyes off it, or her!

Back on the Home Ranch

Back at home after 33 days, 19 states, and 5000 miles on the road. All went well throughout the trip. The pups couldn't have been better travelers. They enjoyed their adventure but are glad to be back on familiar grounds.

Lots of water on this trip. We passed though Nashville the day after the rains stopped and saw significant flooding in many other places as well. It's even wet here and even though the grass badly needs mowing I can't do it 'til it dries off. If the hired man hadn't cut it a coupla times I would have a hayfield out front.

Will be playing catchup for a while and will try to post a few pix, many taken out the window as we drove by!

I really like being on the road, but also like to be back at home base.