A walk at the arboretum today, after weeks of putting it off due to ice, snow, frigid temperatures, flu, colds. Because it’s been so cold, not much has happened, visibly, since last time we were there, but soon there will be lots of wildflowers. The ground is grey and muddy from the recent intentional burns and the heavy rains we had last week. This is the slowest spring in my memory, but I may prove myself wrong when I look back through the records.
We met this fellow, a crawfish, walking along the gravel path. It wasn’t quite 40 degrees out and we wondered what he was doing out. When I knelt down to see him better, he squared off facing me and raised his claws defensively. Dennis reasoned out that he was a burrowing crawfish (Cambarus diogenes aka Devil crawfish) who got hydraulic-ed out of his hole by the heavy rains and was trying to make his way back to the mud before he froze. We carried him down to the pond where the spring peepers were singing- he’d been headed that way- and put him on the muddy bank, where he rapidly burrowed back into the mud. Likely a once-in-a-lifetime sight. He dug with his front claws.
I saw a lone red-winged blackbird in Forest Park this morning, in the cattails by Jefferson Lake. He is early. Perhaps there are others with him- will need to watch this next week. We are in that uncomfortable neither winter-nor-spring period when snow gives way to freezing rain, to rain, to 70 degree days, back to 10-degree days. But there are daffodil and tulip bulbs peeking out of the ground, and our witch-hazel is blooming, almost. And a Carolina wren has been around lately.
Last year this time the temperature was in the single digits. Today it was 60 degrees and the wildflowers on the south-facing bluff at the arboretum were coming up under the leaves, insects were hatching.
Time is flying by- it’s true what they say, it goes faster when you get older. Thanksgiving at Liz and Chuck’s house was memorable, not least because Chuck shot a deer on Thanksgiving morning, of all times, and so Dennis and Dent helped to butcher it while Liz and I prepared the usual feast. Now they have a rooster named Ted who just happened upon their house and has set up shop with them. He crows in the mornings so it’s good they are early risers.
I hate the news and all our national dysfunction but can’t keep away from it. So to counteract the angst we take walks in the park; I say “we”, Dennis goes with me but he does not suffer from a news affliction like I do, he mostly stays away from it, reading instead more soul-satisfying stuff like The Psychoanalysis of Fire by Gaston Bachelard. So we keep each other informed.
Our holidays are quiet. The office is even quiet now, most folks having gone to join family, or out to buy presents. We just stay home, have a friend or two over, walk in the woods, eat chili or spaghetti or whatever we feel like fixing. But to all, a blessed holiday with family and friends!
Ah- sweet respite from the news. We took a walk at the arboretum today. I do so love the fall smells and colors, and the wind blew all the hateful news out of my head for awhile. We saw a pileated woodpecker, buzzards (whom I thought would’ve migrated back already), finches, sparrows. In our back yard are finches, nuthatches, little woodpeckers, those stripey-headed sparrows, goldfinches and warblers migrating through. We even had 2 black swallowtail caterpillars in October, eating the parsley that grew back after the last batch of their kind had eaten it, but they disappeared- we think the paper wasps who have a nest in the garage door recruited them to feed their queen larvae through the winter. Who needs spooky Halloween movies when you can just look at the life cycle of insects.
This weekend I went to Frankfort, Kentucky because my sister got married! Liz and Chuck had their ceremony at their friend’s house on the Elkhorn Creek. The attendees were all members of Church of Elkhorn, a gathering of friends by the Elkhorn that started some years ago- gathering to kayak, float, talk, drink, be in nature. So it is an informal “church,” but Steve, one of their number, got ordained so he could marry Liz and Chuck. It was a cold day but the ceremony was outside and whisky was the drink of choice for most, Frankfort being the hub of the now-popular Kentucky Bourbon craze. Last night was a party at Liz and Chuck’s house- I’d guess 50 or so people showed up, among them musicians who played into the night.
Richard Taylor, owner of the local bookstore, read some poetry.