Postlude to Peacocks

September 8 – (see previous post for the first part of this story)

Once the surviving bird had the world all to himself, he must have decided he could live anywhere he chose, since there wasn’t another peacock in the neighborhood. So since you already either know or have guessed, he thought it was best if he chose us and would stay with us. In the beginning he kept a distance between us as he was not yet sure that both sides, the peacock and the two friendly people, would be happy together. Dale and I tried to come up with a little friendly chatter to answer the sounds we heard because we did want to be able to communicate with him.

190908_PeacockFeathers (2)

Spreading wide the feathers

After some time had gone by, we noticed that the big bird seemed to be forgetting that our yard wasn’t really his home. We could even shout out “PEACOCK! PEACOCK!” to show that we were friendly.

I’m sure that nobody would figure out that we were just pretending to be one so we could communicate with the real one, because we really were not peacocks. We finally figured out that Mr. Peacock had several sounds that he made when we were trying to be his friends. He said a lot more before he finally realized that we were his friends and then when he became part of the family, he might not say anything for a week or so. Sometimes his voice was so loud that we thought he didn’t like us at all.

After awhile he was used to resting anywhere, but his favorite place to pass the time away was the bird feeder, a box that has been used by smaller birds for years. At first he chased the birds and a squirrel away as that was HIS domain. Eventually, though, since he knew he was in command, he allowed the red-headed woodpecker, the cardinal, blue jay, dove, and many other birds to visit the box or eat from the food on the ground.

Now that he realizes his high position in the area, and the fact that he is much bigger than any other bird there, he doesn’t chase anything away.

Lately, one of his favorite places to relax is the front porch where he trusts us to look out for him while enjoying the fun of just plain family. The cat has her own special place too. She sits under the covered bench or stays close by us. Once when the peacock was at the stage when he needed to get rid of his current tail feathers, we would find all kinds of them, some much longer than others, some shorter, but all telling us that he was in the process of shedding.


Looking for cheerios

Maybe you wondering what the peacock eats? You will probably be surprised as both of us were. When the bird arrived last year, I had just opened a package of Cheerios, and since I didn’t have Peacock food, I tried some of those. That was not a mistake! He just moved from one to another of those gooooood and tasty new foods. I could see by the way he was eating that he would soon be full enough that he would have to drink from the water bowl. Now it seems that he will try anything set in front of him, and enjoy whatever it is. He enjoys cake, crackers, cat food, and bird food.

I will not soon forget what happened one day when he was sitting quietly on the top of the porch railing. Dale somehow wanted to know if he could pull one of the few feathers left. Slowly he reached out his hand when the bird was looking the other way. When the peacock figured out what was happening, he immediately flew up onto the roof, leaving a beautiful reddish brown feather in Dale’s hand. It stands proudly above most of the others in the big feather box atop the freezer in the garage.


Some of the feathers

Recently while he was feeding, I saw one of the two remaining feathers. As I went to pick it up I held it in my hand. Now just one feather and it feels fine with just one. He sits in front of the door waiting for us to get up or come back from town. A few days ago as we drove into the driveway, I noticed that the peacock was running as fast as he could all around the tank that holds propane. No reason in my mind as to what he was doing. Five times was enough to tire him out. There must be well over 100 feathers, even after we have given away so many. The latest were given to the children who attended Vacation Bible School at our church.

We feel blessed to have a good relationship with the beautiful bird that will soon start to build up another feather collection. I felt sad when I noticed that he was trying to show off the few feathers he had left. In the bird box he used to lie down with his head at one end and stretch out with the feathers hanging over the other. Just ONE feather now.

We like to sit on the tailgate of the truck in the garage and watch what the bird does. He often comes very close ready to pop up the food that we throw to him. Sometimes he is content to just lie down in front of us and enjoy being master of all he surveys! – CHRIS

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Prelude to Peacocks

August 20 – As soon as some of the folks see what I am writing about, our peacocks, I hope you won’t say, How many more times is this woman going to write about those birds?” But I know for sure that some of the readers look forward to hearing more about them. One of our readers mentioned just a couple days ago that he is really enjoying still another account of what’s going on in Peacock Alley and told me that it was time to hear another story.


A pair-o-peacocks

Just in case you have been reading recently about just ONE peacock? I want you to know that we started out with two, but neither one was ours. Joe, our neighbor up the road, had purchased those birds a couple years ago, at an auction, if I remember correctly.

Our only contact with those birds merely told us through their loud noises and voices that the man up the road still had them. Since they were not cooped up, they could wander as they wished. After awhile they decided to check out the rest of the road to see if they might enjoy meeting other birds. How were they to know that they were the only two that owned the road!


One long set of tail feathers

When we first saw those big birds slowly meandering along the way, Dale and I just stood out in the middle of the road watching what they would do and where they would go. We weren’t used to watching peacocks walk along as if they owned the universe, and when they saw us standing in the road, they were saying, “Who are you? Do you live around here?” Since we didn’t speak the same language, I tried to make a few sounds that might sound a little like peacock chatter. Obviously it didn’t because the big birds just turned and hurried back home.

As a few days went by, we could hear the birds talking together and wondered it they would ever come back to see us. Now some of you already know what happened, so I’ll skip right along. Yes, they did come back and since they found a couple of bird lovers, they decided to investigate our land and new trees, our cute cat, the garden, the barn, the shed, and lots of other things that interested them.

How well I remember when they first discovered the barn roof! One day when I was checking out the garden before I went into the house, I heard a very strange sound, then another. The larger peacock left the area in front of the barn, and flew right up to the shed roof, then on higher to the roof of the barn.


The barn is on the left of our back yard

Just a bit of time went by until the smaller bird followed the same path. Straight up from the ground to the shed and then to the opposite of the place which was held by the large peacock. Everything seemed to happen at once, while I stood so surprised to see what had happened in just a few minutes.

When I went up to the house and told Dale the story, he was surprised as well. We went back to the barn where we could easily see the birds and talk about how quickly they had made the trip from the ground to the roof.

Not too long after that incident, Joe called to say that he would be down to pick up his peacocks. He asked that we take the vehicles out of the garage, so when the birds were chased inside, the door could be shut so they couldn’t get out. The last words he said before coming to our house were, “DON’T FEED ‘EM!”

Joe and his two friends did what he had planned to do, and we were told to let him out the door into the kitchen with the bird he had in his hand and the other which was carried away by one of the young helpers. Into the little vehicle went the peacocks and off they went to their home just up the road. That was the last time we saw the smaller bird. Joe says that he must have wandered away from their land and been hit by a car. (to be continued…) – CHRIS

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Harvesters (Dale edition)

August 11 – We recently posted Chris’ version of our most recent Harvesters. Here’s the Dale version…

On the second Wednesday of every month the Harvesters food truck comes to the Kingsville Seventh-day Adventist church with all kinds of foods to be handed out to a long line of vehicles lined up around the church.


Dark clouds coming

Church members volunteer to give out the food, each volunteer handling one of the piles of edibles as a vehicle draws up alongside. Every vehicle has a card under the windshield wiper, saying how many families are represented, anywhere from one to even a few fives or sixes.

At our visit last month, many pallets and cartons of foods were unloaded from the Harvesters truck, which then drove away, leaving the volunteers to open the cartons and be prepared to hand out the items.

The day started out okay but then dark clouds began gathering on the horizon and we were urged to hurry before the storm arrived! However, it arrived before the handouts were done, with a mighty wind that just about knocked folks down and made us totter and stagger from car to car. Empty cartons went sailing off into the distance, and caps were blown away and the empty plastic bags used to enclose loose items disappeared.


Passing out food in the rain

Then came some rather light rain which the volunteers withstood until they realized that the drops were now stinging! It was small hail. Everyone then fled into the adjacent rooms and we all just waited and waited, while the few vehicles remaining had to stand in line. One of the volunteer ladies laughed and said she had never before seen so much wet hair standing on end.

Finally the storm subsided and folks began cleaning up and taking the leftovers to their vehicles. Empty pallets were gathered together to be picked up in August when the Harvesters truck returns. I don’t know where all the empty cartons went! As we drove away we saw a cap lying by the roadside, and Chris went back to the small group still remaining, and found that the cap belonged to one of the men who hadn’t even missed it yet. And so ended one of the most unusual and exciting Harvesters events the church folk had ever experienced. – DALE

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Harvesters (Chris edition)

August 6 – Somehow or other I have a reputation of praying that all will go well when the group of volunteers comes to the site for Harvesters each month. Just about every time, the Lord does honor our prayers, with the rain staying away for the day or afternoon when our task is completed. But it wasn’t quite that way during the July episode!


Before the rains

With our eyes on the approaching black clouds, we worked as quickly as we could. I usually spend a few minutes talking with those in the line as they move forward, but this time I didn’t talk very long. While we were waiting to pass out the food, a nice guy got out of the car, walked across the driveway, and handed me a beautiful pen! I have the first three in a special place on the kitchen counter so I will be reminded of his kindness. Next, the first in line, an always friendly lady got out of her car to tell me that she no longer has cancer, but after giving her a hug, I had to move on to the next in line.


A familiar truck for us

Once that first car moved on, we didn’t have time to greet each one of the folks as usual, as we didn’t want to be soaked to the skin! As we continued, the very black clouds moved around in another direction, the very strong winds blew everything in their path. I even had a hard time trying to stand up, but caught myself just in time so that I didn’t fall.

Finally the clouds moved around in another part of the sky. No doubt now that it was raining, and finally when the hail began to fall, we were called to hurry into the big dry room, safe from the storm. By that time some of the women were joking with each other as to which one was more soaked to the skin. Actually it was pretty easy to give the answer because the lady herself tried to cover her head and hair saying that she was careful to take care of her hair before she started off to help out this morning. “You’re OK,” she said. “Your hair is curly and right now it is trying to decide which way it will go!”


Boy, did it rain!

Even with the rain, all kinds of food were handed out to the folks as they drove by. Cartons of half & half and quarts of the same helped to fill the cars along with orange juice, cabbage, all kinds of yogurt, Fritos, Swiss cheese, small red potatoes, watermelon, milk, several kinds of fruit, and other foods I couldn’t remember.

However, I won’t soon forget what we heard on the TV that evening. Hamburger buns, of the same kind we had, were recalled by the company because they had sharp bits of plastic in the carton! We’re hoping that none of ours were part of that recall.

When it was time to leave for home, I was really cold with a soaked shirt, and glad to be in our little truck with the heater running full blast. At home we packed up the foods that we would be taking to a neighbor family. Those folks are always so happy and thankful!

So now it’s the end of this story and the blog. Try to do what you can to help people as you can, and let them know of your love! – CHRIS

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A Missouri Nature Lesson

190729_StormJuly 29 – On a recent evening we sat on the front porch for quite a while, watching a thunderstorm to our east and enjoying the constant flashes of lightning, and thunder. The lightning area reached for miles along the horizon, never getting high into the sky. Appropriately, lightning bugs (fireflies) were performing for us too and speeding around the yard and pastures. In past years we had often noticed them coming up out of the lawn in crowds but this year so far they are acting differently and we don’t even see where they are coming from. They just streak past us on their ways to somewhere from somewhere.

One of our neighbor’s peacocks has come to enjoy our company this summer, and has been here in our yard for a number of days already. He is a noisy bird and gives out frequent, loud calls which we don’t hear his friend answering from the home down the way. Last night he was on our roof, and during the day he spends much time lying in the bird feeding table, which is just his length.

170808_SourCherriesOur sour cherries ripened well this year, and all three trees got redder and redder as the days went by. To no one’s surprise, the birds enjoyed the fruit, flying around amidst the branches snacking. We were pleased that they didn’t seem to damage the crop, at least not obviously so. Right next to the three trees is a large purple mulberry tree and those berries also ripened nicely. Even crows like mulberries and we hear them in the upper branches at times, cawing and picking berries. We were glad to have the mulberry tree next to our cherry trees, acting as a lure to save our cherries, but this year the birds seem to be enjoying them both..

190729 TurtleTurtles are out crawling around these days, probably females looking for good areas to dig holes and lay their eggs in. I found a quite large red-eared pond slider on our front lawn the other day, and Chris took some pictures of her and then days later found her again in our bamboo patch.

One day on a single trip to church we saw a snapping turtle, a box turtle, and a pond turtle, all crossing the road – miles apart, of course. Our son saved the life of a snapping turtle a few days ago when he drove past and saw it was planning to cross the highway. He stopped, got out a cardboard box, and got the turtle to crawl into it and then carried it off to the roadside and pointed it away from the road. Many motorists would probably have just run over the turtle and we applaud the lifesaver. Snapping turtles can be carried by their tails, with caution, so a box is not essential.

And thus endeth the nature tale for this time. – DALE

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A Working Visit from David

July 21 – When our son David, who lives in Shawnee, sent us an email to tell us that he would be coming out last Sunday to help us do some things that we had been able to do easily for so many years, I was more than glad that we would see him. If you knew me well though, you would know how hard that was for me to accept, but he has given us help before, and we really do appreciate his kindness and ability!


David mowing the patch

And it isn’t that he has lots of spare time, for he is always doing things for other people and for the church and school. When some of the kids in his Junior group tell me what a good teacher he is, I agree fully, for that is truly one of his gifts.

For those who have been reading our blog for the last several years, I guess you know me pretty well along that line. I really do appreciate those folks who do their best to help others, never expecting anything in return. They are the ones who make life easier for all of us.

Anyway, David sent an email telling us he would see us some time soon and help us with various needs. In the afternoon I was working around some of the orange trumpet vine that stretches up pretty high to the sky on a telephone pole, when I thought I heard a car drive into the driveway. Once I get involved in a job, I like to get it done, and I knew Dale was in the back, so David knew we were around. I hadn’t finished the job so David joined me as I broke off the various irises, and other stems. As David continued to do the same, he would ask me, “Keeping this? Are these any good? You don’t keep these rose bushes all entangled with the other stuff, do you?”


Filling in the gravel after laying pipe

Finally he suggested that I look over the much smaller area around the main vine. “Well, since you don’t want any of the other stuff still standing, I think I’ll get the mower and mow off the whole area. OK?” Sure it was OK, and talk about a saving of time. Just about five minutes, and the bed was all cleaned up!

Next in line. Going to his car parked in the driveway, he brought out two white PVC pipes, along with a smaller connector that would keep them stuck together. We have had a problem with huge puddles of water staying around in the driveway whenever it rains. Since we have had so many storms and so much water lying around in the driveway, David brought with him what he would need to put in a drainage pipe from the side of the tree about 20 feet farther on where the tube would empty the extra water and send it running down the hill.

190721 _ditch

Completed drain

Talk about a real worker! With his big hoe, he dug a ditch, smoothing it out from time to time so he would have it just where he wanted it to be. Then came the trial. After putting the two pieces together, he asked me to stand at the end and help him carry the pipes and lay them in the prepared ditch. He brought over the hose, turned it on and the wet area soon filled up. At first it didn’t seem that the whole plan was working, as it didn’t look as if the water was entering the pipes. I must admit that I continued to pray that all would be well. We saw David go to the end of the pipe where the water flowed down the hill! “It must have passed the test,” he said. Then he started putting the saved sod and the gravel from the driveway back over the pipe.

“Where did you learn to do that?” I asked. His answer? “Well, I fixed one at our house once, and the results were pretty good.”


The Chris-n-Dale bloggers!

Not too long afterward, when I checked on the drain, I found that the unwanted water that started in the area was completely gone, and we shouldn’t have that problem again. [Update: after our rain last night, Dale says that the “drain pipe seems to have worked very well for there is no pond standing alongside the driveway today.”]

Now it was time to check out what needed to be done in our garden, much smaller than any year I can remember. From planting over 100 tomato plants in former years, this year we have about 25! We actually don’t need that many, but it has always been fun to share with others. First thing both David and I did was use our hoes to clear out the weeds in a couple of rows. While I continued to hoe out the weeds, David got the tiller out of the shed and started using his guidance skills. I couldn’t even make that thing move, let alone rush up and down the rows, then go back and do the same job.

Since I had taken a couple pics of David as he worked on other problems, I ran up to the house to get my camera. Unfortunately the tiller was back in the shed by the time I got back to the garden, and David didn’t even offer to let me take the photo. He just doesn’t like to be recognized for any good works. [Editor’s note: Real reason is that he was just too worn out by that point!]


Most people have sparrows in their birdfeeder. We have a peacock!

Then later last week, Dale moved a few cages here and there, including some that he put around the smaller plants like the peppers. The reason I thought we should protect the peppers?

It’s because of something I have never seen the big peacock do before, but since it was really hot he tried to fit into an empty place on the edge of the garden where he could enjoy life to the fullest. I had never before seen a peacock make his own bed in the soft earth and move this way and that to make himself comfortable. After lying in a place where he could cover himself with soft dirt and move freely about all in the same place, he scooted here and there. When he decided to stay put, he was lying close to a couple pepper plants and one tomato. I decided I had better protect the garden rather than the one who was enjoying himself. (Then I found that when Dale went down to check on the garden this morning while I was working on a fence, he specifically fixed up a part of the area so the peacock could enjoy himself without ruining anything we want from the garden!)

One last word from David to his parents. “OK, I’d like a peanut butter sandwich now that it’s suppertime. Then we’ll have a game of Rummikub before it’s time to head for home. Lots of things to do after I get home and take off for my walk!”

We felt sad just as we do every time he drives that fifty miles back home. One last beep-beep as he turned back on the road. Then we had a real supper, just the two of us, and then talk over the happenings of the day and thank the Lord once again that he gave us a really neat son.

Oh, who won the Rummikub game? Who else but David! Fifty years ago when the kids were really young, we didn’t help them win or change the rules for them. When they won, we cheered them on. When they lost, it wasn’t a horrible thing for them, since they would soon have another chance to be the top dog! – CHRIS

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Wintergreen Revisited x2

Wilson Junior High

July 12 – When I was 13, and in John Hickey’s eighth grade home room at Wilson Junior High, the class decided to have an all-day picnic at Wintergreen. After meeting at the school, the group walked over East 28th to Elm Street, and along Zimmerman Road. I joined them as they walked past my house. After spending the morning playing softball and hiking down to the creek and back, we enjoyed our picnic lunch and started back home.

About a mile along the way we were treated to a real thunderstorm. Girls were complaining about stringy hair, boys were stamping puddles, splashing each other and any girls who might be nearby. We sloshed our way to our house where everyone crowded into our small living room.

Off came shoes and socks—the flowered linoleum was muddy and wet but my mother didn’t care. She loved kids more than furniture and floors! Sprawled on the floor or lounging on the couches, we sang songs, told stories and forged deeper friendships. Finally everyone was dry the rain had stopped and Mr. Hickey started off down the road towards Wilson.

Later, as a young mother, I introduced our two children to Wintergreen so they could learn to love it too. But there were many changes in the place since I was their age. Instead of sliding down the steep path on the cemetery side, we had to park just off Cooper Road and walk the trail that winds its way behind the campus of Penn State Behrend.

About a block along the path there’s a steep dirt slope that just dares brave kids and their foolish parents to try their luck at climbing.

“Beat ya to the top!”

My son was challenged and off he scooted, walking upright at first, and then dropping to hands and knees. Not far behind him, I gasped for roots or saplings to hang on to on the way up. Puffing and panting more than I did 30 years before, I reached the top.

“Pretty good, Mom,” my son admitted, while his dad nodded his agreement. Now if the trip to the top of the hill was hard on the muscles, the return to the bottom was hard on the mind and seat of the pants. It was somewhat scary to be flying from one tree to another trying to keep my footing. And if I missed the tree I was aiming for, down I would go sliding the rest of the way on my pants.

Not bad for somebody your age,” Son said laconically, but I could sense a little bit of pride in his voice.

Later way at the top of the cliff at the end of the trail, we looked down into the gorge where I had skipped rocks across the waters many years before.

I showed my small daughter how to play house under some of the trees whose roots were partly above ground. Smooth flat spaces between the roots made perfect rooms. Furniture and people were fashioned from twigs, leaves, acorns, spruce cones, and bits of moss. Indian tepees were made from broad leaves and twigs.

The pond near the entrance was an interesting place where we could find frogs and salamanders as well as many kinds of fish hovering over their nests near the banks.

As the four of us tramped along the water’s edge we disturbed an underground yellow jacket’s, nest. Before we knew what had happened, those insects had declared war and began buzzing around us with no good purpose in mind.

Amid a chorus of “Mom, they got me! Dad, help! Ouch! Ouch!” I ran to our car parked along the roadway. They had stung me too, and I wanted to get into that supposedly safe haven! But, as I opened the door, several flew right into the car with me and stung me three more times before I could shoo them out! – CHRIS

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Wintergreen Gorge Remembered

June 20 – Wintergreen Gorge. As a child I thought that was the best place in the whole world to be.

From our house on Zimmerman Road, we trudged up to the entrance of the cemetery, at that time much smaller than it is now. We followed the unpaved roads back to the area near the little chapel built to honor the memory of Mr. Behrend’s son.

Facing the gorge towards the east, we could see what was left of an overlook. If I stood behind the wall, I felt very safe because I could barely see over the top. However, if I was as daring as my brothers—and I usually was because I didn’t want to be a sissy, I inched my way around the wall to stand on the little bit of ground in front of the overlook.

Some of the shorter cliffs

One slip of my sneaker, and I would go sliding down the steep slope to end up in the creek hundreds of feet below. Of course, my brothers assured me that there were lots of big trees I could run into or hang onto on the way down!

Since I believed them implicitly, some of the fear and dread would disappear. But I was very glad to creep back around the wall when they decided they too, had had enough of being daring.

Since most of the cemetery area really wasn’t a cemetery but just open fields of grass, we often chose to play softball near that same overlook. Several times our balls would fly over the wall, and be lost forever. I can remember going down to the bottom of the gorge just hoping we might find the lost ball, but we were never successful.

Because we were lucky to have even one softball in those Depression days, our game would end abruptly and we would begin the long trek back home to Zimmerman Road.

You may wonder why we weren’t smart enough to put the batter near the overlook so he could hit the ball away from the hill. The only reason I knew of was that we were told not to desecrate those graves and a good long hitter could easily smack the ball hard enough to send it into the cemetery.

Behind the little chapel a shaded footpath wound in and out among the trees and big stones. Following it for about a block, we came to the steep drop off where a path wound down to the bottom of the gorge. As we zigzagged our way from one part of the dirt path to another we slowed down our speed by hanging onto roots and trees that were in good positions along the way. Take a few careful steps, and then make a run for the next tree. Turn a corner and repeat the process.

Good thing there were roots and trees to hold on to!

Sometimes in order to show off (and if I wasn’t too scared), I would grab a tree with great gusto and swing off into space, all the time clutching the tree for dear life. I’m sure my brothers sniffed with disdain. “What ya tryin’ to do? Act big? Just be careful ‘cause if anything happens to you Ma’ll blame us!”

Finally, as we neared the bottom of the slope we could hear the creek singing and gurgling its way through the flat shale shelves hemmed in by the steep sides of the gorge. With one final rush we leaped the few feet remaining on the trail. Sometimes I landed on my feet, but sometimes I didn’t!

There I would hunt for as many flat stones as I could carry. Dropping them in front of me, I picked them up one by one, and, grasping them in my palm, aiming them with my fingers and thumb, I let them sail off into the water. How pleased and proud I was when I finally caught on to what my brothers had been trying to teach me since I was small.

As those stones slid across the stream, bouncing, flying, and landing again, making their way all across the water, I felt grown up. This activity lasted for a long time because all of us were competitive and wanted to be the one with the most skips.

Hey, did you see how many times that one skipped?” asked one brother.

Bet mine can beat that!” answered another as he grasped the stone in his hand.

I can’t remember that I could ever beat any of my five brothers at that game, but all of the practice I had in those days stood me in good stead in later years as I could show my children and later even my grandkids how to skip stones right there along the Wintergreen Gorge.

Finally tiring of stone skipping, we moved south on the creek, walking on the shale or jumping from rock to rock. Sometimes trees hung out from the banks. Coltsfoot grew in the not-too-good soil among these rocks in the early spring. White or red trilliums in great patches made the banks beautiful. Blue jays called raucously as they flitted from one tree to another, scolding us as intruders in their territory.

The creek and shale rocks

Inevitably, before we finished our journey up the creek, I would slip on some of the wet shale and slide right into the icy waters of the stream. If I kept my balance I was lucky. Worse than slipping into the creek was falling into it! With a great shout and flailing of arms, I jumped out as soon as possible, feeling half frozen. Even in the summertime that water was frigid! Sloshing along with the water squishing out of my tennis shoes, and my long hair dripping wet, I must have been a sad sight.

Sometimes we would stop along the way at a particular quiet and peaceful pool. There we would sit and think. No one said anything. No one even moved. We just sat staring listening to the birds and enjoying the sunshine on our backs and the soft breeze blowing through our hair.

After awhile we gathered some of the big leaves of the wild grapes or those of the basswood and fashioned little boats to go sailing down the creek to some unknown shore.

Taking the leaf stem in one hand and bending the rest of the leaf with the other we pushed the stem end through, making a little sailing ship.

Carefully placing it in the water we watched the successful boats twist and turn their way around bits of debris in the stream, then sail on out of sight. If a little boat caught on some grass or was marooned on a little sand island we lifted it off and sent it on its way again.

Who knew? Maybe that little ship would find its way to Lake Erie and beyond! – CHRIS

Please note: I did not take any of the pictures in this article.

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Peeking in the Window

Retrieving the Reptile

June 11 – It was a recent Monday afternoon and I was sitting in my easy chair alongside the big window in our living room. Looking out at the scenery, I suddenly realized that there was a reptilian head looking in at me!

Hastily I scurried outside to have a look at what it was. It was a black rat snake, resting on a ledge above the window, with just its head and a short piece of neck placed so it could see the scenery inside the living room. I guessed it was on its way to the sparrow’s nest on the other end of the window; we had found a larger one there years ago, with its head right in the nest.

Chris came out with her camera and I brought out a chair and stood up on it in order to reach the snake. The snake retreated slightly but I reached up and gently took hold of its neck. Chris continued to take pictures! I brought down a few inches of snake, then a few more inches, and eventually the whole snake was in my hands. Rat snakes are docile and this one only bit me once on a finger, shedding about two drops of blood.

Cat, meet Snake…

Holding the snake, I sat on the chair and posed for pictures. Our cat strolled by a few feet away, unaware of what I was holding. I laid the snake down in the grass and got her to turn around and see what was there in front of her. Instant shock and surprise! She crouched down a few inches away and just gazed and stared, then finally inched forward and reached out a cautious paw and gave the snake a quick prod. No reaction, so a second prod followed. Still no results, so cat lost interest, more or less, and just posed there looking on.

We all went around to the back of the house and out to the bird feeder table and released the snake there. It eventually crawled slowly away and into the grass and over to the nearby propane tank, went under it, and vanished. I had estimated the length of the snake at around five feet, but a steel tape measure had proved it was just about four feet long. Rat snakes are great consumers of rats and mice, so we are always glad to have them living on the premises.

Face to face with Mr. Snake

Living out here in the country, we usually have a snake or two during the summer. I think the black rat snake is the longest, but there is another fairly common snake here, the prairie king snake, a smaller snake with interesting markings. Both species are willing to eat in captivity. I have kept them in cages for weeks at times, before releasing them. – DALE

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Houston, Our Lawn Mower’s Got a Problem

May 30 – When we last left our mower, it was burning brightly! And now, the rest of the story…

After burning and smoldering for a couple hours, the fire continued to show its presence, as some of the parts and skeletons of the mower could now be seen. The wheels were all there, as were the seat and deck. The plastic covering burned right off the metal parts.

Mower burn and mower bubble…

I even found a very small light bulb all shattered. Dale said it must be from the lights that made it possible to mow along in the darkness. Well, that’s something I have never done! I like to see where I’m going, night or day. But that tiny bulb is sitting atop the file cabinet reminding me of what happened. How in the world could I ever forget what happened that day!

Later in the day, our son David, who had heard about the problem, sent us an e-mail about being glad that I hadn’t been mowing the big piece of land behind the barn. That area would have burned so quickly. Later on he wrote again to let us know that some of his friends who get our blog said they would be very interested in reading it this time!

He also said that someone from the Cub Cadet company would be getting in touch with us to check on some of the questions they would have. Not long after that, there was a kindly young lady on the phone asking about the various kinds of info she needed so she could make a report for our insurance company. All went well until after Dale had answered all the questions and it became my turn. Unfortunately, I NEVER can talk on the phone about business matters, so Dale always takes care of things like that.

Scrap metal, anyone?

Now what were we going to do about getting another mower? The grass HAS to be mowed because there has been so much rain that one of these days, especially in the bamboo patch, it’s going to be way over my head. (OK. I can hear one of my brothers say, “You’re so short, is there ANYTHING that isn’t over your head?”)

At our age in life, we decided to get a used model, rather than a brand new one. Off to the business of our friend Wayne a couple miles away. There we found an older mower that Wayne thought would do a good job, but he wouldn’t sell it to us until he had replaced a number of parts. I always tell him that I wish everyone who deals with this sort of work would be as honest as he is. As we were leaving his shop, we hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before we had another Cub Cadet running for us.

Later that week, Wayne brought over the mower and didn’t want to charge us until he was sure there were no problems with it. We found that he had a lot of changes to make because I am a little bit of an old(er) woman, while the mower was set up for folks who can reach any of the necessary pedals at any time.

How we had to mow for awhile!

Since I needed to be closer to those pedals, as well as to the grass cutter lever, the two folks who knew anything about moving me up far enough to reach and push the various parts needed to get to work. By the time the seat was moved up a lot, I could easily reach the pedals, but I still couldn’t do anything about changing the position of the lever.

When I first tried to remember all of those positions, I made a mistake or two and had to go slowly until I could do so. Since it is hard for Dale to bump along mowing when his legs bother him a lot, he just sat on a chair in the area, and if I needed help, I would move to where he was and ask him what I should do! Now I thought that he couldn’t use the big mower at all, so I was more than surprised when a couple days later, while I was using the hand mower around the trees and flowers, I saw him zooming along the trails and a good bit of the lawn that I hadn’t had time to mow!

Yes, it will be hard to forget the day when the entire perfectly good mower was done with its job forever? That was a very, very sad day. – CHRIS

Posted in Around the House, Yard work | Leave a comment