Happy Trails to Us – Part 2


[ Walnuts for squirrels ]

January 4 – Time to finish up our walk blog from yesterday. So what do we see just ahead of us now? Piles and piles of black walnuts or their shells left behind by squirrels as they rummaged through the piles that we had raked together during the season. Normally we keep all we can find, walking to a number of trees in the area, and then shelling them in the winter to eat before the next harvest. Well, this year, for the first time ever, Dale decided that he just didn’t feel like doing the job. (That, of course, was well after the time I had picked up buckets of them and Dale put them out in the barn.)

Normally, every year, we would fill the big sand box with nuts until they dried off and could be put into the barn. But this time, we dumped the sandbox on the burning pile because it was falling apart and couldn’t hold the nuts till they were dry. Time for a decision. Dale said we should dump the ones in the garage and not pick up any more. You can guess the rest!

First of all, we have no walnuts from this year. We raked up all the bushels of nuts around and under the trees and left them for the squirrels to enjoy. So those piles were raked up in seven different places! What a joyous celebration of pay without work as the squirrels cleaned up everything but the debris they left behind as they enjoyed every bit they could scavenge!


[ Bald cypress ]

For the first time in over a month or more, we could check out the wall of the dam. Since the yellowish grass had grown tall and taller before I could mow it, Dale said that we probably should forget the section that I always mowed across the top of the dam. Instead we walked along beside the pond, crossed the creek and continued our walk on the other side. Since I do not enjoy leaving partially mowed areas, I had a hard time passing by that area!

A little farther on was yet another burning pile, full of tree branches that had fallen along with those Dale had cut off the oak trees. Too hard to mow around those trees when there are so many branches that grow so close to each other. It will now be much easier to mow around the bald cypress trees, one on either side of the pond.


[ Big osage orange ]

On the side that bordered our neighbor’s land, we found so many osage oranges that had fallen on the ground,that I had lots of fun bending over, picking up the oranges and tossing them as far away from the area as I could. Usually the oranges are ripped apart and lying all over the place as the squirrels have eaten them. However, this time there were so many fruits lying peacefully on the grass, that my arm got a lot of exercise as I continued on up the path tossing as I passed another bunch of them.

I wondered about these osage oranges when we walked past one of the trees this year. In past years as the squirrels didn’t have any piles of black walnuts to stuff themselves with, many of the fruit were gone except for little bits and pieces left behind. This year is totally different. The big oranges are just lying around all over until the squirrels have finished those walnuts that we had planned for them as a gift! Gift? Oh, yes!


[ Hen of the Woods mushroom ]

More osages all along the way, including one huge one where the big fruits cover the ground, not only under the tree, but several feet away. Just a bit from that tree is the place where we first discovered the Hen of the Woods mushroom, scrunched down around the bottom of the oak. All along in front of us for about thirty feet were deep brown seed pods of the honey locust.

As I mentioned yesterday, the oranges have several common names including bodark, bois d’arc, and bowwood. The osage is wrinkly and bumpy, and I enjoy playing around with them. I read that some people think that the fruit looks as if it might be a human brain! I have never heard of anyone eating those oranges. Even most animals and birds will have nothing to do with the osage because it has such a bitter taste.


[ Clipping rose bushes ]

As we continued our walk, we found big rose bushes that were covered with small white flowers earlier in the summer, but were now nothing but long bare branches. Of course they were still full of heavy thorns that caught my arms when I tried to take a few pictures of them.

Turning the corner farther on, we continued walking and checking out poison ivy, wild gooseberries, ground nuts, wild rose bushes, and sumacs until we came back to the creek to cross over to the last part of the trail. And there, just at the edge of the iris bed in front of us was Cat, just waiting for another walk. Since she had rested all the time we had walked in that area, she was all ready to keep up the pace.


[ Former morning glories ]

So away we went walking to the end of one side where Dale keeps a bird box. Nothing there this time. Then it was off down the side of the road before coming to the location where beautiful blue morning glories had bloomed for so many years. Not this one, though, because we had so much rain just about planting time that we just gave up for this year. Hopefully, it will be different this spring. Who was it that wrote, “Hope springs eternal”? According to my ancient college literature book, it was Dryden! If we had nothing to keep us hopeful during every day, if we were content to just go about the day from sunrise to sunset, doing it all on our own, what sad persons we would be! – CHRIS

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