Archive for the 'nature' Category


Friday, April 21st, 2006

“What kind of aminal is that?” I asked the 2-year-old in the woods. She was intently watching a squirrel as her young parents looked on. I guess I look like one of those scary people who shouldn’t talk to little kids, even when they’re with their parents, because her dad replied, “It’s a squirrel.” grok grok. Scary person? grok grok. She’s the Ugly Old Witch of Ritsema Woods. grok grok. Don’t let ‘er try to fool you. grok grok. She *roasts* children! grok grok FROGGY!!! I declare! I don’t let my tadpoles get anywhere near her! grok grok Froggy, you do NOT have any tadpoles! …… *Do* you??????

Anyway, I know what a squirrel is and I hate when people answer questions for other people, even though I have been known to do it myself. I know there are those who think I am not particularly crazy about little kids but I do sometimes enjoy them. Especially when they seem excited about something and are NOT throwing a full-tilt boogie tantrum in the aisle of the Pioneer High Auditorium or yelling things like, “you’re strangling me!” loudly enough for everybody in the Westgate Kroger to hear.

But that’s okay. It wasn’t really a big deal whether I talked to the kid or not. I was just wandering around in the woods, mindlessly for the most part. But it got me remembering that in our little batch of G4 Fin cousins, quite a wide variety of pronunciations for the word squirrel emerged as the girls each reached the 2-year-old stage. Lizard Breath came pretty close to mimicking adult speech with “shirrel”. Valdemort’s “sirker” was probably about the most creative and it is my all time favorite word for squirrel. Mouse, of course, enunciated “squirrel” with perfect precision. And Pengo would just let out a bloodcurdling scream upon encountering a squirrel. I can’t remember what the reason for that was but it was definitely not fear! I don’t know what that kid in the woods called the aminal she was watching but if y’all ever hear me say “there’s a sirker”, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Goodbye Mo and Landfill Birds

Friday, April 14th, 2006

When will it end? We are down yet another Birch Point Beach pack member. Yesterday, Jan and Pete made the very difficult decision to put down their beloved golden retriever Mo, who had been very ill the last month. He will be greatly missed but I’m sure Sam and Jim have already welcomed him on the Rainbow Bridge. Now, please, please, please can we stop with all of this so I can write about something a little happier already?

And, in that light, there are black-capped chickadees living in a bird house attached to the side of the Carbeck Landfill. According to the birder of the house, that is very unusual. But this place has always been Bird Central. No cats allowed. And here are a few of our bird adventures over the years:

  • When Lizard Breath was about 18 months old, a blue jay decided to nest in the top of our apple tree. Baby Liz and her daddy watched day after day as the blue jays built the nest. Every day, they checked the mama blue jay’s eggs and later on the newly hatched birdies. Until grackles came along and ate them.
  • For years, robins nested on top of an outdoor light on the back of the landfill outside Lizard Breath’s bedroom. We were forbidden to use the adjacent door or even to sit outside in the vicinity of the nest. In the wee hours of one morning, the GG somehow figured out that a cat was after the newly fledged birdies and he got up, got dressed and went outside no less than three times to try to evict it. To no avail. One year, the robins didn’t come back and no birds have nested there since.
  • Then there are the woodpeckers that peck our metal fireplace chimney every spring. Several years in a row, a particularly persistent bird insisted on drilling away on the darn thing at sunrise every single blasted morning, waking up everybody in the house and a few of the neighbors too. Drrrrrrr. Drrrrrr. Small children were terrified of that noise until they saw through our spotting scope that it was just a very silly little bird.
  • And how could I forget Willow, a wild baby bird that was foisted upon us one time (yeah, I know). Willow was a “junk bird”, i.e., one of those birds that hang out picking at french fries in fast food parking lots. The GG fed her baby bird food and bonded with her (I do not know Willow’s true gender). She fledged during a trip to the UP (yeah, I know) but alas, after we returned home, her cage door was accidentally left open and she made an escape, never to return.

There are birdhouses tacked up all over the outside of the landfill here. Some of them are simple ones that the GG constructed with brownie girl scout troops. Others are fancier ones that we collected during a time when we were a little more into acquiring things than we are now that the landfill is, well, full. There is a riot of loud chirping going on all around the house as I write this and that indicates that we have no vacancies here! And right in the front birdhouse, above my garbage can, are black-capped chickadees!

Walking in Thunderstorms

Monday, March 13th, 2006

Well, I walk three miles or thereabouts *every* morning and again in the late afternoon. A few years ago I used to say that one walk was for teenagers and the other was for men. Men and teenagers, sheesh! But really I am just a plain old addict. Without arthritis, thank you very much. There are very, very few weather conditions I do not walk in. I can do from about -15 up to around 100 Fahrenheit, although I am pretty much a bedraggled mess anywhere above 95. Hey, youse guys, I am half yooper, ya know, eh? I do rain, snow, and wind. I do ice up to a point. If I can’t maintain my footing on about a 2 degree incline, I call it quits. Yes, it *has* been that icy around here and it just isn’t worth it. Free fall is only fun in space. Uh, like I would *know* that 😉 One thing I definitely do not do is lightning! Lightning is just too weird and unpredictable. I was standing in my kitchen one time on a nice, warm, quietly rainy afternoon when suddenly, KABOOM! Lightning exploded a tree in the woods behind my house. Out of nowhere. No big front moving through. Nothing. There isn’t any lightning right this exact minute but there have been thunderstorms half the night and it is raining cats and dogs and there is a 70% chance of more storms this morning. Plus there is a tornado watch. I *really* need to walk right now but think I will just have to take a pass today. And to think, just over a week ago, I was at Houghton Lake and it was so cold, I had to wear every blasted item of winter clothing I possess to take my morning walk. Yes, including snowpants. It is March and this is Michigan. Anything goes.