Tenderfoot. When I joined the Boy Scouts, a new scout was called a Tenderfoot — or at least that's what I thought at the time. Since then I've learned that the first rank for a new scout is simply Scout, but there are few requirements for that stage beyond a basic knowledge of the organization and the ability to tie a square knot.
I go down into the ravine in mid-spring for the windless cool. The thistle hasn't taken over then, the grass is still unripe, the nesting blackbirds haven't formed vigilante groups yet, although one or two hang on the rock, baleful eyes and murderous smiles. "Staying long?" they rasp. "Passing through. Passing through," I say. And they nod, disbelieving.
I have wildlife, I thought; you mean I can get a certificate as well? The article itself, "Get Wild! 5 Steps..." is based on the National Wildlife Federation's program, part of which is an effort to meet the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and help expand corridors of hospitable spaces for transient bees and butterflies, which, face it, are having a rough go by any measure of environmental catastrophe.
Constructed from 8-foot lengths of 4x4 rough western red cedar (magical stuff) and cut to make a typical 4' by 8' frame, the raised bed is only fourteen or so inches high. Dowel and carriage bolts kept everything together. Somehow that simple-sounding process involved the purchase of multiple auger bits, a portable compact table saw, cordless sander, power planer, and more than twenty trips to the Home Depot on Magnolia.
Under the Microscope
I've been getting into miniaturization lately, after a sponsored ad for a magnifying smartphone camera unexpectedly appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. It was an outrageous deal. They had a short-but-irresistible sales video that showed you how to take close-up pictures of your Social Security card, driver's license, and bank account information and text them -- without leaving the app! -- to a number supplied with the box insert. I ordered one immediately, and since the instructions were all in Cyrillic script, I've been muddling by with trial and error, practicing on shrubs around the house before I move on to personal data.
Il pleut. Il pleuvait. Il a plu. Il pleuvra.
A neighbor has just sent the moisture report for the hill, and I’m tempted to see this, too, in Préverted terms. It was raining. It rained, certainly. It was hailing. We put the petunias in a trash bag. With a twist tie, we closed the bag. We put the trash bag in the trash. Without looking at the window box. Without looking at the hanging basket, where the geranium hung like the empty sleeve of a Civil War veteran.
Colorado Blue Spruce
A local news station has a recurring segment they run called “The Most Colorado Thing I Saw Today.” Viewers send in photos, or one of the reporters comes across something quaint or quirky. You know the sort of thing. Cowboys skiing at Steamboat. Ranchers riding their horses through Walmart. Folks fly-fishing a flooded cul-de-sac in …
One of the ambitions of a good naturalist, it seems to me, should be to build up enough knowledge that, when asked about this or that plant or animal, they can say with great confidence, “I don’t know”. In my experience the best ones say it a lot. New citizen scientists — budding botanists, fledgling …
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. I used to teach this verse …
In the key of Whaa?
Here’s that picture of the hairy false goldenaster I mentioned in the last post. Now, if you didn’t know it was a hairy false goldenaster (I mean really, look at it) and even if you didn’t know your botany from your Bimini, you could probably guess it was at least a member of the Asteraceae …