Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hickories- shaggy and shelly

Dear Hunts Poorly,
I hope you don't mind, but I have decided that rather than let this blog languish any longer, and due to time constraints, I shall begin posting my emails to you about the holler in the blog, killing too rabbits with one stone, so to speak. I am sure you will censure and scold me when necessary.

I enjoyed the visual in your email of the fire ring in the snow at the boat lot, never thought about ashes insulating the ground like that...guess that gives a poets line that goes something like "a heart as cold as dead ashes" a real ring. (oh, bad pun)
Went for a long walk, picked a way I hadn't been in a while (up the side of cane holler, like if you start above those alter rocks in the old cedar thicket and stay at that level and go straight to the big sassafrass in the very back) I had a mission, on that holler side there are a lot of hickory trees, and I was shopping to locate a shell bark hickory.
You see, I figured out that those giant nuts are from shell barks, not shag barks. I can't tell the bark and twigs apart yet, but I learned the shell barks are much rarer and have a smaller range. I also learned that hickories take a long time to bear (durn, there goes my big ideas) but you can graft them. hmmmph.

Anyway, no shellbarks, and the nuts in that area where not even as large as the ones above my pasture hill. But what I did find is several blown down trees and blown out massive tree tops. I guess that happened in the wind before last. (we have had lots of wind with the gloom)

At least two where trees that I had photographed frequently because of their lovely lines. It reminded me so much of the impermanence of your river, and the way it changed so drastically from one weather event to the next and how that always surprised me but did not surprise you, because I think you accept impermanence better than me.

Anyway, I was studying one space where a large, familiar oak tree top used to be when I noticed that it had taken out a hickory and walnut neighbor treetop, the large twisted-out walnut tree top was dangling precariously in a tall skinny fragile ailanthus tree directly over my head. I am supposed to be more conscious of widowmakers than that, especially on such a roughly gusty day. I high-tailed it out of the woods, taking that as a sign, and commenced my hickory tasting experiments back on the back porch before my fingers got too cold.
Let me know how your plans for a model of a compound canal lock turn out, using eagle clay for bricks seems kinda tedious, but might just go pretty quick with a multiple could have teeny weeny little initials in it...oooooh! I love miniatures.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paw Paw Poo Poo

Old timey gardeners I have known where often heard to say "I like them McCaslin beans (or viney tomaters, or sally sweet corn or which-ever suiting variety) cause they don't come in all ta once"  Well, yep, that's a good thing, to spread out your harvest like that.

    Unless the harvest is a wild thing that grows best up on the ledge above the pasture and on the other side of the briar patch where its hard to get to if you have to make several trips.

      Paw Paws are like that, they "come in" (ripen) over a period of time, and if you want to gather the most harvest, you gotta keep your eye on 'em, which means trekking through the briars and chiggers and seed ticks frequently. This takes extra time, not only from negotiating the thorns and the steep slope, but each trip requires, at the very least, taking off your jeans, inspecting them inside and out and shaking them good, or, more prudently, changing them all together to a fresh pair and scrubbing your legs and waist in the process.
     This summer, in my haste, I have been known to throw caution to the wind and skip all post trek prudencies and to have suffered the chiggery-tickey consequences, which I chalked up to some sort of necessary egoic leveling experience, rather than its rightful designation of "lazy haste"

Extra time has been short for me this summer, due to various obligations, but extra desire for distraction has been in ample supply. Under those circumstances, you have to pick and choose your projects and let the rest of your grandiose outdoor plans slide.

This has been a "tall cotton" year for paw paws (and just about every other fruit and nut crop, least until the drought fell upon us again, but I will save whining about the climate for another post) and when I checked on their progress around the last of August I was amazed at the the quantity and size of the fruit.



This is the sort of "shock and awe" that I would like the human race to be referencing. 

My intention was to go back the very next week, but there were those obligations, so it wasn't till about two weeks later that I made it back up the ridge.

Pooey. Most of the fruit had ripened and fallen, and was well on its way to compost.

 2008 09 14 057

Paw paws are so nice and smushy that when they fall, they are immediately set upon by all manner of hungry organisms. They emit a fabulous sweet fermenting odor, which carries a good ways. Many's a time I have located them at the peak of perfection by following a "kentucky bourbon distillery" whiff on the breeze to the early dropping ones, to find ripe ones near by.

 2008 09 14 053

When they go, they go quickly though, leaving behind the lovely dark brown seeds which some critter must also find edible, because they don't hang around long either.

I had spent some time studying the teeth marks and sign on the downed paw paws and could tell that birds had pecked them, some sort of rodent had been on them, and deer had chawed and mauled them around...walking away, thinking about what I had seen, I was surprised to see the subject of my thoughts being devoured in "real life action" by a turtle directly in my path.

 2008 09 14 013-1

A little ways farther along the ridge I found some in tooth study condition, and a few to eat, too! So I guess it is a good thing that paw paws don't all come in at once, after all.

2008 09 14 060

Political Poo Poo

I am heartsick and I could go on about it. I have a lot to say about the sorry-assed state of our leaders controllers, but because I do have so much to say, I won't.

I'll just leave it to the innovative musical duo Timbuk3, who said it all in these lyrics from their seminal album "Greetings from Timbuk 3" (a "must listen" from the last century, if you don't own it already)

Presidential elections are planned distractions
To divert attention from the action behind the scenes

like a game of chess when the house is a mess
Or a petty money squabble when your marriage is in trouble
Or a football game on TV, when there's rioting in the streets

It's just another movie, another song and dance
Another poor sucker who never had a chance
It's just another captain going down with his ship
Just another jerk, taking pride in his work

I was a poor magician; I could never understand
You can't make tears disappear through sleight of hand

From the bottom of my heart -- off the top of my head
Words were pulled like rabbits from a hat but nothing was said

Now my freedom's bought and paid for -- it lights up my living room
I got nothing more to prove; I've got no reason to move
And when I'm tired of the program -- when it's taken it's toll
I can press a button, change the channel by remote control  -Pat MacDonald, Barbara MacDonald

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