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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Growing -- and Growing Up

Camera Work

I’ve been experimenting with a new shooting mode on my camera and also spending time cataloging the fauna on my home ground, going back to the latter post again and again to add to my lists as I see plants I hadn’t noticed the first time around or spring-flowering plants I'd forgotten. The plant catalog is a work-in-progress, and the photographs may play a bigger part in that one of these days. 

Quick Reminder

Monday is Labor Day (eek!!!), and the very next day, Tuesday, September 6, is the release date for Sarah Shoemaker’s new novel, Children of the Catastrophe, which we will be launching at the Leelanau Township Library that evening. If you missed my post about the book and want to know more, look here

The September 6 event is an open house – meet and greet, buy books and have them signed – refreshments will be served. Doors will open at 7:30, but there is to be no formal program, so stop in when you can. We hope to see you there!

Dog Stuff

The graduate!

Sunny Juliet completed her Junior Ranger class and received a certificate, which told me there had probably never been a possibility she would flunk. She was, however, the wildest puppy in the class, and her energy level is not explained solely by “She’s a puppy!” and neither does “She’s an Aussie!” tell the whole story. There is a name for Sunny’s personality: hyperarousal. The good news is that she is not fearful, anxious, or aggressive, only prone to overexcitement – and it doesn’t take much to excite her!

She made progress, though – we both did – and the day after her last class she was spayed and then on-leash and on-meds for 10 days of restricted activity, which was perfect timing, as far as I was concerned, because having a name for Sunny’s wildness led me to learn more. Two of the things I learned: (1) she cannot be “worn out” with heavy amounts of hard exercise, and (2) trying to “wear her out” will only push her to an even higher level of excitement (which explains those episodes where she decided, after a wonderful long run, that her momma was a sheep and needed to be jumped on from behind!). Hyperarousal has to do with stress hormones, apparently, and you can read more about it if you’re interested. I checked back with the class instructor, though, and she agreed that what’s important for Sunny to learn is how to relax. This was, in fact, one of the key elements of the 8-week class and the hardest one for Sunny to master. Her skills in that area continue, frankly, to need work.

The bottom line for me is to find more ways to exercise my puppy’s mind. Problem-solving requires focus, and focus means putting wildness to the side, so we will be trying a little something new soon, and I’ll get back with a report on how it works out. She (we) did complete that class, though, and she (we) never missed a single session! 

Books Read Since Last Listed

85. Busse, Ryan. Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America (nonfiction)

86. Taylor, Edmond. Awakening From History (nonfiction)

87. Johnson, Dirk. Biting the Dust: The Wild Ride and Dark Romance of the Rodeo Cowboy and the American West (nonfiction)

88. George, Henry. Progress and Poverty (nonfiction

89. Ward, Jesmyn. Sing, Unburied, Sing (fiction)

90. Marriott, Alice. Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso (nonfiction)

91. Hollows, M. J. The German Nurse (fiction)

92. Brangwyn, Frank, illus. by Hayter Preston. Windmills (nonfiction)

At present I am indulging myself in a second reading of Shaun Bythell’s Confessions of a Bookseller and enjoying it immensely.

And that's life in and around Northport and home for me these days. Sic transit August!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

My Wilderness


Gardens in front of house

Two cultivated apple trees

Yes, I mow the areas immediately around my old farmhouse, and yes, I prune my two apple trees and this year thinned the too-bounteous crop, but lest anyone conclude that I have a "lawn" and "landscaping," here is the truth of my rural life: there is plenty of wildness all around me, in very close proximity. The yard area that I keep mowed is predominantly but not at all exclusively grass, any more than the meadow can any more be called (what it once was) a hayfield. All areas, mowed and unmowed, are thick with wildness. Here is a partial list of plants in my immediate environment, not in any seasonal order, but as many as I could put together from observation and memory:

In my yard, besides grass, there are: common plantain, dandelion, escaped oregano (drat!), heal-all, clovers, autumn olive (UGH!!!), mouse-ear chickweed, prostrate pigweed, hawkweed (both yellow and orange), pokeweed (one isolated colony), wild grape (too much!), poison ivy (could do without that!), lots of purple violets (love ‘em!), smaller pussytoes (very cute!), broad-leafed helleborine (a weedy orchid), prostrate pigweed, cleared, hoary alyssum, wood sorrel, purslane, purple dead nettle, and probably much more. If I were really ambitious, I would try to identify all the varieties of grasses. Maybe someday.

In my meadow grow: various native grasses (I seeded those years ago), common milkweed (tons!), coneflowers (purple and little grey-headed), asters (all sizes and colors of asters: I seeded the asters and coneflowers), red clover, sweet white clover, soapwort (a.k.a. bouncing bet) alfalfa (from former hayfield days), Queen Anne’s lace, wild roses, blackberries, goldenrod, bladder campion, evening lichnis, daisies, daisy fleabane, wild lettuce, goatsbeard, black-eyed Susans, spotted knapweed (ugh!), autumn olive (ugh! I'm doing as much as possible to eradicate, but it is everywhere in the county and well beyond), cow vetch, bull thistle (goldfinches love the seeds), chicory, curly dock, ragweed, St. Johnswort, red osiers, wild grape, Virginia creeper, white baneberry, evening primrose, and sapling trees -- silver maple, green ash, black walnut, catalpa, black willow, mulberry, box elder, and aspen (a.k.a. popple). Often in the morning my puppy and I notice places where deer have bedded overnight. Recently I have discovered two healthy hawthorns, and there may be more. If not now, there will be in future, I'm sure.

At edges and in crannies are found: spiderwort, black raspberries, red raspberries, gooseberries, wild ginger, escaped dayliles and poppies, black walnut seedlings (too many!), staghorn sumac, alfalfa (from that old hayfield), evening primrose, autumn olive (again!), poison ivy (again!), more violets (both purple and yellow), naturalized daffodils, jewelweed (both pale and orange), evening primrose, buttercups, lamb's quarters, broad-leafed dock, common burdock, common mallow, wild mint, Virginia creeper, wild grape, and more sapling trees (see meadow list above).

There is a single tulip poplar in the shelter of the old henhouse, and a companion redbud nestled close to the tulip tree for years but has since disappeared. Another redbud, however, has now appeared in the former popple grove, near one of the black raspberry patches. Everywhere, all is in constant flux, changes apparent year by year, so that my surroundings look very different from the way they looked 22 years ago, when we first began living here fulltime, and that look in turn (going back further in time) was very different from the way things were when we still lived in Leland but David had his studio and I my garden at the farm. A tall catalpa stands where no tree stood in our early days here, while the dead but standing popple (what Westerners call aspen) that housed a bluebird family for two summers is now only a memory. Just this evening I noticed once again a wild apple tree on the aft side of the barn, an uncultivated tree that fruits as it will, undisturbed by intervention from me. Here, as Grand Marais, Michigan says of itself, there is "Nature in Abundance," no antiseptic monoculture.

P.S. There are more photographs, some of them closeups, over on my photo blog now

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Ready or Not -- Here Come the DOGS!!!


Every year, the dog parade is the best ever. This year I have to say it was MORE -- more vehicles, more floats, more music, more elaborate costumes. Maybe more dogs, but I haven't heard the count yet.

-- And then my camera gave my that awful message CARD FULL, so I didn't get the last few entries in the parade.... But there is always next year!