That Which Shall Not Be Named

This blog post is not about that which shall not be named. You know what I’m referring to.

Lord voldemort

No, not him.

You know.

2019-coronavirus

Yes, that! I’m not going to blog about it. I’m not going to name it. I’m not going to spend another second on it. What I am going to blog about is happiness, joy, jubilation — Spring!

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Although it feels as if the world is going to crash and burn, the earth is still spinning and that means the seasons change. Winter is gone, and even though I can’t say the sad memories of the winter went with it, the season of snow and ice, freezing cold temperatures, and dark nights is behind me.

What? It’s going to snow tomorrow? WTF!

Screw it, let it snow. One thing I’ve learned is that where there’s a will there’s a way and spring has a very strong will. As I hobble about in my gardens, I’m thrilled to see tender shoots peaking up from the cold earth.

peony bush

Welcome back, peony.

My doctor cleared me to do some light yard work; 20 minutes at the most. Sooooo, I’ve been doing about two hours of raking each day and then moaning at night because my hip hurts. Hey, the gardens aren’t going to clear themselves, you know. Although, that would be very cool if they did.

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Before…

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After

There’s still a ton of work to be done, but you know what else they say: One day at a time, baby.

I’m thrilled to write that the bluebirds are still gracing my mealworm feeders on a daily basis.

I know my sister, Dyan, is bringing them to my yard. Thank you, la mia amata immortale.

A friend told me once that I don’t have many pictures of American robins. That’s because they move so damn fast, always running here and there, looking for worms. All I end up with is a bunch of blurry photos. Well, not this time. This time the early, elderly old lady with the titanium hips gets the job done.

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Let’s see, what else can I tell you about the first weekend of spring here in my little corner of the Concord River?

No, I’m not going to mention that, stop asking.

Harlee turned seven today! Happy birthday, big guy.

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That just about does it for me. Oh, one last thing I need to mention…

No, not that.

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The Goldeneye ducks came back. Two drakes and a hen. A ménage à trois of waterfowl! Cool.

Oh, and the Wood duck drake has been hanging around, but, sadly, no hen this year.

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I guess he’s ……… (wait for it) ……………..  flying solo.

Now I’m finished.

Nope, still not going to mention it.

Stay safe, wash your hands, don’t touch your face or anyone else’s face, and, above all, remember to see the beauty in the world around you.

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Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

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Time and tide wait for no man.

Nor do they wait for an elderly woman in her sixties who’s recovering from hip surgery and grieving over losing her sister.

Three months have passed since Dyan’s death. It seems like eons since I last spoke to her, damn I miss her. Add my forced captivity because of my hip, and I’m ready to lose my mind. All I’m able to do is hobble from room to room in my small house, trying to work through my grief while gazing out my windows at the brown world around me.

My gardens are nothing but collections of sticks and leaves strewn about.

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Blah.

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Double blah!

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Triple Blah! (Except for Harlee)

The only saving grace for my blah surroundings is that the bluebirds are still here.

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My sister promised me she would return as a bluebird and she has, a dozen times over. You see, I’ve never had bluebirds stay this long into the late winter season. Typically they come with whatever snowstorm arrives in late January and then move on by the beginning of February, but, for some reason, they’re sticking around. Are the mealworms I’m putting out doing the trick or is Dyan working her magic?

I even have a male bluebird investigating one of my nesting boxes.

I’m more than happy to purchase whatever furniture he’ll need to create a comfy home for his mate. Please stay.

One of the items I inherited from Dyan are her runes. I performed a cleansing ritual over them and then asked her for some direction as I cast my first rune. I drew Hagalaz.

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Let chaos reign. Basically, everything I took for granted was being challenged. Hagalaz literally translates to hail and the chaos that occurs once the icy pellets have bombarded the surroundings.  Great!

My next casting brought me Isa, literally meaning ice, as in a mother-frigging blockade of ice, one large enough to stop me dead in my tracks.

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I let my soul search for the meaning of drawing this rune and came to the realization that I needed to stop forcing what could not be moved. I needed to allow what was blocking my progression to melt on its own. I could almost hear Dyan whispering, “Patience, my sister. All will be as it should be, in time.”

Dyan’s wisdom never failed me when she was alive and I am blessed she continues to watch over me from her heavenly location. Thank you, mia amata immortale.

To help take my mind off my dreariness, besides the glorious bluebirds, I’ve done a little investigation into the new perennials for the 2020 growing season and narrowed my search down to a half dozen.

Of course I won’t be ordering anything just yet, I’m on a tight budget at the present time, but, hey, I can dream, right?

As long as I’m dreaming, join me on a walk down memory lane from 2019.

Ahh, that’s better.

Blessed be :}

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My Left Hip

On February 3, 2020, I underwent a total replacement of my left hip. My new titanium hip now matches my right hip that was replaced in 2011. Little by little I’m getting closer to becoming the Bionic Woman.

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Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman, played by Lindsey Wagner.

For me to be truly bionic, I would need my right arm and right ear replaced as well but hey, who knows what my future holds.

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I won’t be wrangling any bad guys any time soon. At present all I can handle is hobbling from my bed to the couch and back to my bed, while munching on pain pills.

It would be great to type that I’ve spent my recuperation time in productive mode but, sadly, that isn’t the case. The most I’ve accomplished is finishing the first five seasons of Schitt’s Creek and consuming my titanium hips worth in ice cream. Harlee spent the first three weeks with friends of mine (Thank you Bob and Jill!). Now he’s home and, unfortunately, extremely unhappy about it. Not only is he upset about the ice cream containers he didn’t get to lick, he misses the other dogs he played with while having his sleepover, and all the walks he went on.

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“When will you be taking me for a walk?”

Once I receive clearance from my doctor, I’ll take Harlee for a stroll down Elsie Ave. Of course we’ll have to be extremely careful because the residents of Elise drive like maniacs, treating the road like the Massachusetts version of New England Dragway. I swear, do these people even know what a speed limit is?

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Being stuck in the house has given me way too much time to obsess over my neighbors’ poor driving habits.

When I turned my attention from the side of my house that faces the main road to the back, where the river is the focal point, I was treated with the spotting of a red-winged blackbird at one of the feeders.

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February is mighty early for this guy to be in my area but maybe he got a special discount of his flight ticket. The good news about this sighting is spring can’t be far behind. Hopefully, my hip will be ready.

The eagle is still performing fly-bys in the hopes of snagging a fat hen or drake.

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The ducks don’t seem to care very much, more concerned with placing themselves into breeding couples…

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and basking in the sunshine.

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Do these feathers make me look fat?

And the male Wood duck has been hanging around in the water, calling out for a mate.

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Male Wood Duck

He hasn’t found any takers yet but I’m cheering him on from the sidelines.

As you can see, even with one very painful hip, my life on the Concord River continues to flow forward.

Oh, one last topic. I have managed to load photos to Zazzle and Redbubbleto help raise money for Ovations for the Cure, an ovarian cancer support group. (hint, hint).

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Blessed be :}

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blessed Imbolc

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May the joy of Imbolc bring you health, light, and peace. Blessed be :}

https://concordriverlady.com/2017/02/02/imbolc-2017-brigids-day/

 

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Be Counted

No, I’m not referring to the US Census.

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Oh, and by the way, do NOT shake the census taker’s hand–you don’t know where it’s been.

Being counted refers to joining the The Great Backyard Bird Count.

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It’s super fun.

And super easy.  Plus you can do your counting in your jammies with bed-head hair if you’re so inclined.

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“All you have to do is count. 1…2…3…….”

Join at: https://gbbc.birdcount.org/

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Once your there, register your name, etc. Don’t worry, Audubon won’t sell your info.

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That’s it, easy-cheesy.

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“While you’re counting, why not join Project FeederWatch too? Oh, and I’m an immature Cooper’s Hawk.”

Project FeederWatch is sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All you’ll need is a feeder, some bird seed, preferably sunflower seed, and your eyeballs. A pen or pencil and some paper will come in handy unless you have a James Bond type of memory.

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When you register you’ll receive a cool welcome kit that contains a colorful poster, calendar, and other nifty items.

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If you have children, or grandchildren, Project FeederWatch is a fun way to spend some quality time with them. Heck, my son is almost 26 and he enjoys it!

I hope you’ll join one or both of these important projects. Remember my post about bird numbers declining? Well, if you don’t, here’s the link: https://concordriverlady.com/2019/10/27/hey-buddy-can-you-spare-some-food/

Songbirds need our help if they’re going to survive the chaos humans are wreaking on Mother Earth.

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Help out a feathered friend and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

And now for the magical portion of this post. It’s a new moon tonight and the two month mark of my sister’s passing. Before she died, we talked. She knew she only had a day or two left to her life, but she wasn’t afraid. She’d lived a good life, she said, and was ready for the physical and emotional pain she’d been dealing with to end. Ovarian cancer sucks. I had asked her many years ago what bird she’ll come back as, a question I ask the people I love. I need to know how to spot them when they appear in my life. My mother chose a Northern Cardinal.

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It’s okay to come back as the brightly colored male of the species. Mother Nature is cool with gender transitioning.

Me, I’m coming back as a Chimney Swift.

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I love to watch them dart and swoop in the late afternoon summer sky. The freedom they display is breathtaking and I want to be a part of it, damn it.

Dyan had chosen an Eastern Bluebird.

I spent some with a grief counselor and told her about Dyan’s reincarnation bird. That was on January 8th. The very next day what did my red-rimmed eyes spy outside the window? You guessed it.

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Since then I’ve been blessed with a flock of bluebirds. Over two dozen. My sister is soaring in her brilliant beauty.

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Thank you, Goddess.

I’ll be selling these photos as greeting cards on Zazzle, and will post the link when I have them finished. The money I raise will go to Ovations for the Cure, an ovarian cancer research and support group. I do hope you’ll help me raise the much needed funds so we can stop this bitch of a disease from destroying more lives.

Until then, watch for bluebirds, and when you see one, say hello to Dyan.

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Blessed be :}

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Bleak

This is my new favorite word – bleak. Bleakness works too. The state of being bleak. According to dictionary.com bleak means:

  • bare, desolate, and often windswept; (Naw, I don’t feel windswept.)
  • cold and piercing; raw; (Getting closer.)
  • without hope or encouragement; depressing; dreary. (That’s it!!!!!)

I feel hopeless, depressed, dreary in my soul, and I lack any encouragement to believe the future will get better.

Bleak!

Such a great word. When my sister was doing her time in the hospital we chose bleak to describe the scene outside her window. It was bleak indeed. She had full view of the hospital’s air conditioning duct-work in all its filthy, gray glory. When the sun shone, its rays reflected off the dirty metal and were directed through her dingy windows. It’s a shame hospitals don’t clean patient room windows.

One rainy day when her depression was at a low place, I sprang into action and insisted we move her. If she must spend her final days in a hospital at least give her a tree to look at. Her new room was the balls. She had a view of a Victorian house’s rooftop and several treetops.

Sadly, however, the bleakness followed us. That’s the thing about bleakness, it clings to one’s skin like tar and has to be scraped off with a dull, rusty blade. Most uncomfortable.

So, my sister is still gone. I know, I know, she died, and what was I expecting, for her to suddenly appear in all her pink-lipsticked glory and say, “Surprise, I was just fooling around with you. I’m still here!”?

Yes, I was.

As for the bleakness, it’s still here. Despite the arrival of the Winter Solstice, typically a magical time for me, one where I celebrate the return of the light, the darkness prevails.

The bleakness is holding tight.

However, life does continue on its track into the unforeseeable future and I do have a few river stories to share with you so let’s pull over and park this bleak train and spend some time on the Concord River.

This past Saturday, the first day of winter, I was at my table tending to some bleak tasks regarding my sister’s meager estate and my ducks were happily eating their corn on the beach outside my window.

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Then what to my wondering ears should I hear but a sharp sound from outside my window and the ducks took off like bats fleeing Hades. My brain ignored the sound and I thought the Eagle had come by for a snack.

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Time for lunch?

You can imagine my surprise as I scanned the bank opposite my property to see a man dressed in green camo aiming a rifle with a huge-ass scope at my property.

Not caring about the bathrobe or slippers I was wearing I flew out of my house, screaming expletives: Hey, you #%$!#Q@#@#  @#$@#$hole, you can’t shot at my house, you @#$@@#$#$ piece of @#$#Q#!”

The moron hightailed his white ass up the embankment and ran into the woods and I called 911. Soon, well, not too soon, let me say, later, a police cruiser rolled up and a polite officer came by for a chat. This is how it played out.

Officer: What seems to be the problem?

Me: (I had exchanged my bathroom and slippers for a coat and boots. Cue Harlee barking from inside the house.) “Some guy was shooting at the ducks that were on my property.”

Officer: It’s duck hunting season.

Me: Okay, but he can’t shoot at my property.

Officer: It’s duck hunting season.

Me: I get that but he was aiming at my property.

Officer: It’s duck hunting season.

Me: I understand but just because it’s duck hunting season he can’t fire at someone’s property. What if my dog had been outside.

Officer: Keep your dog inside until the season is over.

Me: When is that?

Officer: February

Me: What! Isn’t there a law about firing within certain feet of a residential building or something?

Officer: It’s duck hunting season. And it depends on what he was firing with. 

Me: He had a huge ass rifle and he took at shot at my beach. One slight slip and he might have fired through my window.

Officer: Well, it’s duck hunting season. It all depends if he was shooting with a firearm he shouldn’t. If he comes back call us.

Me: What?????? He shot at my beach. Obviously he’s using a gun powerful enough to send bullets across the river.

Officer: Listen, all I can tell you is it’s duck hunting season. I’m not a hunter but people have the right to hunt. Try not to go outside on your property until the season is over and shoo the ducks away. That way nobody will shoot at your property. Call us if he comes back.

End of exchange.

Sigh.

Time for a little levity.

And, my favorite…

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Of course the eagles and the jerks in their camouflage gear who can’t read the regulations on the Mass Fish and Wildlife’s website aren’t the only predators the ducks need to watch out for.

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Red-tailed hawk and Mallard hen.

The circle of life can be a very bleak circle indeed.

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale, con il mio cuore e la mia anima.

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Blessed be :{

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A Farewell Letter to My Sister

Dear Dyan, It is with a heavy heart…Boy, does that sound cliché but you get it, and, yes, I know, written words don’t make sounds. See, I’m continuing to learn from you even though you’re gone. Oh wait, you’re not gone, it’s just your body that’s missing. Wrong again. It’s not missing. You’re in a frigid holding cell waiting to be cremated.

Where am I going with this letter?  Give me a minute and I’ll connect my thoughts.

Okay, I’m back and I’m ready.

My purpose of this letter is to say how much I enjoyed being your sister and that I’ll miss you with a profound depth I didn’t realize my soul possessed. You were a rare gem, a shining light in a world darkened by the daily burdens we all carry.

Even ovarian cancer didn’t hold you down. Despite the pain your body suffered you greeted everyone you met with a beaming smile and sincere desire to know their story. You touched too many hearts to count.

Our time together was too short, shortened still by our sisterly squabbles. Like a couple of spitting kittens we battled but we always managed to find our way back to each other, our love for one another stronger for having snipped and scratched with our tiny claws and teeth.

You were my confident, my guru, the one who always knew the wise advice I needed, although many times not heeded…sorry, I’m a slow learner.

I will miss our chats over tea and lemon donuts; I will miss the smell of your perfume. I will miss your smile and the softness of your skin. And most of all, I will miss your laughter. If the universe set out to create a song of the gods, your laughter was the result.

Dearest Dyan, I will miss you. Oh, I know you’re with me still, but, damn, just one more time to hear you say hello when I call your number, that’s all I’m asking.

Silly, I know. You have better things to do than answer my call. You’re with Ma and Romeo and you’re all walking along the shore of some sandy beach. Your body is healed and whole once again. Your legs are strong and Romeo is barking for you to throw a stick.

Go, play with him. And give Ma a hug from me. Soon enough I’ll be there with you.

Farewell, my immortal beloved. Farewell.

June, 1951 – November, 2019

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

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Hey Buddy, can you spare some food?

Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone Since 1970

According to a new study published online in September by the journal Science, wild bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada have declined by almost 30% since 1970.

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Far from Passenger Pigeons, once the most numerous bird on the planet, the lost birds include songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and most notably grassland birds.

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“These bird losses are a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife.” ~Ken Rosenberg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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I don’t know about you but I find these statistics disturbing on so many levels. Spring would be sad indeed if my Rose-Breasted Grosbeak didn’t arrive to raise his family in my yard.

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Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

And Northern Cardinals are animals I assume will always be there when I look out my window on a winter’s day.

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And Black-Capped Chickadees are one species I expect to frequent my bird feeder.

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Black-Capped Chickadee

AND what would America be without our national bird?

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American Bald Eagle

But hey, who am I to argue with people who see Mother Nature as a cash cow.

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Who needs forests anyway?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, for the first time in more than a century, the United States is facing a net forest loss.

Even my little corner of the Concord River isn’t free from mismanagement of natural resources.

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2018–The start of deforestation in my little corner of the Concord River.

Many people think trees are the only organisms affected by the destruction of forests. There are a whole host of critters receiving eviction notices when a tree is felled. Bats roost in tree crevices and the Little Brown Bat is facing enough challenges to add losing its home to the list.

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Little Brown Bat

Did you know that a chickadee must consume 60 percent of its body weight each and every day. During a cold night they use up these Calories in an effort to stay warm, and they do this in the nooks and crannies of trees.

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“If you cut down a tree, where will I sleep?”

You can help save our feathered (and furred) friends. Unless you absolutely have to, don’t cut down trees on your property, even if the tree is dead. Just because the tree looks barren to you it’s supporting a whole host of life.

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Visit Cornell Labs for more ways to help the birds who share this great planet with us humans. Start by putting out sunflower feeders NOW! Don’t wait until the snow flies. For a Black-Capped Chickadee, it might be too late by then.

Blessed be :}

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Stop playing games with my head!

I’m referring to Old Man Time. He’s messing with my head again and I want him to stop!

“Old man time, he’s so mean; Meanest man you’ve ever seen.” (Lyrics from the song.)

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And he’ll play tricks with your mind, yes, indeed; making you think you’re on LSD! (My lyrics.)

By now you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m going on about and I don’t blame you. I’m ranting. This time it’s not about pesticides, though. This time its about time. That illusion that slips though our fingers like some mysterious smoke from a distant, unseen fire.

Let’s begin.

Just yesterday, or so it seems, summer began. I had finished enlarging several of my backyard gardens and by June they were awash with color.

I hosted my usual visitors to the river. Colorful songbirds and hungry hawks;


Snappy turtles and slithery snakes;

Sublime creatures great and small;

I even played hostess to some visitors I’d never met before.

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Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

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Little Brown Bat

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Juvenile Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

A juvenile Osprey stopped by and surveyed my ducks. I didn’t get a chance to run in the house for my camera. Note to self: attach camera to my hip.

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Juvenile Osprey. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Silly bird thinking he was strong enough to lift one of my plump Mallards.

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My most amazing visitor was Deborah, a woman who, as a young girl, spent summers as at the house next door to mine. Her grandfather and grandmother lived there. We had a delightful morning getting to know each other, and her companion too. Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your memories with me.

Of course the ducks were always here, as was Harlee, keeping me company through the long, summer days as I toiled away in the heat of the sun.

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Can you spot the impostor? A fawn-colored Mallard drake spent a little time with my flock.

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Feed me, please.

Speaking of toiling in the hot sun (actually I’m not speaking, I’m typing, but whatever), my friend Bob helped me, or should I say I helped him, fix the rotted portion of my house where it meets the deck.

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Funny story, I had paid one contractor to do the work and he never showed up. Yup, took my money and ran. I asked four other contractors if they would do the work and none of them showed up to look at the job. What happened to the American work ethic?

Did I mention it was close to 100 degrees that day? Thank you, Bob.

The summer brought an adventure for Harlee. Here he is donning his new life vest. Yup, first time on a canoe…and the river.

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He took to the excursion like a fish to water.

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Now, will you feed me?

Aside from a few missteps, it was a great summer. I’m not ready for it to end. Please, Father Time, may I have a few more days before Autumn arrives? Just two or three to once more drink a gin and tonic while listening to the crickets on the night air? Please.

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Okay, I get it. Time marches on. Blessed be :}

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Painted turtles on my river.

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Silent Summer

On September 27, 1962, Rachel Carson published her infamous book Silent Spring, chronicling the disastrous affect pesticides have on the environment.

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I’d love to write that in the 57 years since Silent Spring was published we’ve learned how to work with the environment so humans and other living organisms can co-exist, but, sadly, it isn’t so. In reality, we’ve become more aggressive in our use of contaminants, releasing them with the carefree abandon of a child blowing bubbles.

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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com/Hiếu Hoàng

According to a recent New York Times (And, no, NYT is not failing) analysis, based on research from Harvard Law SchoolColumbia Law School and other sources, more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under our dictator-in-chief. Oh, I can hear Trump’s base now: ‘What do we care about the Sage Grouse?’

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Mono Basin sage grouse (National Park Service)

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Obviously they don’t care about clean air and water, either, because fracking destroys those things too. www.downwindersatrisk.org

Depressed yet?

 

 

Well, here comes the kick in the ass: my town recently sprayed for mosquitoes due to the Triple-E threat within the State. In their infinite wisdom the town leaders approved the use of malathion, a non-discriminatory pesticide used to also control aphids, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, and Cotton Boll Weevils. Yup, we have loads of boll weevils in this town. Phew, I have to shovel a path just to get to my mailbox at the end of the driveway.

The sad side of the story is malathion also kills caterpillars, cicadas, and a slew of other insects that don’t carry Triple-E.

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One of the many cicadas I found while walking Harlee.

Back in early July I was dancing with joy when I photographed a Monarch butterfly laying eggs on my milkweed plants.

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And when I found Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed leaves, I sang as I danced.

I’m sad to report, they all died, including the adult butterflies. Dead as dead can be, thanks to the town’s spraying. My butterfly bush, busy with activity last summer…

… no longer plays host to the Monarch butterflies. Even the handful of Hummingbird moths that came by to eat have vanished. Thank goodness the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds appear untouched.

Ruby_throated hummingbird - songbirds - butterfly bush

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at my butterfly bush.

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Oh, Rachel, I wish that were true. Blessed be :{

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