Archive for the ‘Nature/animals’ Category

February can be a heartless month to those living in a cold climate. Positioned at half-past winter and a quarter to spring, February’s single digit temperatures and snow might swirl in the wind one day and be followed by 60 degrees (F) the next. Warm temperatures bring fast melting snow – over a foot in our neck of the woods – followed by rain, rain, and more rain. We tire of winter in February and we long for green instead of gray.

A bright spot in winter comes, hereabouts, on the last weekend in February and the first in March when Orchids by Hausermann hold their annual open house. I went last Friday; a dour day with leaden skies and a muddy parking lot. As I was directed by employees to a parking spot, visitors leaned into the wind with boxes of greenery, long arching stems of glorious orchids peeking out. Inside the doors was a feast for famished senses, attracting orchid lovers, gardeners, and winter weary wanderers.

Oh, what a glorious adventure on a grim afternoon!

Aisle upon aisle of orchids were displayed in the Hausermann greenhouses. Every color imaginable, scents and textures, potted plants and air plants: splendor as far as the eye could see.

The yellows were radiant,











as were the reds.

Moustaches, whiskers, and other accoutrements- pretty in pink!









What a joy it was roaming Hausermann’s, chatting with orchid lovers, photography buffs and even running into a few Elmhurst Garden Club friends.

My green thumb does not extend to orchids, so, I did not purchase a plant. I did, however, buy a small cut orchid arrangement, eager to bring a bit of Hausermann’s beauty home. The arrangement was small, as was the price, with an orchid and ferns nestled into a small container. The sun managed to come out and kiss my little arrangement, which is perched prominently on the kitchen counter.

 On Saturday, I noticed a small puddle of water on the countertop, under the arrangement. I wiped it off and went about my chores. A short while later, there was another puddle. On closer look, there was a teardrop on the tip of a fern leaf. I watched it. Really!  Who watches tear drops on ferns? 🙂  Soon, the swollen droplet let loose and filled the formica lake.

Click onto the photos for a closer look. I don’t want to be alone in watching a fern weep.










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In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter    
From Snow Day by Billy Collins
The meteorologists seemed to agree. Snow was predicted come Thursday evening, last through the night and toss snow about the area all day Friday like a snow globe in the hands of an exuberant adolescent. Up to a foot was predicted and I do believe we came close to that mark, here along the Cutoff.
Snow buds blossomed on dormant bushes and muffin tops filled the bird baths.
More snow is on the way (the say), but, all is well here in our cozy house. Chicken soup is burbling atop the stove. A short walk brought a quiet peace as the snow fell, softly, quietly, steadily – the great equalizer of the north.

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All Things Being Equal

It was on a recent afternoon, after a snowfall, amid single digit temperatures that I ventured off-road and entered the cemetery where my sister was recently laid to rest. It is a peaceful cemetery with curving lanes and stately trees, but, like most cemeteries in northerly climates, locating a gravesite can be a bit of challenge in snow.

As I rounded a bend in the road, the crunch of my tires moaned softly as wisps of snow occasionally wept upon the windshield.

I wended my way past the historic windmill and the new mausoleum then navigated the car a short distance on my slow, snowy pilgrimage. I located the section marker and followed another gentle curve.

I looked for a bench that I knew to be close to the grave, passed one – not the one I was looking for – then suddenly a hawk swooped past my windshield, the span of his wings nearly four feet wide. With all of his majestic splendor, he dipped down, right over Dottie’s grave, issuing a cry, as if to say “here she is” then rose again to claim a perch high atop a neighboring tree.

The hawk, a red-tail, still and respectful, watched over me as I had a brief chat with my sister. As I returned to the car, he circled around then disappeared as I rounded yet another bend in the road, grateful for the soft solace of nature, a balm for my soul.

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. . .  But while the earth has slumbered, all the air has been alive with feathery flakes descending, as if some northern Ceres reigned, showering her silvery grain over all the fields.We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within.

From A Winter Walk by Henry David Thoreau

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I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. 

Henry David Thoreau

I am not sure that I would actually sit on a pumpkin, but, Tom and I did recently rest upon a log at the Morton Arboretum’s Glass Pumpkin Patch on a rather blustery autumnal afternoon. The glass pumpkins were quite intricate and lovely and the log was actually comfortable so we did not feel at all like bumps.













Cinderella did hitch a ride in a mouse drawn coach fashioned from a pumpkin and Peter, that infamous pumpkin eater, notoriously put his wife in a pumpkin shell. Despite tales told long ago, I truly doubt that he kept her there very well! Pumpkin pie would have been a much better choice for Peter’s pumpkin and much more pleasant for his ill-kept wife. Such are the ways of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

Hereabouts, pumpkin patches in produce stands are much diminished as we near the end of October. The days grow shorter and the shadows longer as the nights close in and we edge toward the first true frost of the season.

I find myself leafing through cookbooks and magazines looking for new recipes and reviving tried and true favorites at this time of year. Jack-o-Lantern Tea Loaves (pumpkin bread) and potato soup, hearty stews and warm, crusty bread nourish our bodies in the flickering glow of candlelight. Russet and amber hues replace the sun filled rooms and bright colors of summer as warm jackets appear and socks and sturdier shoes replace summer’s sandals.

Walden Pond

When I happened across Thoreau’s quote it reminded as much of the Glass Pumpkin Patch as it did of a long-ago visit to Walden’s Pond. On a crisp and sunny October day, Tom and I sat on Walden’s shore eating a simple picnic lunch as we watched rowers and swimmers glide across the pond. A scattering of writers and artists and others worked at their crafts as we wandered a well-worn path to the site of Thoreau’s cabin. There, I imagined, as I do now, the short but notable life of a man whose words continue to inspire in this still new and quite troubled century. It is not such a bad thing to be content with the simpler things in life rather than the crowded velvet cushions. I think I’ll pick up my current read, have a cup of tea sweetened with local honey and settle in for the night here along the Cutoff.



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How fortunate I was to have had these trusty engines stowed safely behind the driver’s seat. They kept me company and pushed me forward as I chug, chug, chugged along on my long ride home past farmland and forests, mists and moisture, sunshine and shadows in the peaks and valleys of landscape. At times it felt as if I had been dropped into a bowl of candy corn, the panorama of fall colors following me with views I never tire of.

While our Up North family has graciously travelled down several times in the past year, I have not had the opportunity to visit them until recently. Packed with pumpkin muffins and assorted granny goodies, I was anxious for a few precious days. I wasn’t disappointed.

One fine day, we spent a delightful afternoon on an island.

Nicolette Island is located on the Mississippi River which flows through Minneapolis. The island houses restored Victorian dwellings, De Lasalle High School, the Nicolette Island Park, an impressive pavilion, the Bell of Two Friends, the Nicolette Island Inn, and winding paths that afford amazing scenery and opportunities for young ones to explore, pretend, and appreciate nature. Our daughter and son-in-law, Katy and Tom, have instilled a healthy appreciation and respect for nature in their children and are to be commended for their efforts and example.


As we approached the Bell of Two Friends, we giggled a bit as the backside looked a bit like, well, like a backside. Once we went under and around the sculpture we were amazed at this stunning monument of peace.

Fall had come to Nicolette Island on what was a crisp, overcast day, displaying colorful splendor on this lovely island.



We walked and wandered, St. Anthony Falls and industry sharing the space, before crossing back into downtown Minneapolis and Penny’s Cafe.


The chef made our crepes on a large, heated wheel, across from the table we chose to sit. We all watched in awe as he balanced the orders, spreading crepe batter on the wheel, filling and folding, making sandwiches and other delectables on another slab to his right.

I chose a crepe fromage, which exceeded expectations! It was outstanding. Ezra, who chose what the woman who took our orders described as special, wholeheartedly agreed, saying it was special, as he energetically tackled his grilled cheese sandwich. Kezzie’s little stuffed fawn, stuffed in his special way, snuggled for warmth next to Katy’s coffee as we all enjoyed the food and the ambiance of Penny’s Cafe.

What a balm for the soul this little adventure was, with an attentive and caring mommy, two darling, inquisitive grandkids, nature and even nourishment in an establishment bearing my name. There were so many other moments of joy during my brief  trip; too many to mention in an already long post. I was grateful for my time with our Up North family and appreciate Ezra’s sharing of his engines as I wended my way home.

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October 10

Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.

Under their loosening bright
gold, the sycamore limbs
bleach whiter.

Now the only flowers
are beeweed and aster, spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.

The calling of a crow sounds
Loud — landmark — now
that the life of summer falls
silent, and the nights grow.

From  New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

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