Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2016

Springtime blooms in our Region

Taken from my passenger side, along the Mississippi 
This area is part of the Driftless region or often we hear, Coulee Region.  I thought the term Coulee odd, the only reference I had previously was related to the  Chinese coulees who worked building the western railroads back in the 1840's in CA.  I learned here the Coulee is the bluffs along the Mississippi.  From Wikipedia, here is a summary of: Driftless Area or Paleozoic Plateau is a region in the American Midwest noted mainly for its deeply carved river valleys. While primarily in southwestern Wisconsin, it includes areas of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. ...Retreating glaciers leave behind silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders called drift. Glacial drift includes unsorted material called till and layers deposited by meltwater streams called outwash...Overall, the region is characterized by an eroded plateau with bedrock overlain by varying thicknesses...the river valleys are deeply dissected. The bluffs lining this reach of the Mississippi River currently climb to nearly 600 feet (180 m). In Minnesota, Karst topography is found throughout the Driftless area. This is characterized by caves and cave systems, disappearing streams, blind valleys, underground streams, sinkholes, springs, and cold streams. Disappearing streams occur where surface waters sinks down into the earth through fractured bedrock or a sinkhole, either joining an aquifer, or becoming an underground stream. Blind valleys are formed by disappearing streams and lack an outlet to any other stream. Sinkholes are the result of the collapse of the roof of a cave, and surface water can flow directly into them. Disappearing streams can re-emerge as large cold springs. Cold streams with cold springs as their sources are noted as superb trout habitat. 
Flowering tree at the Y


But enough about the topography, what I want to share today are some of the beautiful blooms around town. I think because we have four seasons, that spring is all the more appreciated and living here, each year as the green reveals and the blooms start, I cannot be sure if it's my favorite season or if I prefer summer, or fall. One of my friends said today, "gotta go thru winter to really know spring." Perhaps that's the key, even if there is sunshine in winter, we miss the green and blooms. This has not been as wet a spring as last year, and some blooms are later some earlier, but the show of more flowers daily and the wafting scents of the lilacs, apple blossoms as we work out doors cannot be beat. The reddish and pinkish flowering crabapple trees are abundant around town and so lovely right now. However today we are enjoying a spring drizzle and rain predicted for a couple days, so most of the flowers will give way to leaves only within a couple days. Walking amidst and by these spring blooms all around town, up the hills renews one's soul when walking.


Two homes down, almost to the end of our cul de sac,
 starting our hike around

Downtown La Crescent, along the highway,
 

Red bud tree starting


Along Elm St, main drag. One of the few
fences around.  This homeowner has
cultivated mounds of  phlox

One shrub which I became fond of as the first to show it's blooms in early spring in Northern CA was the flowering quince. Oddly, that is uncommon here but one home along Elm has a flowering quince, which I am thrilled to see each year. I do not know why these are not grown locally. I know that I do miss the dogwoods that flower in PA this time of year, the local dogwoods are nothing like the PA dogwoods. There is a shrub locally that I actually laughed at when someone told me it was a dogwood, but then I know the real thing. 

The only flowering quince I've found locally

Flowering crabapples at elementary school

Nature's artwork on a stump


The fungi above caught my eye. This time of year many locals go out into the woods to hunt morel mushrooms which are a rare delicacy. I have not engaged in that activity because I would not want to pick poisonous mushrooms. But those who find them often sell them to be transported to Chicago and New York where the finest restaurants serve them; they get a good price, $50 or more per pound. I rely on someone sharing with me. I had never heard of morels until we moved here and frankly, yes they are good sauteed in butter, but to me not any better than other 'shrooms.


Massive old Weeping cherry &
   flowering crab apple
May time walking, anything lovelier?
Finally I share the lilacs, wish you could smell them. The white's I call Betty's Whites. They are down the block from us, planted by Betty, an elderly lady who still lives in her big home and tends her flowers. Although she tells me she doesn't do near the lawn work that she has in the past. Well, she's ener. titled at 89, she hires someone to mow fo her, but like me she trusts no one else with her flowers. Gardeners live longer, maybe it's being outdoors in fresh air and sunshine, maybe it's the physical activity required or the enjoyment when the results are seen.  
Betty's Whites
 
Our lilac hedge



Monday, April 18, 2016

Warm weather abounds

Front shrubs, snowball tree, barberries trimmed thanks to Lucas 
We have turned the corner into a lovely spring, it's been in the 80's all weekend, perfect for me although some days it  felt a bit too warm too fast, but I am not complaining.  The sun's rays here in unfiltered clean skies of MN do tend to scorch me a little,  despite sunblock, then again I prefer a  little coloring to pale winter white skin.  It's time for shorts, tanks, sandals, my kind of weather. 

   I  spent most of Friday, Saturday working outside, clearing the rose beds of winter mulch and  trimming and clipping. We were able to hire someone from a Landscaping service to trim some of the shrubs and I was very pleased with Lucas'  work which saved me a couple days, well worth the $$ spent.  With his power equipment he was done in less than an hour, I was in awe.  
Apple Jack Rose bush is already filling out with leaves
As I do each year once I start, I cannot quit, so I overdid it and by Sunday I decided my bones needed a break that they were demanding.  Despite weight toning that I do twice weekly at the Y,  those long  hours of gardening labor had my body protesting with vehemence.  Cartloads of mulch, at 50 some gallons a load up and down the hill to our side  dumping ground, back and forth in addition to the trimming and pulling are a way to add a nice few miles and  over 6000 steps to my GearFit measuring watch.  


One small pile of limbs to drag up the hill to shredder
On Thursday  I spent a good hour and half dragging huge downed tree limbs to where Jerry was operating the shredder,  making wood chips for the garden beds. He had done some serious pole trimming but left  the big limbs laying there.  No one took them over night, so, that was another project the next day.    It was easy to give in to my body and bones that yelled out, "would you  puleeze stop for a day" by Sunday morning  

 I love this outside physical work, the smells and the ground and am thankful I can do it, but I suppose I could learn the art of pacing myself. Still one of my cousin's reminded me that as her mom, my aunt said, "If you do your own housework and yard work, you will be strong, healthy and never need to go to a gym."  I do though maintain my Y membership and  spend my quality time there, zumba, weights, toning, yoga, then I come home and hit the grounds for free workouts.  

Clear blue MN skies  above our tall pines out back
It's the most wonderful time of the year and love especially the grilling that is underway on the back deck.It keeps  Jerry busy too making good use of that gas grill.  .    As always more detail as it happens on Facebook, look for me there. 
Grill Master at it, side table hold his Busch,
 which is not for pouring on the burgers these were the first this year, winners.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Busy time of year out doors

One bleeding heart bush in the back flower box
It has been all  about spring time outside chores galore; this year as Jerry has recuperated from his April back surgery I was  left to my own on all weeding, mulch removal, trimming and garden flower bed clean up.  Rounds 1 and 2 accomplished but continuance mode is now in effect. Bird feeding is full speed ahead as the orioles have returned, the grape jelly feeders.  I have shown them before on this blog and although they were off to a late start this delayed spring, when we thought winter would never leave, they have been consuming the  32 ounce jars of Welch's Grape Jelly which we  buy at Sam's at the rate of two jars per week.  They have a delightful song and watching the young newly hatched at the jelly feeder is a lot of amusement right out the kitchen window.  In the photo below two orioles at their jellly house feeder while a gold finch sits  aside.  This year the red headed wood pecker and finches as well as occasional warblers have tried to snag some jelly but the orioles are quite defensive of their territory.  They bicker among themselves so do not tolerate any other species, except for the woodpecker who merely shows "my beak is bigger than yours so don't start with me."  

Orioles at their jelly house finch aside May 7.
I enjoy working outside but find that I don't want to spend as much time at it.  Instead with my morning work out trips to the YMCA, Zumba class and yoga, the morning is usually gone.  I would rather continue my physical fitness path adding a morning  walk.  Then by afternoon there are errands to run, appointments for hair cuts or medical, shopping to do, more social activities and then well, the  day is gone and we approach dinner time. My neighbor Diane,  who just returned from winter in AZ,  and I discussed how we are wanting more play time and less to do time. You get the drift, the day is gone. This has eliminated most computer time other than Facebook and email and newspaper reads all of  which I can do handily and  directly from my smart phone and tablet.  So the blog has been absent and looks like it may well continue to be for a time.  While Facebook is so handy allowing a quick photo post, there is  neither time nor space for me to ramble there about whatever  thoughts are fleeting, but it will have to do. It facilitates quick contact amongst multitudes of friends and family, cousins, nieces, nephews all who can merely click on their smart phones or iphones as well.  


The back yard  is heavenly scented with the
lilacs in full bloom from Ms Kim
In my career days I pondered how much time I would have to do whatever I wanted when I retired.  Today I  realize I don't have all the time I thought I would. I envisioned a retirement of lounging, reading, etc, in reality the words of my late Aunt Jinx have arrived, "you will work more when you retire than you did while you worked."  How right she was, household chores, outside chores, appointments, financial record keeping, yikes, time consumers.  My neighbor and I were talking about downsizing, then we know we do not want to live in condos or apartments but neither do we want  to have demands distracting us from our adult play activities.  In this area there are many landscapers and lawnmowers for hire;  we have hired a college student to mow the lawns while Jerry avoids such activities for the time.  But must admit he is not doing the same quality of  work, Jerry   often would mow twice a week in this spring weather while the grass is growing heartily.  We wonder why Jarrett cannot figure out how much extra work he makes for himself because he scatters  lawn clippings and then must  go back around with his blower to get them off the walks and drive ways, where if he mowed the other direction the clippings would go directly into the lawns.  We watch and wonder, at this young man who is a college sophomore, getting educated but not gaining sense. He seems to be more interested in mowing and getting gone. I have an enormous pile of clippings and rose branches, tree limbs and the like piling up behind the garden that we have asked him about hauling off to the local dump, but so far no movement.  Usually Jerry would have done this but looks like it will wait until we return from our RV trip.  By the way Jerry has the motor coach out of its house and has spent  days  power washing it and getting it ready to roll.  
Our Excursion and Jerry tinkering
Saturday Jerry took to his  riding mower for the back hill side which was starting to look like a hayfield.  He was quite happy with himself.  I was more than annoyed when I returned from an estate sale where I purchased naught realizing their prices were too much for nothing I needed, while happy with myself for resisting adding to our accumulations, annoyed because  he was on the mower and further had taken the rototiller to the garden bed.  While tilling he removed some new peonies that I was nurturing, they had spread from the mother plants along the fence line.  This annoys me, he does not distinguish  between fora and weed , it all goes. 

Uprooted potentilla

Some mystery creature has been visiting at night and  uprooting newly planted things and then digging into the flower beds.  First it completely dug up a newly planted black eyed susan, leaving only a little  stem remaining across the back lawn. Days later it returned and uprooted a potentilla plant I had not yet put into the ground. Obviously it was not to its taste so it did not drag it off nor consume it.  I have  struck back with massive doses of crushed  hot red pepper flakes  in the beds, and that seems to discourage it.  But we shall see, others have  had the same problem. This has never happened before and is  getting on my last nerve.  It happens at night and we suspect a  raccoon, possum, weasel or the like.  

Mama robin perched atop rose bush  limb, ignoring the squawks                    
First robin  to leave the nest
 I am likely to replace the rose bushes that did not survive our awful  winter with other perennials, to simplify my gardening, eliminating the need for mulching over winter, removal of mulch in spring time and above all eliminating food sources for the nasty Japanese beetle that thrives on roses here.  I  just have much else to do and do not want to  be enslaved by my landscaping, much as I enjoy it. The robins who were nested atop the wreath outside our front door have hatched, the  birdies have flown off and we can remove the wreath and wash the siding stone...the first one to leave the nest was quite puzzled and squawked from the front stoop, "Mom, Mom now what?"  Mom merely looked the other way, unconcerned, "go get your own worms kid."  It's too bad some  human mothers do not  let their adult children grow and go, they could learn from the birds.  I wonder why some are such clingers creating a mutual lack of growth for the adult children and  lack of their own growth into something  beyond ever indulgent ever clinging parent hood. Maybe because I was raised to be independent and have always been so, I cannot  comprehend  all the  nonsense, but that's an essay for another time. 
Volunteer salsify

One last thing, the volunteer plant out back identified as salsify.  I left this to grow because I thought the  texture of the spiky leave interesting, lo a yellow flower and through Facebook, a friend identified it. The yellow flower opens in the morning but the pod enfolds it by afternoon.  I understand it is edible but so far I ma not tempted to eat it, merely enjoy the show. 

 This may  be  my update for several weeks, unlikely to have blog time  from the Goshen IN Fleetwood RV Rally. Looking forward to reuniting with friends  we see once a year from around the country. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Springtime and hopscotch trivia

Just a week ago some white patches now all gone
Alleluia, spring has arrived,  although our ground remains  hard. impenetrable while wet where thawing begins despite some  nights taking it back to freezing temperatures.  Our long winter of discontent  has vanished taking with it our complaints and the last patches of snirt, those dirty icy blots.  The warmth of the sunshine even accompanied by cool or cold air beckons us outdoors.  Nothing like  fresh air, blue skies and  sunshine to renew  ourselves and shake the winter away.  Sunday, I went on my first 2014 long outdoor walk, sans jacket, only my long sleeved shirt. 

  I had posted photos onto  Facebook of a local home where the owner adorns the barren branches of her shrubs with plastic Easter eggs. I admire her ambition which produces a  pleasant colorful sight in contrast to the unbudded brown branches of her shrubs.  And  then farther along the street stop to admire our wide open streets, little traffic in this small midwestern town this day, other folks are out walking their dogs and one young boy dribbles his basketball on his way to shoot hoops at the elementary school lot. 

Elm Street   La Crescent

The city is  in the process of removing many of the old ash trees around town, replacing with different varieties  to  avoid tragic infestations from the emerald ash borers, larvae of which may have frozen out over our severe winter.  Perhaps that was one good thing about a long hard freeze.  It worries us, we may have to remove two or three of our  stately older ash trees on our property.  We will have an arborist check them again soon, two years ago they were good and  so far we have avoided the bug  but experts tell us there is no escape.  Such a shame to lose those stately antique trees but we like other locals do not want to experience the misfortunes of this epidemic.  
Old nest high up in the tree

I noticed a left over nest clinging  high atop one of the trees along Elm Street and marvel that it had the tenacity to stay put all winter long, a testament to the bird or hawk that constructed it.  Soon green  leaves will adorn the limbs and shade the walkways below.


I spotted my first 2014  hopscotch along the way and could not resist jumping it.  There was no sign of the children who drew it, I assume girls because we were the ones to delight in this in my day.  Posted to Facebook it elicited comments of not having seen these since our own childhoods and how children today especially in California are most unlikely to know what hopscotch is.  I  became curious about it's origins now.  It was a taken for granted activity growing up in Pennsylvania where we chalked up our alleyway. although I do not remember having colored chalks such as are available today.

Hopscotch in La Crescent
  It is reassuring to live in a town  where children still play hopscotch and outside games.  This design looked a bit different than what I recalled drawing out as a child and I learned it is the "modern design"  figures, my style would be "vintage."  I read that an ancient  type of hopscotch may have been played in Roman times but the first recorded English speaking references to it are the late 17th century England called scotch-hop or scotch-hoppers.  It was described in Wikipedia as a game where young boys hopped over "scotches in the ground" which I think might mean scratches if it were on dirt.  This has tweaked my interest in  learning more about this old game which we often hopped along to rhymes.  

One last tidbit,yesterday we saw the neurosurgeon who scheduled Jerry's back surgery for April 16, a hemi- laminectomy and microdisectomy  which is minor in the grand scheme of surgeries and  expected to be a breeze, performed under anesthesia but at the outpatient surgical center.  The surgeon said Jerry is a prime candidate, physically fit or he was until this set back, healthy and not overweight and not a smoker.  So we anticipate positive outcome from this surgery which will involve a minor  one inch incision on his back which will be glued, no disc replacement, no metal rods, no muscle cutting and his full recovery should be swift, a month or less.  This is the best news in months and he is really anxious to hit the road in our motor home. The surgeon is a youthful new doctor coming  down form Mayo in Rochester, MN who explained everything so thoroughly that I had no questions at the end of the consultation.  Relief is imminent  for him now which he welcomes, has been a long siege these past  months.     

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mother nature is not playing by the calendar

Today I declared,  "Enough is beyond enough."  Spring must be allowed to catch up to the calendar, so I hung the spring forsythia wreath and anticipate passing of this  Marchlong winter.  Such a bizarre hold onto the wintry weather, return to the ice age, and fie to the ice and snow.  We have melt in progress but the last couple days frigid single digit temperatures in the early morning reaching perhaps the high 20 degrees by noon, then repeating the frigid records the next morning.  But at last it is  warming,  36 and 38 degrees and we are good to go walk outside, bundled but nevertheless in fresh air.  But wait, more on the way this week. Maybe the weather will not pay attention to the predictions.

I have good news too about my boob recall, all is well.  Yesterday with more intense diagnostic xrays and a sonogram, the radiologist admitted there was nothing there, but normal breast tissue. However he wants me to  return in 6 months for another sonogram so he is absolutely sure.  I could not see what he thought he detected on the screening until he ultra magnified.  I asked if it could have been calcification to which he responded no nor a cyst.   I think of Carol, Linda and Joan and Karen, friends in CA  who all lost their fights with breast cancer years ago, Carol especially dying a very long drawn out death, and others quickly taken, along with a  friend in PA  who is a survivor today.  So I am blessed to have this care from Mayo.  To my joking repartee that he had given me a headache for nothing, Dr Uy  replied that "I have a perfect record of diagnosing, I have not ever missed anything and I am not going to start with you."   The nurses warned that he is a perfectionist and has been known to stand looking over the shoulder of the technician doing the sonogram or taking over the xray machine to get photos.  Attention to detail, that's the right stuff.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning on my walks around the 'hood I took some ice, snow and melt photos.
Down the corner to south 14th, roads clear snow aside

Under all that whiteness is the track where I like to walk,
not possible this month
The shadow from the pine allows the melting to become treacherous
glassy ice.  One must walk carefully, like a bear over these patches 
Melt, ice, white prevail down the street at the hockey rink and ball fields
The shadow of the branch resembles an irritated person, weary of winter,
hair on end, arms extended, snapping at the grass under ice,
"be gone with you white and glassy hazard. Let the green emerge!"
This lamppost through the barren branches will not be
visible once the leaves come with spring.  It is
spring so says the calendar, Mama Nature,
pay attention.,