Saturday, June 25, 2005


can be a pain in the ass
but we keep trying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Miles and Miles Away but It Feels Like Home

I'm in Washington State right now, at a workshop for my job. I'm typing from a laptop in my room.

Even though the workshop got off to a rocky start I'm having a great time and learning a lot. I love it here, there are 1000 acres of wild land surrounding this college campus.

There are lots of crows/ravens around. I found a crow or raven feather here last night. My creative juices are flowing and I'm feeling very alive and open to possibilities. At the same time it's a calm, centered feeling. It's like a stable energy source that I can just plug into. Maybe it's just the fact of 1000 acres of living ecosystem around me. Ecosystem that is functioning the way it should.

I almost want to move here. I'm meeting a lot of wonderful, very cool people here too. I'm thinking I should ask if they have any job openings for libarians. :-)

Dave and I seriously planned to move to Nova Scotia last year, and while I thought it was a good idea in theory (for political reasons) when we actually went there to visit I didn't feel this connection. I mean, I know I could form a relationship with the land there - with time, but I didn't have that spontaneous connection that I do here. I have felt it in other places though, like the West Coast of Ireland and the Del-water gap area of Penn/NJ/NY. Why do I feel it in some places and not others? Maybe it's just like with people: affinities?

I don't know if this makes any sense. Maybe to you, readers, it seems silly.

Do you have a place that you feel a connection to? Where is it? How does it make you feel?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

peas Posted by Hello

tomatoes Posted by Hello

Lettuce Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005


My friend Chris asked me the other day about "no-till" gardening, which I have listed as one of my interests in my profile. I thought this would be a good opportunity for a blog-entry, so here you go!

If there's one thing I love, it's dirt. Dave makes fun of me when I start talking about it too much. He makes a fist and says "The Good Earth" in a super-serious voice.

I grew up in a rural/suburban area outside of Saratoga Springs. My parents had a big vegetable garden. We kids had to help weed. My dad would talk to me about gardening and I could tell he really loved it. He would take a handful of soil and say "Look at this soil, this is really good soil. See how it sticks together a little bit, then it crumbles? It's like chocolate cake. See how after it rains, the water doesn't stand in puddles, but soaks right in? See all the earthworms? This is good soil, this is loam." It left an impression.

Dave and I have gardened in many places together, but most all of them were in an area with very heavy clay soil. We added bags and bags of topsoil and manure and compost and peat, and dug and dug until we ached, but it never seemed to matter. The clay soil ate that stuff up and it was still clay. I wanted well-drained loam, but clay was what we had, and I figured we just had to make the best of it.

Clay soil is heavy. Turning it with a spade for years left me with a sore right hip that I still have to this day. But I didn't care, I loved to garden. I would gladly dig in the dirt all day. But I didn't have to. Now I know there is a better way.

When we bought this house, the people who had lived here before us already had a vegetable garden. The soil was pretty good, it wasn't clay, although it was rocky. Becky and Dean had a compost heap, but they had tilled it with a roto-tiller every year. Not knowing about no-till gardening, and thinking of those years of turning soil by hand with a shovel, I asked Becky if they were interested in selling the tiller. She said "No, we need this to make the garden at our new house." She patted it affectionately.

So we rented a tiller that spring and put bags of manure on the garden and tilled them in. The soil was wet that day so we probably did more harm than good. But we didn't know that.

The internet is really a great thing in many ways. I started looking for information about improving the soil and found out that some people didn't till, or even turn the soil at all. If fact, they thought it ruined the soil structure to do so.

This was a crazy idea to me. My dad had used a roto-tiller, and he had good soil. I'd never heard of anyone who didn't turn the soil. I had heard many fellow-gardeners complain (or, really, let's be honest!) brag about how hard they worked and how sore they were from digging and double digging. Who didn't dig to prepare the soil for planting? Well, this guy, for one.

You know how, when something is true, you feel it? I felt it. As I read that article, a bell was going off inside me: dingdingdingding. It was so obvious, yet I never knew it until that moment. I knew good soil, but I was frustrated because I didn't always have it, but now I knew how to get it.

I also learned from my gardener friend Ellie that you can never have too much manure. She didn't mess around with bags of manure from the garden center. She ordered a dumptruck full of composted horse manure for her garden each fall. Her garden was fabulous, so I knew she was onto something.

I got a flyer from our local farmer's market for composted manure and ordered a truckload that fall. We then raked all of our fall leaves into the manure and left them there over the winter. As we burned wood in our woodstove that winter, we dumped the ashes on the garden. By spring, things weren't totally decomposed, there were some chunky bits in there, but we didn't till. We just planted. Everything was fine. That fall we added more leaves and the next spring we had the best soil I have ever had. It's great soil. It's full of earthworms. It sticks together and then crumbles. It drains well. And it warms up a lot faster in the spring than other gardens in our area. Meaning we can plant sooner than anyone I know.

Now when other gardeners brag about their sore backs and blisters from digging, I don't join in. Why not just let the earthworms do it for you?

Friday, June 17, 2005


Why are there so many ants on my cherry tree? I googled and look what I found:

The tendency of the ants to settle on plants is actualised by means of a fluid called "nectar residue" secreted by the plant. Nectar residue liquid plays almost the role of an unresistable invitation for the ants. The plants secrete these fluids at certain periods. For instance, black cherry trees secrete this fluid actively three weeks during whole year. This timing is by no means a coincidence, since this three weeks is the only period in which a kind of caterpillar called "eastern tent caterpillar" harms the black cherry trees. Thus, the plant has only one way to be saved from the harm: retaining the ants live on itself in order to have them clean their leaves from the caterpillars. Secreting a fluid, the plant makes the ants do this which it is itself unqualified to do.

That is so cool.

Our cherry tree also had eastern tent caterpillars right now. In fact, there are about 3 different kinds of caterpillars eating most of the trees in my yard. I was annoyed with the ants, thinking that they too were some kind of pest. I had no idea they could be helping control the caterpillars. I'm so in awe right now. :-)

Discussion Better Than Monologue

Once again, I owe my buddy Tania thanks for helping me see things from another perspective. She wrote this comment in response to my musings about drifting off the topic of nature (below).

You know, I don't think you're looking at this the right way. It is perfectly *natural* for you to want to think of pretty artificial things. Human nature is toward artifice.

This made me think about the reasons why I want to write on this topic. Why is it important to me?

Rather than respond in the comments section, where it might get lost, I've decided to make it a new post. Everyone please feel free to jump into this discussion.

Here's my response:

Sure, human nature is toward artifice. I agree. But, it's one thing to create things out of natural materials that can biodegrade and return to the earth and another to insulate ourselves from our creator and from the other living things that share this earth with us in a simulacrum made of plastic, chemicals and electronics.

Also, to base our imaginary world on the continued use of huge amounts of a limited natural resource (oil). If for no other reason, we need to wake up from our dream because this isn't going to last forever, and we are in for a rude awakening.

The life we live is not sustainable. It's hubris to think we can make it be sustainable. And I think we are wasting away and getting a little crazy because we imagine that we humans are all powerful, and through technology we can solve the many problems we have created, and we are gods.

Sorry, I don't think so. I think we are losing our sense of our own place in the scheme of things, we are out of balance. Eventually, the earth will bring us back into balance and we won't like it. I'd rather that the transition were easier, so I am trying to wake up and listen now, rather than later.

I also enjoy being with plants, animals, etc. I want to communicate with them. I don't want to live in an artificial human-only bubble. It's boring.

I also think that other humans are suffering for our mad consumerism. Even if you aren't interested in the Lorax... what about our brothers and sisters elsewhere?

It's not that our urge to create, to play, to make is bad in itself. It's just that I think we've taken it too far. Now we have forgotten our own Creator and we are deluding ourselves. This can't last. So maybe after us the deluge? That's a good way to get sent to the guillotine. But hey, it's a choice.

I'm not saying I'm any better about all of this than anyone else. I'm just as greedy and caught up in this dream as anyone. But this is a space where I'm trying to wake up a little. That's all.

I'd love to hear your arguments in return, because a discussion is better than a monologue, and that's precisely the reason I think we humans need to listen to the voices of other living things on this planet and not just talk to ourselves all the time.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Oh! One More Thing...

OK, I just finished writing about how I need to get back on topic and yet I have to post a link about the House voting to limit the USA Patriot Act. As a librarian, I can't let this go by without saying YAY!!!

My dear husband showed it to me this morning. He knows how depressed I get about politics lately so he tries to show me things that will cheer me up. This one did. :-)

Drifting From My Topic...

I've been drifting from my topic of nature. I think it's hard to write on this topic because I fear that people will find it boring. I worry that people find not only my writing about nature boring, but that they find nature itself boring, or maybe just alien.

Most of us are living in an artificial human environment all the time, and nature is outside our normal realm. As I sit in my office under fluorescent lights and type words on the screen, I feel my ass getting fatter by the moment. Other people must feel this too? I want to be on nature's side, and try to hear what nature has to say and tell other humans. But then I get caught up in our simulacrum too, and drift....

I want to write my thoughts and feelings about nature and spirituality and ecology and hopefully wake myself up to being more ecologically responsible, but -- just as in everyday life, many other bright shiny objects attract my attention. It's hard to break out of our collective dream. I want to buy things and I enjoy human culture, music, art, film and even silly things like nail polish, perfume, bird feeders and beaded necklaces. Our consumer culture makes it hard to think of anything else. I want to make a space for something else, even if, ironically, it's in cyberspace and the people reading it on computer screens are indoors.

If you want to read some of the things about nature I have written so far, click on "May" under the archives section on the right side of the page. I was more focused then.

I'm going to think about this and write some more later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Latest on Danny

Tania asked me in an email to write more about Danny, my son. He's seven, and he's the star of my show, for sure. Everyone asks me about him all the time. My friend Colleen, who reads here but never comments (hint, hint!) also asks me to write about Danny. Here's what I wrote today in my response email to Tania:

I was thinking about your request that I write more about Danny but I have mixed feelings about that. He's himself, and what if later on he's annoyed that I wrote about him on the internet for all to see?

And sometimes I want to blog to be someone other than just Danny's mom, you know? It kind of sucks up all my energy and I want to steal some back for myself too, if that makes any sense.

Also, he isn't always that blog-a-ble. Often, he's just an ordinary kid who wants to talk about the latest videogame he's into or the cartoon he just finished watching. And frankly, my eyes glaze over when he does this so I'm not going to write about it! LOL. I love that little kiddo though, so I try not to let him see how uninterested I am in his blow-by-blow recap of "Jimmy Neutron". Kind of like when Dave talks to me about the stock market. Maybe I'm too self-absorbed? I try not to show it though.

He did do something cool last night. I ask him about school and he always says "it's boring". Which I know is not true because I can tell he likes his teacher and the stuff she does in class, esp lately, they are studying butterflies and moths.

I told him that it might make the teachers feel bad that the kids all pretend to hate school because they think it's not "cool" to like school. I said that I know Mrs C. puts a lot of thought and energy into trying to make the class interesting, and that I know he likes it, so why does he act like he doesn't?

He thought about it for a minute and said reluctantly: "OK, I admit it, I like school". Then he rolled his eyes. I laughed. Then said he wanted to make a card for Mrs. C and he got out his markers and drew a picture of a rock on the outside of the card and it said "YOU ROCK!" , inside he put a picture of a butterfly. He's a good egg. :-)

Oh, one more story: I was hanging out with him and his friends down by the creek over the weekend and they were putting bark and sticks in the water to use as "boats" which they then "raced" down the current. I was pretending to ignore them and read my book under my big sunhat, lying on the chaise lounge but I was really eavesdropping. I heard his friend Andrew say "What do we get if we win the race? What's the prize?" And Danny said indignantly "We're not doing it for the prize! We're doing it for the glory! The glory of knowing you won!"

What a little character.

Monday, June 13, 2005

This Is So Exciting!

Bingo Night at the Indian Reservation.

I guess I really feel like writing in my blog today.

I was coming back from lunch with my buddy Jean, and I said

(holding out hand to display nailpolish) "I don't know how I feel about this color. I like it on my toes but I'm not crazy about it on my hands"

Jean: I know, I agree. It looks cute on your toes but somehow, on your hands, it's too frosty pink. (pause, thinking...) It kind of reminds me of something an older woman would wear to go play bingo at the Indian reservation

Me: (laughing) Suddenly, I love it. That just made it perfect for me. Thank you! I love you, Jean.

Jean (laughing) I know, right? O.P.I's newest shade: "Bingo Night at the Indian Reservation" that makes all the difference. Now I like it too!

Isn't it funny how if something has a story, even a made up story, suddenly it's more appealing? The transforming power of the imagination strikes again.

François Truffaut

The thing I like about art is that it makes it seem possible to love someone and commune with them even if you've never met them. Even if they are long dead.

Now I know, this isn't how we are supposed to view these things. I, too, learned in college that the proper approach is to take the work of art as an independent thing, apart from it's creator - Not to speculate about what the artist "was trying to say" etc. Not to think that it gives you the ability, or even the right, to pretend to talk to a ghost.

But screw that, I'm out of college and I enjoy my conversations with imaginary friends.

I saw François Truffaut's "400 Blows" on Saturday night. I'm new to Truffaut's work, and I love it. I saw "Jules and Jim" a few weeks ago. I'm so glad I get to love him, even though I've never met him, and he's dead.

I once asked a friend of mine if she believed in reincarnation. She said she didn't. She preferred to think that each person is unique and that the world only got one of each. However, she said, she liked to think that there would be other people like her that came later. She said it was like a lighthouse, with the light going around in a circle, seemingly disappearing but reappearing again. I like that idea.

Now I'm not trying to claim to be like François Truffaut. I'm not a genius film maker. And I don't even know very much about him. But I feel him. I'm glad he left something of himself behind that we can know.

And really, when you come right down to it, what can we really know about anyone? Even the people we know the best? Even ourselves?

"The 400 Blows" has been haunting me, in the background of my mind, since I saw it. Like a dream, it colors my thoughts with it's melancholy, sad-happy, freedom and independence and loneliness and alienation and fleeting moments of camaraderie.

I like that.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Careful What You Wish For!!

I was just walking around the yard this evening, thinking how I hadn't seen any snakes or toads this year yet. It worries me. We normally see them often. Where are they?

I had the camera in hand, and I had hoped to take a picture for my blog. I remembered how I had seen a nursery web spider down by the creek yesterday, but by the time I came back with the camera, it was gone. I wished I had caught a picture of it, I thought the nursery web spider would make a good entry, since they are so big, they can walk on water and even eat small fish, something that suprises many people, including me.

I'm not a fan of spiders, they really give me the creeps, but I respect them. Then I went back in the house and lo and behold, look what was on doorframe?

At first I thought it was a small nursery web spider, but upon closer inspection I think it was really just a really mega common house spider. It was about the size of my lens cap. Nursery web spiders get a lot bigger than that. They have thicker legs. Sometimes they have pretty brown stripes on their backs too. They look like this.

Anyway, whatever it is, it wanted to be famous, so here it is! :-)

Why do spiders make me so nervous? I don't know, but they do. I'm better about them now though. I can even take them outside sometimes. I wouldn't mess with this sucker though. Dave took it down to the creek for me in a paper cup. Thanks Honey!

Fun Day at the Bead Shop

My friend Susan and I had such a fun day today. Susan makes cool jewelry, and I wanted to learn how to do it, so she took me to a bead shop.

First we had lunch and a couple of beers and a good long talk. Then we went to the shop.

As soon as I walked it, I knew this beading thing was for me. I immediately asked Susan: "Can we stay here for a long time?" and she said "Sure!" and we did.

I had brought an old ivory art deco necklace that I used to wear all the time, until it broke one day, spontaneously, during a staff meeting. I had kept all the beads in a yogurt cup for years, saying that "someday" I would restring it. That day was today!

A woman who worked in the store kindly offered to do it for me. She also polished the silver spacers and chain. I didn't even know they were silver, they were so tarnished. I had planned to throw out the spacers and replace them, until she started polishing them and made them shine. I was so grateful. She did such an excellent job. It looks better now than it ever did before. Want to see?


While she was working on that, I collected some beads for another project. Susan showed me how to get a tray and a pad of paper and to write down how many of each bead I chose and the price. Then I went to town. A whole sensory world of texture and color surrounded me. Beads of every type, size, shape and color. I fet so happy as I wandered around with my tray, looking at all the pretty beads and picking out the ones I liked.

I had brought in a pair of earrings that I thought were a little too big, that I wanted to make into pendants for two necklaces instead. I found some beads that went with them, and started arranging them at the beading table. Susan showed me how to do it.

I spent a lot of time getting it just right. Susan was very patient in letting me do my creative thing. I decided that once I finished one of the necklaces, I would make another just like it and give it to her to thank her for giving me such a happy day. It will look great on her, with her dark green eyes.

Here is the first necklace I made:


It has an ocean jasper pendant, hematite and silver seed beads, moss agate and lace agate beads, and freshwater pearls. I'm so proud of it. I think it looks like something a mermaid would wear.

I took home more of the same beads to make Susan's necklace. We made a plan to get together again and work on it. It's so girly and cool that we will each have the same necklace to remind us of our fun day. I promised to teach her how to knit too.

When we were done, we got milkshakes for the ride home.

I enjoy being a girl.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Rudie Can't Fail!!!

I wish you could have seen me this morning, dear readers, as I drove in to work singing really loud:

I know that my life make you nervous
But I tell you that I can't live in service
Like the doctor who was born for a purpose
Rudie can't fail!!

With a huge grin on my face, tapping my thumbs on the steering wheel and my left foot on the floor. Yes, I am that goof that you see doing that at the traffic light.

I haven't heard that song in so long.

Thank you Ellie, for sending me London Calling. It's really started my day off well. :-)

A Part of Nature.

I just wrote this email to a friend who has a new baby. She says "sleep deprivation is not fun". I know just what she means. Here's what I wrote:

Oh yeah, that hell of sleep deprivation, I remember it well. It seems like it went on forever, but of course, looking back, it seemed like not that long.

I'm sorry Hon. It gets better, so much, much better. But it takes a while. You are in the hardest part, I think. (Of course, I haven't done the teenage thing yet, so...)

I think it is really smooth sailing after age 3. I know that sounds so far away that you think you can't stand it, but oddly when I look back it seems like no time at all. Lots of comfort that is to you, eh? LOL.

Anyway, You are tough, you can get through it! Baby boot-camp. :-)

Today Danny found a little butterfly in the driveway that was almost dead. He wanted to bring it to school to ask Mrs. C., his teacher, to help him with it. "She knows a lot more about butterflies than I do". He said. He said that he wanted Mrs. C. to help him with it because he wanted it to live long enough to mate and lay eggs so it wouldn't become endangered! :-)

I told him they wouldn't let him bring bugs on the bus so he asked me to drive him to school. I knew it would make me late for work, but I did it anyway.

He cupped it very tenderly in his hands and kept it from blowing away.

In the car I said something about "your butterfly" and he looked angry. He interrupted me and said "It's not *my* butterfly, Mom! It belongs to itself! It is part of nature. It doesn't belong to me or anybody."

I know that story is overly-precious and in some ways you may be thinking "Oh yeah, thanks. That's what I get in exchange for all these dirty diapers and sleepless nights and no free time to think or read or have sex and no privacy etc etc?"

Yeah, that's it. :-)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hypocrisy, Ecology and Me.

"Cigarettes and chocolate milk
These are just a couple of my cravings..." -Rufus Wainwright

I love perfume, and my favorite perfume is Tam Dao by Diptyque. It's mostly sandalwood. I love sandalwood, and most of the fragrances I love most have lots of sandalwood.

My friend Tania wrote this in her blog yesterday:

Right, but then take sandalwood. We love sandalwood. Wild about it. For good reason: it smells fantastic. Harvested from the heartwood of trees, real sandalwood oil must be aged to bring out its deepest, most luxurious character. It takes a while for those trees to grow, and overharvesting has become a problem. So there's the irony: We buy sandalwood products for the sexy, sultry, relaxing, ayurvedic, in-touch-with-nature vibe of it all, but if it's natural, we're affecting the ecology, so we're better off using a synthetic, probably, to be nice to the trees.
She also gave me this link about it.
I kind of knew this, but I didn't want to know it. I don't want to give up Tam Dao. I love it so much. I'm kind of a hedonistic glutton. This doesn't really fit with my whole tree-hugging, peace-loving hippie thing does it?

There's a price to be paid for everything, and here in the US, for many of us, that price is paid by somebody else, somewhere else. So we don't have to think about it.

But we do think about it.

I think about it. Even though I try not to. I don't want to. But it's still there, a constant low-level anxiety. All the prices that are being paid elsewhere. And the knowledge that that's not really how things work. Deep inside, we all know that we are going to have to pay the prices ourselves sometime soon. And the debt is growing by the minute. I think most of us feel it, even though we try to push it away.

I think about it when I drink a cup of coffee and know that the birds I enjoy seeing at my birdfeeder may be migrating to Central America, where they are facing
monoculture coffee plantations that don't have shade trees anymore, and use lots of pesticides.

I think about it when I buy clothing and I know that the people who made that clothing are working under very poor conditions, sometimes akin to slavery. And that their countries are pressured into this system by crushing debt and the IMF and the World Bank.

I think about it when I eat chocolate and I know that it might be produced by actual slave labor in Africa.

I think about it when I buy vegetables that come from agribusiness and meat that comes from factory farms.

I think about it when I drive 32 miles to my job and back each day. When I buy gas, knowing that we've hit peak oil production and it's all downhill from here.

I think about it when I turn off the news because I can't stand to hear more about how our troops have tortured people in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. There is a price, a price, a price....

I think about it and think about it until I feel sick. Then I tell myself I'm "thinking too much" and do something distracting to make myself forget about it.

And now that I've written this, I see that it's not that I "think too much". Really, it's that I
feel too much. It makes me feel overwhelmed. It frightens me. But I don't want to think about it. Because that would mean making a plan to change. I need to think about it. I need to make a plan.

Or maybe I don't feel
enough about it. I feel frightened for myself, for my family and friends, for my son. For my country. But do I feel the pain that my actions inflict on others? Is it empathy, or just more selfishness?

"I weep for you," the Walrus said;
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes...." -Lewis Carroll

The whole idea of biophila is that our innate love of nature will motivate us to change our actions before it's too late. But personally, I see the depths of my own selfishness and it's not pretty.

I'm going to try though. I'm going to make some small changes that might have big impacts in other parts of the world. I'm going to buy fair trade shade grown coffee and chocolate and go to the farmer's market and wear secondhand clothes and not buy sandalwood perfumes anymore.

And drive my car less. I have to find a way to do that.

At least, some of the time. To say I will do all of these things all of the time? I just can't say that yet.

Maybe you can relate?

Monday, June 06, 2005

New Birdfeeder and New Bird!

Over the weekend I decided to replace our old beat-up birdfeeder with a fancy new one. This is very exciting for me, which shows you just how dorky I am.

I hope the birds like it. It looks really cool to me, but so far, no birds! Then again, the town is doing some road construction in front of our house, so maybe the noise, plus the newness of the feeder, might be spooking them.

On a related note: we saw a pair of great crested flycatchers over the weekend - a bird that neither of us had ever seen before. Again: we were very excited. Again, we are dorks. :-)

We did TONS of work in the garden and I have a sunburn now. It's such a good feeling to look around and see all the work we did. I really hope it rains this afternoon, because the ground is so dry, and watering only does so much.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Apple Tree Earlier This Spring.  Posted by Hello

Apple Tree

When we moved here, there was an apple tree on the property. I don't know what kind it is, but my guess is Cortland or some kind of improved Mac.

I don't know how old it is, but I don't think it's a particularly old tree. It did have some kind of injury, though:


It hadn't been pruned or cared for in a long time. The apples on it were wormy, small, misshapen and tasted terrible. I remember that one time this guy came to deliver firewood and he grabbed a ripe apple off the tree, bit into it, made a sour face and spit it out. Then he chucked the apple into the woods. This insulted the tree and pissed Dave and I off. We never ordered wood from that guy again.

Apples are food, and we made use of them. We cut them up, (cutting around the worms) and made some tasty, chunky, spiced applesauce. We canned it and gave much of it away as Christmas gifts. People raved about it, and it really was delicious, if I do say so myself. The tartness of those apples balanced with the sweetness we added made it great.

I felt as though the tree was happy that we made use of the fruit and liked it. I told it we appreciated it's fruit. I thanked it.

The next year in early spring we had it pruned. I fertilized it with fruit tree fertilizer. Because of the pruning, we didn't get any apples that year, which was fine. I talked to the tree each day and often sat in it. I picked bugs off of it. I hung those sticky apple traps. My son liked climbing in it too.

That year we had much better apples and fewer bugs. I continued to take care of it. The next year, I remembered to thin the young fruit, and the results were amazing.

Bushels and bushels of apples -- just as big, round and red as the kind in the store, delicious and worm free! Now they say you can't grow apples organically, they are home to too many bugs. But we did, and the apples were so good. We made applesauce again, and this time, we found only *one* worm... Out of all of those apples!

But, last year I didn't take good care of the tree and it's leaves were reduced to lace by hungry inchworms. In fact, all the trees around us suffered the same fate. We were told by neighbors that it was just a bad year for inchworms, which come in cycles and that next year would be better. We didn't spray. We didn't get any fruit. But we hoped this year would be better.

Well, this year, again, the inchworms and back. They are joined by armies of other caterpillars, including gypsy moth caterpillars.

Sadly, this is what the tree looks like now:


However, the tree informs me that it is not really harmed long term by the caterpillars. It isn't really worried about the caterpillars, so neither am I. Maybe that is crazy, who knows?

I doubt if we'll get apples this year, but we are lucky not to depend on this as our only food source. We can buy apples. And next year, I will prune again and fertilize.

There are tons of birds eating those caterpillars. And Dave pointed out a nest of baby orb spiders in the garden this morning.

It will all balance out.

I hope.

The tree did ask me to help it with it's injury so that it doesn't get heartrot. It asked me to put some mint leaves in there. I wasn't sure why, but I've been doing it. Maybe it has antifungal properties?



Tree Medicine?

Anyway, that's the story of me and my tree friend.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Veery and the Sublime

I woke up this morning to this sound, probably my favorite sound in nature:

Veery 49kB

This sound clip doesn't really capture it's echo-y, harmonic quality.

The first time I heard the song of the veery I was walking in the woods near Bear Pond, where my Nana lives. I grew up spending summers there, and I feel very comfortable in those woods normally.

However, the strange, otherworldly, flute-like song of the veery made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I had one of those moments of the sublime: frozen, awe-struck. I honestly thought I was listening to the pipes of Pan. It was that eerie.

I turned around and walked right back to my Nana's house. I didn't know it was a tiny, nondescript bird that made that huge sound.

Here's a link to more information about the veery.

And here is a picture of it.