Another harvest

Garlic scapes harvest

Savory, concentrated

Edible delight

Yes, you can eat them! Grill them or dice them up and use in dishes. They are straight garlic goodness. I ate one while I worked.

Garlic scapes grow from hard neck varieties of garlic. When I cut them, it signals the plant to use energy on growing the garlic bulb. Left too long, the scapes become hard and chewy but create a pretty corkscrew shape.

Allegedly garlic and plants in that family help keep certain molds away which is why there is some garlic around my roses and throughout my flowerbeds in addition to the garden space.

Ants Can’t Handle the Truth

Despite it being spring AND May, the weather has fluctuated from the 30s to the 60s and back again. As my yard and garden comes back to life, I’ve been making slow attempts at cleaning and bringing things out of their winter state. The temperatures plus the most insane time in the school year has not helped my progress. I’d certainly rather be gardening, but there are 20 gazilliion post-it notes and reminders that need my attention.

During one episode of shuffling around the patio, I rearranged and cleaned some ceramic pots. Days later, when I was briefly back again, I noticed that one pot now had mounds of dirt around its base.

It had been colonized. The pot sitting directly on the ground against my back patio window, practically inviting entrance to the house was full to the brim with ants.

Life lesson: ants cannot handle the responsibility, nay the temptation, of a pot sitting directly on the ground.

It was the only pot on the patio without those apparently crucial ceramic feet lifting it an inch off the ground. When I picked it up, ants poured out of the drainage hole. I rolled it over on its side to decide my next move.

I couldn’t murder them outright. They must serve a purpose in my garden. However I also wanted to use that pot without being swarmed and I did not want them building an addition into my house.

Ultimately I tipped the pot upside down in the garden, revealing hundreds of scurrying bodies and a collection of larvae. Hopefully the next tempting spot to squat will be more appropriate.

Zoom in to be either fascinated or grossed out.

Sounds Like Spring

It’s no Red Winged Blackbird, but the call still says spring.

Last weekend was the first day of Spring and it’s sexy time for any number of creatures. In fact, it’s all they’re talking about. With that in mind, Adventure Buddy and I took advantage of a park program promising amorous salamanders in the vernal pools. The description said boots were suggested, but we did not realize that it was to the degree of our naturalist’s hip waders.

The naturalist started by checking her overnight traps. No salamanders, but we saw fairy shrimp, water bugs, and what turned out to be two frogs busy making more frogs.

They are Western Chorus Frogs which are different from Spring Peepers. Their song dominated all other noises. It sounded as if we should see them everywhere.

The second vernal pool was filled with cattails on the edge of a prairie area. I actually saw a large frog there, but my tiny net and poor skills were no match for it.

This area was possibly even more vociferous.

To borrow from e.e. cummings, spring is when the world is “mud-luscious” and “puddle wonderful.” I just need taller boots.

Seriously, can I just take it?!

For the first time in over a week, I don’t feel like immediately crawling back into bed as a response to everything life has to offer. I’m still stuffy and have a good hacking cough when provoked, but most brain function and physicality has returned. Having been very sedentary and just having read an article about the horrors of visceral fat-I gots some a that-I was up for a walk in actual sunlight. It was still cold, but there was bright blue sky and visible plant life to make an Ohio dweller believe in the possibility of spring. Plus it’s the end of the quarter and I have SOOOOO much grading and being sick didn’t help so I had to run…walk moderately quickly away for a bit.

I saw clusters of snowdrops in a small wooded area.

The native plants prairie area had been mowed and cleared for the winter, but small green things were peeking through. The vernal pools in this part of the park were muddy and overflowing from rain. However I’m a sucker for a mirrored tree line picture.

I call this one Ducks Digging in Trees.

In the rose garden portion of the park, I gawked at a tree, watching this very poised nuthatch, several chickadees and two different types of woodpeckers do their thing. Meanwhile the second wedding/ engagement party I’d seen that day tromped by in formal wear and giant winter coats, ready to freeze for photo shoots.

It was all very sunny and simple until I spotted a mound in the middle of the grass between walk ways and rose beds. Maybe everybody else wasn’t looking or maybe they saw dirt or a mound of leaves. However Brain saw fur and yelled, “ WE SHOULD LOOK AT IT NOW!”

Yep. Dead raccoon.

Intellectually, I knew it was dead. Wild animals do not typically curl up like house cats in a sunspot in the afternoon in the middle of a busy park for a little shut eye. Spring sunbeams or not. However I will admit to approaching with caution and staying a few feet away.

It was a lovely, smallish raccoon with reddish tones to its ringed tail and back, but blonde highlights around its ears and face. It did not smell, although it may have been bloating slightly. I couldn’t see any physical damage, and gazed around trying to come up with a likely death scenario. There was no immediate tree to have dropped from although being tossed out in recent high winds might have been a possibility. All roads were just too far away to drag a car broken body from. It did not appear chewed on so something bigger probably didn’t bring it here unless a vulture dropped his lunch. Old age? Poison? Heart attack?

While one part of Brain was sifting forensic scenarios, another part was hissing, “Someone is going to notice you hanging out with this raccoon, weirdo.” Yet another Brain denizen really had priorities straight and was like: “IMAGINE THE TAXIDERMY POSSIBILITIES! BUT WE’RE NOT VISITING HOME UNTIL LATER THIS MONTH. THERE’S NO ROOM IN THE FREEZER FOR THAT. GAH, EAT ALL THE FREEZER FOOD! CAN YOU JUST TAKE A RACCOON? WHAT DO WE HAVE IN THE CAR? TARP? THIS IS A PUBLIC PARK SHOULD I ALERT AUTHORITIES AND… SERIOUSLY, CAN I JUST TAKE IT? LIKE NO ONE ELSE SEEMS INTERESTED.”

At a loss for the next step, I took a really bad photo as if I wasn’t really taking a photo of a dead raccoon because the hissy part of Brain was all:”People will see you, you fucking psycho” and promptly texted my sister and MomBert. As per usual, they were not super helpful.

So I texted my dad the picture and basic message. Predictably, he immediately called because he and the company at his house found my predicament hilarious. He did not really have any good answers about legalities other than let it become some other creature’s dinner. The vultures are back after all.

It’s Alive!

Finally my yard is starting to look like a living being!

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It’s just warm enough, but not too warm to start cleaning things up for summer while still ignoring that the interior of my house needs vacuumed. This means that I’ve purchased a million dollars worth of pansies and petunias to satisfy my planting urges.

Must. Hold off. On. Tomatoes.

My feathered visitors also seem to be in the cleaning up mood.

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A little preening and grooming.

Including the robin who I think is the reason the birdbath constantly needs refilled. He also poops in it every other visit. Not cool, dude!

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While the goldfinch couple didn’t stop to bath, they did take some long sips of what was essentially robin flavored water.

“Dear, the water has a certain salty flavor today.”

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