hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Following up on Wraps

The wrapped cars and boats and cottages have increased as the days go by, the leaves fall, and the people disappear.  They look well against the near steady gray skies as they exit through the border.  Bye!  See you in April.

Other kinds of wrapping are also going on.  Yesterday, Zoe the cat and I watched, from indoors through the window, a lovely little brown-gray squirrel working on her wrapping.  (She seems to be the only one of our last year's big assortment of squirrels--6 of them--who has survived the summer or who has not moved away.  We call her Pearl, although we don't know what her real name is.)

She first appeared outside the window with an apple, held by its stem in her teeth.  There are apples all over the place, so it doesn't surprise me to see any animal wandering through fooling with apples.  In fact, they should eat more of them.  But Pearl was not eating this apple.  She was barely able to carry it as it was about twice the size of her head (although squirrels do have quite small heads, but still...)

She dropped the apple under a giant fir tree outside our front door (surely first growth...15-20 feet in circumference) and started digging with her excellent fingers.  Watching her dig was really impressive: so fast, so sure, so focused.  Hard to believe she didn't actually have fingers, although for all I know it might be easier to dig with paws than with hands/fingers.  She dug the neat little hole, exactly the size of the apple and then picked it up and dropped it in the hole and then neatly covered it.  When she was finished, there was no sign of digging, no sign of apple.  And she moved off.

The apple is under the leaf, but the leaf fell, after Pearl buried the apple.  

Now, I've seen squirrels bury nuts before because we leave our English walnut tree product to the squirrels and they bury them all.  But I've never seen one bury an apple.  I've never seen any animal bury an apple.  They just eat them or they ignore them, but they don't bury them.  And I would think that the reason they don't is because they intuitively know that the apple is not going to last long if it's buried.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe burying an apple is like putting it in a root cellar, keeping it cool; although, just sitting on the top of the ground it would stay cool.  I don't know.

I googled "squirrel burying apples" and got a lot of hits for people talking about squirrels, several of whom casually comment about squirrels burying nuts and apples, but nobody addressed the issue of the burial of apples as an effective storage device.  Google rarely fails, even if it leads me to something that is not true, but it almost always leads me to something.  Here, not so much.  So, I'm left watching each day the spot where the apple is buried to see if she comes back soon for it, before it becomes a decayed apple.

Although, considering how neatly she buried it, she could unbury it just as neatly and I would never know unless I happened to see the action.  So perhaps this will just remain a mystery of nature.  One more item in a large book.

Update: my excellent-gardener daughter reports to me that the squirrel is smarter than me (not too surprising, really, when it deals with squirrel work):  http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/Gardener-Monthly-V23/Keeping-Apples.html#.VFKis_TF9U5

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wrapped Cars

You might think that Christo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo_and_Jeanne-Claude) and Jeanne Claude had taken up residence in Point Roberts recently what with the plethora of wrapped cars and other vehicles, boats and the like.  From my window, I can see a camouflaged vehicle on a trailer, high in the air, as well as a grey-wrapped SUV, and a boat almost submerged in its wrapping.

But it's not art, it's just October.  In the fall, our semi-permanent residents abandon us for their real homes (we are their ever-nostalgic 'summer places'), but we are also, those of us who stay all year regardless, abandoned by many of our permanent residents.  We are only 1300 at best and then maybe 1/4-1/2 of them wrap their vehicles in tarps or carcoats and go away to their southern homes.

At the moment, despite its being October, the leaves are still green on the trees and still firmly attached to the trees.  Maybe the leaves and the snowbirds could stay this winter.  Maybe Point Roberts will turn to a Mediterranean climate.  That would be a treat....and then Christo and Jeanne-Claude might have reason to come and wrap us up, or at least wrap up the dreaded towers which are increasingly looking to be their own happening.  Let us, perhaps, as an art project, consider wrapping the towers in camouflage.  Just random thoughts on a non-fall-like day...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Taking on the Big Town

Today, I was in Bellingham, the first time I'd been off the Point in about 3 weeks.  A little stir crazy, perhaps?  Hard to know.  I was doing some ordinary shopping in the fabric store down there, looking for some specialized thread which I was not finding.  On the other hand, I did find a kind of hand-quilting thread I particularly like that nobody wants to buy anymore because nobody much hand-quilts.  So, I picked up one spool of a color I'm currently out of.  When I need another color, these spools will still be there, still priced at $1/spool.  They might as well be giving them away.  But I didn't need them all, just that one color.

And so I found myself standing in a kind of long checkout line with a coupon for 30% off of a spool of $1.00 thread.  Two other women in line next to me also were making negligible purchases and I suggested to them that we each buy a $1.00 cardboard tiara covered with sequins (available nearby), and demand that we get a special (and shorter) line because we were princesses.  We laughed about the picture of us all in our tiaras, demanding privileges commensurate with our positions.  But, as we moved up in the line, only I picked up a tiara: blue to match my eyes.  I put it on and they both agreed it looked great with my hair.  I can hardly even imagine what such a judgment might mean.  I scarcely know what color my hair is any more and I don't spend a lot of time in front of mirrors trying to figure it out, but I nevertheless went up to the checkout counter, paid my $1.00 for the spool of thread and $.70 for my princess headgear (that's what I used my 30% off coupon for).

In the car, I put the tiara on and drove off to my favorite Bellingham store, Trader Joe's.  Got a parking place immediately (the privileges of princesses, I guess), and walked up to the door, where two shoppers asked me why I was wearing a crown.  "Not a crown; a tiara.  I'm not a queen; just a princess."  And we pursued that a little.  Then we parted and I went into the store and lurked around the vegetables to assess what I wanted.  One of the store managers came up to me and asked, "Is it your birthday?"  "No," I replied.  "I'm a princess."  She laughed with delight, and went on her way.

I wander through the store, picking up this and that, and maybe 8 or 9 people stop me and ask if it's my birthday.  Each time, I reply, "No, I'm a princess."  And some people want to pursue it further, while others just laugh and leave, calling out, "Good for you!"

And then the store manager reappears with a bouquet of pink flowers and tells me they are a gift from Trader Joe's because, "I have made her day."  Well, gosh, I think she must have made MY day, too!  So now I'm wandering around with a tiara and flowers, and yet have more stores to go to, more places to discuss with perfect strangers why I am wearing a sequinned cardboard tiara and whether or not it is my birthday.

I ended my peregrinations back at the hospital in order to pick up Ed who was at a doctor appointment and on our way out, somebody else with a doctor appointment inquired as to why I was wearing a crown.  I clarified the name and explained that I was a princess but that he wouldn't necessarily know that if I weren't wearing my tiara.  "Oh," he responded, "I'd know you were something because of that big sunflower you are wearing."  Extemporizing, I hinted that I was also a Goddess of Summer. He nodded and we discussed his growing up in East Texas where the fields of sunflowers grew every summer as far as the eye could see.  "Yes," I replied as if the sunflowers were my own work, "and the fields of canola up in the middle of Canada.  More glories."

And we went on home.  Proving, I guess, that maybe I ought to get off the Point more often, or that a little bit of performance art will still go a long ways.  And my special thanks to the TJ's manager for the lovely flowers.  People are sometimes so gracious that it takes my breath away.    Or maybe that's just how royalty always gets treated.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sigh: the Ups and Downs of Trees, Again

A really gorgeous fungi in our woods this morning: about 12 inches across and stacked another 16 inches high.  I've seen it one other year, but it's not reliably here every year.  Called 'chicken of the woods' or 'crab of the woods.'  Can be cooked in any way chicken can be, although, according to Wikipedia:

"In some cases eating the mushroom "causes mild reactions . . . for example, swollen lips" or in rare cases "nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation" to those who are sensitive.[4] This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom's protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (for example, eucalyptus or cedar or yew) to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach."

Well, maybe we'll pass on the kitchen use.   What it reliably appears to be is a cause of trees falling.  So adds Wikipedia:

 " From late spring to early autumn, the sulphur shelf thrives, making it a boon to mushroom hunters and a bane to those concerned about the health of their trees. This fungus causes a brown cubical rot and embrittlement which in later stages ends in the collapse of the host tree, as it can no longer flex and bend in the wind."  

Entropy strikes again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When a Tree Falls in the Forest, etc.

A few evenings ago, a very tall poplar chose to split in thirds about 15-feet up the trunk and come gently down to rest upon the roof of an outbuilding.  This is a messy business.  It happened around midnight and the cat meowed and I got up (I wasn't asleep yet) and went outside to try to assess what had happened: a fairly unsuccessful job in the dark.  But it didn't look like a crisis that would require 911 or something, so I just went back to bed and spent the night worrying.

Earlier in the week, the County spent many days taking down a big conifer in the road easement that had been termite infested at the base.  And yesterday, a neighbor told me she has a similar problem with a conifer at her house.  So we are going to need to do some serious looking at this tree.  That would be Ed on the first round as I don't stand on ladders.  I did trim the stuff hanging down to the ground though.

So, yes, it did make a sound.  And like the tree branch that fell last winter, yes, it did do some damage.  And that's one of the things about living in a forest that one does not always keep in mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dinnertime at the Homesick Restaurant

This evening, we were about to sit down to dinner when the little raccoon mom with her even littler raccoon child showed up for their dinner.  We were having chicken soup with kale and other yard-grown vegetables.  The raccoons were having plums and apples and blueberries and water.  Zoe the cat looked at them and looked at us and decided to throw in her lot for dinner with us.  She had tunafish, though.

Under the plum tree.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Westshore Terminal

It's just up the road from us in Point Roberts and many residents here only now about coal dust.  In the summer, the Terminal conducts tours for visitors.  About an hour long.  You see a short video and then ride around the terminal area (not all that big, really) and find out what they do.

Ed and I made reservations and took the tour a couple of weeks ago (they're finished doing this for the year now).  But i really recommend you're trying to remember next summer to get signed up.  Despite living very much IN the world, I am always surprised to find that I know almost nothing about how anything really works.  How trash gets collected and disposed of, how paint is made, what they are doing at all those places down on Mitchell Island.  When I was a kid, we used to go on a tour of a bakery every year.  That's pretty much my entire background on industry.  I'd like to go on a tour of a bakery now!  My guess is that they have changed over the last 70 years.

Anyway, everything they told me was news.  I didn't know that Westshore Terminal was an entirely different operation from the container terminal.  Or that the coal didn't come there in railway cars and get immediately transferred into ships somehow.  Or that they are shipping two different kinds of coal: metallurgic coal from Canada and thermal coal from the U.S.  There are giant piles of coal all over the place and giant machines moving it around.

[A very big machine and some very fine coal.]

Growing up, my family had a coal stove.  Originally, a small one that you put lumps of coal in.  Later a coal furnace that had what was called 'slack coal' and was more pebbly.  Neither of the things they're shipping look like those.  All very interesting.  They showed us what they're doing to try to reduce coal dust.  But they understand it's a problem.

Go and learn something next summer when you have a chance.