Woman’s Dominion Over Nature

Mother was a master of the leaf blower

Being as how it would have been Mother’s 99th Birthday Season, it’s appropriate that I dig out these photos Fred Lynch took one day in 2014 when he was driving by the house.

Leaving no leaf unturned

Mother by Fred Lynch 11/12/2014

She could get the hurricane-force wind under a pile of leaves, make them look like waves in the air, and send them all the way down the hill in no time.

I always said I could do better with a wide rake, but I couldn’t keep up with her.

Drastic Measures needed

After nearly falling when a leaf-hidden walnut rolled out from under me, and having one of nature’s Legos in the form of a black walnut sans hull leave me limping, I decided drastic measures were needed.

I was either going to have to display a sign like this and abandon the back yard for the duration, or I was going to have to corral the green (and black) monsters.

Plan B didn’t work

I tried my big rake first, but it couldn’t deal with both leaves AND walnuts. That’s when I reached into the closet for Mother’s leaf blower. It would move the leaves, but it didn’t have enough oomph to roll the walnuts (or I was skill deficient).

Plan C

Plan C was the blow away the leaves so I could see the walnuts. Once the surface detritus was gone, I could use the rake to herd the nuts to the edge of the yard.

That allowed me to create safe passage to the bird bath and bird feeders on Sunday night.

Unfortunately, by Monday morning, another crop of nuts had fallen. Maybe the sign idea wasn’t that bad.




Leaf Pictures in Jackson Park

Leaves 10-27-2014_3788Monday was a blustery day triggered by a cold front moving toward Cape. There was a bunch of yard tasks to accomplish that took most of the day, so I didn’t have much time to shoot. I was really hoping to put together a video of trees bending down, branches whipping and leaves falling like snow.

I took a few seconds of video of some of the trees in the yard, then loaded Mother into the car and headed over to Jackson’s City Park. It has lots of trees, plus Hubble Creek meanders through the middle of it, offering the possibility of colorful leaves floating on moving water..

By the time we got to the park, though, the wind had died down, the sky had gotten overcast and I was afraid we had lost the good light.

Off in the distance there was hope. I saw some small kids running and frolicking.

Is this a photo shoot?

When I got closer, I noticed there was a woman with a professional-grade camera who was directing the kids and setting up shots. I’m always careful not to butt into somebody else’s shoot as a matter of professional courtesy.

I asked Krista Taylor if she was working, and she said, “Not today. I’m just taking family photos.”

With that concern out of the way, I could fire away without my conscience hurting. I tried to stay out of her frame, all the same.

I have one of these at home

Mason Taylor 10-27-2014_3783Since I have a grandson back in Florida about Mason’s age, I enjoyed watching him charge through drifts of leaves that were almost as high as he was tall. From time to time, he’d stop to make sure he knew how to get back to the rest of the kids.

Chiggers on my mind

Kolton and Khole Dodd w Alexis Boyles 10-27-2014_3785You know how you can tell that you are old?

While I was watching Kolton, Alexis and Khole making leaf angels and covering each other in leaves, all I could think of was, “If I did that, I’d wake up in the morning as one huge chigger bite.

I’m sorry I ran out of time and energy before I had a chance to edit the video. I had to drop Wife Lila off in St. Louis on Tuesday, and I’m headed back up to the Gateway City on Thursday to pick up Curator Jessica for a brief MO to OH road trip. Maybe I’ll give it a second look when I get back to whatever my Zip Code is. I filled out a form the other day and couldn’t remember it.

Click on the photos to make them larger, but not so large you can spot the chiggers.

Marcescence or Not?

Allenville railroad bridge over Diversion Channel 02-12-2013I stumbled across an interesting leaf thing, then I stumbled across what might or might not explain it. I don’t dabble in plants. I have a very simplistic view of nature. I divide animals into two camps: ones that I can eat and ones that can eat me.

Even though Wife Lila has a fascinating gardening blog (worth checking out, I have to say), I divide the plant world into two camps, too: weeds and not weeds. How do you tell the difference? You chop ’em all down. The ones that grow back are weeds.

Leaves were stark white

Having said that, I stopped to take a picture of this bush / tree / weed along the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad tracks south of the Allenville Diversion Channel bridge. It was the only thing around that held onto its leaves and they were a stark white.

It just so happens that I saw a story that explained what might be going on here. It’s a long piece, so I’m going to send you directly to the Northern Woodlands site for the whole drink of water. Bottom line is that different trees shed their leaves differently.

First trees were evergreens

The first trees on the planet were evergreens, Northern Woodlands points out. They appear to be green all the time, but entire age classes of needles die, turn brown and drop off every year. “On the other end of the spectrum are deciduous trees [like the birch, maple, cherry and aspen], which seem to drop their leaves all at once after a pigment party every fall.” I like that phrase. I’m probably going to steal it one of these days.

The story continues, “But then we have a third class of tree in beech and oak that seems to represent a middle ground of sorts between evergreen and deciduous. Their leaves die, but many don’t fall when they die. Botanists call this retention of dead plant matter marcescence.”

It goes on to explain why there might be an ecological advantage to being the last guy on the block to go naked, but I started tuning out. If anybody knows what the white-leaved thing is, let me know.