Category Archives: Outdoor Activities

The Holly and the Maple

No, it’s not “The Holly and the Ivy,” but close enough. I noticed that the maple’s leaves got hung up on the holly tree below it, and the muse tickled the keyboard once again.

The maple sheds a coat that weaves

And floats towards the ground,

Hanging up on prickly leaves

Of holly all around.

 

The holly says, “I thank you, dear,

I’m shivering with cold.

When winter nights are chill and clear

Your leaves my warmth will hold.

 

And decorated, too, am I

Just like a Christmas tree.

My berries red will catch the eye

And all will look at me.

 

But you, dear maple, what of you?

Your scrawny arms are chill.

There’s nothing more that you can do.

So pray for you, I will.

 

Be steadfast through the winter gale,

Be tough as you can be,

Till new green leaves your arms regale

With pride and majesty.”

 

 

 

 

Redheads

“Yikes!” This guy was caught red-handed – well, maybe more like red-headed – vandalizing the maple tree. Just look at the holes he’s put into the bark! I guess they make great toeholds for him.

Who would think there is something inside that bark that makes it so enticing for him?

“Hold on,” he says. “I think I can hear something wiggling around in there.”

“Mmyeahhhh … worth having a poke around.”

“There he is! I can feel him in there. Tasty little morsel … if I can only get him out of there. I’ll follow it up with a slurp of syrup from the sap.”

“Yum! That was good, but what a lot of work for a snack. Gotta take a breather for a sec.”

“What’s that you say?” He’s shocked that I’ve questioned him. “Holes in the bark? So what? There’s tons of them. What’s one more?”

“But don’t you see that if you keep going around in a circle you’ll soon ring the tree?”

“So…?

“Well, the sap has to go up and down the tree to keep it alive.”

“But I’m a sapsucker. Duh! It’s what I do!”

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I held so still for her when I saw she had her camera.  But enough is enough.”

“I’ll pose for this one last picture and then I’m off. I can always come back later, when her arm gets tired, or her eyes hurt from squinting against the sun, or – hee hee – when her battery dies. All that zooming really eats batteries. 

Now. Where was I? Oh yes, continuing on this line of holes my buddies and I were working on last week.”

Mom’s Mums

These chrysanthemums haven’t had the benefit of any fertilizers for all of their life. I guess I should have paid more attention. But every time I looked at them, I felt a bit sad and walked away. Why?

Over 36 years ago, these mums were in a hanging basket in my mother’s back porch. In 1982, when she died, I brought the hanging basket home to my house. I didn’t expect them to come back the next year and bloom, and when they did, the feeling was always bittersweet.

I took more care the next winter to cover them with a patio chair or some kind of loose plastic to keep the worst of the cold off them. It didn’t occur to me to add fertilizer even after I repotted them when they got too big for the hanging basket.

Now, after blooming for the 36th time since they came to live with me, I have finally come to my senses and have decided to give them some fertilizer next spring.

I am grateful for this plant’s tribute to my mother each year, and have been shamed into taking better care of it. Do you think it’s too late for me to get it together?

What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!

 

Oh Deer, Deer.

Dear me, these mule deer are late for school. They are just down the hill from the school beyond the fence.

See them there, talking about whether it’s wise to skip school. The leader of the pack reminds them that this school has been closed since 1966, and the teacher is long gone.

But what to do about this fence. Who will go first to show how it’s done? Finally, one of them hops over and the rest follow, running until they are out of sight. They are already far away from me, but they’re taking no chances.

This white-tailed deer is a bit braver and as long as I didn’t try to get out of the truck it posed for a couple of pictures. You can see the line where I didn’t have the window lowered enough.

They’re only deer, whether mule deer or white-tailed deer, but I like to take a picture of them because they are such en”dear”ing animals. Maybe I watched too many Walt Disney movies, but I love seeing these gentle animals.

By the way, if there are any truck experts out there, I’d appreciate knowing the models and year of the trucks by the school.

I will be on the road for a few days, but will answer your comments when I am connected again.

Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”

Buck Knives

The Captain has had two Buck knives for many years. Both were his favourite,  the 110 Folding Hunter, a very popular model. The knives were well used and needed some repair. One had a broken spring and damaged blade, and the other had a broken blade tip.

On the way to Montana we stopped at Post Falls, Idaho, and visited the factory where they make Buck knives. While we did the tour of the factory, the man in charge of the warranty section repaired  the Captain’s two Buck knives.

This is the lobby of the building that houses the factory, a store, and a museum for the Buck knife business. That “chandelier” is made from elk antlers.

As we sat in the lobby’s soft leather chairs, waiting for the tour of the factory to begin, I noticed three flags flying outside the building; The US flag, the flag of the state of Idaho, and the flag for Buck Knives.

This company was started in 1902 by Hoyt Buck, and five generations later it is still thriving.

Here is a small sample of the Buck knives you can buy in their store.

Over time the packaging has changed. If you are lucky enough to own one of these quality knives, you may recall it coming in one of these boxes.  These are samples from over the years.

In the museum upstairs, they had a grinder that was probably used for sharpening blades many years ago. They have much more modern machines for doing that now.

Also in the museum, they had an old Rockwell machine that measured the hardness of the metal. If it did not measure up, the knife was sent back to be made again.

They don’t allow photos to be taken inside the factory, so I can’t show you the many machines and processes involved in turning a piece of metal into a knife, but like most factories, it was hot and noisy and very busy.

I was impressed though, that in spite of the many materials and types of work involved, the place was clean and organized, with safety being top priority. The workers all seemed to be in good spirits and were deservedly proud of their product.

The monument below reflects the loyalty of the workers in this tribute to one of the Buck family.

By the end of the tour, the warranty man had the knives repaired and looking like brand new. Here they are in the photo below.

And the cost of the repair? No charge. I would say that is excellent service.