wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Trees

After showing you so many burnt trees in a recent post, I thought I should show the positive side of things too.

Driving past these trees, a blur of yellow and a smattering of snow in the firs reminded me that autumn was nearly finished. It was just a matter of days before the poplar (?) leaves came down.

In the higher elevations, wind, weather, and possibly some road work crew meant the dormancy or death of some trees.

Trees [5]

Trees [1]

Some of the white-barked trees were clinging to the last leaves. Birch, poplars, aspen? I’m not sure, but these are all trees with whitish bark.

Trees [4]

Back in Montana, this stand of trees reminded me of when I’ve spilled the pack of lettuce seeds and a whole clump of them grew in a bunch, crowding each other so none can do well. It also looks like a football team in a huddle.

Trees [6]

The horses don’t mind it. The thick stand of trees probably acts as a good windbreak.

Trees [7]

In southern BC, along the Hope-Princeton Highway, a tree has taken the shape of a bear – a grizzly by the look of his dished skull and the hump on his back. I believe the park was closed when we drove by (in October), but it would be a wonderful place to hike (if you aren’t afraid of bears … which I am).

Manning Park

 


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Mr. Lonely Pine

On our recent trip to Montana we saw nature at its fiercest; from fog to blizzards, rain and snow, to evidence of raging wildfires.

This region of eastern Washington is normally fairly dry, but a recent fire made it even drier. It may have been last year or longer ago that the fire went through here because the grass has had a chance to grow back.

A lucky few trees were left untouched by the fire. The rest were probably torches until their fuel burnt out.

Here is Mr. Lonely Pine, wondering where his friends have gone. Why, and how, was he spared?

What will happen to these acres of charred logs? It must take many years for them to fulfil the “ashes to ashes” ritual.

And someday the forest will regenerate and once again host insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, and small mammals (and a few big ones like these cattle).

But see how dry and long the grass is. The highway passes close by here. Be aware if you’re a smoker, and don’t toss out your cigarette butt, no matter how sure you are that it’s out.

 

They’ve named me Mr. Lonely Pine

And they are not so wrong,

I pine away and sometimes whine

If wind blows all day long.

 

I’m one of few surviving trees

Untouched by raging fire,

You should have seen it when the breeze

Whipped flames up even higher.

 

I stood in terror, trembling,

Of course I could not run,

So I began dissembling,

And twiddling my thumbs.

 

I squeezed my eyes shut, every branch

Was shivering in fright,

Next thing I knew, upon the ranch

The blaze burnt out that night.

 

And still alive I praised the gods

That spared me yet a while,

I wondered how I’d beat the odds,

I couldn’t help but smile.

 

I whispered like a pine must do

To coax the baby trees,

And soon they sprouted and they grew,

And now they’ve reached my knees.

 

I’m not so lonely anymore

These young ones chat with me,

And contrary to old folklore,

I talk, though I’m a tree.

 

I want to warn you if you drive,

A cigarette can kill,

To throw it out while it’s alive

Can burn the whole dang hill.

 

So let’s all take a bit of care

Bad endings you have seen,

If you are handling fire, beware

To keep our forests green.

 


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Winter’s Frosty Breath

It’s only October, but this farm scene would make a perfect Christmas card.

The shrubs in the distance have a frosting on them that is making the little ground squirrels living under them shiver.

Here is plenty of fuel to keep someone warm – someone far away, wherever this train is going.

The clumps of sagebrush and other grasses have been coated by winter’s frosty breath, giving them a designer look.

Did you ever mix up powdered laundry soap and water with an egg-beater and then dab the “snow” you made onto your Christmas tree? Then the decorations would be hung once the soapy snow had dried. These trees reminded me of doing that as a child. (I apologize for mentioning Christmas so early.)

The wintery air brings out the elves

They wait for dark or fog

So they can better hide themselves

Behind a nearby log.

The head elf orders laundry soap

The powdered kind is best

They spit in it and then they hope

That this will pass the test.

The soapy snow must be so thick

That it won’t dribble down

It must be right so it will stick

And give the tree its gown.

With sagey brush, like tiny brooms

They paint each branch with snow

The night is short, a new day looms

And all the elves must go.

If I’d been passing by last night

I’m sure I would have seen

But I’d have given them a fright

And I can’t be that mean.

And so I’ll just admire their trees

That look so pure and white

The elves are happy when they please

And know they’ve done it right.


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The Maple Leaf is not “Forever”

I went to the wharf to make sure the boat had weathered the weather. It is tougher than I am, withstanding the first system of wind and rain that marks the end of this summer.

On the way home I took a small detour to dash out onto the beach for a photo. After many wipes of the lens I got a couple of wettish pics to show what kind of day it is.

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Thoroughly dampened, I drove home, but couldn’t resist taking a picture of this very old house on the way. Too bad the upper windows and the skylight are a modern style. They don’t quite go with the rockwork, but it’s still a unique house. Not just the huge chimneys, but even the walls are made of rock.

As I pulled into my own driveway a few minutes later, I saw a pretty, bittersweet sight — a maple leaf landed on my car, marking the end of summer and proving once again that, contrary to the old Canadian motto, the maple leaf is not forever.

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But it will come again in the spring.


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The Beastie

The little yellow-green plums are ripe, and many have fallen to the ground.

I sit in my lawn chair, keeping the dogs company, but they want more. They want me to throw a glove to retrieve; anything to get my attention.

I’m too hot and tired to comply, so Emma goes over to eat a plum.

She looks over at me. “So aren’t you going to stop me?”

I’m too tired or lazy to care.

She runs to get another plum and takes it across the yard to be sure I notice her.

“Aren’t you going to stop me? I’m eating your plums….”

I just don’t care.

Emma repeats this attention-getting plum eating thing, and I lazily count how many times she runs back and forth from the tree to the “grassy eating place.”

At FOURTEEN plums, I think I’d better haul myself out of the lawn chair before she has an accident. I imagine her little belly full of pits. I’ve checked on this before, and they do pass right through. But FOURTEEN of them? And she’s a small dog.

I walk around the yard telling deaf old Ruby the springer spaniel to please hurry up and pee so we can go in. Emma has no interest in doing anything. She’s taken off into the shrubbery around the backyard.

It’s starting to get dusky. Time to go in.  Ruby is already at the door, but where is Emma?

I call her.

No Emma.

I call again.

No Emma.

I wonder if she has slipped out through the gate somehow, but she’s really too big for that.

I imagine her lying in the bushes writhing with gut pain from eating too many plums.

Finally she appears, but she’s not running to me. I have to call her over. She has her head down and comes reluctantly.

Then I see a feather in her mouth – or wait – no, it’s a tail. OMG! Does she have a rat in her mouth? No. Too small. A mouse then? Or is it a baby rat? I have mixed feelings. If it’s a rat, kill it (and I don’t want to touch it – actually I don’t want her to eat it either). If it’s a mouse, please let the poor thing go.

But she has her jaws clamped shut. Just the tail of the poor little creature is hanging down the side of her jaws like half of a Fu Manchu moustache.

I want her to give it up, but do I want this (possibly) rat in my hand?

Gingerly, I take hold of the tail and say the magic words that make her give up whatever is in her mouth. (It’s not, “Drop it,” or “Dead bird,” or “GIVE-IT-TO-ME-RIGHT-NOW!”) I have to be polite, and say, the way I’ve taught her, “Thank you!”

She opens her mouth and I pull out a

“Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!” (Thank you, Robbie Burns.)

The poor thing is a bit wet and scruffy, but still able to run, if only it knew which way to go. I hold back the Hound of the Baskervilles and give the poor wee beastie time to escape.

 

 

Then we come inside where Emma tells me she’s eaten too many plums and didn’t have room for a mouse anyway, and that, by the way, she’ll be getting me out of bed at 12:30 in the morning to go out the dark and deal with the plums once they’ve done their work.

 

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Lincoln Returns

You may remember Linc, the delinquent.  Well, do y’all know now where “de Linc went”? He went up a fir tree in my yard.

“Nyah, na-na-nah-na,” he called down to me.  But then he thought he’d better get up a little higher, just to be on the safe side.

 

He turned just once more, and I think he was about to stick his tongue out at me, but I reminded him of his manners. He really is such a “delinquent.”

I hope he’s found a safe place to sleep tonight.

I love it when he comes to visit, but I wonder where he sleeps at night. I hope he keeps out of trouble at least until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….

Lincoln is a little squirrel

With a tail that has a curl,

When he visits I am glad

Even though he’s often bad.

 

Up and down the tree he’ll run,

So intent on having fun,

Wish he’d let me cuddle him,

But he says that is a sin.

 

“I don’t trust you,” he tells me,

“Safer if you let me be.”

So when he is on a limb, 

“Smile,” I say, and then, “Got him!”

 

 

 


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A Little Surprise

I’ve done a post about the leylandis before but now we have a new development.

Back in April, we decided it was time to take out the two leylandis that had grown way bigger than anticipated. They were infringing on everything around them. The walnut tree on the left of the photo was leaning farther and farther towards the sun and losing branches on the shady side where the leylandis crowded them out.

Here the leylandis are cut down and you can see that the walnut looks like half a tree.

Now in full foliage, it is beginning to look better, but it is still leaning away from the place where the leylandis were.

On the other side of the leylandis, right near the walnut, are two big fir trees that also suffered from a lack of light, being crowded out by the leylandis.  See all the dead branches?

Here is the stump of one of the leylandis, with a round of wood sitting on it.  Beside it is a small sunflower that has grown there without the benefit of much water or care. I only discovered it a couple of days ago.

What’s it doing there?! I didn’t plant it. I suspect that a nuthatch or chickadee brought a sunflower seed from the birdfeeder on the other side of the yard, and wedged the seed into the leylandi bark to hold it fast while it picked at it to open the shell. The seed must have fallen and over time, become covered with soil.

A splash of rain and few rays of sun, and  a new sunflower sprouted. Since I didn’t know it was there, it didn’t get as big as it would have, if I had watered it and put some good soil on it, but even so, I was happy to see how much it had managed to grow.

I feel like a plant detective, trying to figure out why the sunflower grew there. Did a bird inadvertently plant it, or was it maybe dropped by Lincoln the squirrel? It would be interesting to know the real answer.