Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eve of the Ides report #phenology

Happy Pi Day! It's also the Eve of the Ides of March, a day when, once again, South-facing, sunny slopes are mostly snow free, even though the temperature's only in the mid-twenties. The local pond was partly open water exactly two years ago, and is entirely covered with ice and snow today. Oak and maple buds are swelling slowly, but I've not yet noticed any signs of bud burst. I suspect Spring transition activity will resume, and maybe pick up its pace, with the return of warmer weather, forecast for late this week into the weekend.

open water, March 14, 2014
open water, March 14, 2014
Photo by J. Harrington

From time to time you may have read in these postings fusses and fumes, rants and raves, about the #*@%! pocket gophers and the damage they've done by eating the roots of most of the fruit trees we've planted over the years. As the recent snow fall was just beginning, it highlighted the gopher mounds left as they excavate their underground tunnels. Lord, do I wish there were more bullsnakes living around here. Maybe this year, as they come out of hibernation (brumation) a few more will decide to stick around and help thin out the pocket gopher population here.

a fieldful of pocket gopher mounds
a fieldful of pocket gopher mounds
Photo by J. Harrington

As a fallback, come warmer weather and thawed ground, I'll probably once again drive myself to frustration with unsuccessful attempts to trap the critters making all those dots. I've tried it in the past and rarely am I able to set the traps in an active tunnel. Hence the wish for more reptilian predators of pocket gophers. I've read enough Zen over the years to try to take a live and let live approach. Then a mouse will make a nest in the pocket of one of my favorite cardigans, and out come the mouse traps. Gopher mounds make cutting grass difficult to impossible (the phrase mowing lawn doesn't really fit much of our property). The mounds can be raked or harrowed level, but that's more reasonably accomplished if there are many fewer mounds, which requires fewer gophers.

Carrying The Snake To The Garden


In the cellar
was the smallest snake
I have ever seen.
It coiled itself
in a corner
and watched me
with eyes
like two little stars
set into coal,
and a tail
that quivered.
One step
of my foot
and it fled
like a running shoelace,
but a scoop of the wrist
and I had it
in my hand.
I was sorry
for the fear,
so I hurried
upstairs and out the kitchen door
to the warm grass
and the sunlight
and the garden.
It turned and turned
in my hand
but when I put it down
it didn't move.
I thought
it was going to flow
up my leg
and into my pocket.
I thought, for a moment,
as it lifted it's face,
it was going to sing.

And then it was gone.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.