Saturday, June 17, 2017

Summer's pre-solstice #phenology

The day after we posted about the deer in the tall grass by the road, the township mowed both sides of our road. I'm sure it was strictly coincidence, since we saw the deer next to a county road. I mention it here because the sidearm(?) mower deck on the township's tractor has a cutting width of about 4 feet. That would require 2 passes on each side of the road to reach an 8 foot width and I just don't see that happening, given township budgets and manpower and need to grade gravel roads, etc.

freshly mown roadside ditch
freshly mown roadside ditch
Photo by J. Harrington

Once we finished supervising the roadside mowing, we gave a once-over look at the area behind the house from which we're planning to pull a bunch of buckthorn. In that process, we noticed lots of poison ivy growing around the open areas at the edge of the woodsy patch where the buckthorn is the undergrowth. The ivy got sprayed. We'll allow a few days for the spray to take effect and hope to start pulling buckthorn around mid-week. If the weather cooperates, we'll torch the current brush pile to celebrate Solstice with a "bonfire" and start a fresh pile with buckthorn after the ashes and embers have cooled. That should leave us set for an Autumnal Equinox celebration in a few months. We won't pull and torch the poison ivy, since I've read that the smoke can carry the oils that cause the itching. I'm not sure what we'll do with the dead ivy, maybe let it rot in place? Once the buckthorn's pulled, we should be able to mow around the tree trunks and aboid the groundcover we want to spread. At least that's the current fantasy.

prairie phlox?
prairie phlox?
Photo by J. Harrington

One sign of hope and encouragement is that, while spraying the ivy, I noticed what looks like it might be prairie phlox. We'll be very careful as we work around it and hope that it spreads when we eliminate the buckthorn and ivy competition. If we get really lucky, in the process we'll rediscover the PVC pipe that extended our old garage downspout to near the bottom of the back yard slope. Then we can connect the new downspout without having to dig a new trench, near the bottom of which we would, no doubt, discover the existing buried pipe. After years of benign neglect, we'll start to reclaim and restore at least parts of the property nearest the living area. Infrastructure isn't the only thing that needs pretty constant maintenance.

On the Grasshopper and Cricket


By John Keats


The Poetry of earth is never dead:    
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,    
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run    
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;    
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead      
  In summer luxury,—he has never done    
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun    
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.    
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:    
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost     
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills    
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,    
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,    
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

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