€œLook, here’s Fezzika, € my mother said, bending down to point out the Woodhouse toad tucked under the garden stone. We had discovered the amphibian’s house a few days earlier, and I was fascinated by the placement choice. She had dug into the soil under a cornerstone edging the flowerbed beside the main path through the garden. The stone is flat, shaped a little like a boomerang, wide and bent in the middle, providing a convenient entrance and shelter. Continue reading “WIZ Kids: Our Very Own Toad Hall by Val K.”
About a week ago, I finally finished planting my garden. I ran late (as usual) setting out some seedlings and all three attempts to start my typical heirloom tomato lineup from seed ran afoul of greens-craving kittens and rough winds. So I bought hothouse starts, which as of this date are doing well, except for two Romas suffering attacks from tomato hornworms. Last year, European paper wasps kept my tomatoes hornworm-free, but the harsh, snowbound winter appears to have killed off a lot of the fertilized queens. I’m very sorry to say we haven’t anywhere near the European paper wasp population that we had last year. The garden will no doubt suffer on account of this deficiency of wasps. Continue reading “Le Jardin 2010”
Late this past winter, my son decided to build a bat box for our summer bat visitors to nest in. Bats, of course, are migratory creatures, flying south in late autumn for warmer climes in the tradition of many species of birds. A few articles I’ve read lately assert that, given the extent and effects of global warming, some birds are electing to €œstay home € rather than migrate. I don’t know if the same might happen with bats. I suppose it could.
Anyway, my husband insisted that, rather than buying materials to build the box, my son act according to tradition himself and scavenge what he needed from around the house and yard €”you know, like my husband did when he was a youngster making stuff. Continue reading “Na-na na-na na-na na-na-NAH! Batbox!”
During fall of 2008, I was perusing a field guide of medicinal plants when a picture caught my eye. It was a small yellow leaf, round and stalked, with hairs rising from the top. On each hair was a small drop of glue. Continue reading “Guest post: Little windowsill of horrors, by Val”
A little over four and a half years ago my family moved from Payson City in Utah County to a new home at the desert’s edge in San Juan County, Utah. Living on the Colorado Plateau has been something of a dream come true. Besides reintroducing me to a more natural (for me) environment, living here helps me cope with the pressures of caring for a high maintenance, special needs child. Even on days when I can’t leave the yard I can walk out on the rickety second-story porch and see the trunk of a rainbow standing only a few hundred feet away or take in the silky ripple of cloud shadow and sunshine across the pinyon-juniper forest stretching miles to the south. Thunderstorms in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and southeast Utah ring and electrify our kiva-roof sky. At night, a very good view of the Milky Way’s spiraling embrace and the ceaseless anthesis and waning of moonlight keep imagination astir nearly until the moment I fall asleep. Continue reading “What’s really wild”
Last Friday night my son dug two of the last three holes needed to set our remaining fruit tree starts. We didn’t manage to plant any of them that night because he and my daughter needed to gather their things together for the early start they faced the next morning. They were to travel to Moab to take tests for advancement in their Shorinji Kempo classes, and I had to get them to the local Chevron at 7:30 a.m. sharp so they could carpool with the rest of their group.
That morning, after dealing with the €œgotcha € moment of my key breaking off in the car’s ignition at the Chevron, I arrived home to attend to the trees. Planting trees by yourself is a bit tricky, especially with the hammerhead winds we had Saturday (again!) but not impossible. The kids wouldn’t be back till mid-afternoon. I didn’t want to make the trees wait another minute for return to more natural circumstances, especially since the stock was bare root. Continue reading “Coming out of torpor”
by J. Max Wilson
East of the cemented waste, the aspen stood, a sapling still,
And there a few aphidian peasants leeched their lives from phloem’s rill.
They lapped the aspen’s sweetest sap; rapt in bohemian blissmare, blind €”
And sapped the sapling of its health (though still it prospered of a kind).
Then came the Bishop Barnaby and Stinkfly Deacon forth to feed,
And sanguinary sermons spoke with lurid liturgy and creed.
And so, by priestcraft’s gory glut, their doctrine inadvertently
Restored the tree to verdant form, though only temporarily.
Then from across the crackÃ¨d desert came the Piss’myre army, strong €”
The €˜nighted nibelungian host marched one-by-one as €˜counts the song.
And up the sapling, up they marched (still one-by-one-by-one) until
With formic might the pissant host subdued the lesser peasants’ will.
The dreaded deacons then received the doctrine they themselves had taught.
The bloody bishops banished were, to starve to death for all they wot.
And in their place the Piss’myre lords set up a new society;
A kingdom grand, a great machine of order and efficiency:
€œDivide, assign, to each allot a place, a part, a role to play;
To each his branch, his twig, his leaf, an overseer to obey.
Revoke their freedom every whit, yet to their vice impose no let:
To cultivate and harvest more their sweet, mellif’rous excrement. €
And gladly, gladly did submit the chattel to their slavery,
Contented only to be free to wallow in debauchery.
So nurtured by their overlords the lech’rous population waxed,
And €˜neath the load of sponsored sin the aspen sapling’s blood was taxed.
Through sun-scorched day and dark new moon, the kingdom throve thus for a spell,
And still the tree, all wan the leaves, drew strength from root’s deep, clonal well.
€˜Till on a night an august storm with thund’rous wind €˜rose from the west;
The trees all danced €˜fore God’s great breath; from each its wrath obeisance wrest’.
The scent of dawn hung o’re the earth, while sun’s ascent revoked the night,
And lo, what new apocalypse dispensed now was by mourning light?
The jagged edge of xylem cracked; the leaves pressed wet against the ground;
Behold! The Kingdom down is cast! It’s unseen canker now is found!
There! bored by pissants through the pith, an hidden tunnel had been wrought
Up through the trunk, through which the yield of sin-crop might be swiftly brought!
And compromisÃ¨d thus the constitution of the sapling’s core,
The aspen could not then endure the storm and tribulation sore.
To ev’ry kingdom, vast or microscopic, certain laws are laid,
And exhortations, prophesies, and types and shadows in them played.
And so a warning sign is raised to kingdoms great and persons small:
Beware the taste of honeydew, lest thou like Piss’myre also fall.
For helpful notes on this poem’s content, go here.
J. Max Wilson’s personal blog, Sixteen Small Stones, may be found here.