Posts Tagged ‘spring’

A Spring Tail

April 5, 2022

How wonderful the blossoming of spring after a long cold winter! The sweet month of April has arrived, the crocus are blooming, and the summer birds are back to establish their breeding grounds. I spotted our first robin high in a May tree on March 13.

… chirping away as I retrieved the morning paper. I came back out and took a video so you can hear it too.

We have gray squirrels scampering across our back yard all winter long, see all those nests up there in those ancient trees behind our house?

A veritable scurry of squirrels. Okay, so I know squirrels are rodents, part of the scientific order Rodentia.

And they are certainly considered by many humans to be pests and a bit of a nuisance. They chew on things like telephone wires, electrocute themselves on transformers and knock out power lines. They scurry on your roof when you’re trying to sleep and might chew their way into your attic, but hey, they’re just looking for tree nuts and acorns and maybe a place to nest. You have inevitably flattened a squirrel while driving because they are a bit OCD about crossing the road, dang it, make up your mind which direction you’re going there, Mr. Squirrel! Darned if you’re going to slam on your automobile brakes to avoid running over a squirrel.

But I love watching the squirrels in our back yard. It’s a pretty sweet spot for them on account of we have an ever bearing flowering crab apple tree planted right in a center garden. The tree should bloom in the next few weeks, beautiful dark pink blossoms, the fruit comes late summer and hangs on the tree all winter. To feed the squirrels and birds. I love to watch them!

I captured a video of the squirrel from inside the house when our dog decided he was thirsty. A weird soundtrack. Don’t worry. The dog is not sloshing water from the dog dish onto your shoe and you really don’t have to let him out to chase the squirrel.

By mid March the bird feeders come out. What species will we attract? Small woodpeckers perhaps? The chickadees. Yellow warblers?

Squirrels. Let the bird feeder wars begin!

He’s on!

Yes, but I’ve got a solution. Watch this video for the big reveal:

Rabid squirrel-chaser dog. Okay, but I have to step up my game here. Feeder situation not tenable.

I head to my friend Rene’s house. She’s way ahead of me in all areas garden related. She has birds on her feeders. An Audubon book to identify them. Huge trees in her back yard, and at least three gray squirrels foraging around all the time. She thought she had outsmarted them hanging her bird feeder 12 feet down from a tree limb. We were standing at her back door enjoying her utopian garden landscape when suddenly a squirrel leaped from a limb onto the hook 3 feet above the feeder and dropped right down on the feeder. Easy peasy.

Stealthy little bugger!

A few days later Rene looked out her back door and there lying on the ground near the feeder was a tail. Just a tail.

Oh no! A tail without a squirrel attached to it? How did that happen? Is the squirrel dead and eaten? By a …. raccoon? No. Surely they are too slow for squirrels. A hawk? Did a large raptor swoop down and snatch the squirrel? No, would the tail be sitting here right by the back door, then? A cat? A wily quick snatch of its claws, torture and kill, the body eaten, save for the tail. (And a kidney. Is there a squirrel kidney splayed out on a neighbor’s back stoop dropped there as a trophy from the kill, compliments of the cat?)

I just can’t stop thinking about that tail. As it turns out, it isn’t that uncommon for squirrels to lose their tails. Not like lizards lose their tails, where they drop off and bounce on their own to confuse a predator and then the lizard just grows it back. Squirrels can get their tails caught in fences. A predator can rip it off, but once the tail is gone, it’s gone. But I just can’t imagine being a lowly rodent squirrel going forward in life without that bushy tail. A squirrel without a tail? Lowlier than a vole!

A disturbing spring tale.

Here’s a Google link with interesting facts about squirrels losing their tails, not surprising, on a “squirrels at the feeder’ site (you can find anything on the Internet)

Squirrels can live without their thick, bushy tails, albeit, at a higher risk for early death. Their fluffy appendage helps with balance, regulates body temperature, breaks their falls, and serves as a parachute in the air (yeah, we know). A squirrel’s tail is an important thermoregulatory device. Did you think about the tail providing a source of shade for the squirrel in warm weather? The squirrel can wrap its tail around itself in the winter to keep warm and use the tail to protect itself from rain. A squirrel can control blood flow to the tail – rushing blood to the tail to disperse body heat or reducing blood flow to the tail to conserve heat. During a fall, the hairs on the tail separate in order to catch as much air as possible. This slows the squirrel’s fall and provides time for the squirrel to orient its body to land safely. You know, verses falling to its death with a splat from a high tree limb with no tail or a rat tail.

I dunno. This is a dumb squirrel story. I did feel pretty sad thinking about that squirrel tail, obviously belonging to a squirrel, likely a dead squirrel. Rene has been watching out in her back yard for a tail-less squirrel. She hasn’t seen it yet. If alive, it’s likely hiding out somewhere, utterly devasted and depressed over losing its fine bushy appendage. Rene certainly won’t see it on the bird feeder.

Yeah, that thick bushy tail is a pretty dang fancy appendage, for any living thing to lose. Even if the living thing happens to be a medium-sized rodent foraging for tree nuts and acorns, and otherwise, a bit of a pest and, on most accounts, a general nuisance.

Picture taken of our flowering crab, May 7, 2017

Back to Boise!

April 21, 2010

It’s Sunday, April 18th. The day has arrived! Megan has had her casts on for six weeks and it’s time to get them off. We make the 275-mile drive back to Boise today! 6 AM tomorrow morning Megan will check in to St. Luke’s Hospital for surgery to remove the pin in her left foot. Then another cast goes on her left foot for 4 more weeks. The cast on her right foot comes off completely. She will be able to walk!

It’s noon now and we are loaded up, ready to go. Megan and Rudy are in the back. We have purchased a harness for Rudy and strapped him in next to Megan. Good dog!

Except he hates it. He tells us by whining, yipping, and howling through the first 45 minutes of our drive. We stand our ground. He must stay in the back, in his harness. After all, he’s a dog and we are his masters.

Until we relent and finally let him have his way. He knows where he belongs – on the console between the two front seats – to help drive. He spots dogs, squirrels, pedestrians, bicyclists and blowing leaves ahead and and lets us know by leaping across the car frantically yelping at them through the window as they pass. This is why we tether him now. He could sail like a missile across the interior of a car traveling at 80 mph, especially if we have to slow down suddenly. So we have tethered him at his post and yes, he is helping David drive.

We shoot to Boise across I-84, making it in four hours, and check into our motel. We enjoy a lovely dinner outside on the front patio of a restaurant in downtown Boise. Here is a picture of Megan at dinner:

The girl at the table behind her posed for the photo, too, because she knows what a special evening this is.

Megan took a picture of us sitting across from her:

… Big ‘D’ and me. Why does he look so much bigger than me?

After dinner we take a stroll downtown. The weather is exquisite with temperatures near 80 degrees. We pause at the fountain in the square –

And walk to the Capitol building a few blocks away:

Back at the motel I get the worst night’s sleep ever. The room is too hot (or were my hot flashes too hot?), the bed too soft, and all night I worry in the haze of my semi-sleep about having to be awake by five, to get her to the hospital by six.

But we pull it off. Here she is at 6:15 am, her usual cheerful self, waiting to be admitted:

She’s gone into surgery now. David and I grab the time to take a walk outside around the hospital. And discover this garden –

transplanted from Holland? Wow! Spring is sprung in Boise, Idaho! David checked out the aroma of this tree:

Does a cousin of the southern magnolia thrive here too?

Megan’s surgery went beautifully. Here she is in recovery, sleepy, but happy.

Who says hospital gowns don’t look sexy?

We check out of the Hospital by 11 AM and decide to grab lunch downtown.

A perfect pair, we are at lunch – Megan, sedated, and I, sleep-deprived. But we do enjoy lunch. Next, we return to the car to head for home. But wait! The dog! He’s been cooped up in the car most of today and will surely give us fits on the long drive home if he doesn’t get some exercise.

So last stop – Ann Morrison Park, home to a fabulous Frisbee golf course. Megan is not so enthusiastic about the Frisbee golfers, or the walk-

However, the exuberance she lacks has been tamped down but is now overflowing in Rudy.

… fetching the tennis ball. We walked about a quarter mile, while he ran a good two miles, retrieving that ball.

The flowering crab (?) trees are putting on a show as well:

Spring here is unfolding a good three to four weeks ahead of Idaho Falls, where winter can, more likely than not, turn to ‘sprinter’, with spring arriving so late you’re into summer by the time you even notice the trees.

Anyway, it was time now to head back to the car

through this beautiful park, savoring the sights, sounds, and smells of spring.

And hit the highway for our 4-hour trek home.

Megan and Rudy are in the back seat again, ready to go.

Yeah, like that’s gonna fly. How long do you think Rudy will last tethered to the back seat?

It lasted about three blocks.

He’s gotta help David drive.

Do you wanna hear about our trek home?

Hyatulips, Crocuses and Dog Turds

April 6, 2009

Ah, spring is here! Out with the snow shovels (one can hope) and in with the … well, mess in the yard and on the back deck behind the southwest end of the house, I found out today. I’ve been glancing out our kitchen window all weekend watching the 5-inch snowfall from two days ago melt away. I ventured out this afternoon in our sunny, bright, best-spring-we-can-hope-for-whopping-47-degree weather, intent on investigating a mystery – which, let’s call it, “The mystery of the Caraher family’s indubitably invisible crocuses” Yeah … I planted the crocus bulbs last fall, so where are the bloomin’ (not) things now? How else are we supposed to know it’s spring around here with our 5-inch April snow falls and such?

My neighbor across the street, the ‘two-green-thumbed-dynamo,’ pretty much has the spring signal thing covered with her fluffy cloistered bunches of yellow crocuses singing out spring!!! beyond her front bushes. And that’s nice. Except they have been blooming for three weeks and are waning now, which might indicate that my crocuses, still invisible, are a hopeless cause, at least for this year. I’m not going to have a crisis over it, though. I figure I either (a) planted the bulbs too deep or (b) planted the bulbs too shallow or (c) didn’t water the bulbs enough when I planted them or (d) watered the bulbs too much when I planted them or (e) maybe got bad bulbs or (f) maybe they’ll come up next year or (g) maybe they aren’t crocuses.

So there I was in the back yard, checking things out, soaking up the sunshine with my pasty bare arms. Oh! The tulips I planted last fall with the invisible crocuses are up! So are the, um, hyacinths, the ones I added last fall to the bed which already had tulips – except I didn’t know where the tulips were when I planted the hyacinths, but I do know now, since I see several tulips and hyacinths are coming up as … Siamese twins, co-joined at the bulb. “Hyatulips” is what I have! Wait a minute. That won’t do! So I carefully dug … uh, rip-rooted … up a few hyacinths and transplanted them to more pleasing locations. And now I will gather my “Experimental Data From Transplanted Hyacinths With Root Lobotomies.” The poor things. Oh well. Teach them to end up in my garden!

Then I decided to turn my attention to removing the ‘quack’ or ‘crab’ grass (so named for what it turns the person into, trying to pull it out?) taking over the same center back garden that houses the tulips and invisible crocuses. I squatted over one clump of crab grass about the size of a small muffin, tore at it with both hands, twisted and pulled at it, digging my feet in and … fell backwards empty handed. Okay! So I need a hoe!

I arose from my haunches to fetch the hoe, and on my third stride toward the tools, I stepped in a dog turd. Glancing across the back yard I could see, of course, scores of turds – little prizes the dog had deposited in the snow all through the winter months, which were now laid bare and grounded by the thaw. Another sure sign of spring. All right! I’m not gonna collect dog shit all over my shoes. I charged into the house and back out again, donned for battle with rubber gloves and a plastic bag. I began plucking wet turds out of the grass and flinging them into the bag like a one-armed turd-flinging maniac. The turds settled in a deadened heap in the bottom of the bag, and a thick dog turd scent wafted up and filled my nostrils …”Ahhhhh!” After clearing the turds, I returned to the task of locating the hoe.

The hoe, of course, was stacked among 10 other rusty long-handled lawn tools in a corner on the back deck on southwest end of the house, buried behind the mower, wheelbarrow, two bikes, six wrought iron deck chairs and three tables, the grass catcher, the lawn spreader, a large bag of charcoal, and two twenty-pound bags of garden soil, that had all been stored there for the winter.

I looked at that mess, turned, and hot-footed it towards the garage, thinking that’s where I might find the ‘Roundup.’ I did want to get rid of that crabgrass before it took over the whole garden. You know, in case the crocuses do come up.