The Wrong Acorns

[or, “How are Acorns Like Pizza?”]

On the sidewalk was a mystery. The evidence? The wrong acorns.

Neighborhood Black oaks are raining acorns onto the sidewalk. Normal, right? But each acorn has been bitten by a squirrel—just a mouthful taken from the top—and then discarded. For years I’ve wondered at this: not just at the extravagance of the waste, but at the species of acorn. It was the wrong one.

Continue reading “The Wrong Acorns”

Lunch guest

[kitchen table show ‘n’ tell]

Today during Lovingly Prepared Lunch #168 (in the Age of Coronavirus), a chubby caterpillar was discovered crawling up my kid’s T-shirt.

And my kid, who discovered it (“What is THAT?”) then suggested I clear the table *before* the next Lovingly Prepared Lunch.

At every meal, I scoot acorns and plants and whatnot out of the way, to make room for Blue Willow china, so I figured we were okay supping among seasonal treasures. But we all have our limits. His limit was a larva during Baked tofu.

Continue reading “Lunch guest”

Backyard Bats

Image 6-15-20 at 5.11 PM
photo from @Stonecrop.Review on Instagram, link below

I’ve got a short piece about backyard bats in the “Sky” issue of Stonecrop Review: “a journal of urban nature writing, art & photography.” The essay is called “Same Bat Time.”

And dayeinu—this would have been enough—but Holly McKelvy, one of the editors, made artwork for my essay and matched the tone perfectly perfect. Continue reading “Backyard Bats”

Carpenter bee board

Google “Carpenter bees,” and the Internet will assume you forgot to type “how to kill.” It will provide endless hits on endless ways to poison, trap, starve, drown, squish, and otherwise kill Carpenter bees.

Confession: I’ve tried them all.

That was BEFORE naturalist training, and before years of looking around at the goings-on in my own yard. Continue reading “Carpenter bee board”

Eat the Exotics: vine honeysuckle

There were mean dogs near the vine honeysuckle, so I grabbed an order To-Go.

Honeysuckle vine is invasive. It’s an undisputed thug. It forms dense canopies that smother, shade, strangle, and poison our native habitat. It’s a top-tier offender at local Weed Wrangles.

I love it.

I love the scent. Especially at dusk when cool air trickles through the yard and floats the fragrance with it.
I love the taste. To pull a bloom and lick the nectar is to lick the spring. Continue reading “Eat the Exotics: vine honeysuckle”

Fleabane focus

My friend Taunia forwarded a question from her local listserve. It was a native plant question, so of course I dropped everything to answer right that minute. Laundry could wait. As could paperwork and four-lined plant bugs and the oodles of other Shelter-in-Place tasks that had already broken me for the day. What a relief to sit for a few moments and to focus, quietly, on . . . fleabane. Continue reading “Fleabane focus”

Accidental Crossvine

This is what can happen when we don’t trim the holy crap out of every edge in the yard. I let this native crossvine volunteer up a wall and now LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY.

Of course, ugly things can happen when you never trim at all, but right now I have BEAUTY and I’m looking at it.  Continue reading “Accidental Crossvine”

Stay at Home Nature: Pokeweed

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Happy to see American Pokeweed poking up in the yard today.

Most years, it’s too much work to process for safe eating, so I let the pokeweed grow.
This time—this particular spring—the thought of boiling *toxic* yard greens three successive times in clean water is no big whoop.

I mean,
just this morning I ground my own flour to make pancakes;
I made broth from scraps;
I planted butts of celery, cabbage, and carrots;
I made new pickles with old pickle juice,
and I made a mask out of a yarmulke (because the mask-from-a-bra idea didn’t work).  Continue reading “Stay at Home Nature: Pokeweed”