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Veeries and Rhubarb

Sunday, March 18, 2012

One of our new favorite destinations in North Dakota is the area up near Devil's Lake. Devil's Lake itself has a refuge where you can drive through and see bison lolling in the grass.

The babeh bison are a nice color of orange.

and very sweet.

We saw a light pole in someone's farmyard. They must do a bit of hunting...those are all whitetail antlers. Yow.

and we walked up our favorite road, which is our favorite because it is heavily wooded and you can see things like redstarts and vireos and thrushes and tanagers there. Those are hard birds to get on the prairie!

It was like walking out of North Dakota and into Pennsylvania. So we've learned over the past two years that if we want a nice fat Big Day list, we must hit this one magic road near Devil's Lake.

And on that road there is an abandoned farmstead

with a not-so-very-old house, which is unusual in itself

and just across the road from there is an overgrown place where once upon a time there might have been a garden

and growing in that garden was a beautiful plant in full bloom that looked to me to belong to the dock family (Polygonaceae) and it hit me that this must be rhubarb abloom.

And at the same time we heard a veery sing deep in the woods and Ann Hoffert had never seen a veery so Bill whipped out his iPhone and called that bird right in.

So not only did we have its breezy song sending shivers up our spines; we had the Real Bird Right There for Ann to See.

Which was wonderful. But the Horticulture Chimp was beginning to hyperventilate, because that blooming rhubarb had obviously done it before and dropped a few seeds. There were baby plants at its base. And though the stems were not yet red, there was something very familiar about their leaves. The Horticulture Chimp dropped to her knees. "Ann, is this rhubarb??" She bent over, looked. "Yes, I believe it is."

Well, it wasn't long before the Chimp had a pointed stick and had begun digging doggedly around the root of the giant rhubarb plant, and it became clear that the babies were actually root propagules, which made digging them out that much more interesting and effortful, a little dirtier.

But the HortChimp always gets her plant.

                                                                                        photo by Bill Thompson III

Two, in fact, which she dampened down with water from a bottle, wrapped in plastic bags, and stuffed in her boots for the long flight home to Ohio. Because she had always, always wanted rhubarb in the garden, and North Dakota rhubarb from right under a singing veery would be ever so much more special.

But it gets better...


Hmmm, so that bird app really works, I hope there's an Android version.

I like your binoculars strap/harness thingy, where can I get one?

You'll find the Bino Harness here. I believe my little screech owl is embossed on it, too! The only way to carry heavy binoculars. You won't even know you have them on.

Very nice, looks like a beautiful walk.
I'll be waiting for the subsequent Rhubarb pie recipe then in a couple weeks.

A dish of stewed rhubarb over vanilla ice cream sounds just yummy at the moment!

When I grow up I shall move to an abandoned farmstead. Just me, the dogs and my baby bison.

In the meantime, you've totally made me crave a strawberry & rhubarb cobbler. Oh, and if you happen to want mallow -- lots and lots of ugly mallow from under [looks out window] a dozen Band-tailed Pigeons -- I'll be happy to send you all I've got!

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