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Gratitude and Goodbyes

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


You will remember, in the last post, that I turned up a box turtle nest when I was weeding  Bill's grave. I could not have been more dumbfounded to uncover those perfect leathern eggs in the loamy clay, just behind his head (he wanted to face East, to see the sun rise). Or more delighted (although there was a certain shiver to my spine, to think how close I'd come to driving my spade through them).

It felt like a gift from Bill. A little precious thank-you for the gravetending for him and his parents, which takes time and gasoline, shovels and tractors and effort, and not just one-time effort. For good, or as long as I can do it. It's not trivial.

 I am writing this up in the tower room so I can watch the sun rise. It is a doozy of a sunrise. I can hear rubythroats chittering, cardinals chipping, a brown thrasher skidding** and smacking, a catbird whucking, and a distant crow hollering. Now a peewee, now a blue-winged warbler with its dry chickering trill. A yellow-billed cuckoo whoops softly. A hooded warbler gives a melodic chip.  The oranges and salmons just get more and more intense and this morning I feel like the luckiest person alive. I get to sit up in this tower, listen to the birds wake up, watch the sunrise, and write a little. My daughter's asleep in her bed below for one more blessed morning.

 Today we start our journeys: she back to the Canary Islands to teach and hike and cook and  love and figure out what the next few years of her life might look like; me to Colorado with my best friend Shila to launch Saving Jemima at the Yampa Valley Crane Festival in Steamboat Springs. I'll give a talk that, if I do it right, no one is gonna dream took me months to put together. First, to mow the lawn, haul a 5-gallon jug of water out to the new tree, take Curtis to the kennel for the first time (I'm trying to be as chill as he probably will be about that). Anyway, lucky.

He was cool enough about the kennel to eat his dunner in the office while we waited for his placement. Do I love leaving him at a kennel, even a fabulous one? Nope.  I'm looking for someone in the Marietta, Ohio area who a. doesn't travel all the time like me
b. doesn't have cats or, preferably, other dogs and c. would love Curtis' companionship while I flak my new book all over the place. Curtis came to me with a zero-tolerance policy on cats, and there's no changing that.

Now, back to our story. We've just planted the Memorial Maple and are sending Liam off. 
I had to hurry back to the house as soon as we got the tree watered in,
because Liam was taking off in a few minutes for Morgantown, to start another school year at WVU.

Liam's pretty used to saying goodbye to me and Phoebe. I'd be lying if I said he's gotten used to saying goodbye to Curtis. There's something about a dog that lets your love come flowing out, unfettered. It's a simple, uncomplicated, but very deep love. It has to do with the satiny feel and warm popcorn smell of a dog, too, and in that it's quite primitive and all the more piercing.


When Liam thought this was the last kiss he'd go in for just one more. Gosh he looks like my brother here.

This is one sweet, sweet cur-dog.
And one sweet, sweet young man.

Funny thing about Curtis. He didn't quite get this kissing thing when he first came to us in February. It was a rare, rare thing to see that pink tongue come out. He always looked a little puzzled when we'd land a smooch on his muzzle. We figure it wasn't part of his upbringing with his first family. Now? It's like Chet Baker has been tiptoeing in and giving him kissing lessons at night. He's shameless. He responds to, "Give me a kiss!" with a sweet smackeroo. Good dog, Curtis! Curs go where they're needed, and we need a lot of kisses around here.

One of Phoebe's 700 good-bye kisses to the sweetest curdoggie.  

Phoebe drove Liam into town to meet his cousin Gus. They'd drive to Morgantown together. Grateful, once again, not to make that three-hour trek, grateful that Liam and Gus have each other as they face all the challenges of life and college. I kissed them goodbye and looked around the front gardens.

This is the time of year the Achimenes stands up to be counted. Some little bits of rhizome snuck into the soil I used to pot my bargain gardenia last fall, and oh!! look at them now!

I'm getting photos from all kinds of people to whom I've given Achimenes rhizomes. So delightful! You put up with a straggly bunch of plants for what seems like forever, until they do THIS in mid-August. I wish I knew on what mysterious timer these plants run; why they wait and wait and wait to bloom, but they do.  Honestly I think they need shorter days to trigger blooming. I used to think they needed heat, so I tried that, growing them in the tower room well into June, baking them in hope of buds. Nope. They are worth every month of waiting.

I turned to the golden raspberries Connie Toops gave me years ago and did a little shirt picking. What a gift! They had a big first crop in June, and then the coons found them and busted down most of the canes. The raspberries sent up more canes and we are keeping them as closely picked as we can, every day, and I get to put THIS in my yogurt every morning!

I cut some spearmint and lemon verbena for Runner's Tea.

I stopped and marveled at what a couple of handfuls of Osmocote and Ironite can do for a very tired planter of flowers. Why hadn't I fed them earlier??

My pomegranate bonsai, which is in no danger of ever being planted on anyone's grave, is full of miniature fruit this summer. Oh how I love this willing little tree.

The tuberoses are just of the charts wonderful this year. They perfume the entire yard at dusk. The big sphinx moths come zooming in to feed. Grateful.

Then, before I forgot to do it, I went to the garage and fetched a big wire bike basket and three stakes. I positioned it over the turtle nest. Carefully, I drove them in, and replaced the fencing.  No skunk or coon would make dinner of this turtle nest.

I'll keep watering the turtle nest, when I water the new tree. Box turtle eggs incubate for three months, and these were probably laid in late May or early June. I'll keep my fingers crossed that one day I'll find a neat round hole, dug out from the inside (no tailings mounded beside it) where some newly minted turtlets have made their way out.

A mighty fortress is this grave. 

**The brown thrasher's mild alarm call sounds to me like a bike skidding to a halt on gravel, a muted, low ksssshhhh; while its higher intensity alarm call is like two marbles smacking together.

Planting the Memorial Maple

Sunday, August 25, 2019

I've been mowing a great wide boulevard out to Bill's resting place since late April. I want to make it easy and inviting for us to get there. Bill didn't mow much in the last couple of years, and the shining sumac has taken over. If the meadow is going to have to be three years overgrown for awhile, at least the central path will be navigable.

The coneflowers and liatris I planted on his grave burst into joyous bloom in mid-July. It was fantastic. I had simply taken the liatris from my north bed, where it was getting too much shade, thanks to my now-huge liberated bonsai Japanese maple! The liatris never missed a beat, and took off. Prairie plants are like that. They're deep-rooted, willing to wait for their window.  (We should all aspire to be more like prairie plants.)

Aged cow manure mixed into the grave's topsoil didn't hurt. If you're going to bloom, you have to eat!

I visit Bill's grave in all weather, at all times and in all light conditions, but this dewy July 25 morning was the best of them all. Native plantings don't get much better than this. There's an understory of showy (pink) Missouri primrose that's going to be fantastic next spring.

Curtis, of course, always accompanies me. We "go see Daddy." Man, Bill loved this dog. And Curtis understands the import of this spot. He was there for the burial, led the funeral procession out, walking slowly so as not to outpace Elsa, all of his own accord. Someday I may be able to write about that, but probably not anytime soon. It was something to witness.

So now fast-forward to August 19, and the flowers have faded, though they're still trying to bloom a bit. It's time to plant the Memorial Maple. The Bonsai-no-more. It's the last day I can do it and have both kids here for the ceremony. Liam leaves at 1 pm.

I'm blown away by the beauty of the meadow on this fine hot morning. And I decide to put off having it mowed until everything's done blooming. Heck with it. So what if it's bare over the winter; I cannot stand to mow these wildflowers down in full bloom. I've never seen Joe-Pye weed in the meadow before. Amazing things happen when you let meadows go. And then not-amazing things happen, like losing the meadow to a steadily growing over-your-head sumac forest. That I don't want. Hence the mowing plans. But not now. Not now. Phoebe pleaded with me, like Snow White and the forester, not to fell the meadow, and I heard her. Its beauty took me away. (It was Snow White, wasn't it? Who was the girl in the fairy tale who begged the forester not to cut the trees?)

I've gotten up super early to dig the bonsai hole, before the blazing sun glares over the pines.  I'm grateful for this sandy loam, that presents nary a rock to my poacher's spade. Too well do I remember trying to plant trees or anything in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Good luck digging a big hole all by yourself. Here in Ohio, it's possible without hiring help or deploying TNT. It isn't all that hard.

I finish digging the hole, and I decide to dig out some poison ivy that keeps coming up at the head of Bill's little plot. "No poison ivy on Bill!" I growl. (I now have gigantic crazy itchy blisters between my fingers thanks to that little moment). I send the spade in and turn up the earth.

 And under the clod I turn up there is Something. I freak allll the way out.

 How perfect is it, that a box turtle has laid her eggs right over Bill's head? How amazing is it, that this nest, unlike all the others I've found dug out along my Boulevard of Broken Dreams, has somehow survived the skunks and the coons? 

Here's a hen box turtle starting a nest on the Boulevard in the first week of June. Yep, that's Curtis, bombing in more ways than one. Almost all of the nests I saw being dug along the Boulevard were predated by skunks and coons within a few nights. I tried so hard to find them and cage them before it happened, but I couldn't do it. Every time I thought I had one, it turned out to be a partial attempt. I pray some made it through.

There are four eggs on Bill's grave. I find one in the tailings and return it to its depression, hoping I haven't ruined it.How incredible that my spade has not harmed these precious, mostly-incubated eggs? It is perfection. I was meant to find this nest, to protect it. More on that later. We have a tree to plant.

Curtis leads the processional again, with all due gravitas. Liam has taken time from packing his last items for his return later this day to West Virginia University, to be my mule, hauling the tree, some cow manure, and 15 gallons of water out to the gravesite. Phoebe brings up the rear. We are making our own ritual.

 Some great Curtis Loew side-eye in this shot if you click on it.

First, we mix manure and potting soil with the loam I've dug out, and make a nice bed for the tree. Liam waters it until it's swimmy.

We lower the tree into the hole, face it the best way, and fill around it with a mix of manure, potting soil and native loam. Then we drown it with 5 gallons of water. 


Curtis gives Phoebe a kiss as she sits by the newly-planted tree. It doesn't look nearly so tall now that it's out with its feet in the big meadow. 
My idea was to have a shady place to sit when we visit Bill. It will happen. I will be old by then, but it will happen. It's mostly for the kids.

Curtis isn't a mad dog, nor is he an Englishman. 

He ain't sitting in the noonday sun. He won't be called out of the shade, either, not even for a photo. That's a cur for you. They have their own minds, are dripping with common sense. We laugh at how different he is from Chet, at how flagrantly self-centered Curtis can be. Of course, we love him for his  fiercely independent mind. We love everything about this dog.

I am grateful to have had this beautiful summer with both my kids. It has been a gift beyond measure to know they are asleep in their own beds right across the hall, that they're being nourished by the food I have grown and cooked for them, that my girl can cut the flowers I planted for her and prowl the milkweed that's grown for her. That we can go out and squeeze the kiwis and pick the golden raspberries and tuberoses every day. These are the things that matter. It seems so simple, but it's not anymore. It is everything. I know there will come a time, perhaps next summer, when neither of them will come home, and that is as it should be. We will all adjust, because adjusting is our only option, and it will continue to be good.

 The little ceremony we made, of planting this venerable tree nearly twice their age, by their father's grave, to honor him and remember him, is everything, too. Ceremony, ritual, tradition: we don't need to rely on society's customs. As a family, we make our own, doing what feels right and salutary to us, what fits. We're a small family now, but we are all the tighter for it.

Bill was, I think, too big for his pot here on earth.  Certainly one of the most expansive people I've known. Maybe he needed to be set free, to another life we can only guess about. And the little tree, 37 years in a pot, is sending feeder roots out as I write, exploring the good Ohio loam
and waiting for the rain.

The Art of Bonsai

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


 It is a humbling thing, to start a tree from seed, put it in a small pot, and care for it for 37 years. This is not something that you can accomplish by wishing you could do it, by talking about doing it, or by having the good intention to keep it alive and thriving. You have to BE there for the tree. You have to remember to water it; you have to knock it out of the pot and make a safe place to overwinter it for 37 Novembers to Aprils. You have to dig it back out and repot it in the spring, trim the roots and top back just so, get it through the dog days of summer, sometimes watering twice a day. You can't wink out on your watch or it will die.

And so a bonsai tree 37 years in the pot speaks of commitment, it speaks of constancy and good care. I used to look at pictures of elderly Japanese people, wrapped in kimonos as they watered their bonsai, and read how the trees are passed from generation to generation, because they outlive their caretakers. All this I started, when I started some tiny two-leaved seedlings I dug from under some trees 37 years ago, when I was fresh out of college. My 40th reunion is 2020. These trees have seen me through two relationships; they pre-date my marriage to Bill; they've been with me since I was 24, moving from Connecticut to Maryland to Ohio, and staying for good with me in Ohio.

I asked Liam to sit next to them for a photo on his sixth birthday, November 8, 2005. He was into trains and pumpkins. Ahh, he melts my heart, with his fingers laced tightly together, the yellow "fantana" he picked out to wear so he'd look like a real conductor. That sweet boy.

 Now look at the biggest tree, in the middle. It's been in the pot for 23 years. It's in peak fall color. It's already a specimen. I also notice that the mandevilla clinging to the house has escaped the frost. The columnar blue juniper to the right has long since died and been replaced with a golden chamaecyparis, but the bonsais, and Liam, go on.


I wish I'd thought to take this shot every year, but opportunities go by every minute of every day. I did decide to recreate it on Liam's 17th birthday in November 2016, and I'm so glad I did.  Same trees in the same arrangement. Everyone has grown. There's Chet Baker, 11, hoping for a piece of maple cake. There's the cake, decorated with leaves from the same tree, now 34 years in the pot. There's beautiful Liam with his happy smile and the world stretched out in front of him. A morning glory has replaced the mandevilla. He carved the pumpkin. Mom just stood back and watched.

You'll notice that this tree has a split trunk. That happened in 1993, right after our wedding. A raccoon knocked it off the porch railing. It was dumb of me to keep it on the railing, in a beautiful midnight blue round that also broke in the accident. When I picked it up the next morning the trunk was split in two.

I called my dad. I still had a dad then. I could ask him what to do. He and I had stood on that porch at my wedding, looking at the young bonsais, only 11 years in their pots. He had been so thrilled to see them, so impressed that I could keep them going through all my life changes, all my moves. He loved trees so very much, and he'd been my guide and mentor in growing things since I was in kindergarten, and I brought home my first purple petunia in a paper cup.

"Tape it together. Keep it watered. It'll live." And I did. I slathered it with white artist's tape and I think I dripped some candle wax on the wound, to keep the bugs out.  The trunk was cleanly bifurcated, and after it healed and the tape came off, it was more beautiful for the coon's careless act.  Man, it was beautiful. I love to think that I have something my father saw and touched. I love to think of the times when I could still call him for advice. He died April 10, 1994.  The tree went on.

 Here it is when Liam was just nine, and the house was grayish-green, and Baker was a shiny wasp-waisted masterpiece.



Liam was helping me put the bonsais to bed, when they still fit in a little cinderblock-lined pit I'd dug under the back deck. Jeez, I look like a kid, too.

 This was always our largest tree, and it was awesome even in 2008. Imagine it now, 11 years hence. Imagine us all.


Our subject in 2013, in its prime, in best fall color.
 Snow caught me before I was able to put it to bed in 2013. The bifurcated trunk, neatly highlighted in white.

2016. It's the one in the blue pot. See how leggy it's gotten? 


 I bumped it up into the red-brown pot in 2017. It's lost most of its leaves, and you can see it's way outgrown that pot, at least by my standards, and it's time to give it more foot room.



Spring of 2018,  above, with the bluebells from my sweet friend Jen a-blooming. Our tree is the center one, silhouetted against the boxwoods. It's got no lower branches coming at all. It's just going for broke, heading up and out.  I've given it a bigger pot, and that's helped with its general health, but it still has a lanky shape and, short of totally beheading it, I can't figure out how to reshape it so the top is in proportion to the roots and trunk. I don't want to behead it.What to do? This tree was becoming No Longer an Asset. This is my coded phrase for house plants that have outgrown their beauty and usefulness. But this is no houseplant. This is a tree, a spirit, a thing I revere, a thing of permanence. After so many years being bumped from tiny, to small, to medium, to large pots, it was tired of confinement. When a tree is just DONE with being subjected to the art of bonsai, it lets you know. 

I had begun to think about planting this Japanese maple out in 2015.  By "planting out," I mean setting it free. Letting it be the tree it is trying to be. I had no idea where I’d put it. There were already two liberated bonsai in the yard, and they offer delightful deep maple shade now, being tall enough to allow us to set up lawn chairs beneath their splendid tiny leaves and fine, fine branches. So we do. It’s lovely to take a cool drink and your laptop or the phone or a good book and go outside and sit under what was once a potted bonsai. It’s like having a room of your own, outdoors. Sitting under a liberated bonsai makes you think about growth and constancy, time and the power of trees.

 And the fall color is still incredible.

When Bill died, I knew what I wanted to do. I now had a new place and a  perfect spot to turn this fretful tree loose. I'd plant it near his grave, where it would eventually give us shade to sit under when we visited him. It took me a good while to get around to it, though, because it isn’t a trivial thing, planting a tree that stands waist-high. I decided to start schooling it for release in April, moving it from its usual partly shaded spot to full sun, because it was going to have to get used to baking out in the open meadow. 

I’ve had a heck of a time keeping all my trees adequately watered in the brutal heat waves this summer. When their trunks get as big around as your arm, they drink a lot! Here's the bifurcated trunk of this tiny but massive tree in 2018. Thank you, Long-dead Raccoon.

 Truth be told, I was happy to contemplate letting Mother Nature and its considerable root system take care of this largest of my bonsais going forward. I’ve been watering this tree for more than half my life! 

To be continued... 

Sorry about the antic type sizes in this post. I've been beating my head against Blogger's wall for an hour, trying to get everything to a readable size. I think I've effected a change, and it reverts back to caption size text when I publish. Pbbbbbt!

What Killed My Frog?

Thursday, August 8, 2019


I hadn't gotten too attached to this frog; we'd just made friends, and it had just connected me with good things like mealworms. But it still was a punch to the gut when I saw it suspended, little fingers splayed, eyes hooded, halfway down in the 3' deep pond. I knew right away it was dead. I've seen that float before.

I didn't have my phone with me, and it seemed disrespectful to shoot a photo of the frog like that anyway, when it couldn't say no. Besides, I had to fish it out quickly and see if there was any life in it at all, because helping creatures is what I always try to do first.

Nope, it was stiff and still. Ahhh how sad. I noted immediately that it was very fresh. No bloating, no odor; eyes still perfectly clear. But why and how had it died? I'd fed it two Superworms on July 29. And this was August 4. Could they have chewed a hole somewhere in its gut and killed it slowly, by  infection of peritonitis? Seemed unlikely. But then again...maybe the timing was right for a death that. Being the Science Chimp, and easily consumed by guilt, I had to know if I'd had an inadvertent hand in the frog's death.

I'm gonna ease you into this now with a little dissertation on the frog's tongue. From here, it gets more graphic, but it isn't gross. It's interesting. The more sensitive among you might want to stop here. You've been alerted. 

I opened the frog's mouth, to see if it might have choked on something, and was arrested by its amazing tongue. I'd seen that tongue deployed as it swiftly unfurled and blapped onto the mealworms I'd tossed. But I never realized that it is actually turned back on itself, and its side flaps are folded under, as it rests in the frog's mouth.

Freaking fabulous!! I thought about the extra velocity that sticky tongue would have as it snapped out and simultaneously unfolded. Fwab-adap!

It's like the distal half of a heron's neck, which, when it strikes, whips out from a sort of hinge halfway up the neck. That hinge is the "kink" in the neck that we notice when the bird is at rest.

 Shot this fledgling green heron as it hunted dragonflies in a floating mat of vegetation in St. Mary's WV. You know how fast you have to be to grab a dragonfly? 

 The one that got away.

Throwing the neck (or the tongue) out from a short distance is the difference between a roundhouse punch from the shoulder and a quick jab thrown from the elbow.  The jab isn't as powerful, but it's much quicker, and quick is what you have to be to catch insects (or fish). Already, I was enjoying my foray into this frog's secrets.

But I knew it wasn't going to be all fun and games, playing with a frog tongue.

There was only one way to really determine whether a Superworm had killed this poor creature.
 It was time to open the frog. The skin was like the finest thin latex, and the whitish abdominal muscles had to be cut with a scissors, as did the breastbone, so I could completely retract the abdominal walls. And there were its organs, pretty much just like a person's, with less intestine.

I saw two blackish granular structures that looked like caviar, one on each side, and knew I'd found the frog's ovaries. Ahhh, damn. It had been a female.

Kinda surprised me, because the tympanum (round external ear membrane) was pretty large.  Males have larger tympanae than females. 
Gotta listen for those spring choruses, you know, to get in on the action.


OK. Time to haul out the stomach and intestines, and see if there was a giant mealworm in there, or at least a hole somewhere. The stomach was fine, pink, unperforated (to the left of the pliers). The duodenum looked discolored right below the stomach. I thought I might have found something incriminating.
But when I opened it up, there were no holes, and it appeared that what I was seeing was the color of recently digested food, through the translucent wall of the duodenum (small intestine). It was an orange-red paste that for all I know might once have been a baby comet. So much for that.

Everything else inside the frog looked fine. I opened the stomach and examined its contents. Not a trace of a Superworm. Duodenum had checked out fine. Opened the caecum and examined its contents. Just normal looking frog poo, loaded up to launch. Small insect bits discernible in the fecal material. No hard chitin from a Superworm, at all. That had already passed through. This animal had been eating and digesting normally right up to its death. Nothing was bloated, nothing perforated, no internal bleeding and nothing amiss that I could see.  I had to conclude that perforation by Superworm was not the cause of its death. Not to say it can't ever happen, but I'm confident it didn't happen to this frog.

But there was something amiss on the frog, and I wanted to think about that.

The animal's left leg was bruised, with a hemorrhage running down the calf. Its foot was pretty swollen and discolored, too.

On the dorsal side, there were two very fresh wounds. One, a jagged tear in the skin. It would have taken something quite sharp, dragging across the frog's thigh, to make that.

There was also a puncture wound, from which some muscle protruded. See the tip of the pliers here, pointing at it.  Hmmmm. I couldn't see how either of those wounds, though, would kill the frog. But they were so fresh, they had to have something to do with her death. 

I have to thank Liam for taking these photos. I couldn't take any shots while doing the dissection. It was worse than trying to make movies while feeding bats (something I got pretty good at, thanks to a small gift tripod and a nimble tongue).

This isn't a flattering shot, but it is 100% Science Chimp Zick. Completely absorbed in the pursuit of knowledge. And for that, I love it. It's me, and I like who I am, because being normal is boring, and glamor ceased to be part of my world a long time ago.

 As Liam commented when I asked him if I should publish this photo:  "Of all the photos of me tearing apart a dead animal, this is the worst!" Which sent me into gales of laughter. This kid. He's made me laugh all summer long. God, I'll miss him when he goes back to school.

 Nah, it's not a glamour shot, and I look like a gnome, like something that lives in a tower. Oh, wait...

Hi Bacon! Thanks for stopping into this post. I love you.

I was left stumped. I decided to wrap up the autopsy and mull on it for awhile. I'd found out what I could find out from this poor frog, so I wrapped her in wet newspaper and set her in a cool place until nightfall, when I could put her body out for the possum who visits our compost. What a nice surprise it would be for him! Nothing gets wasted around here. And everybody eats.

I excavated the rider mower from its tangle of lawn chairs and bikes, replaced the front wheel whose tire I'd flattened and given to Marcy to get fixed (thanks, Marcy!!) Started it up, and began the hypnotic round and round the house and plantings. I was about five rounds into the mow when it hit me. A cut and a puncture wound wouldn't kill a frog...would it...

unless there was venom in what cut and punctured it.

Which explains the swelling and discoloration very nicely. That's what my finger looked like once upon a time, when I reached under a lavender bush for a weed and felt a hot lance to my hand. THAT good, old story is here: Committed to the Country

Durn copperheads. I build you a nice patio to live in, and you thank me by killing my frog. You struck; she jumped; you raked her with one fang, but you hit pay dirt, and punctured her leg with the other. Still, she got away, and plopped into the pond, already dying, a foot down, where you couldn't recover her. Wasted. Unless you consider that it was all a nice mental workout for a curious Science Chimp, and some fairly graphic entertainment for a few thousand people. 

And maybe a nice solid bit of debunking on a factoid that ain't necessarily true. That said, I'm not feeding any more Superworms to frogs. Better safe than sorry.

This year's fine brace of copperheads. Mr. and Mrs. Fak. I'm sure their banded babes will turn up very soon. I just hope none are in the basement.

Still, I suspect one of you Faks also killed the two bullfrogs who moved in this spring. The hummingbirds and warblers and chipping sparrows and I thank you for that. 

Circle of life, baby. Like my John Deere and my mind, it goes around and around.

Before the crape myrtle got killed back to the ground. When Chet, my tractor,  the crape myrtle and I were newer, and still shiny.
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