This is all from my 100 acres in beautiful Kentucky.
Regarding my book, I did put the 1st volume onto Amazon as a E-Book, but my internet at home is defunct so I haven’t done much else with it. I’ll get back on that as soon as I can!
The very first time I travelled from faraway San Diego to the remote reaches of a Western Kentucky forest, I fell swoopy-doopy in love. The Realtor I’d visited was in Elizabethtown. I wanted to build a cabin in the woods. Nada, nothing available, all the woods being sectioned up and bulldozed for subdivisions, sadness. The hour I was to leave the motel for the airport, she called and breathlessly rushed to say she’d just had a miracle pop up on her screen.
I sped over and met her at the door. She told me a 100 acre forested lot just came up on the wire, not even formally listed yet. And they only wanted $35,000 for it! She got a somber look and added that it was almost a hundred miles west.
We went and we poked around a little in the pouring rain. Gee, I wasn’t sure…We went back to the Realtor’s house and she let me stay there.
I called home and said I’d be away for one additional day, then remembered to change the flight due to family emergency. Sort of… The next morning I drove back out and everything seemed different, me and the trees in cosmic communion. The wonderfully sunny day was rather far along before I’d stopped wandering the deer paths, swooning in awe of the cacophony of birdsong and ogling the brilliant wildflowers. Before I got back in the car, felt the strangest, I couldn’t believe I was doing it compulsion. I hugged a big ‘ol tree. Tight.
I got back to the Realtor’s and picked up my plunder so I could return to the airport in Louisville. I had to talk a 35 grand commitment over with Bob, we had to look over the finances, we had to see if this could integrate into our plans, I had to convince him with a thousand pictures. I drove away. About 100 feet.
I ran back crying and signed the papers.
I have NEVER regretted it.
It’s Love A Tree Day, and as ABBA sang, “I do, I do, Id, I do, I do!”
Holy cow, just writing this has me in tears.
This notice showed up in my email:
You are subscribed to Fish and Wildlife for Kentucky.gov. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.
04/27/2018 09:53 AM EDT
Warmer temperatures mean bear activity is on the rise in Kentucky. Complaints about bears raiding garbage are on the rise as well.
There are no bears here that I know of, but the bulldozers scraping every living thing off the ground for quick cash , leaving it thereafter for weeds, are getting nearer every day. That’s why I have so many coyotes and bobcats and no more chipmunks or rabbits…or outside cats. Maybe a bear or two would scare the big yellow monsters away, or maybe I could make endangered or sensitive habitat claims? 100 acres isn’t really that large a tract for sizeable predators, but it might be worth a shot. Bad metaphor? No bag-bang.
I wouldn’t mind having Smoky Bear ( officially NOT Smoky the Bear) and family around to emphasize we need to keep some real WOODLANDS alive. Go Cubs!
Oh yes, isn’t is getting cold in the evenings! I’ve had to dig around for my sweaters, coats and long johns and all…cheapskate that I am, I keep the thermostat at 50 degrees F and pile on the warmth. That’s better than 40 degrees like I did 2006 though 2014. Getting soft? The cats seem to like me much better now.
I got an armload of fake fur and thick fleece to make toasty stuff with, and I committed to brings several kinds of cookies to the holiday potluck at work next week. Should I make the Irish Stout next or the Hard Cider? When I’m not sewing or painting or baking or brewing or reading, I could be writing. Here’s the 3rd in the series. They cost a lot less than dry roasted peanuts; why not give them a try?
To Arlen Jewel Crisworth,
Regarding your submission of July 25, 1867: Please sir, refrain from sending any further such rubbish. We shall return all other missives unopened.
With Waning Regard,
Pinkus Sooch, PhD, FJMD, Fellow GGLIOR, President of the National Academy of Science
Arlen lifted the top envelope to the edge of the box. Still with one finger, he raised the heap beneath it. He retracted his hand in a fist and punched the box off his lap.
“Damn them arrogant bastards! I wouldn’t give ‘em the time of day to catch the train to Glory!”
He heaved on his poles to roll his chair back from the scattered paper proofs of failure, craving solace from the trees out front. When he had come back to the cabin from the War his wife and daughter were in a single grave at the churchyard. He’d constructed his wheeled chair right after being dumped with his trunk from the Yankee minion’s carriage. With a choice of big old cart wheels and the little wheels from Jeannie’s toy wagon, he’d gone with the small ones for maneuverability. He’d made the seat high enough to reach the stove and such, making the knobby ash poles necessary.
Having removed the front door to act as a ramp at the porch steps, he gathered speed through the sitting room to gain the momentum he’d need to get a few feet out into the yard. Balance! Bump! Whoosh! Getting back inside would be hell, but the smell of the leaves and the rustle of the trees made it worthwhile. He breathed in deeply; when opened his eyes he saw a peculiar man not two paces from him.
Arlen sat bolt upright. “Who, Sir, might you be?” He wanted to reach over and feel the material of fellow’s grayish overalls that had sleeves, all in one piece, no buttons. “And where on God’s green Earth might you hale from?” Where could the man’s horse be hidden? Arlen glanced up the path to the road beyond the stranger without any answer. He caught the man’s amber eyes once more. “I have nothing you could want here.”
The pale man’s thin smile seemed foreign to his narrow face. “You do have something here I would like to see.” He stepped carefully as if fearing the ground to heave. “May we discuss the contents of the box that your neighbor up the road dropped off for you this morning?”
“You heard my theories about these trees! “ Arlen’s hunched shoulders fell as did the feeling of having heavy weights on this back. “I’d go get that box for you, but have some difficulty moving about these days. Walk forward through the cabin and you’ll see it. The box got knocked over, so you’ll need to scrape the papers up. Bring that box and a kitchen chair if you don’t care.”
The stranger performed his tasks without comment and placed his chair opposite Arlen. He appeared to know just which packet he sought and passed a letter across. “Can you please explain this document?”
Arlen read it quickly; yes this was the initial effort to explain what caused some trees hereabout to grow with wavy or off-kilter trunks. He looked up to see the fellow patiently waiting. “There are two forces that cause plants to point one direction or another as they grow. One is the sun; little, fast growing plants aim at the sun and generally grow straight up as the sun passes overhead each day. Ah, the average sun position is up but you can sometimes see the bloom follow the sun throughout the day. This effect coincides with the effect that Newton fellow calls gravity. I figure a big, slow growing tree would be more affected by gravity because the sun’s relatively rapid cycles are a simple blur of light for the poky tree.”
The placid man made no argument or derisive comment, so Arlen ploughed onward. “I’ve learned a thing or two about gravity the last few years. I know a thing naturally wants the least area askew from straight up, as gravity pushes directly down. A person standing has this push on his shoulders and head. A man sitting has this plus the push on his extended arms and his upper legs. Thus I pay more gravity tax than you!” He grinned for a second with no response from his companion.
Arlen sobered. Now for the meat of it. “A tree feels this same gravity force and naturally grows as close to be in line with gravity as possible to reduce unkind stresses upon it.” He stirred restlessly, his broken body crying to pace. “These trees are like any other on God’s magnificent Earth. They grow in line with gravity.” Great Heaven, his body screamed to escort the stranger to witness the oddly grown trees. Tears streamed from his eyes. “Go to that poplar over there and peer back toward the road. You’ll see trees, mainly white oaks as that is the main type here, that at different stages of growth grew toward a gravity that DOES NOT match that which we share today.” He’d said it, so be it. He awaited laughter as he rubbed his face dry.
Instead of levity, the man appeared more intent. “What may explain the observation that trees in the same vicinity exhibit varying curving effects? What may explain a tree growing one direction and abruptly adjusting that direction? Could it be caused by strong winds?”
“You mean why they don’t all bend in the same direction even if they look to be the same age and all. That comment about wind is a stray dog trying to drag the conversation from reason as the trunks for most would have been too stout to do naught but break were the wind fierce enough. The only reasonable response is that gravity has varied in a manner not uniform over the lifetime of these slow-growing trees.” He held his breath.
The strange man stood with a somber mien. “My friends and I have been drawn to this area for many years. It is we who placed what you might call cameras around the spring that your grandfather had tapped for your drinking water. You are the only child here that has benefitted from that water from conception.”
Arlen’s breath left his lungs like a popped bubble. “You jiggered the water? My wife and daughter drank that water as well! Did you and your confounded friends kill Rosella and Jeannie?”
“No harm came to any that partook of the spring. The water has properties that should not be perceptible to you or yours and should not have created any behavioral or metabolic changes. Your women died of a contagious disease as did many others in this general area.
“’Should’ don’t mean for sure ‘did not’. Your shenanigans might have made them more susceptible to whatever fever passed this way.”
”True. Very few things are proven, solid facts. Most things are gradients of true or false, always or never, positive or negative. I believe we had no part in the tragedy which occurred here.”
“I know what probability is. Our Major was a college professor before the War. He bequeathed me his books as he lay in gore at Caney Creek. I know them by heart now.”
The stranger turned to leave with no parting words, nothing.
Arlen shouted, “Your camera doodads each stayed up by manipulating its very own gravity field and that’s what bent the trees!” When the fellow stopped, Arlen continued more civilly. “Those doodads were there for decades, watching us, not moving for years at a time. Won’t you for God’s sake tell me what you were seeking by hovering over my family night and day as our lives blossomed and withered?”
The white-haired head bowed. The stranger returned to the chair and sat. “We could not interfere with what happened here. We could not halt the horrible War, nor could we prevent what happened to you.”
“Could not or would not?”
“We are not permitted to take action that might change the natural course of events. Please ask no more of me on this.”
Arlen ran out to energy, his meager eating habits catching up with him. “Very well. May I not learn the reason for your visit at least?”
“You have discovered evidence of our presence which was not meant to happen. I must plead with you to end your effort to make this phenomenon known. We do not wish observers to arrive and make similar deductions.
“You watched my wife and babe die in agonizing misery. You had the means to save them but did not.”
“Be gone and trouble me no more.” Arlen attempted to roll back but a rock thwarted him. He loosened his grip on the poles and set his mouth in a strict line. “If you cannot aid me or allow me to interact with the world as I see fit, leave me be.”
The man pulled Arlen up the makeshift ramp and left him in the sitting room.
The next morning, Arlen found another box on his porch. Inside scampered yellow chicks, a dozen or so, cheeping away. That box sat atop a portable desk like he’d seen some officers use. He opened it to find several pencils, an eraser and a thick sheaf of fine paper. By all that lay a sack of flour, a sack of meal and a beautiful large and sharp knife in a sturdy sheath. Beyond that his jaw dropped to see a set of perfectly sized wheels for gripping; no more muscle-wrenching poles. His heart surged with forgiveness. He dearly missed his poor wife and child, but they and the others who perished now dwelt on high, free from the world’s cruel pains. Who was he to demand anything from beings that could play havoc with the very forces of creation? Let them follow their own heartless edicts!
He looked over the bounty before him. His visitor was under no obligation to provide these precious items, and would perhaps incur wrath for his largesse. Arlen considered that his scrawny self might well survive the coming winter now. To enable their continuous study? Because the Almighty interceded on his behalf? Or because the pale man really did possess a heart and conscience. He smiled that he had such questions and possibilities to ponder. All because had he noticed the curiously curved trees.
Apparently my woodland aspires to be a jungle. We do have a wide variety of bird songs and noises, and avian visitors from far down south. If you’ve never heard the raucous call of the Pileated Woodpecker, think ‘The Land That Time Forgot” and add volume! We have the misplaced marsupial Opossum, the Raccoon is a Coati Mundi’s size XXL uncle and the Bobcat is our version of the dangerously fanged feline. We don’t have Boas or Pythons, but we do have pit vipers that would rather bite you than squeeze you.
I been around woods all my life, but never have I seen such vines as here. Take these for example; fat and mossy, long and criss-crossy. When I built the cabin eons ago, the vines were merely honeysuckle gage. I’ve watched this mega-choker evolve from my marvelous vantage point, the front porch. I always thought these were jungly-enough, but recently we had some mighty winds blow through here.
This greeted me at the mailbox, “Hey baby, want to swing a while?” Oh, please. I walked around it while avoiding the poison ivy – no thanks. Um, now my arm itches. If I can find the address, I’ll send the pictures to Tarzan and George (George, George, George of the Jungle friend of you and me! George, George, George of the Jungle watch out for that tree!). They’re both probably happily retired in Pingi-Pangi or something…but what about the Georgettes and Tarzan Juniors?
I heard that! Somebody thinks I just want to start a woodsy side show and sell tickets. That affronts my environmental sensibilities, having all that traffic and attendant trash. Somebody else thinks I want to see a scantily clad, well muscled, handsome man swinging through my hickories, yodeling. Who, me?
Other names: Umbrella Plant, Duck Foot, American Mandrake, Wild Jalap, Racoon Berry, Hog Apple and Indian Apple.
Lest the “American Mandrake” scare you, like, don’t eat the plant or unripe fruit. The May Apple is not a real mandrake, but chowing down a plant might well do you in.
As a relevant aside, the real mandrake is a member of the Solanacae family (as is the Deadly Nightshade!). People used to think tomatoes (from that family) were poisonous. Potatoes are from that family too, don’t eat the green skin or the sprouts – same for eggplants. Tobacco to peppers to petunias, it’s a big family! I mention these simply as an example of how you can eat poisonous plants and fruit if you know what you’re doing.
So, like eating the correct part of the potato, eat only the fully ripe, yellow fruit. That is if you can beat the squirrels to it some time from late May through July. This website has pretty good information on it:
Eat the Weeds can be found at http://www.eattheweeds.com/podophyllum-peltatum-forgotten-fruit-2/
Walking through the woods is wonderful and Spring is a magical time to take it all in. From the tree-borne constellations of Redbud blossoms to the tiny, precious wildflowers, I love it!
“All I know is she ain’t leaving until she fills up my food dish!”
The rain went on its way and the sun came out. I’d been working all weekend moving books from upstairs down, up and down, up and down, about 25 at a time. Come late Sunday afternoon, I was SO ready for a break, and sitting on my rump is not for me. I stepped out on the front porch and was dazzled by the slanting rays of sunshine; it made the forest appear golden and spotlit the colors. Here are some of radiant photographs, I hope they come though the multiple electromagnetic steps and satellite bounces well.
The early fruit trees are blooming, we’ll see if Sunday night’s freeze harmed the Intrepid Peach, the Moonglow Pear and the rest .
I walked the gravel road from one property line to the other. The Wild Branch is still high and the road is still a mess. I did clear out the ditches a bit to assist in drainage. The wood roses were so beautiful, I wish the picture revealed the amazing hues better. They aren’t actual roses, but the blooms are very reminiscent of the old-fashioned wild roses. I have some of those, to bloom later though.