BRING ON THE SUN!!
Submitted by Art and Barb Straub
â€œHelp! Help!â€ honked Frances the frantic floundering Focus as her deluded Master drove squarely into an enormous pond of water gathered between three hulking mounds of snow of behemoth size! Frances had every reason to toot, as what appeared to be an ice-covered roadway turned out to be a water trap, waiting to suck a hapless azure blue Ford into its grip. Only the new tires Frances acquired weeks ago kept master and mistress from spending some uncomfortable time in the maws of the hungry pond, phoning for a wrecker. Lesson learned. Lesson passed on.
Hemp, pot, marijuana, weed, green wave, cannabis, call it what you will, the terms appear in headlines, broadcasts and bylines in many a news media these days. In the colonial days, it was required by law to grow hemp, later, it was unlawful TO grow hemp. Our personal history goes back to those days when farmers in southern states had grown the plant in order to make rope and canvas, ropes for ships, canvas for covered wagons. (No, we didnâ€™t arrive in a covered wagon, our grandfolks did.)
As sources of hemp (Manila, in the Philippines) were cut off by World War II, growing hemp was a profitable farming operation until it was out-lawed. Unfortunately, birds loved the seeds, and being the patriots they are, brought their treasures north to roadside ditches, barnyards, pastures and the like in the Henderson/LeSueur area. The leaves and tall plants were an absolute â€˜no-no,â€™ it was unlawful to grow the aromatic vegetation, and parents â€˜railed aginâ€™ it.â€™
One of the farm chores for children when one was not swinging on the hay ropes in the barn, playing â€œAnnie Annie Over the Rooftopâ€ and â€œKick the Can,â€ was to chop, spray with chemicals or pull the dreaded green weed. In oneâ€™s guilt laden mind, one pictured a government agent peering out from behind the bushes ready to pounce on the mischievous child who might be experimenting with the aromatic plant. Such behavior would have been as serious as tapping the â€˜stillâ€™ in the woods.
From the fear of being caught arose a number of stories, too juicy to not relate. One May day while scrabbling for morel mushrooms in the woodland, before the leaves appeared on the deciduous trees, we came upon a ten by twelve-foot spaded area. Imprinted in the rich black leafmold, one could see, very evenly spaced, knuckle prints. Curious cats that we were, digging into the center of a little mound, odd little seeds were exposed. The light dawned. Someone was growing â€˜pot!â€™ Ahah! The little devil on left shoulder said, â€œRemove the seeds, plant oat seeds in their place.â€ Fiendish, yes! An angel on the right muscle countered, â€œButâ€¦when the oats grow, the seeder would think heâ€™d been hoodwinked, and would wipe out the supplier, and we would be guilt of a gangland slaying.â€ Scrap that thought! More hemp stories another day.
The birds and the beasts continue to endure intense weather pressure. Pheasants, turkeys, deer, etc., are in dire straits. Spring WILL persevere, in spite of trials and tribulations. Flocks of horned larks have grown in numbers from three to seven and nine. Mini-blizzards of snow buntings rise from roadside ditches. The subtle appearance in windblown snow of single oak leaves lifts oneâ€™s spirit. The leaves of most deciduous trees have begun the process of decay, while red oak trees reluctantly loose their individual leaflets to the earth. â€œMany oak leaves remain over winter, protecting the trees from disease by reducing the number of tiny wounds created when leaf stems separate from the branches.â€ (That, by an unknown author.) Off with the old, on with the new.
Red-winged blackbirds were not deterred by the mini-blizzard of March second, rising from alongside country roads as they searched for any form of scattered seed bits. March 1st, the delicate aroma of skunk perfume drifted across the countryside west of Henderson, perhaps the result of a squished black and white kitty? Great horned owls on their nightly prowls are not the least persnickety when it comes to bringing skunk tidbits back to their nestlings.
Raccoons rage and range throughout woodlands, angry and upset by the unfilled promises of bare earth and tasty treasures.
Precious acorns, energy for deer and turkeys, have long since been devoured by hungry beasts, sending fox squirrels into Amur maples to harvest the remaining fruits. Starving squirrels expose themselves to the risk of a variety of hawks desperately seeking energy for their scrawny bodies. Yes, this spring finds most every creature in the throes of a seemingly endless winter. Now, those of â€œthat age,â€ please share your hemp stories with us.