Midsummer Musings In the River Valley

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

“Life’s not always fair in getting here and there.” This is a quote from one of Larry Granger’s poems, “Turtles Beware.” Who was Larry? Readers will learn more about his life and times via an article by the “Henderson Independent” editor, Rachel Miller, in another section of this issue of the ‘Indy.’

The quote, written years ago and on display at the J.R. Brown River Center, predicted the situation we’re currently in on this 14th day of July, 2021. Larry would want us to look at the brighter side of the picture. A bit of precipitation from the heavens uplifted spirits for many after interminable south-by- southwest drying winds sucked the sap from human and plant alike.

Landscapes are illuminated with a multitude of flowers and greenery, especially members of the lily species…Asian lilies, day lilies, tree lilies and many others. (See photo included.) Along with their beauty, an enticing aroma wafts from lily’s elegant blooms, filling the air with delicate fragrances. On the other stem, Canada thistles with puffy purple seed-filled appendages, fill ditches and fields with treacherous barbs as they attempt to take control of any spot open to their seedlets and traveling root system. “Destroy me if you can, but I shall return” they seem to scream.

Another of our least favorite flora is the charming Queen Anne’s Lace. That’s the showy white flower that of a sudden beams its sweet face hither and yon (mostly hither) in roadside ditches across the countryside. We’ve written regarding her majesty in the past, but this July the invasive plant seems to have spread its beaming presence throughout the land. The invader derives its name from the small purple spot in its center. Legend has it that while Queen Anne waited for her execution in the Tower of London, she tatted, that is, made lace. She pricked her finger, the blood fell on the lace, and ever after the flower is graced with the name, Queen Anne’s Lace. This member of the carrot family made its way to America, and is now found in most of the states…sometimes invited, most often not. Our advice: If you plant it in your flower garden, CONTAIN IT! Its thousand little seeds on each floret, when opportunity arises, spread like the proverbial wildfire. Are there any redeeming qualities?

Yes, they are pretty. Birds eat, then spread the seeds. We are told that honeybees harvest the nectar, but we’ve not observed bees at work in the flowers in our years of searching. Surprise, the flower head is edible when fried, if prepared correctly. The reason they’ve lived so long is that dried plant parts are used in tea, and once upon a time, were considered medicinal, soothing the digestive system and bladder. Please, YOU try it first!

Juvenile birds of many species are departing nests in which they hatched and were reared, learning the skills of flight, leaving abodes behind. Among those were the northern orioles which graced the jelly feeders and mulberry fruits spread at Karen and Keith Swenson’s in Henderson. In addition, nine Canada geese marched down the middle of Highway #19 July 7th, heading for Henderson. Fortunately for them, it was not a classic car roll-in evening, they made it to the Minnesota River safely. Trumpeter swan cygnets at Coachlight Pond numbered six on July 8th. Although under the watchful eyes of pen, Sylvia, and cob, Sylvan, two have disappeared. Food banquets for turtle, raccoon, mink, eagle, who’s to know?

Chickadee blacktops, successful second batch hatches at Judy and Dean Hathaways, are learning the tricks of the trade on sunflower feeders. Suspiciously quiet wren parents zip silently through the bushes, covering the tell-tale chortles of their youngsters. Birds of joy and happiness, quiet bluebirds humbly tend their nest boxes, lest wrens and other enemies are skulking about. As midsummer nears, nesting season ceases for many species, as now is the time to feast and fatten pending returning southward. Some humans do the same, gathering the garner the gardens now produce, in spite of the continuing drought and hot weather.
Rachel….Ending……. Either/or
As Larry Granger stated, “Life’s not always fair in getting here and there.” Amen, brothers and sisters, AMEN!
Or…….. “To see most birds you lift your eyes upward as you do in prayer or looking at night for the moon. But the one who created the moon is watching birds and you. Just let your eyes meet.” Larry Granger