Gertie was a rescue gerbil. I had gotten it in my head that I wanted a gerbil but shopping for one, as with most things, was a chore and I quickly tired of it. The sales associate at Petco seemed to sense my fatigue and wondered if I might be interested in a “slightly used” gerbil that had been left with them. I followed her to a back room where this pretty white gerbil was sequestered away, “had to be sure she wasn’t diseased,” the associate explained. The gerbil had been with them for ten days and was cleared from quarantine. I could have her for $4, including the cage. Well, I’m not much of a shopper but I do know a bargain.
Gertie was with me for almost three years and I loved that rodent. She settled right into life with Alice and I quickly learned she had style and panache. After she died I turned to other gerbils but none had the espirit that my Gertie had.
Amazing how we come to love critters … from dogs and cats to gerbils and a whole slew of others. It speaks well for Homo sapiens that we can develop this closeness, this appreciation for the vast diversity that has been given to us on this blue and white marble that we call Earth. We screw up a lot and are far from perfect but there are these moments of happiness brought on by simply opening our heart to others, human or otherwise. Remember, you take the love with you. ❧
Too often in our violent society the term “slug” conjures images of spent bullets and CSI discoveries. But there is an entire universe of living slugs that prove the bane of some gardeners and a treat for some photographers. This fellow was enjoying a meal in the cold, dark woods of California’s North Coast. According to Wikipedia, “Slug is a common name for an apparently shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusc.” There are many different kinds but all have the distinctive head with four antennae-like protrusions. The top set are the slug’s “eyes” while the bottom set serve as olfactory tools. All four can be retracted and regrown. ❧
The next time you find yourself whining about a bad day consider this little guy. No more than two inches high, I found him pushing his way through the gravel on our driveway. Let’s give it up for this Little Mushroom that Could. I don’t know which is more impressive…the mushroom or the iPhone that took the picture. It is quite a time we live in. Our pockets bulge with technology that was unimaginable just a few short years ago. The best part is we have it there, at our finger-tips, to capture and share these incredible moments. ❧
Asters are so plentiful and so sturdy. Little blasts of color as the days start to change from summer to fall. The name Aster comes from the Ancient Greek word ἀστήρ (astér), meaning “star”, referring to the shape of the flower head. These wood asters are a gift from friends. We planted them along the side of the house last October and I feared they would not survive the winter but they have returned and are quite robust. We are barreling toward the autumnal equinox and change is already in the air. ❧
This is my second summer at Fawn Hill. It’s an abbreviated one because of my Western travels last Spring and the Florida election this Fall. I will head back to Florida on September 5 and begin campaigning for Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative.
But even with an abbreviated stay of about 12 weeks it has been a lovely time. The house has moved beyond the phase of everything seeming critical. There are still plenty of fixer-upper things to do but last year’s sense of urgency is gone. More importantly, the hard work of last year has begun to pay. The front side hill is a perfect example. When we first arrived it was terribly overgrown with brambles and no small amount of poison ivy. It required most of last summer to eradicate both of those scourges. But having cleaned out the mess I was then confronted with what to do with the space. There were still plenty of things to do and so I let it slide. When I arrived back in June of this year the wildflowers had begun to take over and I decided to let things go. It was the wait-and-see approach and it has been fun.
The center of the collage is an overall picture of what I currently have, a swatch of wildflowers. The always reliable Queen Anne’s Lace is a dominant player but there are others. In the upper right is a close-up of what I now know is Punctureweed. I have lots of it and have learned it is a scourge to grass eating creatures such as cows. But the bees absolutely adore it and can’t seem to move fast enough to get every last bloom. Below that is a Butterfly Pea, a sweet little thing. The red Coreopsis, I confess, was bought and planted by me. I hope it lives long and prospers. I love the color. The last is Purple Milkwort and, as you can see, the bees like it also.
Next year I will help the area with some wildflower seed and perhaps some Cosmos seeds. The area is so steep it is impossible to maintain anything too demanding. Wildflowers only demand the space to grow. ❧
This spectacular fungus emerged at the base of an oak tree on Fawn Hill and one of my reference books tells me this fungi is responsible “for making old oaks hollow.” Its color was absolutely stunning and it is quite large, about 6 inches across. ❧
Chanterelle mushrooms on Fawn Hill. ❧