>Nature Boy

>Hardly. But there is a lot to observe in the spring. Ticks, for example. Most days my dog and I go for a walk in the evening before dinner in the field next to my house. This used to be a cow pasture that I’ve let grow “natural” and so it is now home to the invasive autumn olive, numerous other shrub weeds and, more promisingly, lots of volunteer trees: walnut, red bud, hawthorn, wild cherry, pine, juniper, and so on. All of which provides great cover for the peskiest little pest around: the tick. Bhikku has a nice flea/tick collar, plus occasional treatments of his fur with anti-tick juice, so he’s mostly tick-free. But invariably I come into the house with a couple stowing away on my shirt. I look for them, but usually don’t find them until I feel them crawling on my neck.

Then there are the birds. I’ve got all the usual suspects, but occasionally a more exotic variety will appear, often by the creek that runs through my yard. Yesterday while I was mowing the lawn I was visited by a bird I’ve seen in past years that according to my bird book must be a cormorant. I always thought these were seabirds, but it seems that there are a couple of varieties that frequent freshwater ponds.

Spring means tree blossoms and leaves. The redbuds have been absolutely spectacular this year, since about mid April to now. On the other hand, many of the dogwood trees seem to have forgotten to bloom. In some years the redbud and dogwood overlap for a week or so and the combinations is fantastic, but most of the dogwoods have moved directly into leaf and so there are few white blooms in the yard. (The flowers on the wild cherry come and go very quickly, it seems)

Snakes. Hate ’em. But the common variety around here is the black rat snake and they do good work. This spring so far I’ve seen only one little one. There’s a big adult I’ve seen in the yard in past years, so I expect that one will reappear. Whenever I’m picking up sticks in the yard I need to pay close attention, lest I reach for one that moves.

The walnut trees are beginning to show signs of leafing, but the sycamores are out ahead of them. It’s been a wet spring, though, and there are signs of “rust” on the sycamore leaves. Is there a fungus among us? One year the big sycamore right by the house lost all its leaves to a fungus because of a damp spring and then had to start over again. Poor thing must have been exhausted. Anyway, I wish they’d all hurry up. I’m tired of the naked trees.

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