The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Monday, October 17, 2016

To Each His Own - Divine Engineering by Season

Hostas illustrate why people wish they had more shade.
Bonus - their flowers attract Hummingbirds.

The Hosta garden is now layered with cardboard and garnished with a thick layer of pine needles. Hostas are all we need to make it complete.

The primary impulse of a gardener is to wish for more sun. In Phoenix, people work to defeat the sun. I knew the kind of house I needed to grow roses there - one that completely shaded the plants in the afternoon. We had so much sun and so little rain that a cactus forest was easy to grow. Some gardeners in Phoenix built a layer of shade fabric over their roses to spare them the burning sunlight.

In Arkansas, we did our best the change the classic umbrella shape of the maple tree to let more sunlight into the rose garden. Underneath, roses and shade plants grow with equal vigor, because each type has what it needs, plus a doting staff to water and weed them.

Today, on October 17th, the temperature will reach 90 degrees, so the leaves stay green and cling to the trees. I read about a harsh winter ahead. We do not even have a mild autumn so far.

 I'll have the Finch mocha
with two extra shots.
Don't jiggle it, barista!
By Norma Boeckler.


The needs of plants and animals should make people think more about Creation than global warming. Of course, that global warming concept is seldom mentioned now, because each global warming conference in the past coincided with a blizzard - so many times, that it became a meme - "Global Warming Conference Delayed by Snow." Instead, without a pause, we have Climate Change thrust upon us, implying that each BBQ, each flatulent cow, is leading us toward doom.

Some would like the winters warmer, but others want their winters colder and bolder. LI and I went to a camp where they bragged about being blessed by six months of winter each year. I failed to see the blessing in that.

Oddly enough, I bought suet early this year, at the first chill, thinking Starlings would be back soon. They love to swarm on the suet, and their racket brings other birds to the food. For every season there are creatures and plants, created and engineered, to take advantage of those conditions. In fact, many specialty plants and creatures only thrive in certain conditions. Skunk Cabbage must have very wet conditions.
 One of our friends harvested a plant and put it in the car.
Someone asked, "What is that foul odor?"


Wiki:
Eastern skunk cabbage is notable for its ability to generate temperatures of up to 15–35 °C (27–63 °F) above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration in order to melt its way through frozen ground,[3] placing it among a small group of plants exhibiting thermogenesis. Even though it flowers while there is still snow and ice on the ground it is successfully pollinated by early insects that also emerge at this time. Some studies suggest that beyond allowing the plant to grow in icy soil, the heat it produces may help to spread its odor in the air.[3] Carrion-feeding insects that are attracted by the scent may be doubly encouraged to enter the spathe because it is warmer than the surrounding air, fueling pollination.[4][5]
Eastern skunk cabbage has contractile roots which contract after growing into the earth. This pulls the stem of the plant deeper into the mud, so that the plant in effect grows downward, not upward. Each year, the plant grows deeper into the earth, so that older plants are practically impossible to dig up. They reproduce by hard, pea-sized seeds which fall in the mud and are carried away by animals or by floods.

I understand some insects will use Skunk Cabbage to warm up. That makes me wonder, "Who thought up a warming, stinking plant that grows down into the soil, keeps most creatures away, but provides warmth for certain insects?"

We have winter birds and summer birds, so people look forward to the changes, such as the grouping of male Cardinals, that only happens outside of the mating season. A male will peck at any mirror, especially outside rearview mirrors in cars, which are ideal for revealing a male opponent pecking back at our hero.

The winter birds take advantage of the wintering bugs, keeping the larvae population down, and larvae hatch conveniently when the mating birds need raw meat for their newborns. As Sharon Lovejoy wrote in A Blessing of Toads, a pair of Chickadees can strip a patch of wormy pests in one day. As anyone can see, the parents tirelessly feed their young until the children discover wings re-invent flight, and take off.

Nothing is easier than posing a Blue Jay
with a peanut. They know the fee and
and are happy to make a photographer's day -
working for peanuts.


We happened upon a juvenile Blue Jay on the ground, not quite flying. I seem to have a St. Francis aura with creatures - they seldom bother me at all. The parents dive-bombed anyone near their baby, but my wife and I were left alone to enjoy the exaggerated cries of terror. No one was hurt, but my ribs ached from the drama.

God created Blue Jays with great intelligence, stunning colors (except when wet), the dry feathers breaking up the light into blue tones. They are relatively large, more like the F-14s of the Air Force.
They are bossy, clever in imitating hawks to scare the competition away, and charming when they sound their happy bell tones. When I walked in Midland, being known for my bird-feeding among the avian friends, the Blue Jays would light on a branch and offer their bell tones, perhaps signaling others that I was on the good list.

The birds and squirrels study their human hosts with great discernment. Where is the food? How can we round off our diets with something from Walmart or Lowe's?

I may buy a sack of deer corn, because squirrels and birds love corn. The cost of deer corn is low, but bird corn-on-the-cob is high.

 Norma Boeckler's Bue Bird -
they love suet but also favor forested areas near grassy lawns.
They are harder to find and observe, so we really value
their delicate shape and colors.