It Tickles

It’s pleasant here in the garden. My roots are in moist but well-drained soil. I lift my leaves to sunshine. My shy blossoms open on a calm afternoon.

To the casual observer I’m not doing much. Just standing in one place. It’s true that I’m not capable of walking. But I can bend in the breeze and seek out the best angle for the sun to strike the maximum number of leaves. Love that photosynthesis going on in all my green parts.

Today I have my blossoms open. I’d love to go to seed. (It’s an ambition for plants.) My scent is escaping, calling to my neighbors and visitors.

Oh….I’ve got one. Alighting, crawling, tickling all my blossom parts. If I had a voice I’d giggle. This is the best sort of day — when the honeybees visit.



Open to Interpretation

Today we continue our look at sculpture in the public places of St. Louis. The Missouri Botanical Garden continues to be a rich source. Including this sleek, metal form.


What’s the first name or description that pops into your head?

A stylized version of a DNA model happened to be my first thought. Can you see it? Protein pairs spiraling to contain the secrets of the universe?

A party ribbon?

An invisible force ascending? Or is it descending?

I encourage you to find a piece of public art in your hometown and let it be a launch pad for the imagination.



Sky Gazing

One of the more photographed objects this summer has been the moon. Or should I say “super moon”. By now I think you’ve see video on the TV or still pictures on Facebook with the extra large, extra close, full moon framed by famous landmarks.

It’s a beautiful site. One of the few astronomical events enjoyable where artificial light distracts from planets and other transient objects. It hangs there, above the horizon as a yellow to orange disk pulling your attention. (Careful when driving.)

A few days ago, while out for my morning walk, I encountered it again. Large, white in a blue sky. I can hear it call — Hey! I’m more than a nightlight.

Super Morning Moon
Super Morning Moon

Musical Tree

Regular readers of this blog are aware that I frequently write of trees, garden plants, and other growing things I observe. Today’s photo will feature a tree, but not a wooden one.

This one is definitely man made. The creator paid attention to detail and considered the surroundings during the design stage. It has an Oriental flavor in the shape of the leaf replacements and their positions. Even the material selected fits the theme.


Unlike the small, traditional wind chime in my garden, this one is a collection of individual, coordinated bells. From bass through tenor and alto to soprano they gain the attention of Botanical Garden visitors. A piece of musical art in a public space.



Organic Marker

The end came suddenly. Unexpected.

The morning began with a thunderstorm. Wind tested the flex of the branches while fat  raindrops washed bits of dust and pollution from the leaves. The violence passed and left a light, nourishing rain in its wake. But one large limb, a third of the bulk, lay prone, leafy branches mere steps from the building.

The remainder of the tree stood tall then, the top taller than the two story building it guarded. You could imagine it sighing, welcoming the overdue moisture to roots.  Welcoming damp against the fresh wound.  Perhaps dreaming of the children it had watched and sheltered during the years. They chased each other around the expanding trunk. Played in the deep red fall leaves. And laughed as the white blossoms fell like snow in the spring.

The truck and trailer arrived out of the misty rain. Two men exited the cab and donned hard hats. Then they grabbed the chainsaws and readied for the attack.

Within minutes proud branches lay sprawled across a patch of lawn, sidewalk and into the parking lot. The men cut with surgical precision before lifting the tree, portion by portion, into the hungry wood chipper. They were tidy and efficient. All that remains now is a memory and a marker (temporary until men return with a grinder).

R.I.P. Bradford Pear
R.I.P. Bradford Pear

No wind damage in the apple orchard. Check out Hiding Places to find Linc and Mona’s story.  Available as ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


From Alphabet to Greatest

The way I heard it, it was a success story. But that was a full generation after the fact.

Their work is still in evidence. Visit state or national parks existing prior to 1940 and you’ll see their work in buildings, trails, and terracing. They were young men in need of a job. Many of them came from families with unemployed fathers or older brothers. Some came from severe poverty and arrived with undernourished bodies but strong minds.

It was government work. Physical labor. But they received room, board, and wages to be sent home to the family. As one of the “alphabet” agencies they received their share of criticism. But a funny thing happened along the way. The young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps acquired skills (including following orders) just in time to join the military in WWII.

I was pleased to find them honored in a local park. One of hundreds of places they worked.



Eyes Wide Open on a Sunny Day

My name is Helianthus annuus. For those of you trained in neither Latin nor botanical naming — call me Sunflower.

My family has lived in the land of Missouri for generations — centuries actually – perhaps a millennia. The human residents have cultivated our family along side corn and squash from the time of the great Mound builders.

I remain a commercial crop in the United States. (And other portions of the world also.) Humans press my seeds for important oil. Feed me to domestic animals. And snack on roasted, salted seeds at baseball games.

Plant me in a sunny spot after the frost has left the ground and watch me grow. If conditions are good, and I’ve had tall parents, I’ll grow fast to be taller than the average man. Even me, in the lovely portrait below, as the shortest of a trio, grew a full five foot of stem.



Controversial Lady

She raised a stir in the neighborhood. Made the newspapers in the entire city.

Perhaps she was ahead of her time. The first edition of a new idea gets the most critiques. I’d like to think she managed to pull a few attitudes forward into the still new twentieth century? After all — isn’t it good to be in favor of truth?

This public statue, honoring three German newspaper editors and the truth that they published was installed when the neighborhood around predominated in first and second generation German-Americans.

Public outrage! I can imagine the scene now. In May and June of 1914 neighborhood mothers walking their children in the park tell the youngsters to turn away and watch traffic on Grand Avenue while they manage a quick look to satisfy their own curiosity.

Statue of the Naked Truth Talk of the Town in 1914
Statue of the Naked Truth
Talk of the Town in 1914

Talk of a smaller town without controversy in Starr Tree Farm and Hiding Places.


The Home Team

Be prepared. To sing. To cheer. To stand at a moment’s notice.

A prepared fan arrives early and has ticket in hand for the scanner and bag packed to pass the security check. Then it’s off to study the signs, find the proper section and seat. For thrifty fans this includes a bit of a walk, up ramps and past vendors selling programs, hats, and pennants. Hungry? Thirsty? The scent of popcorn, hot dogs, and beer tickle your senses as you walk past.

One color, one logo, predominates. Small groups and families walk together wearing uniforms of their own making – T-shirts in team colors and khaki shorts on this warm evening.

How far up? Is that why the ticket was half-price? I gaze at the steep steps, pull in a breath of determination, and climb.

Great view! The parking lot within view is busy. The stands are filling. A great night for baseball.

Play Ball!
Play Ball!

Thousands of happy fans later when the home team won.