Quick. No serious thought. What’s your reaction to the photo?
When I saw this in person at the Missouri Botanical Garden — the first thing that popped into my mind:
POPCORN! You know, on the cob, lightly toasted.
I was wrong. It’s not popcorn at all. And I was a polite guest (I want to be welcome again) and did not nibble.
The name is: Anchomanes hookeri
Unless you live in Tropical Africa (or perhaps another tropical spot) don’t attempt to grow this in your backyard. But if you would happen to get it established, relax, it’s a perennial and will be back year after year.
In case you’ve been hibernating — we had a solar eclipse yesterday.
From Oregon to South Carolina, the media this last week or more has been filled with information and advice for viewing. (Wear the special glasses!) Since I happen to live in one of the areas in the direct path of the eclipse, my plans were simple.
From my front door I needed to walk a matter of yards to find a spot on the lawn with a good view. Joined by other residents of my condo, we chatted and traded memories of other, partial, eclipses. The tricky part for me was photographs. Rather than risk the sensor on the camera, I turned around and got images of the shadows.
I have never seen this pattern on my sidewalk near the oak tree before.
This was taken ten minutes or less after totality.
One day when I was a young teen, and unacquainted with the title of this piece, I went to the neighbor’s woods.
These woods were close. From our property I crossed one road and one field. Then I was in a patch of woods which included a pond. In the winter I ice skated here. It was a great place to let the imagination fly.
This particular day was in the fall. I’m not certain, but I think I was looking for a frog to take to school. No frogs as I walked all the way around the pond.
But on the way home. Still in the woods, I saw a tree branch hosting hundreds, actually thousands, of Monarch butterflies taking a rest during their migration.
Recently I attended an exhibit at our botanical garden featuring glass sculptures. The artist captured my experience.
We all have our favorite colors. And often they are the ones which look best on us. Perhaps they bring emphasis to eye color. Or compliment a skin tone. And once in a while — they’re just cheerful and fun.
But what if you like a color that does not flatter? Perhaps confine it to an accessory? Or use it around the home. Pick that red you love for an accent pillow. Or a few dishes. Or a piece of artwork.
I like green. And it is one of three or four colors which flatter. But it’s not popular. At least not in the bargain stores where I shop. So I have a few things. And then I fill the house with plants in the winter.
New addition this year. A gift from a relative. In a beautiful green skirt.
Midwestern farms, especially a few decades ago, needed to be for self-sufficient then our small town or city friends. One feature of this was that each farm (and in some instances homes in small towns or edges of larger ones) needed their own water and sanitation systems.
Our water supply was green. No, not the color. But in energy use. It was not the sort you would find in the small town — unless it was grandfathered into the regulations from a farm absorbed into the boundaries.
We had one of these:
There were differences. The one on our farm was forty feet tall and pulled the water up over 300 feet. Able to rotate and use wind blowing from any direction, it served us well. And if the wind didn’t blow for a day?
Good question. We directed the flow from the well into a cistern. We also had it fixed up so with a little practice a person could move the pipe and fill the stock tank. (Dairy cows are thirsty.) From the cistern the water moved with a combination of gravity and an electric pressure pump and tank in our basement into a dependable supply.
It was a small chore to turn the windmill either on or off or move the pipe. But we kept track of the time when filling the stock tank (and to a lesser extent the cistern). Water is precious and not to be wasted by making a large muddy puddle.
When walking around a historical village, I can put a name and/or purpose to most things. But this one had me stuck.
Is this for grain or produce storage? What about that trough at the bottom? It must be there for a reason.
It all made good sense after I asked one of the employees — in 1830’s costume.
Several households together pooled their fireplace ashes in these. Once they were full they added water. (The metaphorical light bulb started to glow.) What do you get when you add water to wood ashes? Lye.
The trough at the bottom facilitated collecting the lye which would have been used to make soap.
Please give our ancestors points for being smart, clever, and thrifty. But since I remember lye soap well (my mother made and used it for laundry) I’m fine with purchasing modern detergent at the store.
In physics class we learned the definition of candle power as the light from one standard candle one foot away. During out last power outage I discovered that these eyes need two candle power to read comfortably at the table.
Recently I had occasion to visit a historical village. The decade for the reproductions and artifacts was the 1830’s. It was a delightful place to visit and learn. Cooking and heat from the fireplace. Light from home made candles – either dipped or molded.
And when you needed to go outside on a dark night — take your lantern.
So grateful to be living in current times — when a flip of the switch gives us many more than one candle power.