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Posts Tagged ‘snakes’

In spite of the fact that February is just barely over, all the early daffodils at The Havens are convinced that spring has arrived.   So far the apple trees are on the fence and haven’t blossomed yet, but if things remain as warm as they have been, it won’t be long before the join the “Aye” vote.

This is one of the early varieties in my herb garden.

Just over a little ways from that is “Ice Follies,’ planted by the gate to the back yard.

Out in the front yard, we have “Jack Snipe” popping up.   This is such a cute one, the flower’s trumpet is less than an inch long.

Right across the walk, tempting Jack, is “Salome”.   She is only beginning her show, after the trumpet opens over about three days it develops into a beautiful apricot.  You can just see the beginnings of the peach color.

This one is also one of Jack’s neighbors.  I have no idea what the name of this variety is.   It  came in a naturalizing mix from McClure and Zimmerman.

Out by the pond, the forsythia has decided to cast its vote in favor of spring.

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Lest you think yellow is the only color showing in the signs of spring, I have to throw a little pink in to the show.   This is pulmonaria, growing along the back of the house right next to the hellebore.

Another kindgom heard from on the “spring referendum” showed up yesterday.   Jim called me from my sewing project to look at who was sunning  herself on the Stroll Garden path.

It wasn’t that warm, so the garter snake was sluggish enough to sit and pose for a proper portrait.   Someday I will be lucky and catch the tongue flick.   Her tongue  is a lovely red.

I was talking to one of my clients the other day about how bored bored bored Mallory has been.   She told me that her cat just loves a small ball of yarn to play with.   Well “Duh!”   Of course that was a great idea.  Not only is it grand fun to unroll the ball and play with it, when your enteretainment team starts to wind the ball back up that is ALSO a grand idea.  The roller has to be careful about where the end of the string is towards the end or one can find the cat climbing your pant legs as she follows the end into the ball.

Now.   About that mop.

I have always used a mop made of cotton strings that clamps onto the mop handle.   Yes, I have to wring it out by hand since I don’t have one of those giant industrial mop buckets with the mop squeezer attached to the side.   And yes, it is a little heavy.   But I see that as a great source of weight bearing exercise that helps me keep osteoporosis at bay.   (I also view my cast iron pans in a similar light.)

A few years ago, some marketing genius came up with the “Swiffer” disposable mop.   You spray some sort of chemical concoction on your floor, mop with this product and “viola!”, when you are done you throw it away.

This accomplishes a few things.   First of all, your floor does not get clean.   The little mop you are using simply distributes the dirt evenly over your floor and the chemical you are using glues it down and puts a shine on it.   So you have a dirty shiny floor.

Then you throw the mop head away.   This helps fill up the landfills around the countryside that don’t really need more stuff filling them.   Then you can go out and buy a new one.    This extracts money from you a few dollars at a time and puts it into the coffers of a giant corporation which doesn’t really need more money except for the fact that they like to channel that money into the pockets of politicians who will approve legislation that allows them to move jobs off shore and reap lots of tax advantages ….

Wait.  I’m getting distracted from mops.

My cotton mop lasts for years, but when it finally wears out I can put it in my compost pile to rot and therefore help nourish my gardens.  Of course, sometimes it wears out faster than others.

Out on the wood shed frame, there are a couple of nails conveniently placed so that when I am finished mopping my floors I can hang my mop out there to dry.  That way it doesn’t stay damp and mildew in the storage closet.   The theory is that once it is dry, I will bring it in the house and stow it in the broom closet where it belongs.   The reality is that more often than not, I forget about the mop for weeks.

The squirrels, on the other hand, have spotters that watch the nails.   “Quick, come!”  they will cry when the mop is dry and forgotten.   “The magical source of bedding and home decor has appeared!”   Busily, they go to the hanging mop and cut off the cotton strings with their sharp teeth.  Then they run off to their respective houses and line their nests with it.

My mop is big, and it can sustain quite a long harvest of this sort, but it became evident the other day when Jim wanted to mop the floor that perhaps the harvest had taken the tool past the point of useful mopness.   Fortunately, we had a replacement mop head in the closet, and so after the bedraggled remains of the old mop were removed, he was able to do a great mopping job.  (Too bad floors don’t stay mopped.)

We decided to donate the old mop to the squirrel decor cause, and so it was slung over a nail out in the woodshed.   As the days went by, the mop migrated.   First it was discovered splayed on the lawn.  Then one day as we were breakfasting I brought the new location of the mop to Jim’s attention.   It was halfway up the elm tree where the squirrels have their biggest colony, entangled in some of the lower branches.  We were amused, bemused.

During the course of the day, I watched the squirrels busily work that mop.   First they disentangled the mop from the twigs it was snarled on.   Laboriously, they dragged it up higher into the tree.   There as it was draped over the fork, they worked on it for a while, divvying up their booty. Some of it was dragged into the hole in the tree.   The remainder of the mop wound up in the nest in a high fork in the tree.

This is a shot of the whole tree so you can get an idea of how much work those little rodents went through.   The squirrel nest is the blob in the high fork on the left.

This is a close-up of the nest, complete with mop.

Eventually the mop will disintegrate.   If it falls out of the tree, the cotton strands are biodegradable.   Some of them are already scattered around the lawn and the robins are already snatching them up for nest material.

I ask you.   Could a Swiffer do all that?

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