Tag Archives: nature

I closed my eyes listened to the past drifting through

fall sky and trees

A perfect autumn day, when I was a kid this was called “Indian summer.” When the temperatures rise so all I need is a sweater. This is as close to perfect weather as I can hope for.

I walked around the path, watching the ground and hoping to avoided raccoon scat, muskrat holes and sticks. I kicked up the leaves; they were curled and dried crunching with each step.

The mud on the low end of the path was easier to walk over today, not as slippery as yesterday. Green grass was making an attempt grow, not only on the edges of the path but directly in the center. I took advantage of that new growth using it as stepping stones.  

I checked out the prints in the mud, my dogs, raccoons and deer, and small rat feet.  That deer must be heavy, his hooves sunk deep in the mud. My shoes hardly sunk in at all.  The marks I left would be the same if I had walked on pavement with wet shoes.

I set off up and to my right. I noticed that the farm to the south hasn’t been harvested. That farmer has been out at night for the past week. Early Saturday morning around two- thirty, he was in the fields to the north.   

I stopped and listened to the rustling, dried corn stalks.  Tall beige grasses moved around me in the warm breeze. Rustling, crackling, a branch squeaked over head.  

Walking amid the dry grass, I could imagine others who passed through here over the centuries. Did they pause and listen to this sound of autumn?  Were they in a hurry to gather the last of the seeds, fruits and vegetable storing them for a long winter? Or, did they pass through, taking with them dreams of the tall grass and rustling warm breezes.  Maybe they weaved corn husk dolls, and canned fruit.

A faint buzzing and humming sound drifted my way. The farmer was out in his fields. Sounds drifted to me from the south. I hope that he doesn’t cut this field today; I wanted to keep the windows open.   Dust will spread out from his tractor, and spread all over the house, if I don’t close all the windows.

I hesitated and listened. Crows flew noisily overhead. To my right there was movement in-between the trees. A young buck saw me; startled he started to run, and then changed his mind, and sauntered into the thicket. I smiled and nodded.

 The farmer is still too far away. I have time to enjoy my morning walk. I may even have an hour or two to air out the house.

In this moment, I closed my eyes listened to the past drifting through.

Milkweeds, Snowballs and Wishes


I have been trying to grow milkweeds on my property for the past fourteen years. I have some milkweeds with whitish flowers, and some with pink flowers.

When I first moved here, the Milkweeds were small and very few, they were about ten inches high and scrawny. A neighbor, in Chicago, had credited me with the first monarch butterflies he had seen in years. So I pulled out my squirreled away milkweed seeds, saved from my Chicago plants. They were tall ones, three to maybe five feet tall.

I wanted to bring that out here. This is the country; it should have been easy to grow wildflowers, right?  Well, not really. When the farmers spray the fields in the spring I lost the majority of the milkweeds. A few survived growing next to some trees or protected by tall grass. Each year they made the attempt to grow taller and stronger. Until finally had a patch in the front, near the drainage pond. Last year, that area flooded and the milkweeds sat in deep water for over a month and everything turned black and molded.

This year I had a small patch closer to the driveway. I watched it all summer. The plants grew between three and five feet tall. Even when they started to die down, the stalks stood straight and held onto the seed pods.

I was expecting to grab a couple of seed pods, like I do every year, and save them in the garage until spring. Two days ago, the seeds burst out of their pods, in a puff of pure white, sparkly, silky blur. The small flat brown seeds were connected like tiny parachutes waiting for the winds to catch them. For a moment, serenely, they held on to their pods, narcissistically I assumed they were waiting for me to notice them.

I did a double take when I walked out to get the mail.  Surrounded by a variety of browns and dried dark greens, and sitting on those splotchy dried stalks the  pods had burst into view. At first glance, I thought I was looking at snow perched on the end of a branch.   

I have to admit, second and third glances they still looked like snowballs.

 I waded through the dried grass to get a closer look. At that moment, a slight breeze made a wish and the seeds drifted around and above me, the seeds littered the grass, and wafting along on each breeze.

My first thought, “The Monarchs will love this.” Then I remembered that sometimes the farmers use Bt insecticides their crops, not very beneficial to Monarchs. 

We live in a world of chemicals, electromagnetic radiation; poison rain,… the list can be endless. All this makes me wonder how one person, not pouring chemicals into the land can help?  Help will come when we start to love the so called, weeds again and stop being afraid. Fear is a reaction to things we don’t understand.

I wonder if I make a wish with one of these seed pods, like a child when holding up dandelion that has gone to seed and wish for ,…What would you wish for?



This site has a description of what, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn pollen is;

“Colorado State University”


Here is some information from the, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Pesticide Review;


“Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil. It produces an endotoxin crystal that attacks the gut membrane and creates pores, which cause leakage and swelling. The swelling continues until cells burst, which allows the gut contents to leak into the insect’s blood, disrupting the blood pH and resulting in paralysis and death within 24 to 72 hours. In Bt corn, the genes in the bacteria that code for the production of this endotoxin crystal are inserted through genetic engineering into the corn plant. The resulting corn plants produce the endotoxin crystal, causing the death of caterpillars that feed on them. This toxin is produced in many locations of the corn plant, including the pollen.”

Picture of Milkweed-


Rain Of Leaves~

leaves gold2

I walked with silent contemplation. Not a fast paced march against heavy winds. Nor an irritation amid waving flags, aimed against storming mosquitoes, just a simple quiet stroll.
I stretched upward, taking in a deep breath of cool air and watched the tops of the birch trees; their coin shaped leaves had changed from a soft green, to golden green, into brown coins that littered the ground. The sun was hitting the top branches along with the gentle wind, which brought about a subtle clapping in the tree tops. I wondered are they applauding the setting sun, or sending thanks for the passing of a beautifully calm day?  Either way the view was astounding.
A couple of stray bugs decided to interrupt my contemplation and buzzed around my head. Where did they hide when the tempeture dropped?   Inside the house the widows were crawling with Japanese beetles. Outside I can’t find one.
 As I walked off the path, and headed towards the apple trees I noticed the calmness of the corn field next door. The farmer still hasn’t cut that corn down. I can hear the humming of the large faming equipment. The field across the road was getting harvested.
The corn field next door, rustled. A slight breeze moved between the dried beige rows.  I wasn’t worried a deer would come crashing through. In hind sight- I should be.  I have seen a deer appear from the middle of a corn field in the middle of a bright warm day.  I stopped and listened. I couldn’t hear anything crashing through those tightly packed stalks of corn.
The birds were quiet.  They must be settled in for the night. I wondered if they sleep in the same place, night after night?
Uriah ran up to me, his tongue hanging heavy and a look of complete happiness on his face.  He was checking up on me, once he knew I wasn’t going for a second walk on the path he trotted under the apple tree to chase the chipmunks.

Have Any Idea What That Plant Is?

 I stopped half way around the back path, while talking to Uriah. He had seen a black squirrel. With high hopes his nose was to the ground and he wandered in circle. We never had a squirrels living in our backyard. Too many corn fields void of trees. As son as the  line of trees from town grew upwards and out, the squirrels used  them as stepping stones, and just last summer they finally reached us.

The black squirrel was startled when I walked on the path with out singing out. He leaped from the smaller mulberry trees into the tall grass and scurried up on one of the older bog willows – Uriah leaped into the grass with his tail wagging. Immediately he was pulled into the hunt.

From my stand point I could see it going nowhere. The furry squirrel was already thirty feet ahead of Uriah and holding onto a much stronger willow. He looked back at us, still not confident enough to chatter his anger in our direction. Instead he leaped again and again from tree to tree. I continued walking. Without a back ward glance I whistled for Uriah, surprisingly he followed.

 When I stopped, I looked out and up to where the land leans upwards, facing away and towards the south. The grass had changed color with the last dip in temperature, so the colors were muted beige, browns, washed out green. Closer to the ground it was very dry beige. What got my attention was a plant that gave me the illusion of a wispy, swirl of green, bright spring green.

When I spotted the sweeping, feathered branches, of what I thought was one plant, was in fact, two growing side by side. The main stem had the look of an asparagus, soft light green; the large plant was three fingers thick. The smaller, its height was the comparable to the first and its stem was only one finger thick. Both grew on a single straight strong stem, side branches swirled downward like a weeping willow.

 Using my ski pole I checked for holes and large spider webs. So each step took a lot longer than just and easy stride into the unknown, fraught with a possible jaunt to the ER.

The plant was growing nearly fifty feet from the path, after my initial surprise at its color, Easter grass green, I noticed the ends looked as though they had started re-growing, looking very feathery, in an evergreen pattern. I touched one of the branches, soft and delicate.

 I couldn’t spot any other plants in the area like these two. I hadn’t noticed it this past summer. It more than likely blended into the landscape, so I don’t know if it had any other type of leaves or flowers. I could see that some of its branches were bare, with points were there should have been something. Similar to a fake flower when it drops off you’re left with a pointed, naked end.

I moved away searching for another like it, somewhere in the trees or out in the open fields I found nothing. Unique plants, like certain people, seem to come out in the open after every one else around them peters out.

I will have to make a note to watch out for this plant in the spring, I would love to find out if it is a wildflower, or a tree.


I Never Walk Alone

This morning, around 8am, I took Uriah out for his morning walk. The air was still and cool. I could hear the muffled chatter of the birds. A dog complained somewhere. He could be miles away. Around here, with all the open spaces sound moves across miles of fields, over the roads, past cows and horses grazing silently in early mist to land at my feet. Curiosity will have me speculating  at each sounds origin.

Uriah ran ahead of me as I circled the back yard. I walked close to the trees to the north, near the old apple trees.

I felt someone, or something watching me. Peering intently into the nearly leafless bog willows I saw nothing. The dense summer foliage had changed over night, to naked branches weaved together in a haphazard maze.

Still, I felt something watching me. I tried to shrug it off and turned toward the house.

 I took a few steps forward. My right side towards the trees, that’s when, just out of the corner of my eye I spotted him, a buck, standing quietly, about one hundred feet from me inside the tree line.  He was the size of a large horse! 

I didn’t move. Yet, I could feel him. He wasn’t frightened, neither was I…

 I didn’t have time to react even if he charged. This is mating season, and crossing paths with a buck now can have direr effects.

 His ear moved. Then he turned his head slightly in my direction.

 I couldn’t differentiate between the tangle of trees and antlers on his head. He stood tall; his stance was similar to walking with a heavy crown on your head.  All this time I kept looking straight ahead. I could only see him in my peripheral vision, he bended into the trees when I tried to look directly at him.

Time moved slowly.   Finally, I noticed a slight breeze as it blew towards the deer explaining why I hadn’t caught his scent. Just as I was wondering if he was going to charge me, I saw his white tail flip; just slightly.  He slowly started walking east. I took the hint and headed to the house walking west.

That’s when I realized, Uriah had decided to go check him out. I really wasn’t in the mood for irritating a buck today, or any day.

 I whistled and Uriah did his bravado dance of scrapping at the grass with his hind legs. He squeezed out a couple of attempts at a growl. Then rolled his eyes, mouth open in a wide doggy grin he trotted over to me. His job is to keep the wildlife out of the backyard. He raised his eyebrows at me then he glanced around, as if to say, “No one here but us. I did my job, gimmee cookie!”

 I gave him a choice of a Milk Bone, or a Liver Snap. Being Uriah, he ended up with both.

I grabbed my coffee, and stood out on the deck. High pitch screams circled above me and I could hear branches breaking.  I love my morning coffee.


Show Me Your Secrets~

     Early this morning the ground was frozen and the air was crisp, as I headed towards the path. I wondered if the water had receded enough to allow me to walk .

     I was  surprised to see the ground with only trickles of water still running freely.  I carefully stepped on the grass growing along the edges, avoiding low hanging branches. 

     Frost airbrushed the shadows as I moved up and around the trees. I could see my breath added to the morning fog.  I walked quickly.  I was on a mission.   “Walk the dog and quickly get back in the house to a hot cup of coffee.”

     I reached the curve in the path that swings around and sets me on the path home. Stopping I looked up at the flock of birds screaming at me. I really shouldn’t group them together I saw robins, and starlings, doves and finches, woodpeckers and others that flew past so fast I couldn’t recognize them.

I took a deep breath, thanked the earth for the splendor set in this moment. Then, I asked, “Please show me your secrets.”

Nature is full of secret. You just have to slow down and look for them. 

      At that moment, when I looked up and away from my feet, and asked the question, “Please show me your secrets.” The clouds parted above me so that the sun, which was sitting near the horizon, slipped over my shoulders and lit up the farmer’s field.  

      Acre upon acres in front and around me brightened.

     I could only describe what I saw as a patchwork quilt flowing out and across the land. Golden yellow leaves of soy beans, a deep green wave of grass, corn standing tall waiting to be harvested, 150 year Oak trees  their twisted branches touched with that golden light. 

      The sun moved across the fields dipped low then slipped upward.  I smiled and said, “Thank You!” At that moment a large hawk rose from the corn field, turned and flew towards me and landed in one of the larger trees to the south. 

      I took a deep breath, whistled for my dog and moved on towards home and my coffee…

 frosted clovers

Magical Gnomes Wander Through This Area

     Late morning, around eleven I grabbed my walking stick/ski pole and headed out to take a Uriah for a walk. First thing I noticed was the pair of old jeans that had been pulled out of the Trees and water 2burn pile and looked as though someone had played a game of tug of war with them. Using the end of my ski pole I was able to slip under one leg and flip the pants over a drooping branch of an old bog willow. I just want to see how badly the animal wanted them. Will he reach up and pull them down, or walk away form them?

     Tomorrow will tell.

     Walking along the tree line wearing my fashionable bright orange jacket, I decided to slip into the denser foliage. Normally I wouldn’t walk into the woods. Ticks treat me like a free taxi ride. Today I don’t have to worry; the tempeture is barely sixty degrees. Fingers crossed I am hoping they are all snoozing. At least that’s what I am hoping, as I peer around some fallen trees.

     “Hey, Uriah, give me a paw here, how do I get through these trees?” I stepped back and waited for Uriah to catch up to me. I patted his head and slipped him a milk bone.

      Uriah looked up at me, caught a scent and stuck his head in a large hole.   Eyes only, keeping his head buried in a hole in the ground.  I whistled, he started wagging his tail and pushed past me.  

     I weaved a drunken path deeper into the wooded area, attempted to bypass the heavy vines that were tangling around my legs, while totally avoiding the wild rose bushes. I didn’t get far and I had to peel off the heavy thorns as I stepped on the vines in order to get past them. Uriah was already at least twenty feet ahead of me.

     “Wait up” I called out; he stopped turned and rolled his bugging eyes. I could swear he was laughing!

    Maneuvering my way through the vines, I stepped into a darkened clearing.  The ground snapped and popped under foot like Rice Krispies. The air, damp and cool filled my universe with a heavy musk scent. I looked around half expecting a deer to jump out at me. Nothing moved. Uriah seemed unconcerned. The first thing I noticed was the deep black dirt, spongy with layers of moss, leaves and decomposing branches. The ground was damp, without a drop of standing water.  

     The remains of last September’s floods were evident everywhere. One of the older trees had fallen and was stretched out in front of me. Its bark had been scrapped and torn off in places. I knew that woodpeckers could tear into the bark; usually their damage consisted of uniform holes.

     Round grey mushrooms, the size of grapes, were growing along the broken base. It was beautiful in its demise; it was feeding the area, with an array of bugs and sweet rotting bark. I spotted three different types of moss growing along its trunk.    At that moment I nearly lost my senses and walked a little to close to the fallen tree. A warning came from above.  A hawk screeched! That high pitch piercing sound that let me know I was moving in his territory. The blue jays added to the sound, and then a lone crow flew in-between the trees above my head.

     Trees towering above me had large mushrooms growing in their branch bark ridges (where the branch connects to tree) standing straight up. Now I’ve seen mushrooms growing along the side of a tree, smaller mushrooms. These mushrooms were the size of a cantaloupe. Their base was the thickness of my fist and the tops like umbrellas. Once used by magical gnomes that are said to wander through this area. Hmmm! Maybe that’s were they store their umbrellas!

      I moved away from the downed tree. The view around me was perfection. I stood, just staring until Uriah came by, sat at my feet and offered me his paw.  Slipping my hand into my pocket I gave him another Milk Bone. That dog loves his treats!

      Reveling in the deep woodsy landscape spread out in front of me- I was awe struck.

      A carpet of three leafed plants, about a foot tall, spread out around me. I could see small tiny, tiny bright green sprouts pushing up through the rich black dirt while the sunlight tried to slip through the green canopy above me.   A few more steps and suddenly the trees opened up to a field of grass, nearly up to my waist.

     Nearly forgetting I wasn’t in Oz, Mother Nature sent in her tiny vampire mosquitoes letting me know it really wasn’t all that cold out, and in this kingdom they still reined supreme.  

     With that first slap to my forehead, the magic dissipated.  Looking around I could see scat marking the base of some of the trees, and just the thought of poison ivy had me slowly inching my way back towards the short grass near the house. I’ll come back   and take some notes, when the temperature drops a few more degrees.

“Friesner Herbarium”

“Tree identification


The Visual Dictionary”



Raccoon scat”



“YouTube screaming red-tail hawk”




“Animal scat”



Curiosity can always get to me, and today is not an exception

Curiosity can always get to me, and today is not an exception.


The farmers haven’t cut down the feeder corn,yet and I find it so mysterious, scary and beautiful all at the same time. When I get enamored by a thought I will end up acting on my curiosity, which is how I ended up wandering around my fallen, barbed wire fence, and standing in the sinking mud to get a, “good look” at the corn field. 

 There are other plants that grow along the edges of a corn field; Milkweeds, Queens Anne’s Lace and a multitude of weeds that as you step past them will deposit burs in your clothing, hair and along your ankles connecting to your socks and shoes making it a treat to remove.

None of that mattered.

  I wanted stand next to the towering rows of corn.

Golden, browns and beiges streaked with green and yellows stood in formation. The large ears of corn still connected to the stalks. Some of the corn had deep orangey, yellow kernels peeking out. This is not the type of corn that if you squeeze a kernel with your nail it will pop a milky sweet juice.   These kernels are hard. They may end up as Ethanol, livestock feed, a starch, sweetener or for use in fermentation.  

 I could see where a passing deer, or a hungry raccoon, possum, or Badger ripped off some ears and carried them onto my property and under a bush to feast. A few kernels were on the ground. I knew from years of walking around here, that tomorrow morning if I were to check they would be gone, eaten.

 Pulling my feet from the mud, with a distinct gooey sound I stepped next to the first row of corn stalks, and looked up, at their waving tops. I tried to focus on the rows deeper into the field. They were so thick I could only see two ahead of me, and then they blended together like a wallpaper field, or a movie set with either zombies, or dreams being chased way.

“Hey Uriah can you chase away a Zombie?” I laughed as Uriah looked around nervously. “I guess not.” I signed as he seemed to take offense by ducking his head and starring at the ground. 

The bitter smell of brown wet leaves, moved around me. Then drifting past as the wind picked up, racing the rain clouds into another county, allowing the sun to spread across my face.  The sky brightened with white puffy clouds and a deep blue sky.

This is the moment I relish! The tops of this corn field wave around me as I stood quietly. Here in my old, mud covered gyms shoes, with wet socks while something crawls down my back.  I am happy.

Corn moves my car…and then

My attitude

Sweetens my dinner… and

My desserts

Then eases through my digestive track

To return

Looking as if it never left




“Illinois Corn”


National Corn Growers Association” 


“Kane County Farm Bureau”