Friday, September 26, 2014

Power Outage

Thursday we lost electrical power from DTE. That's the fifth or sixth time we've lost power in the last month. At 11:00-ish a.m. I came in to feed the dogs their daily carrots and found the house 'powerless'. I called immediately; they said it would be out until one o'clock. (We had just lost power the previous weekend; both times the weather was gorgeous.) The next message said the power would return before 3:00; then - before 5:00; then - before 7:00; then before 9:30. Of course we all realize how dependent we are on electricity; I couldn't even exit the garage in order to get something to eat at The Forester Inn because the garage door opener is - - - electric. ( I could have opened it manually but considering my age and condition, I opted not to try. Getting things back up and running has become more complicated. Alas.
The sun was trying to burn off the fog over Lake Huron this morning.

Before we lost power I had been pruning back some Russian olive shrubs and had disturbed a yellow jacket nest in an abandoned mouse nest/burrow. After at least four stings, I realized what had happened and ran. Thank goodness for baking soda! However, I think I deserved the stings. Karma! I had complained about having the pest control people go to my former house in Royal Oak to eliminate some "bees" at the request, the reasonable request, of the prospective new owners. The "bees" were really most likely yellow jackets and I cavalierly suggested that they are not as serious a potential problem as a colony of honey bees would have been. Easy to say when you haven't been stung. It's been probably four or five decades since I've had a hornet, yellow jacket, mud dauber sting. Like an electric shock! Unfortunately I dropped my clippers after the stings and cannot find them - - - yet. Maybe I'll wait until some killing frosts to look for them more carefully. The nest is big and active today. Once stung, twice shy - - to borrow a phrase.

Dumb and dumber. The day before I was working in a part of the north forest clearing out dogwood and choke cherries and ran into some poison ivy. this summer I have removed several patches of poison ivy without incident. Karma! I got cocky. And I got poison ivied! With no Calamine, Caladryl, etc. in the house. I washed carefully but uselessly. Fortunately there's a small pharmacy in nearby (15 minutes away) Deckerville which had some lotion. It's working.

Coming back from Sandusky, Michigan I saw several trees with Virginia Creepers (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) in them. They turn such nice shades of red and burgundy in the fall and, unlike grapevines, do not strangle the trees they climb in but seem to coexist peacefully with them. They cascade down from the tree whereas grapevines cover the trees preventing the sun from reaching the leaves of the tree which eventually causes the death of the tree.

The silver maple tree is still green but its companion Virginia Creeper has colored already.

The mail-lady came today with some spring flowering bulbs (84 of them) from McClure and Zimmerman to be planted now in the north forest so I'm off to work play. Some blue anemone blanda, Daffodil poeticus and actaea, some wild tulip species (clusiana chrysantha & tuberens, preastans Zwanenburg, tarda - dasystemon). I really love the species tulips and unlike the large hybrids, they spread if they are happy.

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

This variety of Colchicum is as large as hybrid tulips. The flowers emerge in the fall sans green leaves which appear in the spring and last until early to mid summer when they die back completely. Then in early to late fall, depending on the variety, the flowers emerge amaryllis-like, a wonderful autumn surprise during the last gasp of nice weather.

Serendipity! The much smaller flower of a white colchicum variety which I found at the base of an old stump which had to be removed when the house was built up here, must have hitched a ride along with another plant from Royal Oak. That plant I moved on purpose must not have survived because this tiny flower looks desolate and alone in the weeds wildflowers. (See the Lily of the Valley leaf at about 7:00? Back in R.O. this white variety produces many, many small flowers from each bulb. The different varieties of Colchicums extend the fall flowering season for about a month or so with each one coming into bloom at a slightly different time.

I have a large all-volunteer patch of Lily of the Valley plants. They are not native to North America but have spread. Some people don't like them because they are aliens but I do like them. Deer don't eat them. Neither do slugs. As a result, if I plant a tasty plant in the middle of the Lilies of the Valley (Lily of the Valleys!?), the deer and slugs leave them alone. That's how I plant some Hosta too. I also like Vinca for the same reason - alien, and not liked by deer and slugs. And Lythrum. I found a patch of Lythrums along a dirt road up here. I will move some to my property next time I see them flowering - next summer. I know they are aliens but so are phragmites and dandelions and no one is obsessed with removing them, are they?

Often, very often, I find surprise hitchhikers growing in with a plant I moved up here on purpose. I love, love, love those volunteers, those pioneers! They bring back memories - - while also leaving some relatives behind for the future enjoyment of new owners, I hope.

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