[Tweeters] A Day in Nature

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Jul 20 15:44:28 PDT 2013

Yesterday I continued my gardening work in a yard in north Snohomish. Unlike the cloudy morning a few days ago, with lots of swallows and a visiting Black Swift, the day was clear blue skies, very warm, and calm. The skies pretty much clear of birds, but I did see two Vaux Swifts cruising around the tops of nearby tall Cedars.

Working on a hot sunny bank, I was thrilled to see two young (12" long) Garter Snakes! Living in urban Everett mostly, I rarely see reptiles. Also in this yard I've seen the resident Alligator Lizards snooping about, but not lately. "A day without reptiles, is like a day without sunshine!" I like to quip,( paraphrasing those old Florida orange juice commercials on the Tee Vee). It's more or less true around here.

My main project on this steep bank, was pushing back on a wall of himalayan blackberries that was engulfing a native Hazel that I'd planted several years ago. The thorny buggers were also conveniently laced with Stinging Nettle. It was a hand pruner job, as the encroachers were entangled in the wild filbert. My work gloves were worn out mostly, so it was a careful snip and yank operation. Things were going well as I exhumed the Hazel.

Right near completion, I thought I'd seen a bird moving off in the cedars. I'd been hearing what seemed to me to be a young bird of prey of some sort (Osprey or Eagle maybe) all morning, and leaning a bit too far from my squatting position I fell over down into botanical hell! Luckily, using my super-dooper middle-aged powers, I quickly rotated so I didn't fall face first into all those thorns and stuff. Instead I fell backwards, the thorns lifting my T-shirt so the Nettles had a nice field of skin to sting. Just the situation they had no doubt been waiting months for. The whole thing was a real tactile extravaganza.

Laying head-first downhill , I was thankful. I was thankful that some smartass with a smart phone wasn't present to video this event and have it go viral on You Tube with some perky title like " Smooth Move Ex-lax!".

So I was just kinda lying there for a minute before struggling a bit to get out of this messy moment. Elevated by the stiff blackberries I struggled to get enough leverage on the ground beneath this vegetable velcro that I was stuck to, but the struggle just made it worse. Finally I just started laughing, and calmed down enough to escape. Luckily I have very long arms, and the only witnesses to this event were possibly the snakes, and a Towhee that was down there.

Well so much for working and birding at the same time. Never have been too good at multi-tasking.

On another note, the thorns and stingers also shared the bank with a pretty cool Northwest Native, the wild cucumber Marah oregana, or Man-root. This attractive native perennial vine is blooming right now. It is incredibly vigorous,as it throws its foliage up each year from an amazingly large root. A related species down in California, had a root that weighed 467 pounds. Quite a tuber, I'd say.

Jeff Gibson

Itching to get out into nature, in

Everett, or wherever, Wa

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