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Ah, Spring! Where have you been?

Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008, at 8:01 PM

(Photo)
Wild phlox grows in the roots of the trees along the Castor River bank at Trail's End Campground north of Marble Hill. The recent floods have dredged out the Castor River, and the water runs cool and clear. There's a rope swing that calls to me... Do I dare?
This morning I was surfing peacefully on my computer in the early morning hours, when my dogs STARED me into going for a walk on the lane. I had a dog at each window, peering in, pinning me between them - "Please, please, please!" Oh, well, okay - put on my shoes, get the walking stick, and head down the hill.

The goats follow us along the levee road, balancing precariously (as only goats can) on the tiny gravel path that they have along the fence.

The only sound is the singing of the birds and the distant whistle of a train. Ahhhhhhhh! Why did I put this off so long??

My bones creak, my feet hurt, my back aches, my knees moan...but I am once again walking in the early morning.

No rain, no ice, no snow, no earthquakes, no floods....Just sunshine and birds and happy dogs...This is the life! Missouri is once again a wonderful place to live.

Last night I came home from a meeting about 8:30, and, as I got out of the car in the driveway, I heard it -- my first whippoorwill of the season, calling far off in the darkness of the woods.

My husband loved the sound of the whippoorwills and bob whites. It was one of the things he missed the most during those seven years we were in Alaska. Well, that and Leon's barbecues... There were times when I thought we were gonna have to jump a plane at 10 p.m. and head down to the Dexter Queen...

This winter has been too hard. I wonder if I can take another like it. Perhaps, after I've had several months of warm (okay, HOT) summer sun, I'll forget how truly horrible the winter was...

Right now, I just want to put on shorts, get on my John Deere mower, and circle endlessly around my pond, mowing grass...

I want to get in the car with a friend and go to all those fun summer places where the water is blue and green, and lunch is spread out on the picnic table...

Feel the soft summer breeze on my face.......

From the unbelievably green hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your very, very grateful North Stoddard Countian writer, signing off in the twilight of an April evening.....


Comments
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This spring, I'm being introduced to my child playing baseball for a team. It's been a short trip thus far, but interesting none-the-less. Did you know that Dexter Parks built 2 baseball fields RIGHT NEXT to the sewage ponds? Oh, and guess where we practice every Thursday?!?! I can't imagine how it's going to smell when it gets hotter...yuck!

Other than that, and my wonderful allergies, I LOVE spring! My dad got me interested in hummingbirds...and their return has me excited. My kids were MORE than ready to enjoy playing outside for more than an hour a day. Keeping 2 boys cooped up inside all winter was an interesting event in itself.

I started walking a month or so ago. I wish I had a beautiful country road or path to walk on, but I guess the path at West City Park will do until I save up some money (FOR GAS!!!) to travel to Lake Wapapello, or even Sam A. Baker, to enjoy their nature trails. I love to point out different types of birds and flowers and trees to my boys. I hope, with the possibility of a dim future world, that they get to enjoy nature the way I do for many years to come...and even enjoy pointing out all the things I do to their own children.

Sure, we have to mow the lawn (and afford gas for the mowers), pull the weeds, and endure the Missouri humidity...but I wouldn't give that up if it meant more snow, ice, and FREEZING cold temperatures.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 9:52 PM

The indigo buntings are also back, and the goldfinches have turned yellow again. My hummingbird feeder is down half, and soon I'll have to fill another one, because the little aggressive birds will be fighting over this one!

Yesterday I found a secluded back road just lined with that wild lavendar phlox. I now have about six of the plants in my yard. I hope they survive and reproduce!

Hooray for Spring in Missouri!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 6:31 AM

Oh my, I'll have to get the hummingbird feeders out this weekend. I didn't realize they were back. I never do - it always catches me by surprise.

Last night my dogs and I played out in the back yard until almost 7:00 when my charming, beautiful and fiendishly clever twin sister called to remind me about CSI coming on tv.

We had such fun. We ran and chased toys - well, they did most of the running and I did most of the chasing - they love the command "go get it" but they're not very big on "bring it here." We're working on it. We played until we were all three exhausted. Then we flopped down to rest - me in my lawn chair, they on the lawn. Three very contented souls, indeed.

What wonderful weather. What beautiful flowers. What beautiful trees. Were they this beautiful last year? Are they this beautiful every year and we just forget about it over the long, bleak winters?

Oh, to be in Missouri now that Spring is here.

-- Posted by Ducky on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 10:54 AM

I think I recognize that quote, ducky dear - only I heard it "Oh, to be in England, now that Spring is here!"

Either way, it captures the essense of the season quite remarkably well.

Yes, indeed, the hummingbirds are back with a vengeance, looking thin and hungry. I see four of the testy little critters chasing each other around my feeder. More nectar! More nectar!

Don't bother buying the store mix - Mine won't drink it nearly as well as my own: Put one cup sugar in a 4-cup measuring cup. Fill with warm water. Get hot on stove, so the sugar will dissolve. Cool before putting out.

Voila!! They will LOVE you!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 3:26 PM

P.S. -- Happy Humming!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 3:26 PM

I mix 2 cups of sugar per 2 quarts of water, and mix about half a pack of red kool aid (any flavor that's red). Put that in the feeder, and they tear it up! Ducky, to remember when they come home, just keep in mind of your due date for your taxes. April 15th is when these beautiful little things come home, and I usually put my feeders out a week ahead. They're so beautiful. And I love their tiny but tough attitude.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 3:48 PM

Thank you, mrs dolphin! Now we have something GOOD to think about on tax day!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 7:12 AM

Our spring has had a wonderful start also. In the past week (when it's not raining) we have sat outside and let the girls play until the evening hours.

I have one trying to learn how to ride a bicycle, and the other (2yrs.) thinks she is big enough to ride it also. They love being outside. I can't wait until it's warm enough to swim, then they will have TONS of fun.

Of course I like seeing the trees and flowers blooming, and hearing the birds chirp. One thing I can do without is the mosquitos. They are thick at our house every year because we live VERY close to about 30 ponds.

The weather has been just right for me. Warm enough to turn the heat off and open the windows. It was quite cool last night though, and I'm paying with a stuffy nose this morning.

I hope everyone enjoys the weather, I have to finish getting ready for our daughters birthday party WOOHOO!

-- Posted by sc1120 on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 9:21 AM

Mrs. Dolphin, don't be so pessimistic. The world was going to pot long before you and I were born. My grand parents and parents all felt the same way I know. The world is actually a pretty nice place now and I am sure it will be even nicer for your grand children. Be happy.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 2:29 PM

I'm so jealous of all of you with your hummingbirds! Ours don't arrive into our yard until July. I've put out feeders, I've planted bright flowers, I've done everything the books say, but they don't appear until July. I'm talking about south of the airport in Dexter! Could it be that these little critters don't like the flatlands?

Come July, however, they're fighting over my feeders. Anyone care to explain this sadness?!

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 4:44 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Lovebooks, I have no flowers anymore, so my theory is that there are none to compete with my hummingbird feeders. I do notice that when the honeysuckle blooms, the hummingbirds slack off on their feeding at my window.

It's possible that the environmental variety of the hills offers more cover for birds. As I recall, there aren't many trees in your location. Birds in general are attracted to woodpiles (of which I have many), fence rows, old trees, and leaf litter. Your area may just be too NEAT for birds!!

I'm not sure where hummingbirds go when it storms or at night when they sleep.

My neighbor here in the hills (lives about a mile as the crow flies) once had 4 enormous glass hummingbird feeders in her backyard - and I was so envious of the SWARM of hummingbirds that she had. But she (dingy person that she is) decided that the little birds were "eating too much," so she brought all the feeders in, washed them up, and refused to put them back out!

Can you believe it? Anyone else would have killed to have had so many hummingbirds!

I couldn't complain, however, as they started coming to MY house! Hahahahaha!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 9:47 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I can't resist an early-morning Sunday update from my Tillman hilltop home. We're having a tiny glitch in our springtime weather; according to my thermometer, it's in the upper forties. I'm glad I haven't taken the firewood off my front porch. I built a fire to take the chill off the house.

My two indoor cats are quite excited by the feathered activity on the deck outside the bow window: the hummingbirds are busy gassing up for the day, and a little indigo bunting just hit the glass pane (darn!). The squirrels have commandeered the bird feeder by the oak tree, and a hawk has taken up residence in the near woods. No gunshots yet from turkey hunters on my neighbor's land; I may have chased all the turkeys from the region with my lawnmower excursion up the hill yesterday...

Ah, it's a good life!!!! Viva la Spring!!!

I know I'm jealous of all the hummingbirds they have at the feeders at Sam A. Baker. They have TONS! I only have a couple, but they're still beautiful.

I found another wonderful thing to enjoy in the spring...bbq's! I don't have room in my house for a table, but I do have one. It's under my carport, and it came in handy yesterday. I made a HUGE feast, most of which was made on the grill. And we sat under our carport at our table and enjoyed our meal. I refuse to go gas...so the smells of the charcoal and hickory chips slowly cooking all that wonderful food was enough to set a fantastic mood...

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 12:51 PM

Just, have to chime in about the birds. This year like every year the little ruby throats arrived on tax day. I have the feeders out and as soon as I get the deck treated (have to wait until the oak and pine pollen is gone) there will also be 'hummingbird flowers" on the deck.

Lovesbooks, son and I both agree that farmers are just too neat! There needs to be fence rows with briers, brambles, trees and vines around every 20 acre field.....only farmers who are also avid hunters would ever agree with that!!! My/Your farmer thought/thinks there should have been/be corn/cotton from road ditch to road ditch!!! All those years in the country I never had a honeysuckle vine close enough to the house that I could smell it in the yard, but since we moved in town there's one just out my bedroom window in the woods. Heavenly when it's in bloom!!!

We've had feeders out all winter with thistle and sunflower seed, and there have been flocks of gold finches all winter……just as they were getting their beautiful summer plumage they have disappeared not a one in sight!!! Son says their yard in the country is full of them. Anyone else have any?

There are several Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks at the sunflower feeds now and are so pretty. They are here every year about this time but only for a few days as they migrate north.

-- Posted by genbug on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 3:54 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Genbug, birdwatchers are always welcome!! I haven't had Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks this year, but I'm hoping to attract them yet. I've also seen Rufous-sided Towhees at my feeders in past years, and the Goldfinches have come in massive flocks. However, I haven't seen such large displays in recent years.

I've also had a --- is it a blue Grosbeak?? I can't remember now, it's been so long.

The only Oriole I ever saw in my yard was DEAD! I don't know for sure which dog might have done it. Now that I have my son's outdoor cat, I fear that I'll never again have little baby wrens all over the front porch. I even caught the cat stalking an Indigo Bunting! Horrors! That's a BIG NO-NO!

On a drive to school one year, I saw a Scarlet Tananger on a tree branch at the edge of a wooded hill. I can't drive that route anymore; it was destroyed by the break in the levee.

I love to spot a new bird and look it up in my book! I think it would be so much fun to go on birdwatching tours!

MD, If you just look at the bottom 1/3rd of your picture, it appears to be a scene from Dante's Inferno.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 5:06 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Oh, dear, oh dear! You're right! My beautiful photo has been ruined!

MD, No. It just means it could be used for one of those psychological tests where they ask a person what comes to mind when they look at a photo. After looking at the photo some more, the left hand side of the bottom third looks like an alligator is biting a large animal of some sort. There is all kinds of things going on in your picture!!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 6:44 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I see the alligator! He looks as if someone shot him with a shotgun and took out his right eye! Gross!

There also appears to be some sort of creature with eyes right in the middle of the root mass.

I knew the roots looked pretty cool, when I saw them, but I had no idea they were THAT strange! I'll have to check the other ones I took...

One year I looked out my windows and saw Rose Breasted Grossbeaks, Blue Grossbeaks and Orioles at one time on my feeders. I almost wet myself. Never happened again - the bird selection, not the other (unfortunately).

Nice to think of tax time as the time hummers show up.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 12:01 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Hey, guess what, fellow birdwatchers! This evening after work, I had a veritable rainbow of color on my bird feeder! THREE male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, seven Indigo Buntings, six or so Cardinals, several Goldfinches, a very grouchy yellow-shafted Flicker, a couple of Titmice, and an obnoxious Bluejay! (and a Partridge in a pear tree...)

When the sun hit the feeder, the birds fairly GLOWED! Boy, did I need that to cheer me up this evening!

MD, After examining the photo some more, I can also see two animals fighting ... it almost looks like a lion is fighting a huge python. (The "lions" mouth is what looks like the alligators eye.) I think it would take a zoologist to identify all of the animals that can be seen in the picture!!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 5:52 PM

Well, I'll be switched! I do see that lion!

Who knew that tree roots could hold subliminal images?

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 8:48 PM

BTW, MD, did you see the news story that genetic tests have confirmed that the chicken is a descendant of the Tyrannosaurus rex? Feed great bunches of steroids to chickens and they might be running around eating us instead of the other way around!!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 7:30 PM

I don't know about the T-Rex, but there were dinosaurs that had a chicken-like structure.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 9:10 PM

Back to birds: This morning I saw my first Rufus-sided Towhee in the yard!

This evening I have the usual Chickadees, Goldfinches, Cardinals, and Indigo Buntings. Right now I have a fight going on between a Cardinal and a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

What a BEAUTIFUL day it was!!! A bit windy, but WOW! Worth waiting for! A friend and I went to Cape to eat out - and we went down to Capaha Park and sat on a park bench, watching little kids feed the ducks and geese. People were out walking their dogs, and one fellow was fishing with a rod'n reel. The sun felt GREAT!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 5:20 PM

GL, Not only are chickens descendants of the T-Rex, but so are birds. Just think, tweak the genes of your beloved hummingbirds a bit here and there and voila!, you might have a modern day T-Rex stomping around! Who knows? Jurassic Park might not just be a movie fantasy. See a news story about the genetic link, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2...

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 6:23 PM

Absolutely amazing! We keep finding out new information on dinosaurs. I remember when we used to see the "Brontasaurus" in the dinosaur books. Then, a few years ago, we found out that there never was a "Brontasaurus." It was a mistake! Someone had put the head of a Brachiosaurus on a Diplodicas body!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 10:06 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!! Madeline had an ORIOLE at her hummingbird feeder for the last two mornings!!!!!!!!!! I must try to get a photo and post it on my blog!!!!

My hummingbirds are at my house all year. I continue to fill empty feeders, well, whenever they are empty. I do not know where they go at night but in the daytime they sit in the trees thru rain, wind, it does not snow where I live but it does freeze. They are there everyday, all year long. Some people say they leave, I think they just go find other feeders.

-- Posted by hummingbirdies on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 11:23 AM

Sorry, I don't live in Missouri and I can't seem to un-register.

-- Posted by hummingbirdies on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 11:56 AM


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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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