Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Farm Report: Of ferns and emus

It's an annual miracle, this spring in the Blue Ridge. It came on just about at the end of the blooming season down in the flatlands, and every week it got better this year. There were purple rhododendrons for a while, then flame azaleas so golden bright they stood out in the woods like electric lights someone left on.
And there was a sweet little plant I mistook for a Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing at the base of one of old oaks. It had a bit of bright red bloom, but far as I can tell JITPs do not. Anyone have a thought what that might be?
Lately the laurels have put on a show with their lacy white blooms. When the breeze picks up it looks like snow falling.
Up in our woods the running cedar and ferns have their own play pens just 50 feet off our front porch. The ferns die back each fall, then pop out of the ground once it warms up. I don't know a thing about ferns but a fellow of our acquaintance once told us he counted a half dozen varieties within a few feet of our gravel road. They sprouted and flourished the other week, and while I don't know what they are, I do know this: They're mighty pretty. Here's a picture.


It's also mighty hot.
Up in our part of the Blue Ridge there's plenty of empirical evidence of Global Sweltering, so if there's work to be done, we get at it early. That's why I had the DR Field and Brush Mower out early the other morning, mowing down the grass that obscured the mailbox and part of the entrance on our dirt road.
Our French Brittany spaniel Sadie was along for the work, hoping to find a rabbit to chase while I worked my way up the hill. She kept dashing a hundred yards or so down the road and then tearing back, barking and yipping and galloping and generally enjoying life, I thought.
That's when I realized she was in a standoff with an ostrich. Or more to the point, an emu that was standing in the middle of Belcher Mountain road down near Eugene Tinker's place. I don't know anything more about ostriches and their smaller cousin emus than I do about Jacks-in-the-pulpit, but I have since read that emus can be playful, willing to play tag with humans. Sadie wasn't sure whether she wanted to play tag and kept her distance, but I got jumped on my ATV, got my camera from the house and got this photo while the emu was pondering blending into the woods just down from Hal Strickland's house.

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