Creeks, tadpoles, and frogs

frog (free clip art)

frog (free clip art)

It was always fun going down to the creek as kids. We would stand on an old stump and see if we could jump all the way across the creek without sliding in. Sometimes we would make it and other times we would fall in the mud. It was all in fun.

frog eggs (free clip art)

frog eggs (free clip art)

In the spring, when the frogs would start cricking, we knew there would be something fun to do. A few weeks after the warm weather set in, we would go down to the creek to see big globs of jelly-like clumps floating in the water. Inside you could see little black dots. These were the start of baby frogs, or tadpoles.

Sometimes we would gather a clump of them in a jar of pond water and keep them out on the front porch to see if they would transform into tadpoles. It usually didn’t work. They would either get accidentally turned over or dumped out by someone. We would go back to the creek a couple of weeks later to see if the frog eggs had hatched.

tadpole (free clip art)

tadpole (free clip art)

We would then try to catch the tiny black tadpoles in a glass jar. It was fun wading in the creek trying to catch them. We would sometimes be able to get them to the point where they were sitting in the jar, coming to the top for air, and developing their legs and climbing up on a rock we put in the jar for them. Most of the time our Grandma and Grandpa would get tired of them sitting out on the porch and make us take them back to the creek. We really never got to watch them turn into full-fledged frogs but it did give us something fun to do.

The mellow sound of classical guitars

I have always enjoyed the sound of alvarez classical guitars, so when Jessie sent me this YouTube video of a man playing a waltz on one, I was pleased that she had remembered that I enjoy listening to music like this. I envy people that have taken the time and energy to learn to play a string instrument! I tried to learn how to play the guitar a long time ago, but I couldn’t take the pain on my fingers pressing on the strings.

Ashamed to admit sometimes we did mean things as kids

wagon (free clip art)

wagon (free clip art)

As kids, we were always rebellious, as most kids are at times. We would do all sorts of mean things toward Grandpa just too keep from having to do chores or work on the farm.

He would make us ride into the woods on the wagon so we could load wood on the wagon while he cut it up with a power saw. I remember one of us would be standing close to where he would be sawing up the wood and the other would be on the other side of the wagon leaning over on the wagon with hands dangling down by the tire letting the air out.

Of course, when Grandpa would notice the tire had went flat, he would stop sawing and tell us to go to the house. He would bring the wagon back to the house to take the tire off to have it fixed. We knew it would be no more wood gathering for a few days then.

Although Grandpa passed at an early age, we never stopped to think about just what he taught us as we grew up. He instilled in us many values I personally have caught myself using up through the years. If I personally had the choice to change something in the past, it would definitely be the way I treated Grandpa as a kid. Today, I think he knows that as he looks out over us as we work our way through our lives.

Foraging for Cress

cress (free clip art)

cress (free clip art)

Back on the gardening scene, growing up we would cross the property line to look for something called Cress. It’s not what some people call Cow-Cress, Bull-Cress, or Watercress. The Cress we looked for was lighter in color than those and the leaves were slimmer and thinner. We used to find them by the bag full over the land during the early spring to and maybe again in the fall.

Grandma would always go with me to look for them if she could. The Cress we looked for seemed to never be out in the middle of the open pasture too far. It would always grow toward the fence lines or wooded area. It was almost as if too much sunlight would not allow them to produce every year.

When the yellow buds started growing in the tops of them, we knew they were not going to be good to eat. Grandma called it “going to seed”. These days our wild cress is rare. Watercress is plenty but the cress we always looked for are another casualty of the land changing now. Every year the plants are smaller and smaller along with their tiny yellow blooms.

I remember on one corner was what appeared to be an animal graveyard. There were skulls and bones of mostly cows. The neighboring farms were milking farms so I suppose that was the easiest way for them to dispose of a cow that had died or lost its calf. I would always try to avoid that one corner of the field. It never smelled of dead animal but it doesn’t take long for the vultures to clean up what they want either.

I would always take the Cress back to Grandma. She would sit at the table with a knife and cut away the roots, dirt, bugs, and dead leaves. After washing them in a large pot, she would put them in a clean pan and cook them until they were almost mushy. At suppertime she would put a bit of salt in them, a dash of vinegar, and we would eat them. I never really liked greens growing up but we never know what is good for us until we get older. Now that I’m an adult I find that I miss those greens.

Vultures

vultures (free clip art)

vultures (free clip art)

Sometimes when my cousin and I went to that old abandoned farm house, we would climb up into the old attic and peer over onto the attic floor. Every year a pair of vultures would go up there and lay their eggs on the hard floor and hatch their young. It was a sight to see the baby vultures and the eggs.

The eggs were about the size of a goose egg, pale blue, with brown splotches on them. They would lay sometimes two or three in a clutch. They looked as if someone had taken brown paint and splattered it across their blue shells. The baby vultures would be a medium color of brown down fur. Their mom and dad would always be out in one of the old trees or up on the roof waiting for us to leave.

It is very advisable to never try to touch or get too close to a baby vulture, considering what its mother and father have brought back for them to eat. Vultures eat whatever they find in the wild and regurgitate that for the baby vultures to eat. They place their own beak into the mouth of the young birds and regurgitate it for them.

Yuk! I say never get too close to the baby, not because its mom and dad will get mad; it is because the baby will throw the food up at you or on you. There is a reason that a dead road-kill smells that way. It not only draws the vultures to clean it up, it is used to repel predators from encroaching upon their youngsters back in the nest while they are out gathering food.