Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gardening conversation between God and St. Francis

I took this from Al Lowe's CyberJoke humor website. NB: For those of you old enough to remember, Al Lowe was the creator of the original Leisure Suit Larry computer game, famous for the Naugahyde door to the brothel ("wonder how many Naugas they had to kill to make that door") and for its natural language interface, something modern games don't have.

No offense is meant to anyone - I just thought this was funny, so here goes:

God: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What's going on down there on Earth? What happened to my dandelions, violets, and milkweed? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Plants which grow in any soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. Nectar from their long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and songbirds. There should be vast gardens of colors, but all I see are green rectangles. St. Francis: It's the Suburbanite tribe, Lord. They call your flowers 'weeds' and go to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass. God: Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want grass? St. Francis: Apparently so. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin by fertilizing it and poisoning any other plants that appear. God: Spring rains and warm weather make grass grow fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy. St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it down -- sometimes twice a week. God: They cut it? So then they bale it? Like hay? St. Francis: Not exactly. They rake it into bags. God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? St. Francis: No, just the opposite; they pay to throw it away. God: Now, let me get this straight: they fertilize grass so it will grow, then, when it does grow, they cut it and pay to throw it away? St. Francis: Yes, Sir. God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when I cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That lack of growth must save them a lot of work. St. Francis: You won't believe this, but when the rain stops, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it. God: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. My trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. St. Francis: Not really. When the leaves fall, the Suburbanites bag them, too, and pay even more to have them hauled away. God: No! Then how do they protect the roots through the winter and keep the soil moist? St. Francis: After throwing away the leaves, they buy mulch, haul it home, and spread it around in place of the leaves. God: And where do they get this mulch? St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch. God: Enough! How's the Middle East going?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Birds just want to have fun

Back from our ski vacation I was delighted to find snow in the garden - the first time I've seen it with snow. Admittedly not much, since our warm part of the Rhine valley was not as badly hit by storm front "Daisy" as other parts of Europe. But enough to get out the camera!

In this view from just behind the espalier fruit trees along the border of the allotment you can see our garden cottage and the green tarp winter bonnet on the wooden swing. If you enlarge you can see one tiny corner of my fledgling boxwood hedge enclosing the planned potager.

On the ground various animal and bird tracks could be seen, including my favorites (click to enlarge):

I know that birds do not necessarily have an easy life in the winter months, and that snow on the ground doesn't make it any easier. So please excuse my anthropomorphic fantasy that this bird was having fun prancing in the snow, making an angel with its wings, and perhaps even twirling around with what might have been a rabbit, to judge by the tracks in the lower picture.

Speaking of birds: thanks for all the comments and guesses on my last post about the mystery animal. I've come to the conclusion that the walnuts must have been hidden by one of the large ravens that hang out on the roof across the street, on a level with our balcony. Magpies (= Elster in German) are also a possibility, since they do live around here, but I haven't seen any recently.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mystery animal and off until mid-January

We're off for ski vacation until mid-January, but before leaving I wanted to do a post on a mysterious visitor I'm not sure what to make of. Here's the story.

On our front balcony we had a pot of pelargonium geraniums, still halfheartedly blooming in mid-December (click any picture to enlarge, if you like):

Finally it got so cold that I had to remove them, and after cutting off the foliage here's what was hidden underneath:

Four walnuts! How could they possibly have gotten there, and where did they come from? There's not a walnut tree anywhere in the vicinity that I know of, and we are on the fourth floor up. Here's the view straight down:

And here's the view looking (sort of) up:

So what was it: a squirrel? a mouse? a large bird? And how on earth did whatever it was get them there?

I had been thinking of covering the nuts up with straw so as not to deprive the enterprising creature of its winter storage, but three days later I looked again:

Cross my heart and hope to die - nobody in the family removed those nuts. It must have been the original owner. Any ideas?

See you in mid-January!