why a duck?

Hello everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “The Dog Days” and “One Thing Follows Another”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.14043009Something really weird happened today, though actually it started yesterday, and considering that weird things happen here all the time, this was one of the weirder ones.

When we started our afternoon walk yesterday, we were both startled by a female duck flying up out of the manzanitas right by the front walk. You know, ducks. We have them here.



It happened again this morning, and the duck stood in the street as though wondering what was going on. That made three of us. Then the guy I live with peeked into the manzanitas and found something rather interesting.14043010The guy I live with said that manzanita didn’t have another common name, you know, like eggplant, and there was only the one that he could see, when there are supposed to be more, in what’s called a “clutch”, and so, well, we don’t really know what’s going on here. The duck didn’t come back later.

So it was pretty weird.

We pretended that it was a normal day after that. It was really windy for part of the day, as maybe you can see here. I startled the ducks when we walked down the canal, because I’m great for startling things. Yesterday, when the guy I live with thought about bringing his camera and then of course didn’t, it was a great blue heron, fishing in the canal. 14043012The guy I live with did some weeding out in the back yard. He did that for a couple of hours. I think he likes to weed, which is a good thing, because there are a lot of weeds this year. So he’ll have something to do besides just mope. I watched.14043007In the picture above, you can see that the fastigiate blue spruce, on the left, is still tied up, just in case it snows again. Wet, heavy snow can bend down the branches and spoil the upright look. The conifer on the right is Abies lasiocarpa. Subalpine fir, they call it.

Here are more of the obligatory plant pictures.

Penstemon arenicola again, this time taken with the DSLR. The guy I live with discovered that there’s a close-up feature on the camera. Of course, if he had read the instructions …but what am I saying?14043002And Iris lycotis again. It still hasn’t unfurled its standards completely, probably because it’s been so windy. 14043003Another plant, not as far along, photographed from above.14043004And Iris paradoxa. Paradoxa because the falls are greatly reduced, as you can see. 14043005Balsamorhiza sericea. This doesn’t look like much of a big deal, but the guy I live with said it took fifteen years from seed to flower. Flowering for the first time ever this year. I’m surprised at how patient he is. There’s some crocus foliage there too. 14043006I don’t know what happened with the duck, and so it’ll just have to be one of those weird things we never talk about. Unless the subject of ducks comes up again, which it rarely does. The guy I live with doesn’t really think duck is all that edible, anyway. “About as edible as pigeon or deflated basketball”, he told me after we saw the ducks. That’s one area in which we greatly differ. He says most meat doesn’t taste like much unless you add stuff to it, but I think it’s almost all excellent just as it is. Except the one time my mommy gave my some canned venison, which I spat out on the kitchen floor. My buddy Slipper took care of it.

There are a lot of plants blooming in the garden right now but we just have pictures of the ones we have pictures of, if you know what I mean.

That’s really all there is today. Tomorrow is the first of May, not really a happy month for either of us, but we’ll both be as tough as usual. Stiff upper lip and all that.14043013


Until next time, then.

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13 Responses to why a duck?

  1. Ah, Chess, looking at the photo of your uneven-surfaced walking path I see the reason for the stumbles. Good eventful place for a walk, I’m sure, but I’d be catching my toe and falling every few feet. Especially while looking at things. Tell the guy you live with the DSLR close-up feature really works for showing things, including the spectacular fifteen-years-from-seed-to-flower yellow flower. Leaves resemble that of the parrot poppy, vaguely. Good job placing all that brightness next to lavender. Happy trails to you.

    • paridevita says:

      The canal road was a lot smoother until kids started riding ATVs and dirt bikes on it, which is illegal but they did it anyway. Probably the same kids who egged our driveway. Street toughs, you know. The balsamorhiza is native to, like, eastern Oregon, but the guy I live with wonders why there’s only one R, since a double R is usually used, like in Geranium macrorrhizum. Not that he’ll lose sleep over it. He says he might look at the camera instruction book some, but I doubt it.

  2. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    I weeded today, too — in the fenced area we call the dog pen. I was surprised to see a dead baby bunny under a hosta there. It was really cute except for the being dead part. I suspect that Buddy might have had something to do with its demise — because he has killed before.

    They talk about birds as being “tight sitters” or not, meaning will they stay on the nest if humans approach it. My experience has been that cardinals are very tight sitters — I had one threaten me with her wings raised once. Robins usually are the loosest of sitters — one built a nest in the tree by our garage & then would fly away every time the car pulled in. It sounds like maybe the duck is in this category. Bluebirds are medium — they usually pause for a second before taking off when I open the nestbox to check on things. The mama nesting in the box this year is exceptional — twice I’ve opened the box when she’s on the nest, and she stays. I like that somehow. I think we’re bonding.

    • Vivian Swift says:

      Whoa. You’ve had eye contact with a bluebird?? I get the cills just thinking about it.

    • paridevita says:

      There’ve been robins here who sat on their nest no matter what, but they usually pick places where they can do that. I don’t know what happened to the duck. The guy I live with now thinks that’s a chicken egg, left over from the driveway-egging incident, and that the duck just got really confused, which by the way, he doesn’t mean as a criticism. We find baby bunnies here too. Not because of me. I chased a cat out of my garden just the other night.

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        I’m often annoyed with myself for forgetting to comment on the flower photos. Guess I should write it down in by notebook — in big letters followed by several exclamation points: WRITE ABOUT THE FLOWERS!!@!!!! The close-up of the penstemon is wonderful. And the first bloom after 15 years is just amazing. Not many people (or dogs) get to see that kind of reward.

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks; I guess flowers are important to someone around here. Growing peonies from seed takes about as long, too.

  3. Vivian Swift says:

    So that’s what manzanita looks like. I only know the name from a favorite Loggins and Messina song from 1974, Brighter Days. But Kenny said he was “lying alone in the SHADE of a manzanita”…maybe he’s a better lyricist than botanist. Or maybe he was writing from the egg’s point of view. Sigh. I guess I’ll be googling “manzanita” for the next half hour until I know what/if a manzanita tree looks like.

    Anyway, dear Chess, there will be brighter days ahead, no matter how dismal your May days are. This is the first time in a week that I haven’t had to wear my Winter coat when I took my dog out for her morning walk in the rain. Yay.

    I’m reading the memoir of the head gardener of Versailles, translated from the French. And since I know you speak French, dear dog, if you’re interested in a Versailles gardener’s memoir this is the one to read. It’s a very faithful translation, I can tell, from the repetition, not only of word choice (you know how French has about one-third the words that English has so there just isn’t as much to choose from which is why he uses the adjectives “touching” and “sordid” over and over, for example) but also in content. One thing I’ve noticed in French conversation and what little French journalism I’ve read (Paris Match) is that the French are long-winded. It shows in this memoir — he keeps re-stating his opinions and certain tid bits of historical background as if the reader might have forgotten what he/she read a few paragraphs ago. But it’s a fun book anyway, especially the first chapters about his apprenticeship in the garden. The Gardener of Versailles by Alain Baraton, published by Rizzoli.

    • paridevita says:

      In California, so says the guy I live with, manzanitas are trees. Here, just bushes. Spanish for “little apple” because of the fruit. The guy I live with was on a panel, sort of, once, where someone back east called members of the genus Arctostaphylos “bear berries”, and he got all riled up, the way he can sometimes, because the eastern one (which is also native here and farther west), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, is the bear berry, or kinnikinick, but there are like fifty or more species our west, and they are called manzanitas. It’s supposed to be in the 70s the rest of the week. May is the month when we lost my buddy Slipper and my mommy, so we have anniversaries later. The guy I live with has a book in French sitting on the chair by the kitchen table right now, Filippi’s Alternatives au gazon, which he mentioned a while back. He says if it were in German, talk about long-winded, it would be in ten volumes.

      • Sharon says:

        Looking forward to cactus family in bloom. Iris coming along here and Penstemon are just showing new leaves. Your plant photos are sublime!

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks. We didn’t do very much today. The guy I live with was under the weather, and I had to nap because he made me get up early. 7:30 in the morning. Hoping there will be a big display of cactus flowers here.

  4. Heel — oh no, scratch that, I mean “heal.” And I suppose that canal isn’t really a viaduct, she writes, with a cigar wiggle and a raise of the brow, mustache in place as are the spectacles.

    • paridevita says:

      Uh huh. My mommy loved the Marx Brothers. Well, who doesn’t? “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” I think the guy I live with didn’t get enough sleep last night, and I hear that makes humans feel icky. We purebred border collies simply make up for it with long, long naps.

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