Thursday, August 15, 2013


-Posted by Isaac

"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand"
-Annie Dillard

I've been thinking Annie Dillard lately. It was too long ago I read her great, philosophic Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and I couldn't help picking through the book again, thinking about some of the things she was trying to get across to nitwits like me. It was all provoked by a butterfly.  

Maizy blustered into the honey house a couple months ago with her usual rush and boss: "Daddy! A butterfly! Take a picture!"
"Not now, Maizy, I'm working. It's just a butterfly." My hands were sticky with the extracting of Spring honey. Maizy rushed back out; about thirty seconds later slammed through the door again. "Daddy, it's got blue! Take A Picture! Please Daddy!"
I rolled my eyes, cleaned my hands and reluctantly walked out. As you can see, sure enough, it was a pretty cool butterfly. Just calmly stretching its wings in the morning sun while Maizy frantically pointed, "See! See! Look!  Take a picture!"
I obliged.
It wasn't so much the butterfly that made me pick up Dillard's book, it was Maizy's exuberant reaction. I remembered reading something in there about ways of seeing the world, noticing color and light and movement and hidden things; learning to see and appreciate. Through Maizy's excitement, almost contagious, it dawned on me that my three year old is doing better than I. She's actually noticing the many free gifts the universe throws her way.
With that in mind, here are a few small surprises I've managed to capture over the last two months.

The Accidental Gourds:
I thought goats were supposed to eat everything.
It seems they don't like the taste of these renegade gourd vines growing out of the compost pile:

So many cool gourds, all from stray thrown-away seeds. This should take care of a lot of Fall decorating.

Jayne's hydrangea made its summer debut:
I don't know if she planted it two or three years ago, but I do know it has never looked like this!

Our Monster Sunflower:
Mason planted it in the Spring from a packet of seeds he brought home from school (Thanks Ms. Gregg!).   It guards the driveway flowerbeds as we pull up to the house.

I missed capturing its full beaming glory, but in this shot you can see how many seeds this beauty is going to give us. 

The bees collected some good pollen off the sunflower. Speaking of which, I put the pollen traps back on the hives about two weeks ago. Surprise! Completely different forage paths for different hives. Here you can see the varied pollen from the first three hives in the line:
Makes me wonder.

"What limpid lakes and cool date palms have our caravans always passed untried?"

Of course the garden berry patch was a bountiful surprise. Bridger has become a berry eatin' machine... and then steps up the regularity of his own bountiful surprises.

This mammoth mushroom was practically an overnight sensation. I had just been working in this out-yard two days before. Stopped in to hive a July swarm and found it guarding the yard. (Now you don't see it, now you do.)
Mushrooms and Honey: an excellent brunch
Montana Surprise:
We hiked out of the dense scrubby woods into a clearing above a lake in Glacier Park. I looked up at this mighty pine and caught my breath. Is this a tree or is this God? I can hardly tell...

Ok, maybe it's just a big tree. But sights like this reaffirm my suspicion that the pagans had it right.

Same day, hiking above Bowman Lake; in the middle of beautiful nowhere. No bear, no moose, no mountain goats. Instead, a surprise pair of fishermen seemingly out of the thin mountain air.

And here's our own novice fisherman: ready for the pro tour.

Last week the Clintonville market was really getting frustrating. If not for these "free gifts from the universe" I think I would have killed a customer. Actually, the universe had nothing to do with it. Both perfect, delicious and unexpected, Amy with her peach and Jamie Thompson with her Bawdu  really turned my day around.

I came home from that market and found Jayne reading the latest Time Magazine. Surprise, surprise! Bees (and beekeepers) in the limelight... again.

Hey, chill. As I've probably explained a hundred times every Saturday, it's not as bad as they make it sound. A problem, yes. Catastrophic? Extinctions? No.
Bees have been around for some 100 million years and I'm pretty sure they'll still be here long after we mere humans have checked out. 
But thanks for the attention, Time.

"I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam."

Last and Best: My old bow making mentor, Ed Scott surprised us with a visit all the way from New Mexico. Ten or twelve years ago, by accident and a stroke of luck, Ed and I became friends. Through many miles, memories and bows we have since become good friends. I'm a decent bowyer because of Ed. Ed is the best in the world. And I'm not even slightly kidding. Nobody can do what he can. I feel humbled in his presence, shooting and admiring his bows. He's a scholar and philosopher to boot.

Two years ago he gifted Mason with his very own kids bow.
This year it was Maizy's turn. And she's really taken to it!

Bridger learns from the master
Thanks, Ed!

And thank you Maizy and Annie Dillard. You've opened my eyes.

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