Sunday, January 10, 2010

You lookin' at me? My patch, beat it!

I was walking briskly in freezing temps around the park today, nodding at people so muffled that I'm not sure if I know them or not, and the squirrels were doing their mad January chasing and dancing and general mating games.

One stopped long enough to hiss and chatter at me when I had the nerve to stand by his personal tree and take his picture, which I preserved here.

Which reminds me that this time of year, getting into February, is when a lot of animals mate, including raccoons, squirrels and possums, and they completely lose their minds in the heat, pun intended, of the chase.

So the normally nocturnal ones are seen all over the place in daytime, scrambling about, totally ignoring the human race. I used to get calls when I had the petcare biz from people who figured I probably knew something about wildlife and it was easier to get through to me than to the wildlife officials for the state.

They would be panic stricken wondering if seeing raccies in the daytime on their deck meant they were rabid. These fears are not too farfetched around here, since we do get reports of small rabid animals now and then.

So I would explain, no they're probably not rabid, they're mating under your deck! look out for little families of them in a few weeks, and if you set out a couple of Havahart traps, you can get the local animal control officer to pick them up and transfer them. It being illegal for the likes of us not sworn officers, to move wildlife anywhere.

January also brings us a shrub that blooms in the dead of winter -- witch hazel. For years I used to make a January pilgrimage to the local community college where they have great specimen trees and shrubs relating to their hort. programs, I suppose, and larcenously swipe a couple of little twigs from the witch hazel, which are wonderful miniature flowers which open up when you put the twigs in water to force them, and smell good, too. Scratch a gardener and you'll find a burglar in shabby clothes...

Then last year I discovered, duh, that on the side of the park I walk in daily there are several witch hazel shrubs, slightly different species, but fine for swiping and much easier to get to. They're right by the bus stop for reasons that escape me.

So a tiny little twig is now sitting in a glass of water and if it opens enough to be recognizable as other than a little dead stick, I will take a picture.


  1. My sister would be laughing with glee at your post, Liz. She is an absolute thief, loves branches and flowers and grasses and has a wonderful eye for arranging them in oddball containers that she picks up from the bins, or gets at thrift shops. When she stayed with me a number of years back, she always came home from her daily walks with ummmm, liberated flowers & twigs. She had even more fun when I showed her my little stash of containers and kenzans.


  2. It reminds me of my father and his sister who were great green thumbs and shameless theives. There was a new plant in the raised box in front of our church one week and Daddy and Aunt Bessie hung around chatting with everyone until they left, then they stole - er, picked for replanting - some of the new plant. Within a month, it had taken over both their was Dusty Miller. We laughed at them mercilessly as they complained about how it spread and they couldn't get rid of it. :-) Serves 'em right!

  3. My mother always was one for liberating broken or fallen bits, or helping to liberate them if they were intact! To her great credit she's a wonderful garderner of the most unstudied sort, an absolute natural. I can remember as a youngster being delighted to learn that a slip of a fancied pelargonium, e.g., taken home and taken down to its naked stem (that puzzled and fascinated me - you REMOVE leaves and blooms to GET leaves and blooms!) could bring that hardy lovely into your own garden, no charge except some time and TLC!



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