Gardens, birds and mountains lift spirits

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

My neighbor Crandall stops by. &uot;How are you doing?&uot; I ask.

&uot;I find myself in a state of existence which can only be described as ‘Hartland.’ I had been as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needed some time off, so I went fishing.&uot;

&uot;Any luck?&uot;

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&uot;Are you kidding me? I caught walleyes so big, that it only took eight of them to make a dozen. Even my dog found it relaxing.&uot;

&uot;Your dog finds everything relaxing. He is so lazy that he doesn’t bark when a rabbit runs by. He waits until the neighbor’s dog barks and then he just nods his head.&uot;

&uot;Maybe so,&uot; admits my neighbor. &uot;Well, I didn’t come over to talk about canines. I came over to ask you if you wanted to go to a Hartland Hicks baseball game tonight? It is Half-price Night at Hardly A Stadium.&uot;

&uot;The Hicks are playing on the road tonight,&uot; I say.

&uot;I know. That’s why the tickets are half-price.&uot;

A good day

I dig my hands in the black soil of my garden. It is still a garden of plans and dreams. It has not yet become the green plant-filled oasis that it will soon become.

It is a place for me to watch summer arrive. I visit the garden early in the morning. Dewed spiderwebs dot the lawn. Light and shadows play through the woods. The haunting sounds of crickets and toads still pierce the morning air.

I pull some small weeds and pull some solutions for the day’s problems right along with them. The weeds appear to spring from nowhere. I am in a hurry, but the weeds are not. The weeds hang onto their place on earth with a determined cussedness. People may run out of patience, but nature does not.

Time slows down as I go about my work. Arrogant squirrels do their trapeze acts in the trees over my head. Nature finds us in our hiding places. The birds sing their morning chorus to accompany my activities. I am convinced that we cannot live without birds and their songs. It is difficult for a person to take himself too seriously while the birds sing. I listen to the vocalizations of the birds. Their songs lift my spirit. There are times when I think that listening to birds is the only time that I am sure that I know what I am doing. Birds change us. Their voices cause us to become more meditative. I feed the birds. I plant shrubs for them. I provide water for them. I plant blueberries. I never eat one of the berries. I might add that I love blueberries. I never eat any of the blueberries because the birds beat me to them.

There are those who claim that we do not need birds. I do not agree. Even those people who believe that birds are not needed should do something for our wild birds. Whenever our souls need tending to, we should care for the unnecessary. We can make a difference here.

Mt. McKinley

I had wanted to go to Alaska the minute I learned there was such a place. I had made plans to go. Plans made in my mind only. Time passed as more important things took place. A wife, a child and grandchildren filled my life with happiness. Finally, my opportunity to visit presented itself.

There is so much in Alaska to see and I wanted to see it all. But what I really wanted to see most of all was Mount McKinley. Also called Denali, an Athabascan word meaning &uot;the Great One&uot; or &uot;the High One,&uot; it stands 20,320 feet tall. I learned that in Alaska, it is often referred to as simply &uot;the mountain.&uot; I was told that the chances of seeing all of Mount McKinley would be slim and none. &uot;Ten to twelve days a summer,&uot; I heard as being the number of times that the mountain would present herself for viewing. Other reports were even more pessimistic. I hoped that I would be lucky enough to visit on one of the right days. Mount McKinley is so big that it creates its own weather. This weather is usually cloudy.

My arrival in Alaska was greeted with cold, cloudy and rainy weather. Hardly weather conducive to seeing Mount McKinley. The morning arrived early on the day of the ride toward Mount McKinley. The rain came down harder and harder. There was talk of snow in the mountaintops. The vehicle was parked. I got out carrying a spotting scope that I hoped to view the nearly four-mile tall mountain. The weather remained less than cooperative and it was all that I could do to remain hopeful. But I did hope. I did notice slight bits of blue sky in the area and that encouraged me. I set up the scope on its tripod and aimed it towards the point where I thought the mountain would be. Suddenly, the sun broke through. At first, it was but a small hole in the clouds. It shined intently through the opening. Then a miracle happened. The entire weather system changed. The clouds all disappeared, leaving in their place Mount McKinley &045; the entire mountain. I saw the entire mountain. I was entranced. Mount McKinley was such an extraordinary sight. It was more than just a mountain &045; it was hope. Its appearance proved to me that there is always hope.

A photo of me taken in front of Mount McKinley makes it appear that the mountain is only a few feet taller than I am. It is perspective, I know, but hope can make you four-miles tall.


If Aug. 24 is misty with dew in the morning, cold weather will come soon and it will be a cold winter.

The number of fogs in August will equal the number of measurable snowfalls we will have this coming winter.

Fine weather on Aug. 10 indicates a good autumn.

Observe what day in August the first heavy fog occurs and expect a hard frost on the same day in October.

If the first week in August is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long.

The number of rainy days in August multiplied by the date of the full moon will equal the number of snowfalls in the next winter.