From tree to shining tree
Friday April 29th 2011, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

I had a tree service person here twenty-odd years ago, and given that so much of the Californian vegetation was so exotic and so new to me, when he was done with the job at hand I pulled him around the yard and had him name everything in sight for me. I knew I would never remember it all, but at least some of it would stick.

He was delighted at being able to be a teacher in the moment to someone interested in everything that his life’s work revolved around.

We had an elm? I thought all those were dead!

No, this was a Chinese elm. They’re not affected by Dutch Elm disease.

Oh cool!

Once a year I participate in the UCSF study of lupus long-term outcomes; this year’s  didn’t involve traveling to San Francisco, I only had to spend an hour on the phone answering questions. Easy enough.

They always insist on giving me a $25 gift card as thanks. I always try to tell them not to and that I’m certainly not in it for any kind of payment; they always say it’s already a done deal, sorry, take it.

And so an Amazon card arrived in the mail. I’d already forgotten about it and it took me a moment to put context to the envelope. Ahhh. Yes.

David Sibley is quoted on Amazon saying that after all these years studying birds, well, you do see a lot of trees in the process. And trees hold still while you’re trying to sketch them, and they seemed the logical next subject somehow…

Eight-three cents on my credit card to bring up the difference (a few cents cheaper in tonight’s listing), and “The Sibley Guide to Trees” showed up on my doorstep yesterday, two pounds four ounces’ worth of them right there in person.

How many books are that potentially useful for your whole life? Did you know there was such a thing as an ape’s-earring tree?


p.s. Did you see the little three-year-old bridesmaid in the picture, a millisecond before the first royal kiss, holding her hands hard over her ears with a face clearly demanding at the cheering crowd, “It’s too loud! Make it stop!”

Second p.s. The resident female Cooper’s swooped at something clearly on the roof above me as I looked out across the patio from inside, and I suddenly got a notion of what it must be like to be on the receiving end of that speed. Wow. (Speaking of which, I added a link in yesterday’s post to Eric’s photo of Clara strafing Glenn as he climbed back up City Hall; don’t miss it.)

And third p.s. The squirrels eating the calcium-rich fire brick? They’ve not only started again on it for this year, but they’ve carved off two big chunks. One ran up a tree with one, looking for all the world like it had a large pastry in its paws as it happily nibbled away.

And… One squirrel has been gnawing away at the metal barbecue grill. Iron deficiency, maybe? Sharpening its teeth for the hawk? (It wishes!)

Maybe we need a forest animals book next.

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ps–The lip readers were out in force. Harry made a comment before the bride appeared and I (and apparently everyone else) wondered what he said. Well it was “Wait ’til you see the dress” but maybe you knew that already?

Enjoy your days with Mr. Sibley.

Comment by LynnM 04.29.11 @ 11:43 pm

If mice will eat electrical wires in your house, I suppose a fire brick is a tasty treat to a squirrel!

Comment by Jody 04.30.11 @ 5:31 am

Our resident squirrel chews on the deer horns hanging on the fence. Calcium, I think.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 04.30.11 @ 7:30 am

Well, we’ve known for some time that we all need our minerals! And do the squirrels squirrel it away?

Ape’s-earring tree? No, I’d never heard of that.

Comment by Don Meyer 04.30.11 @ 9:46 am

Hey, the elms are NOT all dead! They line the streets here in Winnipeg. (and yes, there is an active program to combat the disease that kills them) It is cold enough here so that the disease has mostly been averted. It is an amazing thing to see all the elms lining the streets–now I know what North America probably looked like 100 years ago. These trees are truly majestic and look amazing even without their leaves…

Comment by Joanne 05.01.11 @ 7:45 am

What a fun post – and comments. Nothing more to add… just thanks for the grins.

Comment by Channon 05.01.11 @ 12:46 pm

One of our dogs likes to chew on the wax fire starters. He met the wrath of ‘Mom’ last time and has since left them alone. Granted I keep nylabones in reach for the little booger now too.

Comment by Tiny Tyrant 05.02.11 @ 4:34 pm

I’m thinking the flower girl with her hands over her ears was the one seen on the left-hand side walking up the aisle. She had the biggest scowl on her face that I have ever seen – the same as if she were sucking on a lemon.

Comment by Janey 05.04.11 @ 9:53 pm

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