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Pelican Perils

Hello from rainy (but warm) Islamorada, in the Florida Keys.

This morning, I sent an email to a bunch of girlfriends to say “good morning” with this photo that I took on my arrival here yesterday:

pelican

So today I was googling “wildlife in the FL Keys” so I could figure out where I should visit, and I found two alarming pelican stories. First, a short film clip from the Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue Center about why we need to pick up the (damn) trash wherever we are:

 

 

Then I saw this: Brown Pelicans Found in Lower Keys with Pouches Slashed I looked again at “my” pelican, but he (she?) appears to have a wound, but on second look, probably not a wound inflicted by psychopath humans.

pelican 2

Welcome to “paradise”, right? So please please, my Weedpatch pals, do something beautiful today for a wild thing. Pick up some trash, feed a bird some good food, “like” the Facebook page of the vets who help animals survive in this world. Thank you. Now back to a rainy Florida afternoon with the pelicans.#

Why is Santana Playing in my Head?

Another great find in the 2014 plant catalogs! This time it’s DRUNKEN WOMAN FRIZZY HEADED LETTUCE, sold by Territorial Seed Company. Gotta have it… then this summa I’m gonna crank up some Santana, swing those (svelte) hips, and belt out a new tune in my garden: “…I got a frizzy heada lettuce, got a frizzy heada lettuce, got me so blind I can’t eat, it’s tryin to make a meat eater outa me…Got its spell on me baby…I need you so bad, drunken lettuce, I can’t leave you alone…”. And the catalog even adds, “It’s the last lettuce to bolt”. Well, of course she is! She might be drunk and frizzy headed, but she’ll never bolt from ya, baby.

And, no, I haven’t been to Colorado lately. BUT this reminds me that a fine and noble Weedpatch reader, Patti S, sent me a wonderful book: The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart, who also wrote, Wicked Plants:The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. My kind of author! Wonder what lettuce she’s planting in 2014?

Drunken-Botanist-Cover

Methinks I’ve been inside enduring grayness too long…Getting way too loopy. Think I’ll go have a drink. Or some lettuce.##

 

This Land is Your Land! And so is Lake Michigan…

I know, I know, it’s gray outside. Waking up in the morning to “no contrast” is a struggle. But let’s be optimistic and say that the monochrome makes us appreciate the sun and chlorophyll so much more than those people who never see seasonal change. Here’s a few photographs of the Openlands Preserve at Fort Sheridan. We are so lucky that people stepped up to the fundraising challenge and funded the preservation of this 77-acre parcel of lakefront property after the US Army decommissioned it in 2004. Walking in this natural environment–really not a house in sight–is a real treat. Here are a few photos from a recent morning walk:

P1000072- winter lake

P1000078 icy pier

P1000108 P1000078 icy pier2

P1000109 winter lake

P1000112 ice

P1000114 winter day

P1000116-1 winter sunset

P1000122 icy lake

P1000123 ice

P1000129 ice

Ice and water, seagulls cawing, a few souls walking about with their dogs, one man sitting on a cold bench staring at the lake. Yet the waves still wash up on the shore, relentless, energetic.#

Happy New Year! Time to Dream of (Wacky) Vegetables to Plant…

Need some laughs? An alert reader sent me a fellow blogger’s (“The Art of Doing Stuff”) post about visiting a CSA farm in Canada and some of the wacky plants it’s possible to grow. Take a look at the great photos in this article (and scroll down to get your laugh by reading the text for “spigiarello”!): http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/heirloom-vegetables-things-youve-never-thought-of-planting/

On cue for January 2, my Jung’s Seed Catalog arrived. I’ve thumbed through, and my personal favorite wacko vegetable for 2014 is…Cauliflower Veronica Romanesco (I even like her name!):

cauliflower-veronica-romanesco

Won’t your kids think this is an improvement on cauliflower? Eat up, Johnny!

What wacky flower or vegetable do you, dear readers, want to grow this year? OR, for armchair gardeners, is there a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm that you want to give a personal “shout out” to, here on these inscrutable (my favorite word today) pages? Here’s an organic CSA farm, “Green Earth Farm”, owned by some friends, Scott & Kathy Mor, in Richmond, IL (get your veggies, eggs, and heritage turkeys from them, if possible!) ##

Coldest Day on Record–Not So. Maybe. Go Figure.

This morning I heard a TV weatherman say this is the coldest day (-16) on record in Chicago. Of course, I had to Google that assertion, especially because I wondered if, in my lifetime, I had now lived through the hottest and the coldest days on record in Chicago. Not surprisingly, I found out that the Cable TV was mistaken (large gasp!) or at least, misleading. Turns out, the coldest recorded temperature day in Chicago occurred on January 20, 1985 when it was -27 with a -60 wind chill. In the city (note: CITY) of Chicago.

The Tribune is no better than Cable TV at creating confusion: “The Chicago area hit a new record low for today. At 8 a.m., it was minus 16 at O’Hare International Airport, according to the official recording station for the city. The old record was minus 14, set in 1988 and 1884”. Interesting, since there was no O’Hare Airport in 1884 so there was no official recording station at O’Hare to know it was -14 in 1884. (Note: Chicago AREA hit a new record.)

And, of course, the coldest day (-36) in Illinois (note: STATE of Illinois not CITY of Chicago or Chicago AREA) occurred in 1954, but that was in Congerville, Illinois, which may have disappeared into vapor that day because no one has ever heard of it since.

Here’s the best source of historic high/low temperature information for you weather geeks: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=chi_temperature_records

And for those gardeners who miss summer, the hottest summer was in 2012, when we had four days over 100 degrees, but the hottest day ever was on July 24, 1934, when it reached a truly sweltering 105 in Chicago (but in 1954 East St. Louis climbed to 117!).

BIRD WATCH UPDATE: Despite the cold, it’s sunny outside today with little wind. At 10 am, our bird feeders were in full frenzy, with all kinds (even cardinals and a red-bellied woodpecker) in a hungry mob. At 10:30, virtually every one flew away but into the same evergreen: a large Western Red Cedar [Thuja plicata] and only a few Dark eyed junco’s returned until 2:30 pm when they all appeared again. What’s that about? Do they take a noontime siesta together?##

2014-jan-bluejay

Photo:  Courtesy of Carolina Bird Club