This is a Weekly Coffee Share update.
Our group is hosted by Eclectic Ally.
Be sure to “listen well” to what others have shared by clicking on their links. Conversation is encouraged – so please greet each other kindly and add comments or replies. It is what friends do, so, come on. Let’s chat some over a virtual cup of tea or coffee.
– – = = (+) = = – –
I am so ready to sit back and enjoy a few minutes with you after the week I’ve had. Both good and less-than have left me tired and somewhat worried about the next few weeks. A few minutes sharing stuff with friends is always therapeutic.
First; my back is getting worse, but we have a surgery scheduled for the first of June. Hope for relief is in sight, but I’m worried about the things I need to arrange or finish before taking the needed medical leave.
Second; a virtual friend (someone I’ve known for a long time but have never actually met face to face) found my story blog and in one day, read almost half of my collection and pinged me back some great comments. She read 14 of 30 stories and at an estimate of 10 minutes each (because that is one of my things) that comes out to about 140 minutes or 2 hours and 20 minutes of her day. Somedays I think there is nothing as priceless as the time a reader spends on reading our work – don’t you agree?
Finally, a more detailed series of events unfolded that you’ll need a fresh cup of coffee or tea for. Top off and listen up because I think you’ll get a kick out of this.
Something both interesting and kind of funny in an eco-drama sort of way happened that I’m keen on sharing I have a favorite tree in our front yard. After losing a nice tree to some rude insect swarm that came through our county about 10 years ago, I planted an Austree hybrid willow which grew like a jubilant weed for about 8 years before settling down to a happy 30 some-odd feet high. Today it is a treasured part of our front yard and fills our summer with a lush green and shade where we really want it.
I think it would have grown even higher, but started noticing the main stock starting to dry and wilt and begin to drop small dead sticks. I doubted that this was normal, so I resumed using a fertilizer which made it grow stronger, but did not halt the dead stick dropping. Hummm.
I work from a table near our front door and began to notice an unusual tapping coming from the front yard and casual investigations finally yielded the discovery that a woodpecker had decided that my tree was going to be his meal ticket. Now that I knew what to look for, I did see rings of small woodpecker holes that this guy was drilling around several of the larger branches. Being the bright guy that I am, I realized that this bird was slowly killing my tree, so I began making hourly sorties to the front yard to chase the bird away with a long stick. But this bird was clever and quickly realized how limited I was in preventing his day long food fest. Time to escalate!
I borrowed my son’s air-soft pistol and arrived the next morning to meet the tapping aggressor armed and ready to give better reasons for him to move on, or perhaps landing a nice head-shot, maybe taking this woodpecker out of the gene pool.
I mostly managed to scare him away each time, but did get one solid body blow in, which really knocked him for a wild spiral from which he recovered in time to fly off to one of his nearby resting spots, where once again he waited for me to go back to work. Time to escalate again!
He clearly needed more evidence that this was not a local fly-thru bird diner. I ordered a strong BB pistol and maintained annoying him with the air-soft gun until it arrived. By now, I had lost any regards for this bird’s life and looked forward to picking him up off the front lawn after a strong BB hit to deposit him in the trash can.
But, this never happened. I kid you not, but after the BB pistol arrived and I acquainted myself with its use, I spent some time in a morning shadow waiting for him to arrive for breakfast, but he never arrived AND he did not return. I never found out why. I had what I wanted, but by this time I had to talk myself down from disappointment from not getting to kill the rotten critter.
Okay, so I did not have to kill him and I had a fun new pistol for backyard target pinging fun. And that’s where it ended – for a whole year. However the weirdest thing started happening with my beloved tree right after the woodpecker’s retreat. My tree started leaking lots of very thin tree sap drops on the ivy we have around the base. Why is this happening – I thought? The drops did not all appear to be from the trees recent injuries from that malicious bird.
A few days later, when the afternoon sun was at the right angle, while I was looking up into the center of the tree, I noticed small, clear drops coming from multiple branches. They were visible only because the sun was almost opposite to me which essentially back-lit each drop. I went over to a trail of drops and looked up to see where they were coming from and noticed an ugly dark patch which was easily mistaken to be a shadow – but now I knew – was not a shadow. My tree had a new assailant.
I have a long handle pruner and cut off a small branch with a similar shadow and picked it up for closer examination. Holy Smoke! It was nearly covered with some kind of dark creepy bugs that were sucking my tree dry. They were kinda furry, tightly clustered and not too interested in breaking up the huddle they were in. I scampered to the kitchen, grabbed a double lock, freezer zip-lock bag, came back out and cut off a piece just right to fit in the bag and took it to my local OSH garden center, where a wonderful gal got excited about the challenge of figuring out what these things were so she could prescribe the right method of killing them. She proudly announced her findings. They were a type of aphid and neem oil would kill them.
It took me a couple of weeks to locate and kill each infestation, but die they did – in mass.
We returned to our quiet summer of work, helping our kiddos with college stuff and assisting with various ministries in our church. Life was again good and my tree was safe – or so I thought…
Spring has been slow getting to us this year, but my tree finally burst forth with its full plumb of lush green leaves and I almost immediately noticed those puddles of tree sap again. The aphids had returned, so I returned fire with a new neem oil spray bottle.
Then this week, while walking out to enjoy the front yard as a break in work, I scared away a bird and realized that not only were the aphids back – but that blasted woodpecker was too. Wait, I thought, it really couldn’t be the same bird, so this round it must be a “she”. Do you love my literary license of arbitrarily assigning animals gender? I doubted that she would sit still for a neem oil bath and even if she did, it would not ruin her appetite. I was having a hard time finding all the aphid infestations, and was frustrated that now I was fighting this battle on two fronts. One I was determined to win this time. Out came the BB gun and I slipped in a fresh CO2 charge to power each shot. I was ready to spread that birds head and be done with her.
I managed to get something of a shot at her a few times, but they were not good clear shots because she kept dancing behind branches on her search for food. Finally mid-week, I had her in sight with a good clean shot. I focused on her as I aligned my sights and realized just before pulling the trigger that not only was she not the same woodpecker. This bird was not even the same breed. I lowered my pistol and watched her. Good grief – she’s not even a woodpecker!
What is she? And what is she doing? Her beak is different, shorter and her coloring is similar but different and, sure enough, she is not pecking at my tree. As I watched, I had to marvel as I realized – she was hunting – yes – she was hunting for bugs to eat.
So there you have it. I toggled the safety on my gun and dropped it to my side to watch as this bird continued her search for food, and I think she was gorging herself on aphids, and I almost shot her…
My back surgeon tells me I’ll need to maintain a quiet and peaceful lifestyle while recovering from my surgery. What do you think my chances are of pulling that off?
Anyone need more tea or coffee?