Children and Nature

I didn’t mean to take such a long break from the blog but computer issues kept me away. I have a lot of things to share with you and have just edited the many photos I’ve taken so there is no reason (unless the computer acts up again) I will be away for so long again.

On the Weather Front

We went from a super cold and rainy spring to overnight temperatures more like August, and I mean that literally. One day the furnace was running in the afternoon and evenings the next day it was in the mid 80s!  The rain with the sudden heat wave left me with a lot of weeding to do.

drive

This is just a section of what my driveway looked like. So much for rocks keeping the weeds at bay.

Last summer I used white vinegar to kill them and then dug them out the best I could but as you can see it didn’t do the job. I’ve been experimenting with many natural formulas, which I’ll share with you in a day or two, but this is how the drive looks after several days work.

driveway progress

Still a lot to get done but that section around the planter bed (made of found bricks) is now weed free.

Vacations

Last Thursday my youngest granddaughter came for a two-night sleepover before going on her family vacation. She enjoyed playing with the neighbor kids and with me but it was a nature walk and a library visit that were her highlights.

We took a nature walk after dinner the first night. We walked less than half a mile yet it took us just shy of an hour and a half to complete the walk. She brought with her a camera she received for her second birthday and had to photograph every thing that caught her eye.

nature photographer

We had a huge number of caterpillars that week as well. In some places they were everywhere making it hard to step without harming one.  We had to stop and check each and every one out.

watching caterpillars

This particular caterpillar happened to be near a home that just had their grass cut and there was plenty of cut grass along the side of the road.  Little one had to feed the caterpillar by dropping grass clippings on it every where it went. 🙂

The next morning we headed to the library to let her select books for us to read using her own library card we got for her.

library visit

The library has a lovely dollhouse complete with furnishings and dolls which she loves.  After selecting the books she wanted to bring home she had to play with the doll house. It didn’t take long for me to realize two things, she didn’t want me to play with her and she was going to be here a while. I checked out our books and then sat nearby reading while she played.

dollhouse

On Saturday when she went home they left me with company.

elsa

Elsa has to be the most stubborn dog I’ve ever known!  We have what could be called an infestation of cicadas this year and Elsa has decided they are quite delicious. She has quite the nose for finding them and I spend most of my time outside with her trying to limit the number she eats each day.

Speaking of cicadas, they are not common north of here by Lake Erie, we have never had them near the lake so it’s one insect that I knew little about. Last year I would sit outside and enjoy the sounds of the species that were out, this year I’m just frustrated with cleaning them up. Doing a search to see if it was safe for Elsa to eat so many cicadas I stumbled on an article on the damage they will do to young fruit trees.

peach tree

I have been so happy with the health of the fruit trees I planted last year. This is the peach tree I planted last spring. I also planted an apricot, two apple trees and an almond tree. Each time I looked at the growth on my trees I smiled but now I am very concerned.

What I had known about cicadas was that they fed from the water in the trees but didn’t harm them. Now I learn that the female cuts a hole the size of a pencil in branches of all trees including young trees and really likes fruit trees to lay her eggs. The branches she cuts will most likely die. You have five to ten days, from the first time you hear or see them to cover your young trees with netting to save them, unfortunately, I didn’t know this in the ten day window. Now I have my fingers crossed hoping my trees survive.

My two oldest grandchildren arrive Saturday for their summer visit. For those of you who asked, we were able to work out an arrangement for both children to come down together for the first three weeks after which my granddaughter will stay for another week. Elsa won’t  be going home until Sunday so there will be one day of watching over the dog while spending time with the children.

Speaking of Children

The neighbor boys are still visiting daily but they have a family with a twelve year old boy who moved in next to them that has joined in. Yesterday he spotted me painting and begged to paint.  I just wanted to work alone for a while seeing as I won’t have time to myself for a month but finally gave in.

new helper

The retaining wall still isn’t completely painted as we have to keep stopping due to the rain but it’s getting closer.  This child also asked if he could paint the railing posts I couldn’t reach so another job has been taken care of.

more painting

The younger boy is a bit jealous to have to share me and the work with his new neighbor so this will be a juggling act if this continues so he doesn’t feel slighted.

Much more has been happening here, but I’ll save that for another day.

How is your summer so far?

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Children and Nature

    1. Anne I do hope you are right and they leave my fruit trees alone. So far I haven’t noticed any hanging out on the leaves and branches they are mostly in the maple trees. Maybe I can take a deep breath, let go and trust my trees will be fine. Thank you!!

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  1. Oh my, Lois. I couldn’t stop smiling. So lovely to see and hear about.
    So glad to hear that your younger grandchildren are getting the opportunity (now that you live close) to do many/most of the things with you that you did with the older grandchildren (when you lived close to them). When they are all grown up, and sharing stories of Grandma, it will be such a nice balance and sharing of stories for them all.

    Glad to hear, too, that the oldest two will be able to spend time together with Grandma…

    and that pup is precious. How interesting she eats them, and it is okay. I suspect folks in some areas of the world do too?

    Look forward to what you are using for weed control…Can always use new info, as I have a few too (sigh).

    Last week my husband (this is just between us right, grin) was digging dandelions out of front and back lawns. For a whole lot of yrs (keep in mind) I have done this in full view of the neighbors. Heck, some yrs I spent hrs (honest) digging those dam weeds out of the front lawn, down on my hands and knees. Last yr and this, trouble with back and knees, so not so easy, so my husband has been doing this.

    Now, I know the neighbors saw me (just on the one side I am talking about). Heck, often they were out in their yard, and we would converse a few words. They must have seen me digging out the dam weeds. (NOW I wonder what they thought I was doing).

    so anyway, hubby was out digging weeds. He had a pail full of weeds he dug out, and digger in hand, digging more. This neighbor comes out, and he sort of grills hubby on what IS he doing???? Hubby politely (while biting tongue) says he is digging out dandelions. Neighbor says, “there is weed killer”. Hubby says, oh, well good for the environment (digging) good for exercise. Neighbor sniffs, and says something like “Huh…that’s one way to do it…or some such ” and walks off..

    really, what has he thought I was doing on my hands and knees on the lawn for the past fifteen years??? Looking for worms to deep fry?

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    1. I hadn’t thought about the future when all my grandchildren might get together and share the experiences they had with me. But now that you brought it up I’m glad I moved here to share my love of nature with the younger two so all the children will have that opportunity to share that interest later.

      Your neighbor is something. 🙂 Reminds me of the woman who lived next to the apartment complex I lived in before the move here. I loved her yard, she had lovely outdoor seating areas, flowers and such. Then one day I was walking to downtown with my daughter-in-law and the two oldest children when I noticed a truck arrive and begin to spray her property with weedkiller. I quickly took the children across the street and no longer admired her land so much. I kept thinking how we were working hard to have an organic community garden and right next to us, although separated by tall weeds, they sprayed a couple of times a year.

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  2. okay, I will NOT be doing this, but maybe you are braver than me….
    wondered if folks do eat them, and found this…on the Smithsonian Site.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-best-way-to-handle-the-coming-cicada-invasion-heat-up-the-deep-fryer-19372006/?no-ist

    The Best Way to Handle the Coming Cicada Invasion? Heat Up the Deep Fryer
    For 17 years, these insects have been lurking, waiting to return, so here are some suggestions to eat your way through the infestation

    Cicada pupa are fried and served on a stick in China
    Yes they’ll be loud and inconvenient, but they’ll also be a free, plentiful source of protein (and one that’s not generated in a factory farm).

    Here’s what you should know about foraging and eating this extremely rare food.

    1) First off, don’t pick up or eat dead cicadas. Gathering live ones shouldn’t be very hard, especially if you pick them up “early in the morning when the dew is still on the ground and the cicadas are still drowsy,” says one expert. The easiest way to kill them is by placing them in the freezer.

    2) Gather twice as many as you and your family think you can eat. Van Smith, who wrote about his experiments eating cicadas for Baltimore City Paper, explains why: “Females are preferable for their protein-filled abdomens, while males offer little substance. When hunting them, though, I found it nearly impossible to tell the difference–until cooking, when the males’ bodies shrivel up. Marinating live bugs in Worcestershire sauce also helps weed out guys (the vinegar in the sauce slow-cooks them, so they start to collapse) while tenderizing the ladies.”

    3) Think of them like “land shellfish.” Like shrimp, lobster and crabs, cicadas are anthropods arthropods. Gaye L. Williams, an entomologist from the Maryland Department of Agriculture told the Baltimore Sun: “They’re in the same animal group as shrimp and crabs, and people don’t think twice about that.” (If you’re allergic to shellfish, exercise caution when experimenting with cicadas).

    4) Like many things, cicadas taste best fried. Here’s a simple recipe that only requires living cicadas, flour, eggs, salt, pepper, and oil. If they’re newly hatched, you can fry them as-is, but after they’ve been alive for several hours (or few days), their wings and legs might need to be removed, as this recipe for deep dried cicadas calls for. In Asia it’s not unusual to find the pupa, or young cicadas fried and served on a stick like this.

    Kirk Moore, who calls himself the “Cicada Chef” also recommends marinating them overnight in Worcestershire sauce in this YouTube video from 2004.

    5) Dry roasting them – on a cookie sheet at a low heat — is another popular approach. If they get too crispy to eat as-is, they can be crumbled to add crunch to a dish or even ground into a high-protein (gluten free!) flour.

    6) Young cicadas can also be used in a “low country boil” or a “spice boil” in place of shrimp.

    7) Have leftovers, go fishing! Cicadas are rumored to make excellent fish bait.

    Maybe you could teach the neighbor boys to love them?
    won’t be me…

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    1. Um…NO! I may try to accept all that nature expects to share my space with but when it comes to eating bugs I draw the line. Elsa has been enjoying her delicacy and not interested in sharing and that’s fine with me. 🙂

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  3. ah, yes, Cicadas. Where I live we have had many different run-ins with these creatures over my life time. As I understand it there are several different cycles (3 year, 7 year, 17 year, etc.) Not only are they cyclical but the various batches can erupt regionally at different times. So you could have a batch of cicadas while I will have nothing. Noisy as all get out. And they are worse in areas where the ground has not been disturbed for a long time.

    Back in 2003, the 17 year cicadas cycled through this area. That cycle was HUGE. We had so many that they are seen all over the side walks – and were seen flying through the air during the day. Sometimes you would walk into a building and find you had carried one of those creatures in with you. Gross. I am not a big bug person.
    They were really bad that year. I started a new job in a place that was surrounded by 300 acres of undisturbed land. They began to erupt from the ground in late April/early May … at the same time I developed an asthmatic bronchitis. I had never had asthma or bronchitis before in my life. The cough and wheezing was bad. At the time I didn’t make a connection between my problem and the cicadas. My doctor kept laying allergy medications one after another until I was taking 7 different meds on different schedules. I had to write the schedule down to keep it straight. The meds kept me functional but didn’t resolve the problem. In June – when the doc wanted to send me to an allergist – the cicadas went back into the ground and my bronchitis cleared up – just magically. My doc and I decided that I must have had some sort of allergic reaction to their feramones or something.

    I can hardly wait until 2020 when that particular 17 year batch will hatch out again in our area (NOT!).

    So far, we have not seen any (or heard any) cicadas in our area. I am sure before the summer is gone, something will hatch out. What I really wish is that the cicadas would do something useful like eat stink bugs!!!!!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Elaine, I had no idea people could be allergic to the cicadas! II hope you have a plan for 2020 so you don’t suffer so this time.

      The cicadas we have this year are the 17 year ones so what you saw and experienced is probably the same as what we are having now. There was one other time, before moving here, that I saw cicadas. We had an appointment in a suburb of Pittsburgh and the darn things reminded me of the Hitchcock movie The Birds. You looked out a window and saw so many at the time I mentioned it looked like black clouds. I did the math the other night and realized it was 17 years ago that we had that appointment. So far while they are swarming and flying at us it’s not as bad as it was that day.

      I did some research at the library and found this area has cicadas that come out every year, then we have the 3, 7, and 17 year broods that come out. Joy…not.

      As for eating the stink bugs, we were just talking today that we haven’t seen any stinkbugs since the beginning of spring. I know the cicadas can’t eat them but there has to be some connection to their disappearance. If we have to put up with the cicadas it’s nice not to have to deal with the stinkbugs at the same time.

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      1. The stink bugs reach their peak at the end of summer. The cicadas come in early summer … typically. They are on different cycles. And as for the appearance or lack of stinkbugs, we still see them here, but not in the large numbers we saw in the first year when they made the news. The front of my house was covered with them that year. Gross, gross, gross. My sister lives in a more rural area and she says they are still bad in her area.

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        1. You could have let me hold on to a little hope. 🙂 We saw the stinkbugs late April and Early May but they seem to have disappeared a couple of weeks ago and I was hoping this was going to be an easy year with very few of them. I do hope you don’t have to go through what you did last year, I couldn’t handle that. I’d rather have the cicadas than the stinkbugs.

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  4. OK… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a cidada. I think we have them because I hear them… or something singing at night… but maybe those are crickets. Hmmm… cricket vs. cicada vs. grasshopper vs. locust – I’m still not sure which is which…

    I’ve been working on fixing all the window screens to hopefully prevent the moths from getting inside. Smoky & Jasper love to catch them and eat them, but once Smoky ate a cabbage moth and we think that’s what made him really sick. Did you ever find out if it was safe for Elsa to eat the cicadas?

    Hope your fruit trees survive – I had no idea cicadas could damage trees like that!

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    1. Don’t quote me but I don’t think you are hearing cicadas at night, maybe crickets? I’m not an expert on cicadas as this is only the second year I’ve had them but they tend to “sleep” at night because they get real quiet once it’s dark.

      Yes, it is safe for Elsa to eat the cicadas. Good thing too because she’s eaten hand fulls a day for a week now. When I was researching if they were safe to eat I even came across recipes for us to cook and eat them. Elsa doesn’t have any interest in sharing and that’s just fine with me. 🙂

      I hope you find all the spots in the screens a moth can get in, if there’s one thing I hate is a moth flying around my head at night.

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  5. It’s wonderful that you have lots of grandchildren visits planned for this summer. Lots of memories will be created! We have cicadas here in SC Lowcountry and I love to hear them singing the song of summer. They haven’t damaged any plants that I’ve seen but maybe we haven’t had enough of them to worry about.

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    1. Cynthia, I love the sounds of the cicadas too. It reminds me of the crickets only a lot louder. 🙂 So far I’m not seeing any damage in my trees but then again I don’t know how long it takes for the eggs to hatch so in the meantime I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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    1. Now that’s an idea. Instead of paying the kids a few dollars here and there I could be charging them. 🙂 Wait till you see the fun they had today.

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    1. I am loving listening to the cicadas but would prefer they not land on me. Yesterday we had lunch on the deck and they kept landing on our plates at one point one even flew at my face and landed on my nose. I could do without that.

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  6. I think all little and bigger girls love dollhouses. We were into making one years ago when my daughter was a teen. She loved it and I loved making one. We finally gave it away when I no longer had a place for it not the incentive to do the work. Cicadas eat everything they shouldn’t. Dog is getting natural protein. 🙂 I haven’t seen any newer posts so I’m going to check to see if notifications are working.

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    1. I thought about building a dollhouse from a kit for the girls but they grow out of them so fast it doesn’t seem worth the investment.

      Yes, I’ve been super busy with the children but I’ll be back soon. And the cicadas have damaged too many trees. I’ve never before seen a tree branch die so suddenly as these have from the cicadas.

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