Thursday, June 24, 2010


Devil Fern

Sweaty Grins

Swallowtail On Boy

Crawdad Smile

The View
We spent Father's day and our 9th anniversary camping at Pulltite. Although it was blazing hot, we kept much cooler out in the woods than we would've in the concrete city, in an ancient house with no airflow. We just hung out in the cool spring-fed river all day and it was cool enough by the time we went to sleep.
Despite some vulgar, loud, and annoyingly drunk neighbors, we enjoyed getting away from our regular life for a while. Just the usual before we left...gunshot wounds, shattered femur, shattered 9mm bullet in shattered femur.
Sister and Brother-in-law stayed a day and friends joined us for an evening.
Across the river is the historic Pulltite spring and cabin.
Cross upstream from the spring. It pours out so strong that it was scary. SCARY!!
But worth the short hike from the campground.
Powered by the spring’s daily 20-to-30-million-gallon outflow, gristmills operated here from the mid-1800s until 1911.
The mill being deep in the river valley indirectly gave the area its unique name.
It was a “tight pull” for mules and horses pulling wagonloads of ground meal from the mill to the hillsides above the village of Pulltite.
Jasper caught several lampreys which weirded us out quite a bit. They look like eels/snakes and bury themselves in the sand with a jerk and a wiggle.
We caught a lot of crawdaddies and minnows. And Banded Sculpins didn't have a chance with us in the water. Also a very large predaceous diving beetle.
A horsehair worm was on the camp shower floor and i wasn't pleased to see it. We both imagined it as a parasite that squirmed out of an unsuspecting camper. They are only parasites to insects though and harmless to humans.
While near the spring, we saw a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar. They are very strange looking with osmeterium, a retractable fleshy organ behind the head that is extruded when the caterpillar is alarmed. It looks a lot like a snail head.
Devil's Well is only a few miles away from Pulltite. Even though we had been there before, we had to go again. We didn't realize the first time that you have to turn on the light to see the underwater lake. It is neat, but not as neat as i expected? We gathered blackberries on the way back to the car.
We also drove through a virgin pine forest to the Roger Pryor Backcountry. 61,000 acres to explore including 15 miles of Current River as well as the Ozark Trail.
So much beauty. And no one brought home any ticks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Windridge Solitude

I went on a silent retreat recently to Windridge Solitude. It is a bit over an hour outside St Louis and it felt like a retreat on a private slice of Shaw Nature Reserve. There are trails all through the property and benches are tucked in here and there. I had a pleasant stay and highly recommend it.
I had trouble viewing the website. It was like invisible ink to me and my computer. Hopefully it works for others.
Lord, make us mindful of the little things
that grow and blossom in these days
to make the world beautiful for us.
-W.E.B. Du Bois

As my eyes
the prairie
I feel the summer
in the spring
-Chippewa Song

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone,
in the forest, at night, cherished by this
wonderful, unintelligible,
perfectly innocent speech,
the most comforting speech in the world,
the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks I am going to listen.
-Thomas Merton

And more than anything
this time has been
a gift,
an exploration
wonderful things.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lively Pond Water

We scooped up a bit of pond water from my parents' farm this weekend. It has been an exciting time for us!
Tadpoles (I think gray tree-frog)
Predaceous water beetle larvae (AKA Water Tiger)
Back-Swimmer Water Beetle
Water Mite
Water Beetle

Tullaia has been making daily observations for her science journal. Some of those are...
(in my words)
-Tadpoles have shrunk in population due to the voracious appetite of the larvae and water bug, both being predators. We feed them lettuce that has been boiled for 10 minutes and frozen. They love it. The snails do too. There is a lot of pooping going on. Which is good for leg development and bad for the person cleaning the tank.
-The snails have mated (even though i think they are hermaphrodites?) and laid masses of eggs all over in a kidney bean shape.
-The predaceous water beetle larvae is a prowling creature that looks a bit like a centipede. When he was really hungry, he grabbed a snail and got up out of the water halfway so he could slurp the body out of the shell. We moved it out into it's own space, but woke up this morning to the container dumped over. (Possum?)
-Leech is sneaky. He slithers around as a ball or snake depending on his mood. He has killed several large snails by slithering in and taking over. I thought that parasites lived on other living beings, but he seems to live off other living beings eventually dying an early death.
-The Back-Swimmer is a consistent eater but prefers live bugs to freshly dead. Jasper is a pro at catching flies, but they are not as readily available as ones on the farm. So we have left our doors open a bit in order to capture them. And they like mosquitoes. Which I delight in giving them. Sorry nature lovers. The Back-Swimmer is also responsible for a missing tail on one of the younger taddies.
-Water mite is rather large and red with 6 little legs. His name was Tick. He is no longer part of the pond.
-Duckweed can be an aggressive plant, but i think it is so cute. The snails and taddies love it. It is like a miniature water lily.
-The water beetle disappeared and i guess he was eaten overnight. But i know they can also fly so perhaps we weren't providing him with the necessities of a good life and he flew west like everyone else looking for the good life. We miss him though.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Circus Flora

Big Top
With A Dear Friend
Juggler Boy
Special Girl
We were given tickets by friends to attend Circus Flora last night. We had quite a lovely time of course! Circus Flora is a wonderful one-ring European style circus that will make your palms sweat with excitement.
And it is St. Louis' own.
Go before it is over.

Happiness and Refreshment

Tullaia picked this Butterfly Bush blossom and she claims it smells like "happiness and refreshment". It does. She put it in a vase in her room.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We had such a short and sweet time. All the baby animals and fresh air. The catching up with dear ones. There were not many bugs and the wind was blowing the right way. Thanks Mom and Dad!
>And i realize this is backwards like other trips we've had. I just haven't the patience to find a better way. I could post backward in my brain? That would never do.

Does every kid like to show off their belly? It is a past time Jasper is partial to.

Baby Cows Awwww!

You have to say it like that. They are so cute. We rode the four wheelers out to the infamous Donny Blizzard pasture. It was very fun and the night ended with more cow and Frozen Udders?
Ice cream. Of course!

Slip and Slide

The kids had a blast on the Slip and Slide. Mom went down it several times and didn't break anything. So i did it too. But we weren't able to keep up with the running kids whose moves were wild. It was Michael Jackson Slip N Slide.
My Mom would rather have Lake Michigan in her front yard, but i think she found herself a suitable replacement for now.

Weekend Iowa Farm Fun

Avery, Red Clothes, and Bales

Tullaia, Red Metal, and Bales
As soon as they woke up they were off running on the bales and checking the cows. (The pigs have lost their place.)