April 9

Wednesday I took the plant class to South Park.  We were really hoping some wildflowers would be in bloom.  There were a couple, plus several weeds.  The first we encountered was a big patch of bloodroot, which is a lovely early bloomer.  I found a nice looking specimen and walked down to it.  I immediately noticed the odor of decomposition.  After I had taken a few pictures, I found a headless dead rat just a couple of feet away.  I finished up and got out of there, but the essence of dead rat seemed stay with me for a while.  Yuck!
Bloodroot, AKA Sanguinaria.  Henbit–one of the weeds.

A honeybee drinks from a puddle in the streambed.   Pretty blue flower of ground ivy.

I thought this was a water strider, but it’s actually two.  Spring beauties–very common and tiny wildflowers.

We had book club that night.  Not many showed, but we had a good discussion and a conveniently early adjournment.

After class on Thursday I wandered around North Campus with three of my students looking for bird nests.  We didn’t find any active ones, but we saw 5 deer running around and a mallard drake on the pond.  After a lengthy meeting on main campus I went home just in time for a tornado warning.  Savannah came home with two of her friends.  They mostly stayed in the basement.  I watched the torrential rain pour down.  We got a half inch in about 10 minutes.  It was really impressive.  The tornado warning expired, and we saw a small river of water run down through the back yard.  I went out to investigate and found that the culverts along the street were blocked with leaves so the water was backing up in the ditches.  I performed some decloggery with a snow shovel and got things running again.   We also lost electricity for a short time.  Some power lines were knocked down by the wind.

The downpour in the back yard.  Note pooling on lower right.                       The Coelho River.

Friday I stayed home.  I worked on the dog kennel a bit more, just to touch up some spots where Kane was making progress against the wire.  I brought the dune buggy from the garage of the rental house, “The Buggy Barn”, to the garage at home.  I got a lot of reading done while waiting for the people to show up.  They finally came at 2:30.  The guy had had a hard time finding a tow dolly to rent.  He almost got hit while backing into the driveway–some impatient person tried to go around while he was pulling forward.  He looked it over, started it, loaded it up, paid and took off.  I made it to the bank just in time to deposit the check.  I went down to the river to look around, and boy it was high.  The campground was closed, but the flood gates were not installed in the levy yet.  The fields were full of water in the bottoms, where I saw the first swallows of spring.  In town, there was a steel yard shed that had been picked up by the wind and laid over a fence.  When Stacey got home we went out for a nice steak dinner.

Saturday Stacey went to Iowa with a group of her seniors.  Savannah and I stayed home.  We cleaned the garage, which is apparently the only place where Kane will spend the night without barking.  We loaded up a bunch of stuff to take out to Lowell’s and drove down to the river to see the state of the flood.
When garden sheds attack!   Great Blue Heron looks cold.

At one point I had 4 girls in the house, so I surrendered the TV.  They played guitar hero and goofed around on the computer.  I set up a little softbox in Stacey’s office and attempted some studio photography on one of our daffodils.  I have by no means mastered this technique, but it’s fun to play with.

Daffy Dil.

Sunday we woke up to snow.  Again.  I do love mid-April in Northeast Missouri.  At least it didn’t stick.  I went out to Lowell’s.  We spent the morning moving logs around.  We loaded my truck with old wood and stacked some newer wood.  While driving around looking for wildflowers (which we didn’t see), we found a tree lying across a trail.  It had been marked for death by the forester.  I guess it just gave up.  So we towed it back to the shed and cut it up.  We cut down some saplings and limbed them out.  We strapped them to the rack on top of the truck.  They’ll be used for eagle perches, at least in theory.  After a hearty lunch we fished, even though it was pretty cold.  We hadn’t gotten very far when I got an unrecoverable snarl in my baitcasting reel.  I switched to the spinning outfit, which was rigged with a jerk bait.  In two rounds of the lake I caught two bass, which isn’t bad in 47 degree water.  Birds were migrating through, and a lot of swallows were careening around the lake. 

I’ve never photographed these two species before, the barn swallow and the Northern rough-winged.

Tree swallows were roosting in fish habitat.  A couple of yellow-rumped warblers were working the trees along the edge of the lake.

Every spring there’s a coot that likes Lowell’s lake.       I finally found some wildflowers, spring beauties again, while taking a pee.

When I got home Savannah and her new/old boyfriend were getting ready to leave.  I took advantage of the opportunity to let them help me unload the wood.  Stacey had decided to take Boots to work.  I still don’t know why.  I had misgivings about this.  Savannah had him on a leash in her lap.  He started acting funny on the way there.  They pulled over and he barfed on the side of the road.  I guess he was pretty car sick, and looked nearly comatose at one point.  He recovered, fortunately, and even lived through Stacey’s sermon.

Monday I was really worried about my lab, as I didn’t think there were enough flowers up for the students to study them.  Fortunately, various weeds (some of which are described above) were up in the North Campus lawn.  We easily had enough.  After dinner Stacey went to the fire department for a meeting.  Shortly thereafter she called to tell me they were taking down the rest of the big silver maple and I needed to get down there with the truck.  First, one guy climbed a ladder and cut down a large branch.  Then another guy showed up to drive a track hoe (which had recently knocked down a nearby house).  He used it to push down the remainder of the tree–away from the nearby power line.  I’ve never seen a track hoe operate up close.  It is one awesome machine.  Two firefighters ran the chainsaws while I loaded the truck.  I got nearly a full truck load before their chainsaws quit.  Stacey was busy burning a brush pile.  I took the truck home and unloaded in the dark.  My south wood racks are almost full. 

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