Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

April 15, 2006

A sprung spring

Haven't recalled such an early spring in a long time. Today felt summer-like. We have gone the entire month of May without more than two or three days like today, much less having a week full of such days in the month of April.

There are obvious benefits to an early spring for those in the nursery business. People not only able to plant trees and shrubs, but they are enthusiastic. People are eager to do yardwork. The likelihood that they will come back a time or two extra, or perhaps take on an extra project, is higher.

After the busy day, Leonidas, Lance, Mom, Dad and I went to Winger for a good Easter meal. Brother Joe is on a gluten-free diet which means he can't eat anything restaurants sell, so he stayed home, unfortunately. I am reminded of how I felt when there was a holiday meal when I had my jaw wired. I felt left out and insulted.

Now, we are watching the Twins and Yanks do battle. Santana was pretty good tonight--for Early Season Santana (ESS)--but reliever Jesse Crain gave up the lead Santana inherited when he came in during the seventh. After Crain blew it, Gardenhire brought in the phenom Liriano--who is now making the Yanks look like fools. Oh, is he going to be fun to watch.

LATER: The Twins pulled out a dramatic win over the Yanks tonight in front of 42,000 fans at the Metrodome. Big night for the Twins, coming back after losing the lead nurtured by Santana.

Leo is learning baseball very quickly. He asked tonight why Castillo always squares around to bunt. That took some explaining. There were two intentional walks tonight, so I had to figure out how to explain that.

The Twins have turned it around in a hurry. It is always good to beat the Yanks. The Twins are showing hitting ability they lacked last year. The pitchers are going to come around. Things are looking up right now.


April 13, 2006

Swan dance



The swans did a little dance for me tonight. I think I saw part of the ballet Swan Lake one time, and I remember the dancers moving in perfect tandem. I didn't realize that is what swans do so much of the time.



Each move seems to be immediately echoed by the other.



Perhaps they are each hearing the same noise, thus their heads turn in the same direction. But after watching for a while, it seems more as if they are doing a slow, stately dance.



When one curls up to preen a bit, so does the other.



When one found an underwater stump to stand up on, so did the other.



And then they left to a faraway part of the pond.

But two of the poses were something special, requiring a larger format: Here they are close enough so you can see the red mark on the base of their beak. And here, one decides to show off a bit.


April 12, 2006

When Ulen was in bed...



Caught this pair of swans along Polk County 1 east of Fertile this afternoon. They weren't too upset with my snooping. Something leads me to believe that they are pretty used to human contact wherever they go in the winter. Machinery noises, etc., don't make them flinch.

Spoke to the Fosston Community Club this noon. Sat next to 91-year-old Sid who is still an active member of both Rotary and Community Club. Keeps him going, he said. He looks much younger than his years. Lives in his own house. Doesn't get out to the lake place much anymore, though.

Then drove into Fertile to the Hilton. Olla wanted some nursery catalogs to dispense to the staff. I knew there was good business going on out at the nursery, so I didn't want to stay long, but got some good stories, anyway.

Olla went to Twin Valley High School in the 1920s. They had a tremendous rivalry with neighboring Ulen. One of their cheers was:

"Lutefisk and Lefse
Gammelost and Preem
We're the Twin Valley
Basketball team!!"

Olla said, "they were pretty sure that cheer would finish them off."

Another cheer talked about a dark stormy evening, when Ulen was in bed, our Coach Ostby, lit a fire under somebody's head...here Olla's memory faded a bit, but she new that the cheer ended with, "It'll be a hot time in old Ulen town tonight," meaning that the good coach torched the entire city.

Somehow, I don't think that cheer would go over today.

Gammelost is a type of cheese from Norway which is so foul that when Olla's mother got ahold of some, the kids would leave the house until she finished eating it. Preem was another cheese--a brown cheese which was milder.

I believe I got a sniff of Gammelost once from Uncle Dale. It nearly finished me off.


April 11, 2006

Twins 7 Oakland 6

The Twins and Oakland have good battles. It has been that way for most of the 32 seasons that I have watched. Even when the Oakland A's won three straight World Series while the Twins languished, the Twins could take the A's to the mat.

Tonight was no different. After falling behind 4-0, the Twins came back to win 7-6. Homeruns get the headlines, but the Twins probably would not have won the game with last year's shortstop and second baseman on the field. This year's duo, Castro and Castillo, has better range, glovework and arm accuracy than last year's bunch. Even Batista at third, despite his girth, is quick. And I love how he throws keeping his shoulders square with the first baseman. His throwing style is as quirky as his batting stance. Unlike his feast-or-famine batting results, Batista's fielding style results in invariably perfect throws to first.

Nathan doesn't usually throw 98 mph this early in the season. That he did tonight is good news. He was pretty untouchable.
The Twins have always had troubles with relievers early in the season. If Nathan is solid, that will help.

AH, IT IS FUN to have business again. The till has been quiet for six months. Today, there were some beeps. What an unusual, beautiful spring thus far. The snow unexpectedly vanished in the space of four days. Theories abound: Was it the rain? Was it that the ground didn't freeze hard, allowing the snow to sink right in, or even helping melt it?

No matter. People are planting trees. Customers return to the nursery each year like swans to the swamp. Both events seem to me equally miraculous.


Frog and swans



Only an hour after writing the post below, bookkeeper Cindy saw this perfectly camouflaged little munchkin jumping across the carpet in the office. We were going to put it on the green carpet to see if its colors would change, but I decided to take the poor thing outside after I subjected him to a photographic session.



Haven't had much of a chance to photograph the swans. They're in and out these days, livin it up before settling down to raise the next batch of kids. It will be interesting to see where they nest. The ice went off the pond yesterday so they now can float as they please.


Frogs

When I stepped outside this morning, I heard frogs for the first time this season. Quite a chorus. This is the first spring season I have lived in the Swamp Castle, so I have been looking forward to going to sleep to the frogs.

Then I got to thinking, how to frogs spend the winter? With the internet, the answers are never far away.

Frogs estivate. Their body systems slow down to a virtual halt. Contrary to what I thought, they usually do not burrow into the muck in the bottom of a lake. Instead, they hide under a log or branch and go to sleep. Their heart can stop, they can stop respirating--and most amazingly, they can even freeze quite solid and still wake up when spring comes.

Also found out that turtles burrow in the mud and spend the winter absorbing oxygen out of the mud through their skin.


April 09, 2006

First pair of wood ducks



Finally



After a winter of chasing the elusive pileated woodpecker who lives right outside my window in this poplar tree, I finally captured him today. They just don't sit still long enough for me to run and get my camera. But today, this one did. There is a pair which apparently are nesting around the swamp.

Another highlight today: A hooded merganser. This is not my photo, I just had to show off what I saw. Perhaps I will nab him on camera later in the day.