For the heart weighed down by woe, on winter’s darkest, coldest night, the hope of Spring will cling.
I know it is the first day of summer. The temperature here in the Land of Oz has already hit 100 degrees. Not a record, that goes to May of 2014 and 2011 when it hit 100 degrees, but still one hopes the hot weather will wait until July and August.
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Kansas has many simple pleasures. One is a walk in the park, then coming across a yellow coreopsis blooming bright in the field.
Ah Kansas, there sitting on top is a green guest. And I am reminded that what is interesting and beautiful in Kansas is as much a state of mind as a place. Everything has its wonders, even a simple flower and guest,
By the boggy pond In the cattails Whose brown seeds From the year before Spilt upon the ground Scattered by the wind Near the green shoots of spring By the boggy pond Slithers in the grass A snake This demon of deceit Both stopping suprised, snake and I Eye to eye, Stick stiff and very wary Both wondering Is he kind or evil
I, master of the earth Thinking Can I grab him by the tail Will he bite me with his teeth Watch me vomit and retch Until my guts are spilt And mingled in the mud and dirt Cough while my lungs collapse, Numb in my extremities I, master of the earth Brought down By man’s mortal enemy Far from home and help Here by the boggy pond I will meet my end By this humble snake Who has no legs And cannot run like me Long I tarry in silence For death, patiently complaisant, Graciously awaits my decision When, I suppose, The snake tiring Sticks his tongue out As if to laugh Turns and slithers in the grass This King of his domain Slithers away to where He hears a frog croak Or an unlucky nestling Crying for his meal He, Lord of his terrain Thinking, There are tastier things to eat Than me
It is just a few more days until Christmas, and I am reminiscing about my favorite tradition at Christmas time. Forget the gifts, forget the food, for me it was going with dad to chop down a tree in the woods. Dad in his overcoat with an axe and me bundled up like the Michelin tire-man, trudging though the snow to find the perfect tree.
Don’t worry about deforesting the planet, more than 350 million Christmas trees are growing on Christmas Tree farms in the United States and three trees are planted for each one taken.
Where, oh where, oh where is little Jimmie? Where, oh where, oh where is little Jimmie? Where, oh where, of where is little Jimmie? Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.
Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch
Traditional Appalachian Folk Song
History of the Pawpaw
In 1541, Hernando de Soto saw Indians in the Mississippi Valley eating the Pawpaw fruit. In 1810, Lewis and Clark wrote in their journal that Pawpaws and nuts kept them going when little else edible was to be found. In 1826, James Audubon painted a pair of cuckoo birds in a Pawpaw tree. Daniel Boone and Mark Twain were Pawpaw fans. But Kansas is on the extreme edge of Pawpaw habitat and few people know of the Pawpaw.
The Pawpaw Fruit
This small deciduous tree grows in the wet woodland understory shaded by tall oak and elm trees. The “poor man’s banana”, the pawpaw fruit is oblong, light green in color, and bunches like grapes. The fruit pulp texture is banana-like, with a color that varies from banana-white to mango-orange an odor that becomes tangy with age. Not surprisingly, its taste is a cross between banana and mango.
There were no fruits in my Pawpaw Patch. The answer may lie in the fact that the Pawpaw is clonal and spreads by root. Also, like the Mulberry, it has male and female trees. A male tree may not be close enough to a female tree to pollinate the flowers. Then again, it is late October and perhaps the deer have feasted on the fruit.
The one and only food source of the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus) is the foliage of the pawpaw tree. Look again at Audubon’s plate above.
[North Carolina, Kentucky, Delaware, and Ohio have Pawpaw festivals. Where, oh where is the Kansas Pawpaw festival?]
All images come from El Dorado State Park, taken October 2014.