Outdoors with Jim Collins: Back in the saddle again
I am no cowboy; yet the title for this column seems quite fitting. On April 27, I was diagnosed with a torn retina in my right eye. Surgery was done on April 30 and my eyesight has now returned enough to be able to write a column. In short, the requirements of the surgery rendered me on an enforced mostly inside vacation with numerous strict orders from the surgeon. Hopefully it will soon be just a memory. The first order was to keep my head down looking at the floor/ground for 45 minutes out of each hour. I did that as best as possible for 18 long days.
This is the first year that I can remember no spring turkey season and no fishing, yet. Some good news is that walking has been allowed and we have a larger number of Baltimore oriole birds in Alba; more this year than ever. Once one can identify the sound of this bird, it is easily recognized. Another welcome returnee is the Wood Thrush. I call it the "flute bird" because it songs sound like flute music. These birds are seldom seen but their melodious singing brightens each day.
This is also the first year we ever mowed our lawn in March. On March 28th we mowed the entire lawn and it needed mowing. Usually the first mowing is around the 20th - 24th of April and the shady section out back is skipped for the first mowing. The forsythia bush bloomed the first week of April, a pleasant sight against the leafless trees.
Now that summer is officially here, it is time to really enjoy the outdoors. It is hard for me to stay indoors working from home in our insurance business. About ½ hour at the desk or computer is about it for me. There is always the bird feeders to check out, or those nature walks through the neighborhood.
We observed a Cedar Waxwing bird feeding on some bush berries in our backyard last week. That was the first sighting of this colorful bird since our Washington Hawthorne trees were taken down by a snow/ice storm about 10 years ago.
We went walking on Sunday afternoon at the outdoor sports complex in Canton. It is a great place not only for walking but lots of other things such as skateboarding, shooting hoops, pickup baseball and softball games and bike riding. We discovered and identified a wildflower previously unknown to us.
The wildflower is the Corn Cockle (Agrostemma githago). We found it growing in the weeds next to the woods just off the mowed fields. It is listed as magenta-purple in color and flowers each year. It is a member of the Pink Family of wildflowers. The description of this flower in The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers is: "Tall densely hairy plant with showy pink flowers at tips of long stalks. Flowers: 2" wide; calyx with 10 prominent ribs and 5 narrow sepals longer than the wide petals. Leaves; to 4: long, opposite; narrow, pale green. Height: 1-3'; Flowering: June-September. Habitat: Grain fields, roadsides and waster places. Range: Throughout. Comments: This European introduction is especially bothersome in grain fields, because its seeds contain poisonous enzymes like those of Bouncing Bet."
It is interesting to us that we have never seen this flower previously; we do a lot of hiking and biking. It is always a wonderful day to discover another new item of God's creation.
We should like to take this opportunity to congratulate Miss Corrin Nicole Binford, representing Troy Area High School, for being crowned the 2012 Pennsylvania State Laurel Queen during the Laurel Festival in Wellsboro. It is a high honor to even be selected by your classmates to represent your high school. Corrin is the daughter of Tyrone and Patricia Binford. We all share in your joy. I had the opportunity to meet Corrin on day prior to the Saturday crowning ceremonies. She was walking through the Green where the arts & crafts and food show is located. In our brief conversation it was obvious that she has the tools and personality to win the crown. I told my wife Linda that same thing and opined that she would win the title. Wonder if she needs an agent.
Jim Collins is an outdoor columnist for The Sunday Review. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Outdoors with Jim Collins, HC, 1: 87 Windfall Road, Alba, PA, 16910.