Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hunger Games Killed Our Cherry Tree

Weeping cherry, April 2013
If you have been reading my posts, you've seen our shed with the weeping cherry tree in front of it.  The year we moved in it was gorgeous, but it has declined, to the point where the last few leaves on it are withering right now. Now all my regular readers are mumbling, "It's the deer, isn't it?"  It is not the deer. Young Adult fiction killed our weeping cherry tree.

I can hear the."Huh's?" already, but let me explain.  I think it is cool that kids coming of age now have stories that they can relate to, with interesting themes and even strong female characters, but I think a couple of these books need a guidebook to go along with them, specifically, The Hunger Games.  My daughter and her friends role play Hunger Games in the yard, at first I was horrified.  They were playing a game that involved killing all the other players, but then I started listening and watching. They climb trees, form alliances, make tools and weapons from what they find lying around.  I love the fact that most of it is about forming alliances and working together, but the one part that bothers me is one that interests me the most.  The ethnobotany side of things, how people use plants in their lives.  I've found little boxes of plant material tucked into nooks in the yard, a few berries, various leaves and bark, which leads me to my weeping cherry issue.

 Last year I noticed that it wasn't looking quite as nice and wondered if the very hot dry summer damaged it, but upon closer inspection I realized it certainly wasn't the weather. In three places along the trunk of the tree the bark has been peeled back 95% of the way around.
Weeping cherry July 17, 2014

What is left of the leaves.

Three bare strips

Little handles to facilitate girdling.
Gaping wound
  The tree has been girdled. The only part of the trunk that is truly living is the outer layers, which convey the water and minerals/nutrients up to the branches and leaves. It is a sad thing.  It was a beautiful tree, it is no longer.  We'll cut it down and plant some new tree, it is disappointing.

When I showed my daughter, she was horrified, of course she swore that she had nothing to do with it, and maybe she didn't.  We've had so many kids over playing the game that it could have been anyone and what could we do about it now or even fifteen minutes after the damage was done?  Now it is time to figure out what beautiful tree can take it's place and to figure out the logistics of getting the tree down while not damaging the shed, chicken run or anything else nearby.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Week of Reading

The heat, the "A" named hurricane of the year, thunderstorms, yep, it's July!

I went on a reading blitz for a few days, and flew threw several very different works of fiction, some serious, some less so.  It all started with a book I received for my birthday, Ship Fever.  A collection of inter-related stories  with biological sciences as a link.  Mendel, Darwin, Linnaeus, among others, make appearances.  It was strange that one of Linneaus' Apostles (as his followers were called) mentioned in this book, Pehr Osbeck, also appeared in another book I read during this blitz.  Chasing the Rose by Andrea Di Robilant mentions this man as the person who brought Chinese roses to Europe, possibly including the one that Di Robilant is chasing.  Now, I have to find out more about this person, it seems whenever some item or name suddenly starts appearing everywhere it is time for some research.  I guess I know the topic of the next couple of non-fiction books that I will check out of the library.  It is this sort of meandering reading that allows me to collect all sorts of obscure knowledge. I hope he is an interesting person.

Speaking of roses, the pretty little Julia Child roses are still the favorites of Bambi and friends, as well as the Japanese beetles.  The single blossomed rose that sits right next to them has nary a nibble.  The new Joseph's Coat roses planted to hide the "oh-so 70's" metal posts in front of the house are likewise nibble free.  There needs to be a new category of roses, ones that deer and bugs will not ravage, I'll order those.

Yellow roses play a part in The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise, another one of the books that I read...can't get away from thinking about roses, I guess.  This book was much less serious than the others, it was light and enjoyable, and a quick read.

The last two are ones that I have somehow missed, probably because I pretty much boycotted science fiction for the past two decades, after reading many really bad books in a row.  Life is too short for bad books.  I actually chose the first one from a Goodreads list for my husband, it showed up on nearly every must read list for science fiction, Ender's Game.  ( I'll let you know now, there are no roses in these books, that I can remember.)  He was reading it during out recent extended-family camping trip, when my nephew made a few comments on it.  My husband read it right through during  the trip and then I picked it up, reading it by flashlight after everyone else had gone to sleep.  I'm glad we brought extra batteries. 
We both loved the book, and now my daughter is in the process of blasting through it.  One check out from the library and three people read it, pretty efficient.  The next book was Ender's Shadow, the same story as Ender's Game, but from the perspective of a different character. Now having gone to the Amazon webpage several times to write this blog, I know there are five books in the series and book three will have to be on my list very soon.  The series can't be too long, I've a garden to tend.