Slugfests, Peat Bogs, Moose


Other Happenings


         Imagine a place more wet than dry and more cool than warm, where the sun (when there is one) in June comes up at 4:30AM and sets around 9PM. Transport yourself there – we already are. So join us on our adventure.

        The spring up here has been so wet and cold that all of the vegetation is weeks behind    normal. Contrast this to last year when everything was about 3 weeks ahead. One night it got down to 39 and the highs for many gray or rainy days have been in the low 50s. Thankfully, our plumbing and heating contractor came to fix our furnace which wasn’t doing well after, it turns out, wasps had gotten into the burner and built a mud-type nest! On the positive side, I haven’t had to water the garden much, and the late spring means we have had asparagus for the first time, which has been a treat! (Usually, they have all gone to ferns by our arrival.)

      This weather pattern is heaven for certain things not human. The mosquitoes and black flies become both abundant and ferocious. Happily, the dragonflies have also multiplied over the past few weeks, so on a sunny day (we have had a few!) we can venture outside right around the house without our bug shirts……unless we are working in the soil (gardener Marilyn) or in the woods (Woodsman Bill). Then there are the creepy, slimy pests know as slugs. As they are soft-bodied, they must stay moist, so are usually underground in leaf litter and garden soil. But when it rains, they come up and get fat on asparagus tips, petunias and the varied fruit and vegetable leavings in my compost bins. I undertake a crusade -- I call it a slugfest. A few days ago, there were 3 dozen in the compost, one about to attack a pot of petunias planted in an old stump, a couple climbing up asparagus spears to get to the tender tips, and even a half-dozen crawling vertically up the outside of the garage! I found snails as well, which are merely glorified slugs in shells. I haven’t figured out if these are the same variety as escargot, of which I have been fond, but these creatures don’t whet my appetite one bit! There are several remedies for slugs and snails. A trowel works really well for slicing and crushing them. Two years ago, when we had a REALLY wet summer, I put out shallow dishes of beer to which they are attracted; they guzzle and drown, leaving disgusting bloated bodies. And the official cure is the commercial product Sluggo, to which I have not resorted. As it is raining again today, there is another slugfest on the horizon!

     Several days after we arrived, our friend/forester and his wife took us into a peat bog that he manages for the owner. What a unique environment! First, one must walk on the high spots as it is literally a bog, with several deep ponds (picture). The rhodora (purple-flowering low shrubs -- see picture), star flowers, moccasin flowers, and cotton plants that have flowers like tufts of cotton were all in full display. Pitcher plants were about 2 inches above ground, their furry inside shoot palpable; in another month, they would be a showy crimson field. They took us to the pond where, the year before, they and the game warden rescued a bull moose that had gotten stuck in the quicksand-like bottom, using a lasso and a come-along to pull it out, only to go back the next day and find the panicked moose stuck again and taking its last breath before going under.

       Moose are a common sight up here, their droppings even more so. Bill got up around 6 one morning and looked out to see a large cow moose standing in our parking area between the house and garage. She had undoubtedly come up out of the lake or out of the woods into our clearing; she stood there, looked around, and then sauntered slowly up our gravel driveway out of sight. That afternoon, after coming back from town, I found large moose tracks in my veggie garden, wending from one end through the tomato cages to the other, having stepped on a small bean plant (picture) and some Swiss chard in a direction toward the lake. The slugs, moose and rodent populations make gardening a challenge!

       It’s the small pleasures that are so endearing. Bill watched intently one morning as a robin picked up little twigs in its beak for its nest. I watched a hummingbird flit from one bloom to another in a basket of wave petunias and then went on to suckle on a sea of Siberian iris whose flowers had just opened (more purple than in the picture). The bumble bees have been enjoying the rhododendron flowers that are huge and fabulous this year (picture). Unfortunately, one of the three rhododendrons that had started to look sick last year is still not doing well. I remain hopeful since it is not all dead, and in fact, had a few small blooms. I have been trying to nurse it back, giving it root activator and acid-plant fertilizer.

       Another meaningful bit of nature was, sadly, in association with the sprinkling of ashes of a dear friend who died just before Memorial Day. Bill and I joined his widow and 2 sons and daughter-in-law for a walk by a cascading brook and into the forest’s edge where there was an extensive display of lady slippers (endangered and protected), some pink and some off-white. There were also Jack-in-the-pulpits and Indian cucumbers whose root is an edible treat. With all of the rain, we are on the look-out for chanterelles.

       June 15th was the full moon, and in what has become a tradition, Bill and I went kayaking in the moonlight. It was one of our loveliest paddles. The water was so calm, the air so still, the path of the moon cutting the water and moving as we moved, the shadows from the mainland and islands forming outlines for our path, and the loons calling to each other from our end of the lake down to the lower part, each of their varied songs/voices echoing long distances. Once, our kayaks were within 30 feet of them, as proclaimed by their voices, not by sight. A fish jumped about 10 feet from me, and a great splash sounding like a belly-flop must have been a weasel, beaver, mink, otter or the like. There were only 5 cabins with lights (including ours) on this 2-1/2 mile journey down-lake and around several islands and back. “The season” will begin to pick up some by the Fourth of July.

       Please wish us sunshine, and if you’re in Austin, we’ll wish you rain. If only the weather patterns could even out…….

My best,      


Moose tracks with Bean Plant

Peat Bog & Pond


Rhododendron with Bee

Siberian Iris