Clark Hollow Ramblings: My new friend

I have to tell you about a new friend I have. I mentioned a month or so ago that my firewood pile had suffered some sort of invasion by a bug that had gotten under the bark of the firewood and made a big mess. And while none of the firewood I have been using is ash, the culprit looks exactly like the larval form of the emerald ash borer on the forestry websites. It is a white grub, not quite an inch long, with one end bigger than the other.

When I get tired of sitting in the house waiting for warmer weather, I sometimes go out to the woodpile and take my hand axe and knock the bark off some of the fire wood that has been infested by this pest. Without fail, I no sooner get started on this thankless, make-work project when I look up and, perched about 10 feet away, is a very anxious mockingbird, jumping from one part of the green briar bush to the other, watching my every move, practically saying, “Hurry up. Hurry up.” 

As soon as I leave my work station, he flies into the middle of the mess and gobbles down all the white grubs. Then he jumps or flies to the top of the woodpile and sits there looking quite proud of himself. Just how he figured that out, I can’t say, but he is one smart mockingbird, and I think I have a new best friend. 

Also on the ornithology front, a year or two ago, Linda and I were all excited about a pair of hawks that we saw building a nest in a big maple tree down in the front yard. They eventually abandoned the nest. I thought it was too close to the road and maybe two much traffic and people walking along there, but, for whatever reason, they gave it up. Well, this year we have another pair, and they are rebuilding the old nest and hanging around there a lot. I have not figured out if they are red-tailed or red-shouldered hawks, but they are big hawks. I just hope they like mice and moles and leave the occasional rabbit that we see alone. In any event, we wish them well.

I have been slogging through the mud trying to do a few things to get the raised beds ready as soon as it dries up a bit. I put the ground-up rotten bark on the new beds and want to get some peat moss and manure. The weather man is calling for a good chance of rain the next couple of days, and that is not going to help matters much. We need some good drying weather. 

My dad liked to get his potatoes in the ground about St. Patrick’s Day, if the ground was ready. It was funny. He was in charge of getting the potatoes ready, cut and planted, and mom was in charge of what they called “the little stuff.” The little stuff consisted of peas and lettuce and radishes and the other things you could plant when the ground was still pretty cool. 

When I was a kid we had a big garden. It seemed to me to stretch from Pullentown to Flint Hill, but that was just when I had to pull weeds or gather tomatoes or some other chore that I could be trusted to do. I am sure I fussed and complained about having to work in the garden, but looking back on it now, I wouldn’t give anything for those memories, working alongside my mother and father and putting seeds in the ground and watching them grow. I hope my grandchildren have some of those memories to look back on. 

I trust your garden plans are taking shape and your seed catalogs have been well perused. It won’t be long now, he said, hopefully.

Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 141 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.