Nature

Timber…


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Tonight my dad, uncle and I took down my half-tree in the front yard. From the rings in the stump, we counted 26 years. It’s a bummer this tree had to go, but the electric company had already trimmed half of it. So, I’ll be shopping for a new tree or two come spring. On a positive note, I’ll be ready for bonfires.

 

November 28th, 2012|Nature|0 Comments

Yellow Fall


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A sister photo to Orange Fall.

November 1st, 2012|Nature|0 Comments

Tree of Life


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Today’s photo is deceiving because this cottonwood tree on our South Dakota farm is huge. Its shiny leaves shake and shimmer in the wind. The tree was once even bigger, and it played a large role in my childhood. You’d probably need at least two tall adults to wrap your arms around the trunk. To keep the tree healthy, 4-5 major limbs (if not more) have been trimmed over the years. It housed our bike storage shed with Huffy and Schwinn bikes, garden tools, hula hoops, Skip-It and stilts. Above the storage shed was our tree house with a ladder made from 2×4’s, and we could see the Curry Seed office and cattle yard to the north from our lookout tower. Our horse trailer was parked next to it, and we’d saddle our horses under the tree and stow afternoon snacks in our saddlebags of peanut butter sandwiches. Our first dog (that I remember, of the many, many family dogs) was buried along the fence line, and the foals born on our farm would run and kick their heels in the grassy pasture next to the tree. A tire swing hung off another branch, and as kids we’d swing so high, we’d get butterflies from the gravity rush.

I’ve seen the redwood forests, and yet this cottonwood is still impressive to me and it anchors our family farm on the Midwest plains. And in many ways, it anchors many of my childhood memories.

October 29th, 2012|Nature|0 Comments

Orange Fall


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I detoured from my route home and stopped at the Plymouth Creek Playfield for some fall foilage photos.

October 22nd, 2012|Nature|0 Comments

Stone Arch by Day


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A couple months ago, I discovered a ‘secret’ stairway next to the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. Walking down 75 steps or so, you’re rewarded with a serene view from the banks of the Mississippi. (See a rooftop view from the Mill City Museum and a view at night.)


September 24th, 2012|Minneapolis, Nature|0 Comments

Barney


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Barney the mule, from the farm, is wondering if I have any treats. Like an apple wafer or two. And, of course, I do.

September 24th, 2012|General, Nature|0 Comments

Toads


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Good to know something’s enjoying the water feature on my patio, as you can toad-ally see.

September 23rd, 2012|Nature|0 Comments

Driving Lessons


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Every fall, my Grandpa Curry would always have two things in his car and his red Ford pickup: a Plen-T-Pack of Big Red gum and ears of seed corn from the fall harvest. When I was a kid, I’d be chewing on a fresh stick of cinnamon gum listening all ears while Grandpa Ed would take me with him to survey cornfields and talk about our family business, in operation since 1935. He’d talk about the “4 F’s”: faith, family, friends and farm, and that nothing is automatic…that everything that’s worth something requires hard work and some effort. Most of all, I remember my grandpa being quite the storyteller.

The spring and summer of 1994, my grandpa gave me driving lessons on gravel country roads on our farm. Aside from an unusual approach that I drive in reverse the whole time, the driving lessons applied less to driving and more to life. [Note: Grandpa reasoned that anyone can drive forward, but not enough people know how to reverse a vehicle properly, so this is where we focused.]

He often stressed that “if God gave you talents, use them. Don’t waste them.” As his eyes scanned over the rows of soybeans and corn, Grandpa Curry talked about goals, ambition, and hard work. He’d talk about how uncommon it was to have a college education generations ago and that my ancestors (both men and women) had committed to earning college diplomas. Grandpa would outline the family tree, sharing stories about relatives I’ve never met and ensure their legacies lived on.

Between cues for left or right turns on the roads, Grandpa talked about being raised by a supportive family and the need to have religious beliefs and values. He would talk about my ancestors who were notable Catholic priests: Msgr. William J. Kerby and his nephew Fr. William Henry Russell. Kerby’s most notable involvement in Catholic social service was helping organize the National Conference of Catholic Charities in 1910, which is today known as Catholic Charities USA.

Grandpa would always find a way to mention “the two most important decisions in your life,” which he’d say with a smile, “are your life’s work and your life’s mate.” He’d reiterate that you’ve got to pursue your passions, likely understanding that farming was not one of mine. We’d talk about his and grandma’s world travels and learning from other cultures, but that no place was quite like home.

When the driving lesson was over, I’d steer the pickup home (forward this time and not in reverse!). I would later realize, when I was older, that I didn’t just learn how to drive. I learned lessons for life and discovered my heritage; and most importantly, I got to know my grandpa.

September 16th, 2012|Nature, People|0 Comments

White Sands


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The glistening White Sands National Monument of New Mexico engulfs 275 square miles of desert creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. The active dunefield moves from west to east as much as thirty feet per year. The wind moves small sand grains by bouncing them along the surface in a process called “saltation.” Saltating sand grains create a beautiful pattern of ripples on the dune surface.

From Wikipedia: Gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because it is water-soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the sea. The Tularosa Basin is enclosed and water either sinks into the ground or forms shallow pools which subsequently dry out and leave gypsum in a crystalline form, called selenite, on the surface.

It was the first time my friend Steph and I had gone sledding in the desert! And what inspired today’s post, you ask? I was thinking about this August 2010 vacation and my impending move, and like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.

 

 

August 28th, 2012|Nature, People, Travel|0 Comments

Rain Dew


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I love finding patterns in nature, like these globs of rain that coated the patio table early Sunday morning.

August 21st, 2012|Nature, Photography|0 Comments