Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Magical Little Surprise in the Garden

A few weeks ago, after a week of rain, we went out into the garden on an overcast day to play and do some weeding. I looked at our little flower garden and saw amongst all of the weeds, these little plants. Something inside of me said, "Those are not weeds!" But we didn't know what they were, so I began to pluck them out. I was surprised to find that their roots were fairly short. We had laid down compost and soil, so if they had short roots, they were growing in what we had put down. We reasoned that the seeds must have blown in and quickly taken root.

But then, I noticed this! On top of some of the little plants were squash seeds! At some point in the fall, we had tossed all old squash into the compost without thinking. And now, our compost is basically planting its own garden! I shared this little bit of magic with my students who loved the idea that we will have squash in the fall. We separated the plants a bit so that they will have more space to grow. Who needs a flower garden when you have an accidental squash garden?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Three Train Rides in a Day

I write a lot about trains, I suppose, because I spend so much of my life on them. Yesterday, I took the train three times. I had slept in Prague on Friday night and came home yesterday morning. Then, I went back into the city for the afternoon and evening, taking a train home at night.

On Saturday morning, I was walking along the road on the way home from the train station when I spotted a gutter-dwelling colony of snails. I crouched down and took this photo, saying softly, "Hey guys, there's got to be a better place to live." As I continued to walk, the colony got bigger and bigger! Snails everywhere! I maintain, the gutter is probably not the most hospitable environment and they could easily move to that patch of grass on the left. But there's such good decomposing plant matter in that gutter!

On the way to the train in the afternoon, I didn't notice any new creatures, but on the way home, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, this little guy scurrying in the bushes. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so I was pretty lucky to get a picture of him. "You remind me of an old friend, little friend," I said to him. Then, I discovered, I was not alone. It's embarrassing enough to be found talking to animals or taking photos, but the combination was mortifying. The man who saw me asked why I was taking a picture. Our conversation, in Czech, went something like this:
"Why are you taking photos?"
"I'm sorry, I speak little and bad Czech, but it is a hedgehog, right?"
"Yes, hedgehog."
"So, in America, we don't have hedgehogs. I like hedgehogs, but I don't see them. Here, I see a hedgehog so I am happy. So, I take photos."
"Do you want to get a drink?"
"No, I have water."
"Do you want to come to a restaurant with me?"
"Oh, no, no thank you. Good night!"

I'm trying to imagine the thought process that went on there. You take pictures of rodents and don't speak my language. I find that attractive in a woman. ?