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June 24, 2013

By the time you read this, Karen, Yolanda, and I will either be on the road or in Michigan's upper peninsula.

Yes, it is our annual trek Up North.

We will be back sometime Wednesday evening.

I will get you your e-mails then.

We enjoy it Up North, and for Yolanda..........

Just to get out and about with mom and dad is special.

With her brain injury, every time seems like the first time for her.

(Her short term memory is zero).

(Oenethera-Evening Primrose)

June 21, the first official day of summer.

As if it were all planned, a switch is turned on and we now have summer weather in southwest Michigan.

Temperatures in the upper 80's and low 90's.

And we cannot forget about the air we wear.

Hot and sticky, humidity is a given.

Toss in a few pop up thunderstorms and we are good to go.

If you had a chance to see the full moon last night, you saw the brightest, and closest moon of the year.

The full moon of June is called the 'Strawberry Moon'.

This past week was truly wonderful

The Lord Blessed us in many ways.

Fathers Day was last Sunday (June 16), for Dads Day, i wanted to go the the Pow Wow.

This year, the 'Three Fires' Pow Wow just happened to fall on the weekend of Fathers Day.

I enjoy learning about cultures and of course some history of the American Indian Nations.

The participation was lower this year, but still a good afternoon.

I don't know if all Pow Wows allow for public participation, but the ones held here do.

Yours truly, as were all dads (if they chose to) were invited into the circle.

We walked/danced to the drums and song in honor of all fathers, especially 'The Father of Life'.

I also introduced myself to a tribal elder, who is a cousin of some American Indians I went to school with.

American Indian/Native American culture is steeped in tradition.

Knowing the importance of caring for 'Mother Earth' and nature.

Understanding the importance of caring and giving back.

All in all, a wonderful day for me.

The invasion begins.

The Toadlets that is.

No bigger than a dime.

They are everywhere.

Six-eight weeks ago, the pond, marsh and creek were alive with a 'Toad Orchestra' .

Toads in a loving mood.

I am blessed to have an abundance of toads as it is, but now the little buggers are everywhere.

It is a case of watching where you step.

I live about a hundred yards/meters from a local pond, and this is ideal breeding grounds for toads and frogs.

It is also an ideal hangout for predators.

The pond has its local Great Blue Heron.

There is always a batch of Green Herons.

Don't forget the Belted Kingfishers.

There are snapping turtles as well.

Some of the turtles appear to be old enough (huge) to collect social security.

Not to mention a variety of non-poisonous snakes, some of which are old enough to vote.

A new predator arrives.

Fathers Day also showed me something special in the pond.

A 'River Otter'.

Of course, the one time I didn't have my camera with me.

She poked her head out, chattered at me and watched me as much as I watched her.

I've never seen otters in the wild before.

I quickly went to get my camera, but alas.............

No more otter.

Of, course, try to tell others what you just saw (including Karen) and they look at you as if you hit you head or something.

Difficult when no one wants to believe.

Well, a neighbor had seen something too, that made me feel better.

After several treks a day to the pond, Wednesday finally blessed me with a picture of, not one, but three otters.

A mom and her two pups.

(Youngsters Pictured Below.)

I managed to get a couple of pictures.

I am official pumped, geeked even.

Since then, i have seen them a few times and managed a few more pictures.

I sent the pictures of to Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and they confirmed for my they are indeed River Otters. (Had to make sure).

The DNR informed me, though unusual, otters can be spotted just about anywhere there is water and abundant food, but they wont hang out in polluted water.

There is plenty of food, toads, frogs, crayfish, catfish, goldfish (some over a 12").

They also feed on nesting bird eggs and babies and other goodies.

Friday, I sat and watched mom gorge on whatever she could find.

The youngsters must've been sleeping, as they were no where to be seen.

Suburban Otters, go figure.

They must've followed Plaster Creek that sits back in the woods about 50 yards/meters away.

I hope they spend the summer.

Do your Columbines (Aquilegia) end up looking like this?

Leaf Miners are the culprit.

Tiny insects that get between the leaf layers and 'Mine' away.

About the only way to combat these insects is with a systemic insecticide or all season oils the suffocate.

Then again, you will be killing off any and all insects, including pollinators that feed on systemic filled pollen and nectar.

Leaf Miners are well embedded by the time you notice the damage.

Your best line of defense is to now cut back the foliage.

Yes, you may cut it all the way back (without damaging the crown).

New, and vibrant foliage will appear, looking as healthy as ever.

Grow Vertical:

(My backyard)

Do you have limited growing space?

So much to plant and grow and so little space.

I think most of us fit into that category.

You might even be challenged a bit in the creative department.

Vertical is always a nice way to go.

Or should I say grow :-)

Start with taller plants in the back of a bed.

Still not enough height?

Consider placing pots on rocks or pedestals.

Hand a basket from a hook, or tree branch to give added height or depth.

Consider a trellis as a backdrop.

Options are only as limited as the imagination (okay, budget too).

Cool colors like white, blue and purples can make a garden look bigger.

Bright colors like yellows, reds, and oranges, make things jump and appear smaller.

I'm good with that, because I like bright colors.

Bright colors to me scream life, and the bright colors also attract more pollinators.

Staring at me in silence.

A mother deer in stealth mode.

Until I took one too many steps toward her.

There were the snorts.

Agitation on her part.

Hidden in the underbrush are twins.

Her babies.

They are there, I can see the tall weeds and grass moving,
ever so slightly.

Eventually she will bring them out for the world to see (and photograph).

Deer are born with virtually no scent for predators to pick up.

The best defense for the babies is to remain still.

Mother deer and other animals often take off to forage and return to their families later on.

Some days, it feels like animal planet around here.

Not bad for living in the city of Kentwood (suburb of Grand Rapids).

I know by footprints and the damage, that a couple of adult deer are munching down my Asters and other food friendly plants.

I never stay on top of critter repellents like I should.

Well,, it is time to fly for now.

Not an informative letter, but a bit newsy.

Sometimes I simply have to share some things and possibly the brain isn't in a creative, teaching mode.

By the Grace of God, I will be back sometime mid-week.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand everything better.

Albert Einstein


You will find God in Nature.

Read on.

"For this is what the LORD says--
he who created the heavens, he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it; he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited--
he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other."

Isaiah 45:18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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