So what do teachers do upon retirement?Here,
our friend Jewel, a former middle school colleague of mine, has uplifting moments on the bucket of a front end
loader.She is on her way up to some
eaves on one of her and Steves farm buildings that need painting. Mrs. T, also a
retired teacher, took these photos. Her focus these days seems to be more along the
lines of keeping Troutbirders “Honey Do List” up to date….
In 1972 we were staying at a lake cabin near Grand Rapids,
Minnesota. A local nursery had Showy Pink Ladyslippers for sale. They are
Minnesota's State Flower. I bought two. Fortunately that summer the DNR's
"Conservation Volunteer" magazine had an article on how to build a
small artifical bog. The plan basically showed digging a pit, lining it with
plastic, filling it in with equal parts of soil and peat. Then planting your orchids.
The picture above shows what it looked like when completed. The orchids
took hold, were carefully nurtured and slowly, very slowly gradually increased
in number and size.
These gems were the pride of my rapidly growing flower
gardens. They stood along the fence in the backyard shaded by our mighty oak
trees. By 2003, the year we built our new house in the woods, they had
increased to several dozen beautiful specimens. As part of our contract in
selling our old house, the new owners agreed that I could take any plants with
me, as they were not interested in gardening. Limited time and physical stamina
(I was helping build the house that summer) meant only a few could be moved
next door. Naturally, the native orchids were the first priority. A new bog was
built in the North Woods and the transplantation was accomplished with much trepidation.
That winter I began to evolve the plans for
both the North and South shady gardens. I worried about my lady slippers. The
Showy Pinks were hopefully safe in their new bog and the Large Yellows had been
placed bareroot in the South Woods.
Only time would tell.... native orchids are
notoriously difficult to transplant.What a relief when spring revealed that all the native orchids had
survived their abrupt move without a hitch.Things were going well when we left in late spring for a camping trip to
the Blue Ridge in Virginia. We had a great time touring Gettysburg battlefield,
Washington DC, Williamsburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. Upon our return to
Minnesota though, we found that disaster had struck.I had failed to poke enough hole's in the
bottom of the bog's liner. Heavy rains had filled the bog during our absence
turning it into a lake. Half the Showy Pinks were drowned. The survivors looked
pretty sick but I hoped for the best.Slowly
they began to revive. There were about ten survivors.
Previously that spring my
visiting grandson, who was just a toddler then, had spotted "the Easter
Bunny" hopping about the yard. The bunny was a visitor from the neighbors
rabbit hutch.It was July and I was
checking things out in the North Woods.
Several white rabbits were scampering
off across Oak Hill Drive returning to their home. I found all the Showy Pinks
nipped off at ground level. Each and every one never to return. The Easter
Bunnies are no longer on my list of favorite animals.Since then I have looked in various
catalogues for replacements. At one hundred dollars a plant I can't justify
replacing them . Since they are now being replicated by laboratory means and as
the price is slowly declining, the day will come. In the meantime, I admire my
large yellow ladyslippers which continue to do well….