Greetings from "The Gods Are Bored!" Wow, what an eventful long weekend I have had! Time to flip up the tank top and gaze deep into that navel!
But before I do, thank you again to everyone who contributed to this year's Personal Choice Reading Book Drive! My students will thank you. I do tell them where the books come from.
I'm just back today from a stay at my lovely, shady, untouched and untrammeled property in Bedford County, PA. I have named the tract Anneland. It's a colony of the Independent Republic of Johnsonia, and there could be no better place for such a colony. Why, only a half mile from its border there's a cemetery chock a block with Johnsons, including my direct ancestors.
Anneland is in fine shape. Meaning that it's just a forest, doing what forests do when they aren't pestered by people.
My daughter The Heir went with me on this trip. For her, Anneland was a source of constant wonder. There were mushrooms everywhere, and fossils, and she set about clearing a pathway and a little campsite where we could sit and feel cool.
We didn't spend the night on Anneland. It would be very, very dark in those woods. As luck would have it, there are some cozy and clean tourist cabins not far from the property. Nice to have a shower and a fridge and a microwave at your disposal while visiting the primitive colonies!
There is also a swimming hole near Anneland. One morning, Heir and I stopped by to check out the water level. I started to walk upstream a ways, and suddenly Heir shouted for me. "Mom, come quick!"
I obeyed my first born's directive and rejoined her by the side of the creek. She pointed, and I gaped.
EXHIBIT A: WHAT THE DEVIL IS THAT THING?This is a case where a photo does not do a creature justice. This thing would have stretched from the tip of my middle finger to my wrist. It was like a big, green, horned, spiky cigar. It fell out of a tree, five feet from where Heir was standing.
Boldly going where no one had gone before, Heir guided the oversized insect to shore, because it fell in the water. Then, after we gaped at it for some time, she used a camp shovel to carefully lift it from the side of the creek to the safety of the woods.
Later that morning, when I found myself at a place that gets Internet signal, I asked Dr. Google what this thing actually is. Turns out it's a hickory horned devil caterpillar. They burrow into the ground to build a chrysalis, which explains why it fell out of a tree. You would think that such a monstrosity would be poisonous, but it's not. Poison would be redundant for something so huge and scary-looking. Oh, and by your leave, it's the largest caterpillar in North America.
There are more wild critters in my little New Jersey back yard than there are on four acres of Anneland. I've got a dozen species of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, groundhogs, possums, moles, and raccoons. But I have nothing like the insect representation you get when you go to the mountains. "Hickory Horned Devil" is a great name for that caterpillar, but I'm tempted to call it the Lord God Bug. Because you best believe I said "Lord God" when I saw that thing.
We also did a little waterfall collecting, at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia.
EXHIBIT B: A NICE ADDITION TO THE COLLECTIONAnd guess what else, readers? There are windmills upon windmills on the mountains in the Mountain State! Whole lines of them atop the high ridges! A feast for the eyes.
I also moved some roadkill off the road for the Sacred Thunderbirds, and later I saw them feasting on it safely. That was the religious portion of the trip.
Heir and I also feasted like kings at the local eateries, the Road Kill Cafe (not kidding) and the Chat & Chew Diner outside Keyser, WV.
But mostly we just hung out on Anneland. This is the hottest part of the summer, and those woods were cool.