The downside to celebrity

It was just a matter of time before the paparazzi found Perry County Blossom, our answer to that other weather predicting groundhog in Pennsylvania. Below the tabloid  is the real back story from her caregivers Jack and Tamara.

tabloid cover

2013 marks the fourth year, and third hibernation since Jack and Tamara first saw Blossom foraging among the oaks. Jack started feeding her and over the course of the year, she learned to recognize his voice, her name and the word “Dinnertime!” He guesses she was a year or two old on their first meeting.

In spring 2011, she’d had a litter of five and then seven the following spring. When the babies were about the size of guinea pigs, she would bring the pups out to eat and Tamara and Jack would watch them play. This year, she didn’t bring the pups out.

Nursing the pups  is very strenuous for Blossom; taking a toll on her energy and any stored fat. When she emerges, she’s starving and will raid the garden and chow down on whatever else is available.

Jack, her personal chef, says Blossom loves anything juicy such as ripe pears, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines and melons. He usually gives her a half-cup of old fashioned rolled oats ( with a pinch of Sel de Guerande,  French gray sea salt), one apple, one carrot, one-eighth head of cabbage and six peanuts in the shell. Blossom also gets any spare cucumbers from the garden.

Jack says there is a specific order in which she eats: oatmeal, peanuts, carrots, cabbage, then the apples. She will not eat squash or any kind of potato and especially despises bananas. Blossom has put on substantial weight over the past month, an improvement over her first appearance this spring. She was thin and was looking a little less than healthy.

They are sometimes joined by Ratty or Fox, a gray fox. Fox gets two dog biscuits every night plus table scraps. As Jack said, “It’s a wild version of the nuclear family.”

Whistlepig and sidekick eat out (or in)

Readers are familiar with that blogally famous Perry County Prognosticator, Blossom the Groundhog. As good as her predictions are, she has been a little less predictable.

However, her spokespeople, Tamara and Jack, have sent new dispatch. Blossom has reappeared after spending the spring rearing a den of babies (pups? kittens? whistlepiglets?) Jack, an excellent human chef and vintner, was pleased to offer a spread that would delight any rodent of Blossom’s stature: cabbage, apples and peanuts. This time, Blossom brought a friend, the curl-your-toes-cute Ratty the wood rat, who was content with a bowl of oatmeal. Thanks to Tamara and Jack for the photo update!

BlossomGetsHerstrength BlossomGrump

Ratty Solo

Country roads

A July 4th ride in the more isolated areas of Perry and Saline counties yielded some interesting sights.

Arkansas 9
HWY 9 -- Highway 9 meanders around part of the Ouachitas connecting Hwy 10 at Williams Junction at the north end to Hwy 5 at Crows in the south.
Blooming butterfly pea
FLASHY FLOWER -- This butterfly pea was a bright spot in a freshly harvested pine forest.
Street sign
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING -- Tongue in cheek street sign in Saline County hints at what's beyond the pavement.
Stay out
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED -- Response times are a little longer in isolated areas. An example of a DIY security system.

The morning after

The morning after brought sun, warmer temperatures and insidious melt and re-freeze beneath the snow blanket.  Still, it was beautiful and the sound of running water and birds were the only ones to break the morning silence.

Bluebird on a wire
Bluebird enjoys the warm sun.
Grass and shadows
Husks of warm-hued summer grass stand in contrast to the blue snow shadows.
Bird tracks in the snow
Bird tracks cross where dogs, kids and bicycles have been.
Robin ventures out on the ice.
A robin ventures out on the ice covered lake.
Outdoor faucet and its shadow.
Outdoor faucet casts a clean shadow.
Lakeshore covered by snow.
Lake in winter.
Deer tracks in the snow.
Tracks left by deer on their morning rounds.
snow on filigreed mat
Snow traces the filigree of a doormat.

Snow piled on slats.

Oh, forgot a caption for this one. Snow is piled on the slats of a garden bench.

After the storm

Light from the setting sun plays across mist left after the passage of a summer storm that flashed through the Ouachitas of western Pulaski, eastern Perry and northern Saline counties.

low clouds in the Ouachita valleys after a storm
Low clouds fill these Ouachita valleys looking into Perry County.