Little Free Seed Library

If not ‘seed money’ then at least with some seedy help from the Piedmont Master Gardeners, the Gordon Avenue Library of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, since April, has checked out free seeds to anyone with a library card. Library users can both take-home and drop-off seeds for free at the library. Available seeds include a few vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers, herbs such as basil, and flowers like zinnia. Some borrowers have been donating seeds from their gardens.

According to Eater, “Libraries across the country are fighting food insecurity by offering communities free seeds and gardening education.” This program has become more popular since the Pandemic.

The Piedmont Master Gardeners provide the most expert gardening assistance. If the project takes off, then it may start growing in other JMRL Libraries. The seeds can be grown in containers or planted into the ground.

Interview with Denzil Walton

Denzil Walton is a freelance technical copywriter and conference reporter. His most recent blog is Denzil Nature.

  1.  Over the years that I have been following you, you have had several different blogs, they mostly seemed to have covered Belgium and the local flora and fauna. What draws you to Belgium?

I moved to Belgium with my wife in 1987 to set up as a freelance technical copywriter. I was doing the same kind of work in The Netherlands, but with a company. Before that I was an unemployed biochemistry graduate living in the UK. I tell my story of how I came to leave the UK and live on the continent of Europe here. We like Belgium. It has its drawbacks of course, but it has an excellent and accessible health service, a good education system that our four children went through, and some beautiful cities and natural areas to visit. It’s also highly multi-cultural which I appreciate.

  • Is there anything you miss about the UK?

I’ve been out of the UK for nearly 40 years now, and returning always gives me culture shock. And now the UK has moved itself out of the European Union through the disaster that’s called Brexit, it seems even more like a strange, foreign and isolated island. So I don’t miss anything really. Having said that, every country has its pros and cons, but I don’t miss the pros of the UK otherwise we would have moved back a long time ago.

  • Have you  always been a naturalist, or is this a passion that you have discovered over the years?

I developed an interest in the natural world aged about 10. It started with birdwatching. During my teenage years it exploded to cover all sorts of nature interests, from photography to breeding butterflies; taxidermy to studying owls. I always intended to become a naturalist or nature reserve warden and so went to university to study zoology and botany. Academically it was such a disappointment. Zoology/botany were treated so drily and academically that it simply did not resonate with my passion for nature. After the first year I moved track to biochemistry, in which I graduated. It put a stop to a career in nature, but I kept up my interests on an amateur basis.

  • What is your favorite thing to write about?

For a number of years I enjoyed writing about Belgium, particularly walking and cycling and discovering its nature. Having done that for 11 years I have put that on the back-burner and returned to my teenage passion for nature. I started up Denzil Nature in January 2023 and am loving it. It takes me back to my teenage years when I wrote everything down in a nature diary and illustrated it with my photos.

  • Did your professional career prepare you for blogging and photography?

By profession I am a technical copywriter and have been for 40 years, and I guess it’s helped me as regards writing and blogging. But I am self-taught when it comes to photography.

  • What are your future plans for your blog?

I  have no grand schemes or plans for Denzil Nature. I post every day, have introduced a weekly Nature Photo Challenge and a couple of other regular topics like 10 Facts on …, and Mystery Photo. I want to start a weekly “Tweet of the Week” series that focuses on bird sounds.

  • You have written a lot about birds, flowers, and trees.  Are there any bird or animal sightings or flora findings that are still on your bucket list?

I would love to see a whale or dolphin. I haven’t because I’ve always lived in the center of countries and have never spent time at the coasts where these creatures live. The chance of seeing one is decreasing because these days I try to keep my environmental footprint as low as possible, and am not keen to travel far. So I explore locally a lot. I get a lot of excitement when I see a new local bird, flower, butterfly or whatever. Just yesterday I saw my first ever Herb Paris in my local woodland. It’s an unexceptional little flower but is quite rare. These little experiences and discoveries are still refreshing and important to me. And a thrill.

  • What would you describe as your ideal job?

Getting paid to write about and photograph nature. Any offers out there?

  • What would surprise our readers to learn about you?

Probably a lot but I doubt if my secrets are interesting to read about. But one surprising aspect that I have not talked about on my blogs is my interest in nature spirituality and connecting with the divine spirit and the “more than human” inhabitants of the planet: animate and (supposedly) inanimate. It’s a fascinating subject to explore, both in theory and practice. Maybe I’ll share my thoughts on Denzil Nature one day.

Examples of some of Denzil’s recent blog topics. Check them out at Denzil Nature

Presenting the Donkey Family (Finally)

We were passing the Wyant Store on Friday afternoon and thought we spotted a donkey in the front pasture. We pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car, looked, then hee-hawed. We saw no donkeys. David was driving a small tractor, dragging an attached mower behind, but whatever we thought we saw, seemed to have disappeared.

We hee-hawed a few more times before a much trimmer Holly slowly appeared, trailed by Vroman. Buddy was tail end Charlie.

The variety in the lush pastures must at least be as appealing as our cooked sweet potatoes, since neither Holly or Buddy seemed that interested in eating them. Vroman is still too young to be interested other than anything but his mother’s milk.

However, pasture greenery can not compete with chocolate chip cookies from the store. The donkeys definitely have a sweet tooth.

Buddy and Vroman

Earth Day 2023-22 April

How well do you know Earth Day? Test your knowledge with some Earth Day quizzes.

  • Compost
  • Pick-up Litter
  • Create pollinator friendly gardens
  • Walk, Bike, Take public transportation
  • Turn off unused lights
  • Don’t run water mindlessly while you are brushing your teeth or rinsing dishes
  • Combine errands
  • Recycle as much as possible.

The glaciers are melting 
faster than ever.
Maybe we can fix this
if we are clever
If we each does our part
rather than they doing theirs
We're in this together
Please act like you care.

Buddy and the Back Pasture

In the past week, we have been to Wyant’s Store twice to feed the donkeys or more likely, just Buddy. When we went most recently, none of the donkeys appeared. Not even a raspy hee-haw from Buddy, after both Bob and I gave the Food’s Here hee-haw. When Bob went into the store to check, David Wyant told him that all of the donkeys were in the back pasture, but they should be the front pasture next week.

On our first visit last week, Buddy made his delayed arrival like he had the time before. He was obviously more interested in Holly and maybe Vroman than he was in food. Or maybe the there was now enough variety in the pasture to tempt his jaded palate.

After he slowly ambled up to the fence, he reluctantly ate some of the chilled sweet potato medallions that Bob mistook for sliced carrots when he picked them up at the grocery store. (This spoiled jackass prefers his sweet potatoes warm, and not chilled).

It didn’t take Buddy long to be done with the sweet potatoes. He became impatient with how long Bob was taking with in the store. Bob returned with news about Vroman’s debut next week and some nutrition bars, because the store had no cookies.

Buddy had no trouble wolfing down fruit and nut nutrition bars. As soon as the bars were done, he turned his back on us and galloped towards the back pasture as fast as his hooves could get him there.

We went back to see the new family yesterday morning (April 19) and there was no sign of them. We didn’t even get a responding hee-haw from Buddy in the back pasture. Maybe later this month…

Spring Determines When It’s Sprung

Meteorological Spring
is March 1
Vernal Equinox
when the Sun is exactly above the Equator
 and day and night are of equal length
is March 20 or 21

But Spring determines
when the new season
becomes discernible:
erratic temperatures,
alternating days
of sun and storms,
bud break,
last frost.

Both altitude and latitude
partially determine
'normal' dates
for frost, bud break,
germination, or termination.

Only increasing daylight
is known.
Sunrise and sunset
measurable by 
weather determines
the amount of light that
is actually available.

Sunshine Dichotomy

The sunshine warms, until it burns
The sunshine brightens, until it fades
We must remember the sun does both
So stay alert and make use of shades.

The kind you pull, or the kind you get under
Don't stay out to long and make us wonder
What you were you thinking?

What sun may burn

  • Your skin
  • Delicate plants
  • bugs and reptiles
  • add your suggestions here

What sun may fade

  • the color blue in quilts and clothes
  • barns, fences, houses
  • pictures on a wall
  • curtains and rugs
  • paintings on buildings
  • wall paper (Becky)

Spring Fever: Flotsam and Jetsam

A mild Spring Day
impetus for
rampant Spring fever
where the mind
drifts comfortably
in a warm sea of
what was,
what might have been
what could still be
what is now.

The flotsam and jetsam
of a mind's creation.

Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison. 

Rise and Fall

Tide rises, tide falls
as waves ebb and flow
unless a storm rages in
overriding low tide
and empowering high tide
to new monstrous
wiping out everything
within its reach.

Countries, empires,
conquering armies
seasons, lifespans
also rise and fall
as time progresses
at a speed 
not always known.

Undulating flocks of starlings
schools of fish
beaching harbor seals
also rise and fall
as circumstances

Full Moon is April 6, 2023

Full Moon of April
symbol of many things
pink for blooming  phlox
fish for upstream shad
grass for emerging shoots,
egg for nesting birds.

Many religions also share
Paschal moon for Easter
 celebrated on 
two different Sundays
when East and West
fail to meet,
Pesach or Passover moon
for Jewish  celebrants,
Hanuman Jayanti festival, 
celebrating the birth of Lord Hanuman
for many Hindus,
Bak Poya, when the Buddha visited Sri Lanka
 settling a dispute between chiefs, avoiding a war.

How to celebrate the Pink Moon:

  • Enjoy Spring Flowers
  • Perform acts of charity
  • Have a welcoming manner
  • Set an extra seat at the table
  • Don’t start any wars

Day of Swine and Rose’s

We decided to visit Cardinal Point Winery on a beautiful 75 degree day. We stopped to feed Buddy enroute. When we got to the winery, we saw two gorgeous pigs grazing on the grass across from the winery tasting room.

Bob went up to the tasting room to order us a bottle of Rose’ with crackers and a plastic tub of pimento and smoked Gouda cheese. I went over to meet the divine swine.

As I was crossing the driveway, a black dog dashed towards me, simultaneously baring his teeth and growling while assuming a cowering posture. The six people that were sitting under an awning and drinking some wine, assured me that he was friendly while yelling at the dog to come back. Fortunately the dog listened to them, and I approached.

“Do you mind if I take a picture of the two pigs? They are adorable.”

The owner of the pigs got up and introduced me to Samantha, the light colored pig, and Magnolia, the black colored pig. “These are my babies. They like to travel in the car, but only for short distances. They don’t do well on longer trips.”

“I brought them over here because they have already eaten all of the clover in their own field,” she said as we watched the two pigs happily graze on the thick carpet of new grass.

I think that Samantha is an American pot-bellied pig and I do not remember what type of pig that Magnolia is. Magnolia does have maple scented pheromones that come out her tear ducts. “Some pigs have a pheromone that smells just like maple syrup. There isn’t any research on what causes this phenomenon, but in our experience, less than 3% of pigs have it. The smell is emitted from the tear ducts, and doesn’t seem to be prevalent in one particular breed.” –Hog Heaven Farm on Facebook.

Both pigs had coarse bristles when I petted them. Magnolia has split bristles which gave her bristles a flayed whitish appearance at the end of each bristle. Her owner told me that she was about ready to shed her bristles and the new bristles would be a rich black.

Buddy Had More Important Things on His Mind than Food

On a beautiful warm Sunday, enroute to a local winery, we made a detour past Wyant’s Store which is closed on Sundays. We were pleasantly surprised to see Buddy standing midfield with his back towards us.

Bob hee-hawed and Buddy ambled up to the fence without braying back. He followed Bob along the fence line to eat the left over cooked (now cold) sweet potatoes that we were not able to feed him a few days earlier because he had been exiled to the back pasture.

He ate them without his usual enthusiasm, which was still an improvement over spitting them out like he did the raw sweet potatoes. Once or twice, he even turned his back on us to look towards the back pasture.

As soon as the sweet potatoes were finished, so was his interest in being fed by us. I don’t know if he realized that the store was closed so there would be no dessert, or if his interest in the back pasture was stronger.

As soon as he was finished eating, he began galloping and braying toward the back pasture fence. My guess he that he was lovesick (aka horny) for Holly.

Holly and Buddy Proudly Introduce You to Vroman

On a cloudy March Friday morning , we made the trek out to Wyant’s Store. Bob had cooked a sweet potato and we wanted to see if that suited Buddy’s delicate palate better than the raw ones he spat out last week. Bob gave several of his best hee-haws; when there was not sign of Buddy, he went into the store for news.

While he was in there, one of the ladies who works in the store, got out her car. She told me that Buddy was banished to the back pasture after he tried to bust through a fence to get to Holly and and the new foal. Buddy was horny for Holly.

As if Buddy knew we were talking about him, we heard his raspy bray from the back pasture.

Shortly after she went into the store, Bob came out with news and fresh cookies. Renee Wyant who was working in the store had told him that what we had heard was a filly was actually a colt named Vroman or Broman (guessing on the spelling and pronunciation). Renee also sent him two pictures of the Holly and Vroman/Broman, which are featured below.

We ate two of the cookies, since there was no donkey to feed,

Hopefully on a future visit, we can get pictures of the entire Donkey family.