• Dale Bowman

Mulberries, chipmunks & corralling fish: Ramble with the Lady


Over the past week, I've seen the tell-tale signs of ripe mulberries on back roads: the squashed dark splatters under overhanging road-side trees.

And I could not figure out why there were no ripe mulberries around the town pond.

Well, that changed this morning. I not only noticed ripening mulberries this morning, but picked and ate some.

(Hello, Fats Domino.)

At least for me, it is short step to ``Blueberry Hill.''

Lady found the mulberries interesting, too; which could have some interesting consequences, if you gather my drift.


It was just a lively morning this morning as Lady, our family's mutt, and I rambled off. It might have been the liveliest morning of the year. I suspect it was a combination of leaving earlier than usual (I saw a window on radar before the latest round of storms arrive) and critters being active before the next round of storms.

A gray squirrel bolting across the street as we opened the front door set the tone. We had a rabbit down the alley behind the bus barn. Then almost immediately a baby rabbit scurried under a car by the garage downtown. A black squirrel ran up a tree across from the ball field on the edge of town.

As we crossed the side rail separating the town from the wildness of the town pond, I counted several mourning doves picking grit by the gravel and, for the second morning in a row, a chipmunk bolted from the track and into the trackside brush. I almost got a photo of it.

Even without a photo, I saw it clearly enough that I was able to tell it was an eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus). According to the University of Illinois Extension, the eastern chipmunk is the smallest ground squirrel in Illinois. The largest ground squirrel in Illinois, in one of those things I bet you didn't know, is the woodchuck or groundhog.

Just on a note of film criticism (and I do not mean in the sense of critiqueing but in the sense of being critical), those damm Alvin and the Chipmunk movies are some of the worst kids stuff in recent years, almost bad enough to be incentive to not have kids.

(Hello, and goodby, Jason Lee.) Arghh. But I digress.

A blue heron lifted off the south side of the north old clay pit and its big wings flapping so startled the floating Canada geese that they gave some light honking.

All the geese were swimming close to shore, close enough that once again I could count goslings. Apparently I am pretty close on the count. Same as the other day, I counted 26 goslings.

A green heron squawked off from the southeast corner of the south pit as I picked mulberries. Fish dimpled the surface of the south pit. I could not tell if it was small fish or baitfish eating something on top of the water or largemouth bass corralling bait fish.

Questions outside.

As we circled the south side of the south pit, I found a dead snake. More correctly, one that had been killed. The irrational hatred of snakes is almost Biblical. Literally, I mean Biblical.

(Hello, Adam and Eve.)


Back on the edge of town, I counted eight doves lifting off from picking grit by the gravel area by the grain elevators.

(Hello, Charles Demuth.)

In the half light between dawn and the approaching storms, there was a somber cast to the grain elevators.

Or at least it seemed that way to me.

The cook/chef who runs a food truck for the local nursery and migrant workers had his truck doors open as I passed and music was blaring.

(Hello, Tito Puente?)

The chef/cook was not out when we passed or I would have asked who the musician was.

Near home, a black squirrel ran up the neighbor's oak. A gray squirrel leaped off our porch as we came up the front steps.

Just a good lively and varied morning.

Thunder grumbles to the southwest as I finish typing. The sky darkens.

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