Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Fever

Okay, I’ll admit it! Spring may be my favorite season, if for no other reason than; I get cabin fever in the winter, and I can’t wait to poke my nose outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Even though I get tired of the rain, I like the rain, especially when it rains hard and makes the skylights on my house roar. The early rains of Fall make the dry brown grass start to turn green again in an early promise of renewal. Mother nature likes to tease me with little promises. A blade of grass here, and Daffodil or two there. Pretty soon about the 1st of February I start itching to get outside.

The ground hog comes out on the 2nd of February and always has discouraging news about more of a long winter. I grumble to myself; what does a ground hog really know anyway. I pass it all off as Ground Hogwash. But, the rains keep coming. Soon, I can’t stand it, and I go for a walk in the rain. I don’t wear a raincoat because for some reason the locals never wore raincoats. If it was raining too hard we didn’t go out in the rain. There was an old expression about “not being smart enough to come in out of the rain”, so locals just didn’t go out when it was raining too hard. If you had work to do outside, you would just wait until the hard showers were over, step outside when it slowed down, then come back inside when it started raining too hard again. Because, we had great pride in having sense enough to come in out of the rain.

The Newcomers that came up here to get back-to-the-land, showed up dressed like later-day Daniel Boones, complete with a Jim Bowie knife strapped to their belts and a coonskin cap. They smelled like patchouli oil, B.O. and dirt. I don’t see any of those guys any more. I think that they got rich and winter-up in Puerto whatch-a-ma-callit now.

The thing that we always noticed about the newcomers is they had raincoats and Vibram soled barn boots. When it was raining hard the locals would sit inside, usually in a restaurant booth with a good view of the street. We’d look out the windows and watch the newcomers walking up and down the street in the rain. One of us would mumble, “look at them damn fools, no sense to come out of the rain”. Then we’d feel real good about ourselves, being inside where it was dry and smart.

If one of them would head for the door we would bet whether they would wipe their feet or just track mud all over hell. We had a theory that city bred people didn’t know how to wipe their feet, because they’d never seen mud before. Humboldt County must have been a wonderful learning experience for them.

But, I was talking about spring wasn’t I. About the middle of February there is a little flower that comes out that is a real pretty flower. It only grows in complete shade. It only blooms for a short time. We called it a Zebra Flower, because it has three Zebra striped petals about ¾ inch long it has long green waxy leaves, with pea sized grey/green spots on them. The Newcomers call them “Slink Pods”. They are very abundant, but unknown by most people, because few people walk around in a dripping wet forest in mid-February. Just us cabin fever types.

As kids we would tell the girls that if they picked a bunch of them and rubbed them between their hands and rubbed it on their arms, they would smell like flowers. Which is true. They would smell just like Zebra Flowers, otherwise known as The FETID Adders Tongue. Fetid like in rotten meat.

Slink pod photo by:

The Indian warriors start blooming in February and into March I learned from Kym the other day that Indian warrior was a parasite plant that grows of the roots of other plants, just like mistletoe grows of the limbs. Why didn’t I know that? I’m ashamed that I didn’t, but at least Kym knew it.

The Buckeye trees are starting to get small leaves, and the Dogwood is starting to get green colored buds. I saw three gray squirrels doing the squirrel thing, where they circle the tree at blinding speed, chasing each other. They speed around the tree at such a blinding speed that you can’t tell who is chasing who. I had to laugh. Even the squirrels are getting kinky nowadays. A manage a trois of squirrels??? That’s just a little to squirrelly for me!

The skunks are breeding, I’m not really sure why Skunks think that the only place that they can breed in in the middle of the freeway. You can expect to see, and smell, a lot of road-flattened skunks in your travels.

Now, if you are a Birder, the swallows should be showing up any day now. So start watching. See if you can be the first to see a swallow. They show up at Benbow, because they nest in the freeway underpass. They fly up into the little holes in the bridge and nest inside. I usually don’t look for them, I just notice one day that; “Hey, the Swallows are back”.

Photo of Clif Swallow By Dori

The bridge used to be great habitat for them, because of the lake, and the bugs that the lake provided. It will be interesting to see if the swallows can survive without the lake. I know that the Newcomers want to take the dam out, because it was not their idea, but I feel that the dam was beneficial for the fish, in that it provider deep water pooling that was lost due to the erosion that the floods caused. But, what do I know. Time will tell, and as always, it will be too late.

But, spring is coming!


kymk said...

Now, I've never seen those zebra flowers. I don't know if they don't grow up here or if I don't know where to look.

Anonymous said...

I guess I used to be a birder of sorts, I and some others I won't name here used to shoot the swallows out of the air with 22's at the old Briceland bridge.
And I remember the local folks never went out in the rain and that was good for me as I knew where everybody was at when I needed to bag an old doe.


suzy blah blah said...

Ernie, give it a break, the "newcomer" crap is getting old. You are targeting and stereotyping, also known as bigotry. I see it as inappropriate and totally unacceptable.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Au contraire, mon ami!
Don’t you think that it is much better to deal with our differences with humor? Once upon a time we killed each other over less. How can you get the humor of some of the local traditions without the juxtaposition of another way of thinking. I’m not really putting one above the other, newcomer over local, just pointing out two ways of thinking. Obviously, I’m going to be telling the story from the “Local” side. I don’t think that anybody has been whipped into hatred over my silly humor.

One other thing that I find amusing, is that people want to impose their standards on other people. But, they fail to see that they are being judgmental themselves. We had to rename everything, because the newcomers were right. Is that fair?

Anonymous said...

Just wondering Ernie. When you say renaming stuff' is that what happened to the Eagle Point Viaduct?


Ernie Branscomb said...

That and "Brush Mountain Summit". Who knows where that is anymore?

One of the fun aspects of all the new names is that you can talk in code with another local by using the old names. But, my sensitive side won't let me do that!

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with spring time but feel the need to say something. All I have heard the last two days on the news is about these two kids at work with their dad at a air traffic control tower. The kids gave a supervised take off instruction a few times. Now it seems people are trying to make an international incident out of it. It really ticks me off I tell ya! At least the kids have a parent that has a wonderful professional job and he took his kids to work one day (each). I wish I heard outcry over the kids that have NO guidance.
I don't remember anybody burning down Garberville because I drove my dads pick-up from the dairy to home when I was 10 years old. By the way, my dad was with me every time. However, I only had one future refrigeration genius supervising me when I was 13 or 14 and running a D-7 Cat in the logging woods. I don't remember the sky falling then either.
Oh the Horror


suzy blah blah said...

Ernie, i'm not judging you, i'm just saying that i don't like the tone of some of the remarks, and that i don't think that it's humorous -or harmonious- when you keep harping on that same "newcomer" string over and over again. Eventually it begins to sound, to me, more like the fanatical hysteria of some sort of zealot... and then, from that perspective, Suzy can't help but notice the envy and jealousy underneath much of the indignation and resentment.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“the fanatical hysteria of some sort of zealot

Um, yeah…

“envy and jealousy underneath
Um, yeah…

“indignation and resentment.”
Oh come on. Can’t you just say that I’m confused by the change and I’m having difficulty adjusting??? I don’t resent anybody. And, I often post about the GOOD changes, like concerts, and the new fire services. A collective conscious, etc.

Come on, stop it! You are going to have me gushing about all the New… Uh… um… err what do YOU call all of those people that weren’t here before all the names were changed???

Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

I hope I don't sound mean here but I think if the people that changed the local names could have experienced life there before the late 60's it would give them a different perspective. It would have to be just a few people at a time though. I know the folks there like and appreciate what SOHUM has to offer but I could see the hand writing on the wall and will not live there just for that reason. I still think it is pretty country but just too many people and some are way strange to me.


Robin Shelley said...

I wonder what Washington thinks of Oregon, bein' a newcomer & all.

Anonymous said...

Actually Robin, I very seldom ever see anybody here and I'm sure most people here don't know I exist. It's not like thousands of us moved here and changed the culture.


Robin Shelley said...

It isn't?!! Are you sure?

Aunt Janet said...

As a confirmed "Newcomer" I find the comments made by Ernie, not insulting and quite funny. I recognize myself there. I remember buying rain gear at Thorensons. Some enterprising newcomer started making rain gear for kids, so all of our kids got to run around in the pouring rain, too. My first two months here were the rainiest season I have ever! 40 days and 40 nights, ya know! The newcomers were going to town for motel rooms, which they shared with friends, to take showers and dry out. A lot of the newcomer homes were of the uninsulated variety, and maybe leaky as well. Those who could afford to took off for one of the Puertos as you put it. The little school where I was teaching had a six week vacation in the middle of the winter to accommodate the travelers. We sent school work with them.

So, at least in my neighborhood, newcomers were a little bit different from the locals. I think there are all kinds of newcomers and old school members. But there was a real difference back in the early 80s when I arrived. I think that has changed some, and we have integrated well. I think there might still be some tension, but not much. I have heard vague rumors about a "redneck vs hippies" stand-off at South Fork High, but I have also heard about the two meeting frequently and intermarrying. I really think it is smoothing over, and one day not too far into the future, we won't know the difference.