Pecans and Pictographs

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

4/28/17 – 5/3/17

Pictograph Writing Lives Again.  Thanks iPhone!

My friend who lives in Mexico is the sister of my friend who lives in Enchanted Habitat.

Mexico Friend emailed to her sister, “There was a long #*&@^$# scorpion in my mop this afternoon. Stomped it when it fell out. Horrid thing. UGH!!” Local Friend replied by emailing the affirming dual pictogram, finger-drawn on her iPhone, shown here. Sisters have their own ways of communicating. Now we know the origin of prehistoric drawings: sisters leaving messages for each other. How nice to be able to write this way again.

Thanks to both sisters for letting me share this.

Enchanted Habitat does not have long #*&@^$# scorpions. We have wee little ones and I think they are cute, but I know I’m in the minority. Local Friend told me, “The one time I saw a scorpion, it came out of my flower bed onto the sidewalk, which was flooded. It. Was. Pissed. It was not cute. I was taken aback. The idea that it had been living in my hostas did not sit well with me.”

Ours are the Striped Bark Scorpion, the most common kind in the U.S.Scorpion enchanted.jpg, and the only kind in Arkansas. They are indeed small, about 2″ to 3″ long. Image by Charles and Clint via Wikipedia.

Their sting hurts ‘way worse than a bee’s, I can vouch for that. I was eight. I was barefoot. I was at summer camp. It was as if lightning struck my big toe and stayed there for twenty minutes. But their venom is not deadly unless you are supersensitive and/or allergic. I didn’t tell my camp counselor because I thought she might keep me from the boat ride. Over the years I came up with the theory that the unforgettable sting was somehow good for me, body and soul.

Our scorpions don’t go out of their way to sting. They are brave and stick up for themselves, but are not warlike. Living here all my life, much of that outdoors, I’ve been stung only the once. They eat insects, smaller arachnids and babies of their own kind, and are eaten by birds, reptiles, some mammals and large spiders.


The Local Turkey Vulture

Our subdivision of the city has a resident turkey vulture. In the daytime we do. At night, the references say, they congregate together in safe areas for sleep, and daytimes they go out individually on their own. Hunting, but not in the ordinary sense, you know. Let’s say they neaten the neighborhood.

I first noticed him or her last year. I was driving home, and there it was in the middle of a street beside a small dead thing.  I thought, Dang, a chicken! . . . No, a buzzard! After that I’d see it once in a while in the nearby streets, unhurriedly eating, and cooperatively lurching out of the street if I needed to get by. If I was away from the neighborhood and driving back, sometimes I noticed it up to the sky over our location, soaring around, waiting.

(Thanks to Steve Creek, wildlife photographer of the Ouachitas, for the reference photo for the drawing above. Do view his blog, it’s wonderful!)

Our vulture has returned this spring, I saw it down the street. A crow was there with it. The two of them were about ten feet apart, with a small dead thing between them, and each was hunkered down motionless with its head retracted into its shoulders. They were carefully not looking at each other. Stubborn was written all over both of them. I can’t tell you who won, because spending the afternoon waiting to see which one of them got to eat carrion isn’t my idea of a good time.

After the first sighting last year, I gathered some facts about turkey vultures. First, I had been ignorant, they are not buzzards and don’t appreciate being called buzzards. It’s vulture. When soaring, they can both see and smell their food below. Their amazing olfactory ability gives them advantage over the black vultures, who also live here and have to rely on their eyesight. Black vultures seem to be aware that that turkey vultures have this superior food finding sense, and sometimes follow them to the food. And of course, the easiest way to distinguish between the two, turkey and black, is that the turkey vulture has the red head. They don’t vocalize except for grunts and hisses; they typically raise two chicks a year; they have few natural predators; their range extends from the Canadian border all the way down through South America. It is illegal to kill them, thank heaven.


What Tree Is This?

If you took a fast look and said Oak, you can join me in the Erroneous Botanist Society. It’s a pecan tree, a young volunteer tree in a front yard in my neighborhood. It is “in tassel” now; I don’t know the terminology for that. Last fall it bore its first crop, two or three pounds of nuts, most of which the squirrels got. Whether it–or any pecan tree–will bear this year is complex question, and for that go to experts. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

I didn’t know until recently that the pecan is a species of hickory, or that it can live and bear upwards of 300 years. I did pretty much know it’s native to the south central and south eastern United States and part of Mexico. Pecan trees like the climate in Enchanted Habitat. They grow cheerfully here individually and there are pecan farms here.

My personal experience at pecan orcharding didn’t last long. Years ago I bought some acreage, and someone gave me a dozen six-foot Stuart pecan trees. This person had always wanted a pecan orchard and was living vicariously, and did not offer to help with the planting. I already had a full list of manual work to do, to turn the acreage into a farm, but I stopped everything to plant the trees. I interrupted the fencing project that would have kept my new little herd of goats contained. If you know goats, you know what happened next. If you don’t know goats (obviously I didn’t know them well enough) I will tell you that I worked hard to excavate twelve deep wide holes in that rocky soil, and hauled in half a truckload of good topsoil, so that the saplings would have a good start. And as soon as I got the trees in the ground and went to the house, the goats tiptoed over and silently ate them every one. I have only myself to blame.

Enough of the bittersweet, here is the  sweet. This is my pecan pie, and my preference in how to alter the recipe on the Karo Dark Corn Syrup bottle:  Add about 1/3 more butter than called for, and add a double-pinch of salt; subtract about 1/4 the sugar.


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

2 thoughts on “Pecans and Pictographs

  1. Another great read. I love the pictograph part – how could I not? There are some vulture-type birds close to where I live, and even closer to a pig farm. And there is a pecan orchard about 2 miles from here – many great, tall trees. It’s a lovely, shady place for a picnic.

    Like

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