Coon Dogs, Zinnias, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies
By Mary Carton
If the title sounds like you’ll be seeing a lot of pictures …
The summer heat continues in the Tennessee Valley. The Hooligans are spending most of their day in the shade. I’ve been feeding them late, as Blackie thinks it’s too hot to eat. But then again, I found her stash of apples under some of the landscaping that she’s brought up from the lower forty. She loves apples, but they are on her allergy list. That might have something to do with a reluctance to eat all of her food, and also the scratching she’s been doing. When it’s cool enough to feed, the Hooligans get their minds on chasing mice.
Soybeans are knee high. Some of the earlier-planted fields are beginning to get a yellow cast. Combines are in the corn fields. There’s a haze in the area from all the dust generated in the fields.
Hummingbirds are beginning to migrate. Sugar is on my grocery list every week. Right now I have ten feeders up, and I’m changing out four to five of them each day.
Normally I grow profusion zinnias, as they spread out, are low growers, and butterflies like them. This year I added some of the old-fashioned tall zinnias. One variety that I hadn’t tried before is the cactus zinnias. The blooms are fuller, and the irregular edge on the flowers stands out in the garden. They have been very appealing to the butterflies and moths, especially Gulf fritillary. The swallowtail caterpillars have been feasting on the Queen Anne’s lace, and the result has been a multitude of flying flowers.
Labor Day, the hills and hollers of the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management area will be filled with the sounds of baying coon dogs, bluegrass, and rock and roll. The 79th annual Labor Day celebration at the Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Cemetery takes place. The cemetery is the world’s only cemetery exclusively for coonhound burials. The hound must be certified as a coon-treeing dog. Over 300 coon dogs are buried in the cemetery, many of them USA and world champions. Troop, the first dog, was buried on Labor Day in 1937.
The Saturday before Labor Day, volunteers decorate each grave with silk flowers and USA flags. Bluegrass band Southern Strangers and hall-of-famers Travis Wammack and the Snakeman band will play. Travis got the name “Snakeman” from artists coming to Muscle Shoals to record after they were taken on a snake hunt.
One mystery at the Coon Dog Cemetery on Labor Day was a Phil Robertson look alike. Or maybe he was the real McCoy?
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