May in the Shoals

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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Here it is May and my garden still isn’t plowed up. I mowed over it Friday and it was still very soggy. We had almost 2 inches of rain over the weekend. My tomatoes and cucumbers are ready to plant, and I may have to plant them in my flower beds. I’m still trying to catch up on my mowing and cleaning up my flower beds. Temperatures have been going to below normal to hot August for this time of year. For one bed, I think the best solution is to dig up the iris and take the loader and pull up all of the privet, redbug and hackberry trees and till the whole area and replant. I’m not sure why God created hackberry trees, except to be a host to these white fuzzy things that when the wind blows, makes you think it’s snowing in July.

My irises and peony are just about bloomed out, and lilium and daylilies are showing out next.

Locally, corn has been planted and is up 6 to 12 inches. Most seems to have survived the two days of deluge we had. You can see a few fields with dead spots here and there where the water sat. There’s more wheat left in the area than I previously thought. A few late planted fields that I thought were canola or oats were low growing wheat upon closer inspection. Farmers are cutting hay after a weekend long deluge.

Last summer, a pair of Tree Swallows made a nest in one of the purple martin gourds. Usually they nest within 100 feet of water and bathe by skimming across the water. My yard isn’t anywhere near water, so they are nesting in an atypical location.

This year, they were back at the martin gourd along until they noticed a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out a nearby box. They kept swooping down on the bluebirds and eventually knocked the female off the top of the box and had a rumble on the ground. The next day, the swallows had taken up residence in the bluebird box. The female did most of the nest building, using dried grass and lined it with feathers. I checked on it about a week later and she had laid six eggs.

Five of the eggs hatched this week, so the parents have been busy swooping and doing aerobatics catching insects and speeding back to the box. It’s fun to watch them. One will fly into the box, feed and sit with its head sticking out of the hole until a few seconds before the other flies in. Somehow they seem to be communicating and will guard the nest and fly out just before the other parent brings food. I’ve requested that they take all of the skeeters they want.

I sat up my camera, remote, got settings how I wanted them at this box and another along the driveway and sat in the shade with a cup of tea and waited for the incoming parents. The swallows were so fast swooping in, but I was able to get a few shots of them.

While not working in the yard, I volunteered for two days at Recall Lagrange at the Lagrange College site. Funds are raised during the recall for upkeep of the college site. The college and surrounding town were burned during Sherman’s March to the Sea. The town was never rebuilt and the college moved to Florence, Alabama. It is now known as the University of North Alabama. Several volunteers displayed how things were made back in the 1800s, others lectured on the history of area during the War Between the States. Others showed what an authentic Army camp looked like during the period, even camping out overnight. The finale is always a cemetery pageant with actors dressed as some of the occupants of the cemetery telling their historical story.

In memory of Harvey Robbins, a local citizen who did much for Tuscumbia, his family started a rodeo, Wild West parade along with around one hundred longhorns in the lead through town. Mr. Robbins renovated Spring Park and several buildings in town that started a revitalization. I was to be up in a second-floor window photographing the event, but was at the doctor’s office in Florence getting a shot in hip for a bursitis attack, getting out with less than a half hour before things started. The town was packed, but I was able to find a spot at the end of the parade just above the park to get photos. One poor woman was exhausted by the end of the parade pulling a stubborn pony. I wondered where they had gotten all those stockade panels to go all the way down on both sides of Main Street. I had planned on going to the rodeo on Saturday, but it was sold out. So those photos didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

The Hooligans have been busy chasing squirrels that are raiding my bird feeders. They haven’t caught any yet, but have come close. They had one treed most of the night, but it managed to get away when they left their post to eat. Blackie had a bout with ringworm. Hopefully it’s gone; neither one of us wants to go through giving her a bath again. Neither of us was happy.

Next up bringing in Memorial Day weekend is a street party in Sheffield with Travis Wammack and the Oak Ridge Boys. Monday is the Memorial Day ceremony in Tuscumbia conducted by American Legion Post Number 31 of Colbert County.

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