Saturday, May 17, 2014

Color, hurray!

There aren't many early spring blooming bulbs for zone 6 that exhibit the scrumptious hot pink through raspberry and cerise that are my favorite daylily colors.  There's the deep fuchsia 'Jan Bos' hyacinth and Cyclamen coum and there's...well, that's all I can think of.  But come May in these parts, there's a ton of tulip cultivars in those shades available.  I don't grow any of them.  For me, tulips should be red.

Now, if you were to ask me my favorite color, I'd say orange.  Orange peel orange.  A little bit neonish, like Highland Pinched Fingers or Tangerine Parfait.  But I never did acquire Primal Scream because orange is not my favorite color for daylilies.

A year after I planted my first daylily seeds, I joined AHS and attended the region 4 meeting near Boston and came home with Vera Biaglow as my bus plant.  A 1986 Moldovan that won an HM in 1989 and an AM in 1993, it is registered as being rose pink edged in silver with a lemon green throat.  My eyes could not get enough of this color the first time it bloomed here, and I wanted more in my garden. 

Vera Biaglow                                     mskhay-2

I was made even more ecstatic by glorious color when, three years later, this Mariska X Haystack Calhoon seedling bloomed.  In one fell swoop, I had captured Vera Biaglow's color and added an undertone of orange that made it even more pleasing to my eye.  This was easy: take a pale pink and cross it with an orange.  But just a few months after I saw my first modern daylily online, I had seen an image of Cleopatra, the daylily that made me fall for spiders.  I had a slew of pale pink Dallas Star seedlings grown from a packet distributed by my club, but no orange self true spider.

         Banshee Lullaby (2008)                         Flamingo Flambeau (2008)

These 2 daylilies first bloomed the year following that Mariska X Haystack Calhoon lovely.  In them, I saw hints of Vera Biaglow color.  I still had those pale pink seedlings, and Orange You Special (2007) was blooming for its second season, but its not the glowing orange of Haystack Calhoon. 

I searched and discovered what I felt was the epitome of orange self spiders, the Reinke's English Vermillon.  It was sold out.  So I bought its orange parent, 'Jim Cooper' with plans to cross it with Garden Portrait, thereby perhaps making my own version of English Vermillon.  Meanwhile, Terri Jones had sent me Raspberry Star.  Beneath it's rosy purple, I saw hints of orange, so I crossed it with pink Chin Whiskers and Flamingo Lingo was born.

   Raspberry Star (Hansen 1994)               Flamingo Lingo (2009)

While most of the seedlings of Garden Portrait X Jim Cooper were glowing orange selfs close to spiderhood, every last one had bad leaves.  But the seedlings of the "Garden Portrait -not" that I grow X Jim Cooper had great leaves, stupendous bud counts and fabulous color.  Unfortunately,  they were fat fat fat.  I put pollen from Flamingo Flambeau on the best of them and my husband named the resulting intro.  He'd also named Scrambled Legs.

Jim Cooper (Lambert 1968)            Cerise's Pieces (2010)

I started to see glimmerings of Vera Biaglow color in my tet crosses.

Solenoid Robot (2010)                     Maquis Condor (2011)

I selected the Maquis Condor X Linguini seedling in 2012:

  Mr Bill's Twister Thrills (2013)                          maqlin-8

Meanwhile, by crossing a pale lavender pink Dallas Star seedling with Screaming Eels, whose mother just happened to have been Raspberry Star, I got dozens of remarkably well budded kids approaching Vera Biaglow hood in skinny or UF form:

Fiawol (2012)                                    Kitten Wings (2012)

And in crossing Screaming Eels with Flamingo Flambeau, I got the start of an edged program along with deep rose red color.

            Half Magic (2013)                                       sefla-1

Half Magic's sibling is still being evaluated for garden-worthiness but doesn't represent progress towards Vera Biaglowhood; that has been better with tets:

         Anything For Love (2013)               Venusian Veyron (2013)

Despite not being even UF, Anything For Love was allowed to live in the selected beds because I have so much more room in Burt than I  did in Niagara Falls when that poor Mariska X Haystack Calhoon seedling bloomed.  It is one of the few seedlings I wish I could get back.

It's no secret that I view UFs as failed spiders (and, by extension, full forms as failed UFs and therefore double failures).  I simply can not be helped.  When I saw Cleopatra for the first time online in 1997, I was hooked and I've gotten far worse over the years.  I now view Cleopatra as too fat.

     Cleopatra (Taylor 1964)                         Judy's Jungle Cat (2014)

Capturing the glowing hot rose color of Judy's Jungle Cat with my camera has been difficult but it definitely ensnares garden visitors.  Planned for a 2015 introduction, it has a spider ratio that ranges from 4.086 to 4.33:1 and is my closest yet to a Vera Biaglow in spider form.  Still too fat for me, though.  I'm pretty sure that once I get a seedling precisely the color of Vera Biaglow, it will be so skinny that you'll only be able to make out the color from certain angles.  At least, that's my goal.  I never had realistic goals when I dieted, either.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seedling nightmares

When there's a 3 MB image in my inbox from a new-to-daylilies-from-seed grower, it's almost always of an albino and the grower is almost always exuberant about the possibilities of a unique plant.  It is then my sad task to explain that albino seedlings lack the chlorophyll and other pigments necessary to manufacture food and that they will die within 2 weeks once the endosperm in the seed is consumed...and do please resize any future images you plan to email.

Some diploid albino seedlings

It almost never fails that my very favorite diploid cross of the year will have a large percentage of albino seedlings.  This cross might not excite any other pollen daubers, but I am super thrilled because Instant Graffiti has nice scapes with decent bud count, reblooms enthusiastically here in the north, and passes nifty patterns of arranged dollops of color.  Banshee Sonata is my favorite spider, of anyone's making, to date.  It has wonderful movement, marvelous color and, when it's chilly, it shows a white chevron of missing color.  Most of its kids from a cross with the multiple-chevroned Military School are chevroned.  I am hoping for majorly skinny kids with radically different patterns.

Instant Graffiti X Banshee Sonata.  I plan to introduce both of these  in 2015.

An aside: before March 24 of this year, I would have had to write this cross as [(Chin Whiskers x Little Witching Hour) x Tomorrow's Song] X [Watchyl Protean Spider x (Banshee Love Call x Tennessee Flycatcher)] or cwlwhtog-2 x wpsblctf-14 for short...which isn't very short.  I'd also have had to write "cwlwhtog-2 x wpsblctf-14" in pencil, first a standard #2, then a hard pencil, onto a piece of vinyl mini blind to use as a label for the cross when I plant these seedlings out.  And I'd have had to label dozens upon dozens of other crosses with one or the other of these as parents as well.  This winter being so agonizingly slow, I decided, what the heck, I'll register all of my 2015 intros 7 months earlier than normal.  Having never lost a fan from division as my area doesn't have the nasty rot pathogens so common in the south, I decided to be brave and get the daylilies named before I even line them out.  Last year, I’d done this with 7 of my 14 intros for this year.  Being able to put the name of the plant on the lineout rows instead of the seedling number, I won't have to redo those in October, either.  

Another aside: in a previous life, I was a watercolorist where "to daub" was to smear and "to dab" was to use some absorbent material to wick up a fluid.  The two words have become increasingly confused and I suppose either is correct nowadays to describe the process of putting pollen on a stigma, but I imagine Mrs. Mark Harmon has a preference.  I had a rule: never name a painting until it's completed, feeling somehow that I'd jinx the process.  After 25 years of selling paintings, I never once had to toss one due to a mistake.  I did have a landlord step on a large pen & ink that I was working on; the remedy was to make the background solid black.  So I'm only a teensy tiny bit worried that registering a plant I've grown for 6-7 (in one case, 10) years before lining it out will jinx the process.

And it's worth the touch of nervousness to be able to write IG X BSO instead of cwlwhtog-2 X wpsblctf-14.

Back to albinos: many plants, even trees, produce albino seedlings and there have been numerous scientific attempts to maintain them by supplying nutrients to the roots.  Some of the studies have furthered our understanding of photosynthesis. 

Even tet daylilies can produce albino seedlings

I'm aiming for dramatically skinny blooms on plants that have decent northern bud counts with this cross.  Since I've spent my life trying to make myself skinny, my daylilies should, too. 

Solenoid Robot X Hang Six

 Daylilies have accessory pigments in their leaves besides chlorophyll such as the carotenoids responsible for yellow, orange and brown.  These make it possible for the plant to absorb wavelengths of light outside the range chlorophyll can capture.  When a seedling lacks green pigment but is yellow rather than white, it can manufacture a small amount of food but not enough to sustain it for more than about 4 weeks.

Carotenoid albinos with a tiny true albino in the lower left

Seedling cqnnwms-2 is one magnificent plant.  It blooms late season with strong 33-43" scapes hosting 3-5 wide lateral branches and up to 45 buds, and it has rapid increase.  The flower is pretty, but after much observation, I've decided it is lacking in substance.  Blooms that open after a chilly night into a hot cloudless day melt.  Poor bloom substance has not been a trait that I've noticed is readily transmitted to the kids, so cqnnwms-2 is a bridge plant.  Its sibling, cqnnwms-1, makes up for not being as pretty by having huge, heavily substanced blooms on 56" tall scapes with 2-3 laterals and 22-30 buds.  Unfortunately, it's a flopper.  Its flowers are face down in the dirt midway through its bloom cycle.  Last year was the first time it bloomed in the selected bed, and our spring and early summer were very wet.  I'll watch the plant this year and if flopping is its thing, it will be tossed.  Flopping is a habit most spider kids seem eager to pick up.  It is the scourge of spider hybridizers.

[Cheap Quills x (Nina Nina Wolverina x Mascara Snake #32] seedling #2 X [Cheap Quills x (Nina Nina Wolverina x Mascara Snake #32)] seedling #1

For the record, Nina Nina Wolverina X Mascara Snake # 32 has much nicer color (more blue violet), better bud count and greater height, and is way skinnier than its sibling, Counterwise Wine.  But it's a flopper.  I only grew 2 seedlings of it crossed with Cheap Quills, and one of them is probably a habitual flopper, too.  I'm hoping to capture the scape strength of cqnnwms-2 and the flower substance of cqnnwms-1 although that's unlikely, especially with the preponderance of carotenoid albinos.  Sib crossing can really bring the dirty little recessive genes to light.  The true nightmare, however, would be if one of the few nicely green seedlings produced a stupendous flower on scapes that flopped. 

Variegated seedling

Sometimes, a bit of cytological mutation where some of the plastids can produce chlorophyll but others are incapable can turn a nightmare into a dream.  If you've grown daylilies long enough or started enough seedlings, you'll eventually witness the one-season variegation of a fan or 2.  Perhaps you're lucky enough to grow Malja (Malan 2007), a tiny slow growing 10" plant with up to 8 Stella de Oro looking blooms snuggled among the foliage that's said to be consistently variegated.  It's patented trademarked under the name of "Golden Zebra."  I grow H. fulva  'Kwanso Variegata', a mutation of the common ditch lily that not only is a triploid and therefore difficult to cross with dips or tets, it also has a double bloom where the anthers have morphed into petaloids.  Apparently the ovary has, too, as my frequent dissection hasn't found any.  So there's no way you can hybridize with it.  The variegation isn't stable, anyway and new fans are often solid green.  White Stripe (Mullison-Hite 1984) frequently sports a few white striped leaves, but separating the fans and growing them out does not produce plants that are consistently white-striped.  With Hosta, variegated plants that aren't natural sports are produced from seeds that come from variegated scapes.  White Stripe often has variegated scapes and pods, but I've never gotten a variegated seedling from it.  Several daylilies have been registered as having a high percentage of variegation such as Abbey Dore Court (D.C. Smith 1995) and Identity Crisis (White 2011).  I've seen a number of my own first year seedlings lose their baby leaves when planted out and produce nothing but variegated leaves until frost, but they never do it the following year.  After growing an estimated 55,600, this is my very first born-variegated seedling.  

I'm hoping for stable variegation, variegated scapes and pods and, of course, the ability to pass variegation to its kids.  All of its kids.  Okay, most of its kids.  Why, I could intro it at $300.00 and get that, no problem.  Maybe $500.00 even!  Maybe I'd only sell it via the Lily Auction and make people fight over it.  But the bloom will no doubt be way skinny (mom is 4:28:1 and dad's ratio is 7.14:1) so better drop it back to $300.00.  But it'll be big because mom is 8" and dad is 10½", so we'll say $350.00.  But dad is a bridge plant whose blooms snap open all at once, as if it was frightened, and they never recurve but remain looking paralyzed with fear.  Garden visitors hate it.  We'll hope for mom's movement and if it's a bit curlier than mom, we could go back to asking $500.00.  And think of the kids!  We'd have to go fatter to capture the entire gamut of daylily fanatics.  Except tet snobs.  Okay, we'll have to get it converted and intro the conversion simultaneously.  But I'd better wait until I have a bunch of consistently variegated dip and tet seedlings from it before I introduce the mother plant or those Florida hybridizers will buy the mother and beat me to the market….

Banshee Baby Talk (2010) X [(Daredevil Imp x (Banshee Whisper x Tomorrow's Song)]

It's amazing the avaricious dreams that one little 5 week old seedling can inspire.    

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seeding dreams

Hybridizing is as bit like seeding clouds to encourage rainfall, except instead of clouds, you're seeding your dreams.  Instead of silver iodide, dry ice or table salt, you're dumping seeds into your dreams in the hopes of producing  remarkable bud counts of gorgeous colors floating over undulating waves of green.

A seed with the radical just beginning to grow

After harvest, I dry the collected seeds for 48 hours, drop them into a masking tape labeled 2"x 2" Ziploc, and refrigerate them.  Easy if you've harvested the entirety of the cross on one day, time consuming if it's a long cross whose pods ripen over an extended period of time.  That requires storing some crosses in a "Not Done" bin.  Since I sell some 35,000 seeds a year plus produce 5,000-10,000 for me, the process of pollinating, recording crosses, labeling them on the plant, harvesting seeds, labeling and drying seeds occupies from late June through late October and sometimes even into November. 

And yes, I admit to having plant sex dreams.  I have pollinated in my sleep; sometimes, I even have respect for the crosses the next morning.   

About half of my seeds are taken out on New Year's Day.  Their masking tape labels are transferred to jar lids, the seeds are dumped in and the jars are filled with a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to one gallon of water.  I search out jars with plastic lids.  While rusting metal doesn't seem to bother seed germination, checking seeds through rusty water bothers me.  My favorite plastic-topped jar, a tall, very skinny thing, also holds one of my favorite foods: Goya Pickled Tabasco Peppers.  In the 16 years since I first started growing daylilies from seed, I have consumed over 120 jars of pickled Tabascos and would have eaten 3 times as many had I not started growing my own hot peppers the instant I moved from shady Niagara Falls to full sun Burt.  Here's where my method differs from most and why I am writing this entry: once filled and closed, I put the jars in the fridge.

The seeds swim and eventually sink in the fridge until I take some out on Groundhog Day.  (Do I not know how to celebrate the holidays or what?).  Some stay soaking in the fridge for up to six weeks.  I've been using this method for 8 years and can attest to the fact that the seeds do not drown and the germination rate is greater than room temperature soaking.  Cold moist stratification is recommended by AHS (check out "Stratification" in the Daylily Dictionary on the AHS site); this is uber cold moist stratification.  The seeds are easy to check, unlike the moist paper towel in a waterproof plastic bag method.  There's no need to pick the seeds out of any moist medium and no need to rinse them off to see them well enough to plant them.  Just dump the jar contents into a strainer, dump the strainer contents into a bowl and away you go.  As long as your fridge maintains at about 40ยบ your food, and your soaking seeds, are safe.  The black phytomelan within the seed coat, made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, may bleach out from some of the seeds, but the seed coat is still intact and germination is not affected.

Unlike the germination of Lycopersicon cheesmanii, a wild tomato that requires transit through the digestive tract of the Galapagos tortoise or a half hour soak in a brutal 50% household bleach bath, the bleach in the daylily soak isn't there to encourage germination.  It (some folks use hydrogen peroxide instead) is only there to help control the growth of bacterial and fungal pathogens.

A bunch of crosses had to be removed after only 3 weeks this year because they'd started to germinate so, unplanned, I celebrated National Squirrel Appreciation Day by planting seeds on January 21.

Any seeds that don't germinate in the fridge after 6 weeks are immediately planted and usually sprout within 7-10 days.  Pre-germinated seeds sprout in 6-7 days.  Some seeds will linger and not show their pointy little green noses for a month or more.  And there's always some that were just as hard and plump as their siblings when removed from the soak that were really duds in disguise.  One very frustrating example: I've never gotten more than 40% germination from String Bikini seeds with soaking at room temperature, cold moist stratification or cold wet stratification.

I pot my seeds in half gallon and quart cartons that once held milk or orange juice (with calcium, of course) or half and half.  I am mighty peeved that real milk no longer comes in paper cartons, and just as peeved that Tropicana has switched to plastic jugs.  Orange juice consumption has declined 40% in the last 15 years.  The industry blames increased cost and a change in the breakfast habits of Americans.  If Tropicana wants me to drink their oj, they'd have to switch back to paper cartons.  The benefits of milk cartons over plastic pots is that they tend to be deeper, can be crammed more closely together because they have straight sides, and best of all, there's no knocking the plants out of the pots, you just slit the sides of the carton.  I have successfully raised 104 diploid seedlings within the 4" x 4" surface area of a half gallon carton.  Because I ship plants from mid April through May, I don't start planting the seedlings into the garden until June at the earliest.  All 104 of those seedlings survived; not a one of them produced a keeper.

I cut out as much of the bottoms of the cartons as possible, cover the resulting 2 large holes with a double layer of paper towel, drop in a few packing peanuts and fill the pots with moistened Promix with lots of perlite added.

A carton holding 3 crosses
I use cut up milk jugs to both label and divide pots to hold multiple crosses.  Hybridizing is my best method of warding off osteoporosis.  I plant the seeds, cover them with no more than ¼" of the mix, then rubber band a clear plastic bag over the top and set them on a tray in a warm room until the sprouts are showing.  The pots then are placed under 4' long shop lights holding regular 40 watt fluorescent bulbs.  I let the surface of the pot get bone dry but check the bottoms and water if they are dry.  As soon as most of the seedlings are 5" or taller, they all get a haircut which allows the shorter plants in shared pots equal access to light.  I then set up an oscillating fan and instantly have a waving sea of green.  And no fungus gnats.  Oh, I'll eventually see a few because every potting mix has fungus gnat eggs, but they don't fly well enough in the wind created by the fan to meet up and create a new brood, and they really do hate dry soil.  Freezing does not kill them.  These critters also live outside.  If they and their eggs froze to death, we sure wouldn't have fungus gnats in western NY.  Granted, the fungus gnats in my wood chip pile may not be the same as those in my potting mix. Over 1700 species within the fungus gnat family of Sciaridae have been identified!  So far. 

My objective in starting daylilies indoors is to get plantable plants, not to shorten the seed-to-bloom time, so I only use a tiny amount of water soluble fertilizer.  I also don't harden them off.  I just take the 70 half gallon and 133 quart pots out in April and place them in part shade for a few weeks before putting them in full sun.  Frost doesn't seem to hurt them any worse than sudden sunshine.  Many of the leaves turn yellow and die off during this time.  I water more frequently once the plants are outdoors and new leaves sprout. 

Another benefit of adding perlite is that it makes it much easier to rip the seedlings apart come planting time.  Despite all this rough treatment, I usually see at least one quarter of the seedlings bloom the following year, and 90% or more by the second year after planting.

There was one glorious year where I was able to direct sow into prepared ground shortly after Thanksgiving.  Germination was excellent.  Since then, however, we've had rainy autumns, plus seedlings now must be planted into beds where 3 year old seedlings are growing.  The loser 3 year seedlings need to be tilled into micro particles that are brought up to the surface and dried to death, then a bit of hand digging must be undertaken to extract the survivors that will show up over the next 2 weeks.  Because we often have heavy snow cover that compresses the miserable silt soil here, tilling in spring works best for me and produces a nice crumbly plot ready to accept skinny little baby daylily plants.  So, I start my seeds indoors.  I've thought about winter sowing in pots in small covered enclosures, but that would entail braving the cold and trusting that deer, fox, mice and squirrels (who I don't really appreciate) would  leave them alone.

So, exactly what are the dream makers in that carton of 3 crosses?  I planted 5 seeds of Heavenly Tiger Tails X my current favorite tet seedling, [(Ondine x String Bikini) X Blushing Octopus #5]:

56 seeds of Unicorn Eraser X Free Wheelin':

and 17 seeds of (Lavender Light x Blue-eyed Curls seedling # 22) X
[Waiting in the Wings x (Swallow Tail Kite x Lavender Arrowhead seedling # 36)}:

I plan to introduce the wiwstklad-36 seedling in 2015 because it's a bluer purple than Applique, Wind Master or any other similarly patterned narrowish daylilies I've seen.  That's one of a million dreams fulfilled.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mostly, Mom didn't know

By 1973, Dad had saved up almost 3 months of vacation time and we set off on the trip of our lifetime: from Buffalo to Alaska via Canada.

The cake the gals in the office baked for Dad

We pulled off to use the outhouses in a Yukon roadside campground.  They were about 30' apart.  I was just getting ready to leave when Dad yelled "Linda, I can't open the door!"  I peered out and saw a large brown bear standing against it with its paws on the door, looking like it was trying to tip the outhouse over.  I think I yelled back that he'd better wait until the bear left on its own.  I kept peeking out and it wasn't too long before I was able to declare it safe to come out.  Mom and my brother had been busy in the trailer, so they missed the excitement and we never told them.

Mom refused to look at the grizzly that was shaking the trailer while she and I were getting dinner ready a few days later.  It was scratching its back on the corner.  Dad and Dennis were off fishing.  We did tell them.

My only other close encounter with a bear occurred while camping with Dad on Turcott Lake in Ontario.  I was awakened by something pushing my side of the pup tent against my face.  I heard cans rattling.  I swear I heard grunting.  Dad told me not to worry, it was just raccoons.  Raccoons, my eye!  Morning light showed bear prints all around the tent, plus a torn garbage bag and empty food cans strewn about, some with sharp toothy punctures in them.  Dad had thought that since we burned the food residue completely from the cans, (not to mention that we got to this spot via an abandoned logging trail so the bears weren't likely to be attuned to garbage), leaving the bag of cans near the tent was safe.  That was the last time we did that, and we sure never told Mom.

Whenever we camped some 7 miles from the truck at Spy Lake in the Adirondacks, Dad stored all the food in metal garbage cans bungee-corded shut.  When we heard an outrageous racket one night, we grabbed our flashlights and found a raccoon, biggest we'd ever seen, rolling the can down toward the water.

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

The first moose I ever saw was on my 18th birthday in Banff.  The closest I came to a non-zoo one was when I made a fast turn around a corner in the narrow waterway joining Turcott Lake with Canonto Lake.  The very frightened Mr Moose left a dent in the aluminum bow before it charged off.  My hands hit the mud on the shore, but the channel was too narrow for the canoe to flip over.

Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

While in Alaska, I somehow wound up hiking the Horseshoe Lake trail in Denali Park alone.  Dad and Dennis must have been fishing, Mom was probably in the trailer cooking or doing her hair or something.  I was happy to see the bench at the top.  I admired the view and then took out my sketch book and got very engrossed in drawing caribous I'd seen rolling in the snow earlier that day.  I was startled by a spitting/hissing sort of sound punctuated with hacking.  Ugly sound.  A lynx stood maybe 15' from me.  And it was coming towards me!  I could see its slitty little pupils.  I could probably have counted the hairs in its ear tufts.  I started talking to it. I recall whispering "nice kitty" a lot.  After several hours of this, or so it seemed, I noticed a rabbit or hare sitting at my foot.  I stomped my foot, the rabbit ran off with the lynx in hot pursuit, and I ran off back down the trail.  On the way down, I told some hikers that I'd seen a lynx up there.  "Oh, that's just Willy.  He's always up there." 

I didn't tell Mom, but I did tell Dennis.  He bought a lynx tail for 50 cents a few days later and spent the rest of the trip chasing me with it.

Dad had bobcats at his 72 acre weekend farm in Alleghany county, NY.  He made us swear that we'd never tell Mom.  When Joe and I took a friend from New York City, along with her boyfriend, camping for the very first time, we stayed at Little Sand Point, a state campground on Piseco Lake.  A bobcat walked between our pup tents the first night, howling quite loudly, and Joe and I both hoped our friends were hearing it, and maybe getting scared.  Nope, they even slept through the sound of our neighbor hitching up their camper and leaving in the dark.  We later learned from Ranger Bill that our neighbor had brought her pet cat camping with her and that the cat was in heat and that had attracted the bobcat.  Hey, people: spay and neuter! 

And please don't leave tangled wads of fishing line all over the shores.  I was canoeing on the Piseco River when I spotted a Merganser acting a little strange on shore.  Pulling up next to it revealed that the poor duck was all entangled in monofilament.  I was an evil smoker back then and used a lighter to melt through the line in enough spots that I could unwrap the duck.

Somewhere during the Alaska trip, I recall canoeing up to a beaver lodge and hearing babies whining quite cutely inside.  Because of the extreme clarity of Muncho Lake in BC,  I was able to watch a beaver, and numerous squaw fish, swim under my canoe.  The only thing Dennis caught there was a freshwater eel.  But the blue green water of the 7½ mile long lake is what we remember most    I think it was in Manitoba where we came upon a lake about 2 miles long that had steel gray water and an utterly black shore.  Closer inspection revealed the lake was so overpopulated with tadpoles, small waves were beaching them.  We gave up trying to rescue them when the wind started picking up.  There was no way to stop the tadpoles from being washed onto land.

Echo Cliff overlooking Piseco Lake (upper left is Oxbow Lake)

Joe and I witnessed another apparent overpopulation when we canoed among millions of one inch round freshwater jellyfish, Craspedacusta sowerbii, in the brackish water of Oxbow Lake in the Adirondacks one September.  I've since learned that the majority of the population of these jellyfish in the US are usually all male or all female so sexual reproduction is rare.  I did tell Mom about these guys, pointing it out as a case where not having sex is pretty kinky.

I won't be seeing moose or bears or lynx now that I'm tied by the roots of daylilies to my home in western NY.  But there's lots of critters here.  My only startling close encounter, however, was with deer.  I was walking on the crest of the cliff overlooking Eighteen Mile Creek, 150' below me, when I was almost knocked down by first one, then another whitetail leaping up over the side.  Missed me by mere inches.  I did not tell Mom.