Sunday Was One Of…

… those rare days that seem too beautiful to be real. I got out on the bike early, right after sunrise, in order to avoid the heat, and I’m glad I did because wow, it was amazing out there. The air was thick and heavy which helped to mute and soften the sunlight and make everything seem to glow.

Even more surprising was how quiet it was. Because it was so early Sunday morning there was almost no traffic at all on the nearby highway. The only sounds I could hear were the calls of hundreds of birds – cardinals, mourning doves, finches, jays, sparrows, killdeer, blackbirds, the raucous call of the cranes… It was one of those days that I wished I could freeze in my memory forever so I could keep revisiting it.

We live in an environment where we are constantly deluged with artificial sounds twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Every minute of our lives we’re bombarded with noise from traffic, aircraft over head, construction equipment, trains, heavy trucks, motorcycles, the drone of air conditioners. Even here, where I live in a small town in a fairly rural area, it’s impossible to get away from the noise.

I talked with a psychology professor once – oh, must be at least 10 or more years ago, when I was out in Sundance WY one summer. We’d both come stumbling down to the motel lobby early in the morning looking for coffee and started chatting and I learned she was trying to get funding for research on how the sounds that surround us can cause elevated stress levels that are detrimental to our physical and mental health. She was out there looking for what she called ‘quiet zones’, areas where there was as little man made noise as possible. She told me that even though our brains might filter out the noises around us to the point where we hardly even notice them consciously, they still have an adverse effect on us. We evolved to become alarmed by loud noise. It’s a survival trait. When you hear a loud noise, you become startled and your body responds by flooding you with hormones like adrenaline to prime you to run or fight. And even though the noises around us don’t alarm us consciously, our bodies are still reacting by trickling low levels of those hormones into our blood stream. That, in turn, keeps us over stimulated, so to speak, so we are under a constant level of stress.

But all good things must come to an end, as the old saying goes, and eventually I ran across this:

That is a corn field and, unfortunately, a lot of the corn around here looks like that – lots of bare spots, not even knee high. Hell, some of it is just barely ankle high. This stuff should be as tall as I am this time of year. The hay crop isn’t much better around here. It isn’t all this bad, thank goodness, but the amount of corn I see that looks like this is scary. The way some of these fields look it isn’t going to pay to even try to make silage out of it.

But then when I got home, I found these in the backyard…

These are called “dinner plate” dahlias. Back in early June I found these at Walmart as bare root stock being sold at half price, so I bought a couple of bags of them for the heck of it, and wow, I’m glad I did. They call ’em “dinner plate” because the flowers are so big. They’re huge. It’s impossible to tell from that photo but that flower up there is easily as big as my hand. I got two different colors, the yellow/orange ones here, and purple ones that are just starting to flower.

I don’t normally shop at Walmart unless I have to. I’ve had mixed results with plants from their garden department. But the thing with the store is that have to move that stuff out fast. They can’t keep it sitting around because they have to make room for other seasonal merchandise. That means that they start discounting the stuff pretty quickly. By early June a lot of their plants and root stock was already heavily discounted, and by mid-June most of their plants, seeds and roots were half price or even less.

So if you’re patient and don’t need to be the first one in the neighborhood to get plants in the ground, you can get some pretty good deals after the peak planting season passes.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Was One Of…”

  1. Noise pollution and artificial light too. I visited some friends in Seattle a while back that lived off the end of the SeaTac runway. Jesus Christ man, every two minutes you couldn’t even talk. What a life.
    I love those surreal mornings like you described. Really should be the norm.

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    1. Our environment has become increasingly unnatural and I think it adds to the overall stress of simply trying to live. Humans didn’t evolve to be able to deal with this, and I think it has an adverse effect on our overall health.

      And as for lighting, dear lord, it’s just insane. I was driving through Green Bay at night not that long ago and between the street lighting and advertising and everything else it was just crazy. Unoccupied buildings lighted up, brilliantly lighted advertising signs for businesses that are closed… I wince when I think of the megawatts of power being wasted for no reason.

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  2. Good post. I crave quiet most of the time even though I too live in a rural area. And you’re right–you can never escape it. The crops around here are looking thirsty. By the way, the signup for round 2 of the MFP payments started at FSA offices Monday.

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  3. I just listened to a podcast about the constant noise that surrounds us. There is a movement to design noise. To manage it. To reduce it. They are looking at everything – like why the bells and bings and bongs of our electronics sound like that and how it effects us. I look forward to the time when electric cars are the norm and the quiet it will bring. But it probably won’t happen that way because the silence of electric cars is considered “dangerous”. So they add noise. Sigh.

    I love dahlias. They remind me of 17th century ladies. Over dressed for a party. But oh so beautifully. Our local park has a huge plot dedicated to various rare and wonderful Dahlias. It makes me happy.

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    1. Dahlias make me happy too. I just look at those flowers and grin like an idiot. Speaking of grinning like an idiot, I have ruby throated humming birds coming to my feeder in the front of the house. I’ve been trying to get pictures but they’re so darned fast they’re gone before I can aim the camera

      I think noise adds a great deal of stress to our lives and there is some scientific evidence to support that. And so much of it is unnecessary – modified cars, trucks and motorcycles with ridiculously loud exhausts, the constant drone of bad music in stores and offices, planes flying overhead, the drone of ventilation equipment… Electric cars are great. How quiet they are is amazing. And you’re right, they’re talking about requiring noise makers to be installed on them. Sigh…

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  4. Those Dahlias are beautiful. When I did amateur photography I learned the trick of putting a pencil in the shot so anyone looking at the photograph could tell the size of the flower by the pencil. I don’t know if that would still work these days – I bet some school kids don’t even know what a pencil looks like!

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    1. The pencil is a good idea. Or something that would give a sense of scale. The same problem with scale shows up with my photos from the Badlands and the mountains. It’s awfully hard to get an idea of just how big something is or how tall it is because there’s nothing in the shot to compare it to.

      Oh, they still use pencils in schools, at least around here. Our cleaning staff at the school would have to pick up dozens of them off the floor before they could vacuum the classrooms. They were throw away items, though. As soon as the eraser wore out, which was usually before they were even sharpened once or twice, they tossed them out. We had boxes of ’em down in the shop because the cleaning staff thought it was a waste to throw them away. Most were almost brand new, just the eraser gone. Teachers didn’t want ’em if they didn’t have an eraser on them.

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      1. Well at least schools still recognize a pencil although it has to have an eraser on the end! We ripped the erasers off ours so we could sharpen both ends. That way if the lead broke we could still keep on writing! Don’t they make “Pink” erasers anymore? 🙂

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        1. They do make the old fashioned pink erasers, but kids always lose them, apparently. Unless the pencil had an eraser on the end, it often got tossed. Remember those plastic tubs recordable CDs came in? By the middle of the school year we’d have about a dozen of those sitting down in the shop packed full of pencils, almost like new except the eraser was worn or broken off. Not only was it wasteful, it was hard for the cleaning staff to deal with.

          We had maybe 6 minutes or less on average to go through an entire classroom, much of that time taken up by vacuuming the floor. (Imagine having 30 kids in your living room for 7 hours and then having 6 minutes to clean the entire room – dusting, vacuuming, picking up, straightening up the furniture, wiping down tables and desks, etc.) We’d get into a classroom and the floor would be covered with books, papers, pencils, rulers… It would take them 3 minutes or more just to pick up all the garbage off the floor before they could get started. Teachers were told to have the kids pick everything up off the floor at the end of the day, but few actually did it. We got virtually zero cooperation from the teaching staff. They wouldn’t even erase their own blackboards or empty their own pencil sharpeners. Sigh…

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