Sunday, August 12, 2012

Busy Saturday in Review: Opportunities

Yesterday, I happened to be in Wausau, Wisconsin, had an extra hour to spend and thought I might spend that at the Leigh Yawley Woodson Sculpture Garden. What could be better? Sculpture AND a garden!

Woe to me though, my hour was from 11 o'clock to noon and the Woodson does not open until 12. I was left to peer through the gates and fencing. Even worse for you, I forgot my camera. These pictures are all from a trip shortly after I got my first digital 5 1/2 years ago.

Opportunity missed.

For me, the iconic image of a horse done originally in tree roots and then cast in bronze is the Woodson. If I had had my camera I could have done a better job of capturing its spirit. Birds, however, are the Woodson's bread and butter as the core of the Leigh Yawley Woodson is birds in art.

The bones of the sculpture garden remain much the same in either April or high summer. This garden is all about the sculpture. Unlike my visit five years ago, the main entrance area boasts a large sculpture of whooping cranes (or maybe they are mallards for all I know, in bronze, identification of ducks unlike plant is a bit dicey). Its size and visibility from the parking lot across the street its makes the statement on arrival. However, the brooding eagle watching over the sidewalk to what is actually the front entrance to the art museum, is probably what the staff at the Woodson feel is the Woodson.

To the left of the entrance is what is labeled a secret garden with sculpture of a pair of herons in what I believe is the Woodson garden's only water feature. This hidden garden could easily be incorporated into any back yard, which is what makes it very special.

Although if you google for images of the museum you will get quite a few pictures of the sculpture displayed with grasses, this year that was not true. I saw one sculpture of some ducks with sapphire grass, but that was about it. Most of the garden is herbaceous plants of the shrub, tree and vine sort, with just a couple large pots, and not any bedded annuals. The secret garden was well-planted with a collection of drought-tolerant shade lovers.

I could not help but walk away thinking how wonderfully improved the display of the sculpture would have been by incorporating native plants native plants into this mix.

Opportunity lost.

The rest of the day was spent at the family garden. My sister-in-law and I picked sweet corn, basil, and green peppers to freeze. With Baby Gardener and the Twins in tow, preserving goes slowly when it goes at all.

At 6 PM, I decide it is necessary I switch gears and water in the daylily 11-214. This is a discarded cross done by my neighbor out of hemerocallis altissima x 'Oh Joy, Oh Rapture' (APPS). He was hoping for offspring with closely held flowers of something in a peach or orange. Instead, something very similar to the parent, with about 25-30 buds on a stalk.

Its destination? The compost pile at his family's farm.

So I am touring his breeding plot and we are looking at what is interesting out of his 2010 crosses and we come to 11-214. The flower form is very nice in form and color. With the length of the stalk, it screams to me cut flower. In Korea, daylilies as cut flowers are all the rage. Not so in the United States. With a bloom that lasts but a day, it's a non-starter. I think this attitude should change. With branching stalks of 25-30 buds lined up to bloom, day after day, I don't see a downside. Okay, now the bloom is 2 inches to the left and we need to groom that arrangement, actually looking at it! Horror!

I stand there studying it. I'm thinking cut flower bouquets in farm markets. Darrel is reading my mind. He offers it to me.

I gasp.

"But you can't sell the plant," he cautions. Yeah, this I know. He doesn't even like to have his plants passed around that he discards. And in case you haven't guessed his discards are often nicer than 95% of what the typical gardener has blooming in their yards.

I say, "I'll even dig it out!"


So the other day I dug out all the plants grown from cross 11-214. I took and cut them back and planted them in two 30' rows a foot apart down the center of the orchard area in the family garden, and labeled their row tag with 11-214 and their parent cross info.

Opportunity taken.

So I am finished watering in these daylilies now destined for a brighter future and am crossing the road back to my brother's house. I have a road crossing ritual, because of the twins and their love of the garden which is across a road.

"Look left,
Look right.
No cars in sight!
Cross quickly!"

We repeat this little rhyme, looking each time we cross. My attempt to get them to stop rather than darting to look for that one car that may someday come.

Today, I am alone, yet I still (habit) repeat our little rhyme, actually turning my head each way to look as I have modeled for the Twins.

"Look left,
Look right.
What! Hot air balloon in sight!
And its like right above the road!"


I trot off to search for the Twins because this is so cool. Eventually, I find them and they are entranced.

"See it!" they scream!

So my sister-in-law, the Twins, and I hop into the car to chase down the balloon which has now moved out of sight down the road. Baby Gardener and my brother being left behind.

As we come up to Shenington (a unincorporated twist in the road with its sole mercantile establishment being a bar), I see a different hot air balloon on the ground in the large manicured grounds. The owner of the bar had yelled out as he and his patron watched the balloon float at tree top level, "Land, and we'll buy you a drink!"

So they did. Everyone in the area, not just the Twins and us, are enraptured by the hot air ballon sitting so unexpectedly on the ground. The balloon has quickly gathered maybe 60 people, a lot of them under 10 to see it so close up.

At one point, one of the helium heaters ignites. Making a loud and startling whoosh noise. The Timid Twin asks as we walk closer, "Will it be loud?" He is frightened a bit seeing something unfamiliar so close by.

Soon the ground team shows up and after a few minutes they take over the elaborate and well orchestrated team work of collapsing and stowing the balloon.

After the helium has been wrung from the nylon and the balloon is lying snaked out on the lawn, the Elusive Dream Ballooning balloonists allow the small children to touch its silky ripstop nylon. Even the Timid Twin reaches out.

Touch it, touch it.

Opportunity taken.

This is not the first time I have seen a hot air balloon so close. Before Beautiful Girl became Sister-in-law, she and my brother were hanging out at my dad's dairy farm one day. Suddenly, I see the cows stampede. Crap! What's frightening the cows?

Only citified Beautiful Girl and I were around, I yell to her, "We need to see what has the cows so spooked before they bust through the fences and end up in the next county!"

We jump in my truck and drive down to the pasture on a field road and into the recently cut hay field. Cow chasing alone is no fun. Hopefully, I can get Beautiful Girl to jump up and down and wave her hands at the appropriate times.

At this point, we hear and see what has caused the cows to go nuts.

"WHOOSH!" A hot air balloon igniter blasts. "WHOOSH!" Again. When you are not expecting it, the sound is startling. The balloon is bobbling just a few feet above our heads.

"Can we land?? they call out.

"Sure, just stay out of the corn and don't put it in the cow pasture. You're scaring the cows," I holler up.

So they land. Their tracking team eventually finds them and they resolve their problem. We are talking to them the whole while. They are sorry they scared the cows. They say they usually don't fly so low.

They ask, "Do yo want to go up?" Beautiful Girl and I exchange a glance. Do we want to?

"YES!" we answer in chorus.

Opportunity taken.

So we get into the basket. They seem so small on the ground, not so when inside. We are looking up into the balloon, talking a mile a minute. I happen to look out and wow!

We are like 30' above the ground. Neither of us felt a thing. No bobbly motion as we took off or launched. Nothing. Suddenly, we are 30 feet in the air.

"Whoa! Down!"

We both ask in unison.

Up. Down. Complete opposites with like nothing in between. It was unnerving.

It was like being IN the sky. I can understand the allure.

My parents and my brother show up and lots of talk about ballooning, the ins and outs ensue. No one else has the courage to go UP, even for a moment, when offered the opportunity.

Yesterday, now Sister-in-Law says she'd like to have a hot air balloon. Yeah, I would, too, I admit. I think I could make the balloon, I say. They're make of that ripstop nylon, a heavier weight probably than say a windbreaker. I consider it a bit, the technical aspects of the balloon's construction.

After a minute, I look over at her, watching her boys watch the balloon and its team.

"How many times do you think they go over the seams to reinforce them?"

"Oh, that's a GOOD question," she laughs. "After you make it, you can test it first!"

I think of that one neighbor of mine made an ultralight out of a lawnmower back in the 70s...

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