Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Me Lucky Charms

I'm the Redhead With the Shoe & Cigarettes
Neon Green Peat
Moons, Stars & Clovers
Pond is Still Winter White
Horse Trails Attract Fish
It's Bino Season
Ferruginous Hawk
Crows Ignore Their Tree
Me First Lucky Charm of the Season
When I was five, I remember begging my mom for a box of Lucky Charms cereal. Every moon, star and clover was a crunchy mini-marshmallow. That's the cereal I wanted!

Yet, the memory stands out because Lucky Charms tasted like cigarettes. Don't ask me how a kindergartener knew what cigarettes tasted like, but each moon, star and clover made me gag.

Now I know the truth. My mother served it with goat milk. To this day, I can't tolerate even the swankiest of gourmet goat cheese. Goats produce milk laced with burnt tobacco.

As I rediscover the ground of Elmira after its recent release from snow, I'm reminded of me Lucky Charms. Buried beneath winter's icy mantle has been living, breathing peat. It's lurid green would be found among the neons in the crayon box.

A close inspection shows emerging clover pressing up from the peat which is pointy as a kindergartener's hand-drawn star. In my imagination, strands of dry grass curve into imperfect half moons.

My ranch is a Panhandle peatland -- a rare archive of the past. It is a Sphagnum-rich bog and you can see it growing right this moment.

Rains have pounded Elmira at the rate on one inch a day, and forecasters predict a full ten days. They've issued avalanche warnings in the mountains and already mud slides have gummed up roads and tracks. We even had a smattering of mysterious dirty rain to give us a good science debate (it may not be volcanic ash as first reported).

Elmira Pond remains gripped in white slush, although water is pooling like a cup of coffee heavy on the cream. With all the rain, the horse trails look like streams lacing the pond's edge and I watch as fish rise to the surface, seeking their meal since ice sealed them under.

I'm like a little kid, wanting to put on galoshes to chase fish along watery horse trails.

Open water is a beacon to migrating birds. It's like April in February, and I've heard the honking of geese headed north. My binoculars are on my desk and I regularly scan for feathered visitors.

For days, I've seen a flash of white about mid-way up the tall tamaracks west of the pond. Today it landed on the massive power line tower that carries electricity for northern Idaho through our narrow valley.

Turns out to be a hawk. I believe it to be a Ferruginous hawk because it's much whiter than a red-tailed hawk and it is as large as a small eagle.

The snow is gone and so are my excuses to not un-decorate the Crow Tree. Murderous ingrates. They flock past but never stop.

Yet, I did find treasure near the tree with it's lagging ribbon like a gilded tongue. Each year, before the grass overtakes the pad of peat, I search for broken glass. If peat is an archive of seeds and pollens, it also keeps record of human trash.

Today I found a shard of cobalt blue bottle glass -- my first lucky charm of the amateur archeological season.

And I refrained from licking any stars, moons or clovers, having learned that not all treasure tastes as advertised.

Linking up with Abracabadra for Wordless Wednesday. Photos by Charli Mills (except the incriminating cigarette photo -- that was provided by my partner in wading pool crime, my Cuz, Mitch).


  1. Elmira Pond has been added to my bucket list. Just thought I'd let you know :)

    1. Oh good...because on my bucket list is creating a free writers retreat here! I'd love to have you! I'm even working on a way to fund travel expenses (our collaboration with Rough Writers).

  2. That is something with all that rain and the problems it can cause after all that snow... I get lost in your wonderful descriptions of life on Elmira Pond Charli. Love the photos too...and as for Lucky Charms, they were the first cereal I ever tasted when I moved to California. Eldest Son (32 now) remembers as a three year old eating them and watching Gumby and Bewitched together on our tiny TV :-) Don't remember them tasting like tabacco though...funny isn't it how we associate tastes like that. Love the analogy with the moon and stars appearing on the bog...and as for those murderous ingrates, well, what more can be said...?

    1. It had to have been the goat milk! Seriously, who gives their kid goat milk on sugary cereal? :-) I think it might have been the state cereal of California! The crows can go commit murder elsewhere!

  3. This is gorgeous Charli, your beautiful home and your beautiful writing. I love the photo of the little redhead in the paddling pool - soooo cute! :)
    We didn't have that cereal here, or at least I didn't. I can't imagine marshmallows for breakfast! Interesting that the enjoyment was spoilt by the addition of goat's milk. Was that intentional on your mother's part. I have never tried goat's milk, but have occasionally tried goat's cheese and have quite liked it on a cracker or two!
    Your photos are amazing and the thought of the fish in the horse tracks is amazing. What a beautiful countryside you have chosen to live in. Are you able to write so beautifully because of it, or it is made more beautiful by your words.
    Please be careful with the avalanches and mudslides. The milky rain sounds like an interesting phenomena. I might wait for the cookie rain too - maybe s'mores!

    1. Marshmallows for breakfast is not healthy and somehow my mother thought goats milk was! Ick.

      It really is beautiful, but I think one has to develop "eyes to see." Aldo Leopold taught about land ethics and he taught children to see with those eyes. He wrote that people have become disconnected from the land. I love nature writing because it teaches you to see the wonders in your own back yard. I'd love to have retreats here to share this beautiful place and to give writers the experience of "seeing" the way Aldo Leopold taught.

      Ha, ha! I'm all ready for cookie rain! S'mores, too!

  4. Loved reading about your curiosity after the snow melted.

    I am happy to read that you are living a mindful life, Thanks for the linkup, Charli. pleasure to have you!


    1. Nature calls us to be mindful, I believe. And I'm just naturally curious about all it reveals! Thanks for having me!

  5. Even without your gorgeous photos, I would be able to picture all just from your wonderfully descriptive words, Charli. But am delighted I got to see the wee red-headed lass in her wading pool with cuz.

    1. The pictures help me see the story. It's an interactive thing and I find it fun as hanging out in the pool with the cuz! :-)

  6. Ah so many triggers for memories. When I was a lad in rural Hampshire the Archaeologist had a friend who worked on a goat farm Saturdays and would collect my bro before going home, showering and going out. Les stank. He told me it was because the Billy goats pissed on their beards to attract the females. I assume he meant sprayed but the stench is highly reminiscent of goats cheese and milk. I like goats cheese now when melted onto a salad but it took years to appreciate it because I had first to eradicate the notion I was indulging in cheese marinaded in piss.
    And the moss; the New Forest is one peat bog, covered in this moss. Amongst it, if you know where to look are sundews, the indigenous fly eating plants of the UK. One day Charli, when we get you here on your grand tour I will show you! That and the peat quakes where my dad would take nervous guests and stand them on the peat before jumping up and down and seeing their faces as they trampolined on the ground. A good test for girl friends to see if they laughed or screamed. The Textiliste passed. She just said, 'Des, don't be a prat'.
    Lovely pictures.

  7. Can you imagine the uproar if men behaved like goats? That is such a stench and I can taste it in the milk! I think goats must smoke, too!

    How cool is that -- sundews and peat trampolines! The Forest Service here used research from a bog in the UK but I wasn't sure where. I'd love to see it! Of course the Textiliste passed (and you must not have smelled goaty)!