Sunday, March 11, 2012

Today Is Johnny Appleseed Day

I remember bits and pieces about Johnny Appleseed from my grade-school days.  My memory says we were taught that his real name was John Chapman, and he wandered about planting apple seeds and seedlings around Pennsylvania and Ohio.  I vaguely remember a drawing of him wearing a pot for a hat, and that he was generally barefoot.  We used to have all sorts of apple creations and food on his national day when I was a kid - but he seems to have been dropped by the wayside.   So I looked him up, and refreshed my memory this morning...  He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, and his mother died when he was a child; apparently his father pretty much let John raise himself.  He became a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, who preached pacifism and vegetarianism.  After his 10th birthday, John never ate a scrap of meat.  Born in 1774, he began wandering across the country in his mid-teens - he planted apple seedlings and seeds throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. After his death in 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he was laid to rest in the pauper's graveyard.  It is estimated that he planted more than 100,000 square miles of apple trees during his life and travels.  When he had a pot, he frequently carried it on his head so he could easily collect fruits, berries, leaves and roots.  He shod himself from other folks' discarded shoes, and his shoes/boots frequently did not match.  He was a friend to every one and every thing he met, tending small creatures that were hurt, injured, or ill, and taking care of human neighbors, too.  While living in Richland County, Ohio, the small community was fearful of an Indian attack.  John Chapman walked for 5 days to get armed help to repel the natives - he was that kind of man.  - All praise to Johnny Appleseed!
   My kits and I enjoyed playing together yesterday.  I went to the grocery store this morning, and was surprised when it was raining(!) when I stepped back outside to return home...  Lovey and Nedi are having a blast running in and out of the light rain, and scattering mud and rain drops all over me, the desk, and the computer.   I received some sad news today: one of my friends at Safeway lost her nephew to suicide yesterday, he was only 26, but he was HIV positive, and he said it just wasn't worth the struggle to stay alive any more.
  In Delaware, a man who cleans out duck nesting boxes has discovered that wood ducks and screech owls are sharing the boxes.  While the ducks are actually nesting, the screech owls take to an alternative sleeping area, but once the wood ducks leave, the screech owls move back in.  When he first noticed this, several years ago, the man began banding the owls; at that time most were grey in color, recently, however, they are predominantly red.  And he knows the owls are returning - he has found the same owl he banded 4 years ago every winter in the same wood duck nesting box, when he's doing his cleaning duties.  Apparently, the nesting box program is working well, not only for the wood ducks, but also for the screech owls.

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