Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pokey Hat

Pokey hats, early on a snowy Sunday. AMcC

Some years ago I had the opportunity to visit a state park with a friend from Scotland. Montauk State Park is a beautiful spot on the banks of the upper Current River. After a long day of watching people fish for trout, we visited the lodge. My friend stepped up to the snack bar and in a heavy Glaswegian accent ordered a “pokey hat.” It took some effort to discover that she meant an ice cream cone. Hilarious!

Cup Plant hangs on to the snow too,
almost as well as it does rain water. AMcC
Hold on now, Scottish readers! I got my comeuppance when that same friend and I dropped into a Glasgow curry shop and I ordered “nan bread.” In my Saint Louis accent, “naan” rhymes with Anne. The clerk could hardly take my order he was laughing so hard. He called the cooks to come out and begged me say it again!

I saw a pokey hat in my front yard early this morning. The prickly seedhead of Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is especially good at showing off the beautiful snow. It’s afternoon now and gusts of 40 mile-per-hour winds haven’t yet knocked the hat off.

Male American Robin rides the storm out in the witch hazel tree. AMcC
About 3 months from now, a meteorologist on local TV will proudly display a photo documenting the arrival of the first robin of the year. Actually, American Robins are present in our area all year long, but they aren’t quite as conspicuous to non-birders as they are in spring.

Am. Goldfinches hard at work on
the seeds of Prairie Dock. AMcC

In spite of a temperature of 19° F (wind chill of 2°), Slate-colored Junco, Carolina Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, and White-throated Sparrow are busy in the back yard. In the front, American Goldfinches tease the last seeds out of Prairie Dock seedheads (Silphium terebinthinaceum). 

All this activity is missing from gardens where the owner tidies up in fall. That’s one less chore for those who garden with binoculars.

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