Monthly Archives: September 2010

Slow down and watch the sunsets

In and out of showers last week traffic pushed quickly along a southeast Kansas highway.  A check in my mirror showed only the grill of an 18-wheeler seemingly focused on nothing but getting around or over The Eagle’s Honda.

I wondered if he’d have been in such a hurry if he’d have looked to the west.

Kansas is home to some of America's best sunsets. Too bad more people don't slow down and enjoy them.

Kansas is home to some of America's best sunsets. like this one in southeast Kansas last week. Too bad more people don't slow down and enjoy them.

It was far from the best sundowns I’ve seen in Kansas, even for this year, but it was was certainly watch-worthy.

Unfortunately too few people take notice of Kansas’ great sunsets.

Many times I’ve been working at The Eagle and see a great  final salute to daylight while my co-workers work away without a notice.

Still, it seems most people enjoy a good sunset if someone else shows it to them.

After the semi roared around me last week I felt safe  enough to pull on to a side road where I could park, enjoy the final minutes of the sunset and snap a few frames.

As it passed a driver stared first at me and the camera and then shot a glance where I was focused. The guy shot a hand towards the west, obviously bringing attention to the sunset to others in his car.

They didn’t stop but at least the car slowed to give everyone a better view.

Too bad they’d missed the best 10 minutes of the show because they simply weren’t looking.

The vine that ate my garden

The tomatoes are done and my peppers have lost their pep. But when I looked out back a few days ago part of my garden looked as lush as a rain forest and nearly as tall.

Seriously.

The gourd vine that's consumed two yards, bent a sapling to the ground and crossed a ten-foot median.

The gourd vine that's consumed parts of two yards, bent a sapling to the ground and crossed a ten-foot median.

I don’t know what the plant is, my neighbor said it’s some kind of gourd. She should know, she planted the thing well within in her yard this spring. It’s since taken over the back of her back yard, the 10-foot easement between us and has its sights set on filling my garden and beyond.

It started about May 1 when I noticed her husband had put up a trellis beside their garden shed. A single green plant a few inches tall had been planted below.

First gourdzilla covered the trellis and then the entire roof of their shed. From there it spread into the wide branches of a sizable sapling. Along the way  the plant bloomed and the blooms turned into green fruit that started the size of my fist and quickly grew to be as long as my arm.

Eventually it weighed enough to bend the sapling over across the easement. From there the creature that ate my garden hooked onto my chainlink fence and  flooded into my garden.

No real big deal. I didn’t have anything in that part of the garden and I was able to tug, lift, push and cuss the entangled sapling back into the easement. I’m sure it’ll be back into my yard because it’s showing no signs of slowing down, no matter how hot or dry the conditions.

One evening I asked my neighbor the purpose of the plant. The gourds are numerous and one could feed a family for four or five days if they’re edible. But she had not real purpose for the plant other than using the gourds for decorations in the fall and winter.

I joked that a few of those gourd jungles planted along the U.S./Mexican border could surely help curb some of the illegal alien problems. Some of the gourds are big enough to be carved into duck decoys right now.

Who knows, in a few weeks one of the things may be big enough to be turned into a canoe…or the plant may end up engulfing our house. I guess the added shade would be nice.

Dove Update

Yesterday evening we enjoyed one of our most-anticipated hunts of the year.

Along with Jerrod and Luke Templin I traveled to St. John and climbed into a pick-up with friend Tom Turner. Forty-five minutes later he had us at a small pond in the rolling sandhills on a ranch he runs south of Kinsley.

With little other water around doves came to the pond that’s pumped by a solar pump by the hundreds or thousands.

We weren’t too surprised because of two great hunts we enjoyed at the same place with Tom last Labor Day weekend when Jerrod, Tom and I filled easy limits.

Twenty or so birds flushed from the bare dirt banks around the pond when we arrived. We spread out in a line on the tiny pond’s south end and faced north, the direction from which we thought most of the birds would come.

And come they did.

Sure, we had some lulls of five or so minutes between birds but the lower the sun on the horizon the higher the numbers of doves.

Hitting doves in high winds is always a challenge. Even harder was finding some birds when they fell in dense and sharp nettles. We worked together to get good marks on birds and did pretty well.

Hank, my nine-year-old Lab, handled the 95-degree heat well since he was continually getting wet as we tried to drop birds in the pond. He smelled downed birds fairly well unless they were in the nettles. It was wicked stuff.

But the experience was still very sweet.

With about a half-hour remaining in legal shooting time we started finishing our limits one man at a time.

The best flights came just before sunset, as we stood around the pond and cleaned the 60 doves.

Watching the birds come to the pond, silhouetted against a classic western Kansas sunset, was one of my favorite parts of the hunt.

Hopefully we’ll do it again next year.

Leaving a buddy at home.

I broke a nine-year tradition this morning by opening dove season without Hank, my black Lab.

He’s in very good shape for a nine-year-old. It’s easy to feel his ribs, he has good muscle tone and carries himself pretty well. But nine is getting up there for a retriever and the heat and humidity had me worried.

Cody Doane and I opened the season at a state-managed sunflower field. The hunting was good. I had my limit by about 7:30 a.m. Cody was done by about 7:45 a.m. He got a late start, arriving at the field about 30 minutes after the start of legal shooting time.

His Lab, Deuce, did very well but he’s four-years-old. Had there been some standing water, or the temperature and humidity a bit lower I’d have taken Hank.

Heat stroke and falling through ice have been my main worries with him since he was a puppy. He handles well to whistle so I can keep him off thin ice. I’ll just have to leave him behind when the temperatures are high.

Don’t worry, he’ll get some water hole shooting later this week and it’s not like he hasn’t fetched plenty of doves. Jerrod and I shot our first limits over him when he was just shy of five-months-old. He’d retrieved more than 200 doves before he was six-months-old.

Oh, and before you hear it from somebody else, I did leave the house in regular clothing and change into my camo in the garage this morning so he wouldn’t know. I’d already stashed my gun and shells out there yesterday.

I’m sure he’d have rather gone.

I’m sure I’d rather have him around several more years so I’m not taking any chances.