Thursday, July 30, 2015

POPGRASS MUSIC?

Do you recognize the long jointed grasses behind Hamish in this photo?  Saying joint and grass in the same sentence may bring to mind something else, but I’m referring to what is called joint grass, pop grass, horse tail, and it goes by several other names.

 Pop grass grows in sections than can be easily pulled apart.

 With a little doing, the fresh, young pieces can be made into whistles.

Choose sections that are still juicy and the exposed ends are very pale green.

The bottom of each piece has a closed-off end that needs to be removed to form an open pipe.

 Different pieces can make different sounds but don’t expect mellifluous piping notes.  What comes out sounds more like a duck quack.

To get a sound out of a piece, the light colored end needs to be flattened so it will vibrate like an oboe reed.

 This can be easily done by pinching the end between your fingers.

 Place this flattened end in your mouth a little past the lips.  Flatten your lips around the reed and blow gently.

 As you can see the soft ends start to split up after a little use.  Blowing more than one at a time gives a nice truck or train horn sound.  Okay, maybe nice is not the right adjective, but it’s still fun unless you have to listen to a bunch of kids enjoying their new noise-makers.

 Hamish and other Forest Gnomes use them to call their duck friends.

 With a little effort, pop-grass bands can entertain a whole bunch of campers for quite a while.

HAMISH AND WILDFLOWERS 5 Yellow, Blue, Red

We sometimes forget nature can provide a wonderful variety of beauty without human assistance.  Outside our trailer home here at camp we have a whole garden of wildflowers with new ones blossoming almost every week with no effort on our part.

 This morning Hamish had Butter and Eggs for breakfast.  (As a review, Hamish is a Forest Gnome.  The habits and activities of gnomes are well documented in the best seller, Gnomes, by Huygen and Povrtvliet. Forest Gnomes are about six inches high.  Their hats add another three inches to their stature.)

 Butter and Eggs are cheerful yellow and white wild flowers which appear to be similar to garden snap dragons.  They grow from eight to two feet tall and bloom from July to September along highways and hillsides.

 Hamish is showing off a blue flower here called Monkshood.
Monkshood is found from Montana to British Columbia near springs and creeks.

These lovely flowers, and especially the roots, are seriously poisonous to livestock and have occasionally caused death to humans.

 It is easy to see by the shape why it they are named after the hoods worn by monks.

 We drove down the canyon to find a red flower.  Hamish said he gets car sick so he didn’t go along.

 This beauty is called Indian Paintbrush, or, to be more politically correct, Paintbrush, for obvious reasons.

 Sometimes they can be found in large patches in meadows.  In the late afternoon the whole place can look like it’s on fire.

 There was another reason why we went down the road to Robison Creek.  The place had been recommended by the beautician at the local beauty shop to be good place to find huckleberries.

 We found plenty of huckleberry bushes but the berries were small and far between.

An infestation of tent caterpillars and a hot June had done their damage.

 The ripe ones we found were tasty but not enough to fill a cup much less to make a pie or jam.  Maybe next year.