Sunday, June 07, 2015


Steve and I have just finished working in the garden, he rototilling, both of us hoeing.  Then doing a little replanting where few potatoes are missing, where a tomato plant has died, where a bean seed didn’t germinate.

 It is a warm late morning, but as we sit under the big spruce tree I planted forty years ago in front of the cabin, we are enjoying the shade and the cool breeze coming from the southwest.  We are watching a pair of bluebirds, the male with its back the color of the sky and its breast the color of the sun, and its mate with the same colors but more muted, busy going in and out of their house that sits on a post only a dozen or so feet from the cabin kitchen window.  Feeding their newly hatched young, we are assuming.

A couple days ago, a brisk southwest wind toppled a second bluebird house we have in the cabin’s front lawn—not much of a lawn as it’s made up of native grasses that are scraggly and thin but thus require little mowing.

 My son-in-law, Paul an all-around superior fix-it guy, volunteers to put up a new post and once more make this second bluebird home habitable.  Not an hour after the second house is in place, another pair of bluebirds is busy hauling in pieces of grass and twigs and building another nest. 

What a treat it is, to sit on my Aldo Leopold designed bench with my son, and watch not one but two pairs of bluebirds working hard to create and support new families.


            I read Henry David Thoreau’s WALDEN, when I was in high school.  It was heavy going and I must confess that I didn’t get much from the reading.  As the years passed, I gained an increasing appreciation for this work, and find Thoreau’s writing a foundation for much of my work these days. 

One of my favorite Thoreau quotations: “Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed . . . . If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music he hears, however muted or far away.”
THE OLD TIMER SAYS.  Take time to sit under a shade tree, watch bluebirds at work, and think deeper thoughts.


 My one-day writing course on “Writing From Your Life,” is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 at the Clearing in Door County.  Go to  for detailed information.


June 11, 5:30 p.m. Fund Raising Event, Stoughton Area Resource Team (START), Stoughton Hospital, Limping Through Life.

June 16, 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Lecture, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Whispers and Shadows. Call 608-264-6555 for reservations.

June 18, 6:30, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Whispers and Shadows

June 23, Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture, Dinner Meeting. Madison, Time and place to be announced. Keynote.

July 16, 6:30. Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, Remembering Farm Life from an Earlier Day

September 3, Noon.  Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History (New book)
September 3, 7 p.m. Books and Company bookstore,  Oconomowoc,  Whispers and Shadows.

September 12, West Madison Agriculture Research Station, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.  Time to be announced.

September 17, 11:-a.m.  St. Lukes Church, Middleton, WI   Stories From the Land

September 19 , Stonefield Village, Cassville.  Whispers and Shadows.

September 23, Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 26, 10:30 -2:00, Dregni’s, Westby, Book signing.

October 7, 6:30 p.m. Reedsburg Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 9-10, Heartland Forum, Chicago.

October 15, Prairie du Sac Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 17, 9-4 Teaching writing workshop at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

October 17, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The Clearing.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

October 29, Brown County Library.  Premier of TV Documentary,” The Land With Jerry Apps. “ Book signing, Whispers and Shadows.

November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.

November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land (TV documentary) and Whispers and Shadows

November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land (TV documentary)  plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.

November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium.  Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)


Claudia G. said...

Loved the story! It sure didn't take your bluebirds long to reclaim a home, but they are probably so familiar with your land - and you. I remember reading Walden in H.S. and it didn't mean a lot then, but revisiting it perhaps 10 years's a favorite!

Kelly Ramstack said...

What a wonderful, peaceful scene you have painted. Over the weekend I added peonies to the hanging baskets on the deck and the hummingbirds just can't get enough. We had the pleasure of hosting my sister-in-law's city-slicker boyfriend over the weekend and he got to hear his first sandhill cranes calling.

"What is that sound?!!"

Pterodactyls, we told him.