I sit here, postured, ready to type 100 words a minute (NOT). I watch out the window to observe my cottonwood tree dropping its leaves all over our decks, in the eaves, and throughout the yard.

I come to wonder: “Why does a cottonwood drop leaves before any other tree?”

After a little investigating, I learned that they drop leaves and branches to save water for the rest of the tree to survive during hot weather and drought conditions. I have noticed that cottonwoods near water and on hills are doing the same thing.

I will miss my mighty cottonwood with its towering crown, providing shade and many homes for birds and the insects that many creatures find tasty. This tree is one of the nicest I have ever met.

I believe I’ve told you before, but it needs to be restated at this point: my husband hates the tree. He says it is going to kill us when it falls on the house. It’s a hazard. Too many leaves. You name it. He wants it cut down.

My reply, “Over my dead body!”

~~~

My grandson was down at the playground in Wallace Park and discovered an armadillo running amongst the trees. Of course he was intrigued. It eventually hippity-hopped itself into a hole.

It stands to reason that seeing armadillos in all 105 counties of Kansas has become a normalcy… especially dead ones along the roadside.

The armadillo is known for the number of bands it has around the midsection. We have nine-banders around the United States.

They are good to have around if you have a lot of ants. They can eat 40,000 at one “sitting.” They will also consume worms, crickets, termites, wasps, flies, grasshoppers and eggshells (nothing said about ticks).

I found this information on the website “Eat the Weeds, and Other Things, too.”

Yes, they can be eaten! Because they were easy to catch, pioneers often referred to the armadillos as “possum on the half shell.”

Many people have eaten it fried, after cleaning it well, and parboiling it to remove the fat. Some people, not me, have put the meat into stews. You can make Armadillo Meatloaf, Armadillo Chili, Armadillo and Onions, Armadillo Fricassee, and Armadillo Sloppy Joes for 50 people...perfect for a COVID party if you plan to have a gathering over 10.

Here is a recipe for Baked Armadillo:

Ingredients:

1 armadillo, removed from shell

Salt

Pepper

Chunks of apples and pineapple (1 ½ cups each)

½ cup of butter

Thoroughly wash meat. (Most recipes say to soak the armadillo meat overnight in salt and water… to get the gamey taste out of it. Hmmm)

Salt and pepper the armadillo.

Stuff chunks of apple and pineapple into meat. Coat each piece with butter and wrap in foil and place in a roasting pan.

Bake in a 325-degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

Cook meat for 30 to 40 minutes a pound.

Allow each person to receive about 1/3 pound of meat.

People who have dined upon armadillo say it tastes like fine grained, high quality pork.

I will honestly tell you that while I was looking at these recipes, and one horrific and bizarre video, I was beginning to feel physically ill. (burp!)

I imagine if I was VERY hungry and had nothing else I may partake in some of this fine cuisine, but otherwise forget it.

If you are musically inclined and have the shell of the armadillo, it can be made into a ukulele-like instrument… 10 strings!

So, there is the scoop on feasting upon armadillos.

Oh, I would leave the dead ones along the highway for the scavengers.

~~~

The gardens have given-up-the-ghost in my neck of the neighborhood. Crabgrass is all over.

I have burrs attaching to every animal and piece of clothing.

I tried to find the burr’s name. An article said it was called “beggar ticks.”

I beg to differ. MY burrs are brown, half-inch sticks with several pokey parts on one end that attach to all walkers. Very scientific!

Tonight, I had them stuck to one whole sleeve and pant leg. I know a tick when I see one. Maybe they made a mistake and they are really called, “beggar STICKS.”

Whatever they are, they are everywhere!

~~~

I had a red-shouldered hawk sitting in the middle of my mimosa the other day… hiding in the shade. I watched it from my kitchen window.

Firstly, I thought it was just cooling it. Then, I thought it may be after the small birds hanging around.

OH NO! My small tortoise, that is NOT a Kansas box turtle, was outside in its little open-topped enclosure. A red-shouldered hawk is known to eat reptiles. Ahhhhhh!

This hawk could have easily picked it up, carried it away, and pecked it to death. Sorry for this gloomy ending, but food is food in the shell or not. It flew away when I went out with my camera.

I beg you to go outside to see, hear and feel nature.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast.

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