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Did you hear the one about the scarecrow? Plus other seasonal gleanings

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Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:24 am, Sat Nov 3, 2012.

In a recent copy of the Lodi News-Sentinel, there was a quotation from John Muir saying that he had never seen a discontented tree.

Well, I have. If the wind and rain hadn't come along when they did, I'd swear my pin oak tree would have torn its considerable roots out of the ground and stamped its feet. It was time for the children to leave home, and they just hung on and hung on, acquiring aphids along the way. Finally, they got the idea, and while there are still a lot more on the tree than on the ground, they are finally moving out. The parent tree wants its winter rest and a respite from leaf-sitting.

Even while leaves are falling, some plants just keep on flowering; roses, of course, and pineapple sage, among others. And the toad lilies have just finished. When I saw their picture in a catalog, I thought they would be as large as day lilies and blooming the same way — large blossoms on strong stems. Instead, they turned out to be small flowers strung along slender, bending stems. They are creamy white, with little purple spots, and they add their own tone to the garden, not having to compete with their larger, brighter cousins.

***

Something really thoughtful and generous is going on in Lodi. There is a group that calls itself the Lodi Cash Mob, which, once a month, selects a local small business to support by making purchases there and urging others to do the same. This can be a real help to a small business owner, who can be really struggling to keep going in the face of local, county, state and federal rules and restrictions. It is very important to keep small businesses going. They are the backbone of this county.

People who are brave enough to go into business for themselves spring from the same independent, responsible stock that left all they knew and moved west to grow the country. I wonder how many of us could do that today; how many have the vision and the endurance to cope with hardships instead of sitting around whining when they can't have what they want.

***

"Quite expensive, quite expensive," my washing machine remarked as it was swirling a load of clothes this morning. True enough, I thought as I coddled it through its paces. (My various appliances speak to me from time to time.) The washer, dryer and refrigerator are really quite elderly, but they work, and are probably better built than anything new. (I must cross my fingers and whisper a blessing on them lest they decide to stop working and retire — just because I'm talking about them.)

I don't think about it often, but when I was born and brought up, there were no washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, DustBusters, TVs, electric typewriters. Radio was just coming into most homes, and of course there were telephones and electric lights and very elementary and cumbersome vacuum cleaners. Computers and all their electronic spawn weren't in the general ideas of anyone — except the scientists who were forging the way ahead.

I'm all for labor-saving devices, but some of the stuff now in use smacks of gadflies more than anything else. Ah, yes — I am indeed growing old!

***

This weekend, we have the Sandhill Crane Festival, Nov. 2-4, headquartered at Hutchins Street Square and including tours featuring the cranes, other birds and wildlife, photography, and Bald Eagle boating tours and kayak tours. Of course, there will be vendors, presentations, workshops, live animal shows, and music and dancing. For more information and tour times, call 800-581-6150 or email info@cranefestival.com.

And then there's Veterans Day, remarked by the date, time and year when the World War I Armistice was signed. The annual ceremony will be observed at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, at the American Legion Hall, and of course the commemoration has grown far beyond the original observance. Ironically, the war to end all wars didn't do that; we have been engaged in some kind of war ever since — with peaceful respites in between now and then.

Please plan to come; this is another welding of the country like Patriot Day. Call 209-368-1420 from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays (except Mondays) for more information.

***

Can you stand another one? Thinking of Hallowe'en, what kind of music do ghosts dance to?

Soul music, of course! And, if you coped with that one, tell me: Why did the scarecrow win so many awards? Because he was out-standing in his field! But then, you knew that!

Gwin Paden is a former newspaper reporter and teacher who takes a lively interest in Lodi and its happenings.

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