... as derived from the Flying Dutchman...
In this blog I'll post my outdooradventures, the lessons learned, the skills I did or did not acquire, thoughts, recollections and all other things related to this topic...
....and quite recently my development towards homesteading...
A fellow blogger, Andrea Hejlskov, literally fled to the Swedish forests to get away from the crushing life of the "normal" Danish society. She has a wonderful blog, full of ideas, feeling and Swedish forests, but now she will be sent out on a mission. She is given the opportunity to make us, who resist the current state(s), heard at the Paris climate conference.
Here's her story, which also is our story; Andrea Hejlskov, the day of activism or on facebook; and the pioneer life
So the stars were definitely hanging in a certain way, there was something in the air, maybe it was some kind of divine (coincidence) , maybe it was the soul as well as nature itself tired of waiting, watching the destruction, the injustice… but what happened yesterday was indeed spectacular and I´m going to tell you about it.
Well, I was supposed to be out in the woods during last weekend, but due to circumstances, both within and out of my control, I decided to not attend the planned gathering and spend our scarce financial resources on something with a higher priority and my time in the garden.
Looked like the folks visiting the Idre-region had a good time and I did make some progress with my project too, despite being baked in the sun. Which is kind of relative, given the 25C, but out in the sun.... It was a good deal more.
So instead of being a trying woodsman again, I'll be spending a long overdue, hopefully qualitytime weekend with the mrs. in Tallinn, Estonia soon. It might prove to be of vital importance.
On a less positive note; we were subject to an incident that brought to light the less than favourable interhuman emotions
For a while now we have been having this under-the-skin feeling that we actually are not really welcome or liked around these parts where we live and said incident did nothing to ease that feeling. On the contrary. It made it painfully clear that normal relationships in the place we live will never happen. We are and always will be regarded as intruders. The feeling of isolation and total lack of sense of community became highlighted once more. It sure did take off some more of the gloss of the idylle we hoped to find here.
The jobhunting isn't going anywhere for either one of us and the possibilities to take care of ourselves are very limited as previously mentioned in this blog. We keep on running head long into these walls with no sight of improvement.
All in all reason enough to start expanding our horizons again (northwards) and look for more favourable options elsewhere.
So tensions are quite high these days with many things happening all at once and many thoughts crossing our minds.
But I did come across a cross spider (Araneus diadematus), which is not all that common around here and it was a big one too! What a beauty!
And Rex has become a very fine dog indeed. Growing stronger and more beefy and his attitude is so much more gentle now. He even is overcoming his initial not fear, but apprehension towards water.
The end of summer is closing in. The summervacation is practically over. Kids are going back to school on monday again. Of course this is the time that the weather changed and we are experiencing summer in full force; clear blue skies, max. sunshine and temperatures higher than we had all summer. Which is not that hard concidering it practically never went over 20c. It gets dark at night again and we can see the stars again... occasionally. Autumn is on its way. Sometimes it already feels like that with chilly, foggy mornings and even the birdcherrieleaves have started to change colour and are falling... In a few weeks my summerjob will be over and I'll be harvesting potatoes again.
I did forget to mention a few items with the previous post, so I thought to catch up and blend some new stuff.
First of all.... My wife made a killer good rhubarb juice!
I do not want to start sounding all housewifey 'n shit, but this one... I just had to share the recipe.
Here it goes:
2 sliced lemons
1 teaspoon natriumbenzoat (it's a preservative)
4 liters boiling water
Toss it in a clean bucket, pour the water on top of it and let it sit for 5-6 days with some form of lid on it.
Strain it through a piece of clean cloth.
Then you need to warm it and dissolve 300gr. sugar per liter juice.
It doesn't keep longer than a few days in the fridge, but can be frozen without losing taste.
The gardening system I am experimenting with is called "raised beds" not covered growing or some such shit. Sorry for any misunderstandings here. The idea behind it is that worms take care of the organic matter and at the same time loosen the soil. The cardboard is meant to suffocate the grass and weeds and their parts will add to the amount of organic matter. A large part of the garden destined for growing edible things is starting to take shape pretty well. No less thanks to a machine. It is a purpose designed woodshredder, not a compostshredder. It does cut up branches and such by crunching and munching them into pieces. Greens come out pretty undamaged..... I bought this piece of equipment 15 years ago and has served me very well over the years, chewing up many a big branch or small tree with stems up to 3,5cm thick. Much, if not most of the branches used to feed the shredder come from the unused april bonfire pile and are moist and do not break up easily.
Because of my job I was feeling like I was missing out on a few wonderful opportunities to be outside. The weather for one made for beautiful subjects to use our "new" camera.
But when at work I see many wonderful things nearby. The morning dew evaporating and wafting away in the morning sun. Small critters showing amazing patterns and colours. What a man seeks is often right under his nose... comes to mind.
The morningdew, caught in a spiders web, appearing like strands of pure light in the rising sun.
We are having quite a bit of issues with slugs, but when I look closer at them I can not help but marvel at them. That little speck on its side is its breathing opening and it opened and closed as I was watching it.
Itsy bitsy spider, bright white, red flashes and a icy blue egg cocoon. And tiny yet superbly detailed.
We found these two in our garden one morning, at the same time. I put them on a piece of wood and we studied them. Ever noticed the fluffy fur on a bat? Or the thin, yet strong skin of its wings? Did you ever see the sun as it shines through the wingfeathers of a bird??
I will have a moment of fame in Orland, CA!
The pastel painting Renée did of me will be on display at the Orland art center. I really hope it'll pay of for her.
And the volvo performs equally well as a mobile toolshed and as a woodcutdowntreeshrubhauler too.
I use the car regularly to keep the tools I am working with dry and in one place. Simply open the truck and toss in all the stuff I need; hammers, nails, cablereels, shovels, gardeningtools, you name it.
In the period since the last post we also lost an old friend.....
He was the partner of a dear friend of ours back in the Netherlands who had helped us a great deal in times of hardship. Too bad the contact was lost since we moved, but still the news made a vicious impact.
He was a loveable guy, always good for a laugh and with a love for life, despite his illnesses or maybe just because of them. He will have left a huge gap.... and I surely hope that I will remember his message. Enjoy.....
I also got to deal with a bit of a personal crisis the other day.
I became painfully aware that I inherited a trait from my father, that I really wish I did not have; envy.
It was a hard and bitter lesson, given the fact that I had been on the receiving end of this "quality" in my childhood years, when I experienced the full wickedness of it. And I panicked.... It took a great deal of energy to overcome it, since it is like a virus. It infests your mind, spreading through your system, multiplying....
It is a completely useless, negative emotion. Utterly (self)destructive if let reign unchecked.
If there is one emotion worse than hatred it must be this one, because it makes you hate the ones you love. Being aware of it makes it easier to deal with it. And in my case I sat down and wrote.... Wrote down everything that went on inside me. I then read it, rewrote the text, slowly eradicating every blaming, fingerpointing piece after thoroughly examining the how and why. It surely helped letting go, seeing in writing how ridiculous and unfunded some things actually were.
However this episode also brought to light a few issues that had been lurking beneath the surface for a long time. Dealing with those will be a priority.
On a completely different note;
Despite the fact that I tend to demonise social media, they do have their uses too.
That is if you see them as a tool to keep and expend real social activities, such as meeting people for the first time and meeting them face to face.
On such medium is facebook. I really do not like it, but it gives me the opportunities to do just that; getting to know people, meeting them and keeping in touch.
Through said medium I got into contact with a Swedish bushcraft group and through that group Varavild. And they are organising a meeting up at Idre, Dalarna and even if it is an almost 4hr drive I can not pass up this opportunity to go back to the roots of this very blog; bushcrafting, but also to meet people face to face for the first time. And maybe make some more new friends or at least contacts.
So what does any decent outdoorsman do? He goes preparing and checking over his stuff to see if it still is functionable and above all what to take.
At first I planned to take the shelterhalf Skaukraft gave me when he visited me, but then I recalled the experiences I had when trying to sleep outside during one summer; mosquitos! So I order a mosquito cot-net, one of those things that go over an entire singlepersonbed, at Varusteleka.
Turns out, as expected, the shelter and the net do not match. Not even close. I wonder anyway on how to use the shelter, since it offers little space. Love the green colour of it though, but it is beyond me how an army can provide its troops with a shelter that blends in well and then outlines it with shiney metal buttons!! Looks like a neonsign in the woods!
So I took my old Dutch army shelterhalf and started fiddling with the cot-net, sticks and bungees...
I worked sort of and I already have plans on how to alter it, but that will have to wait. This setup will have to do for now with a little tweaking later on possibly. Depends on the sleeping area.
The morning fogs have come already. It often felt as if autumn was in the air, even though it still was the end of july. Temperatures sometimes even dipped into the single digits and practically never reached 20C. Yet it was beautiful outside and I was often bummed out to miss it all due to my full time job.
But the weather more often than not was just hopeless. Rain and plenty of it. And it regularly came down in torrents. On a very rare occassion we'd have a spell of sunshine and then the temperature would rise and get real warm real quick... or I am not used to warm weather anymore.Which is just as likely.
This weather is good for one thing though; mosquitos!! And snails...
The mrs. lost her elderly care job. It turned out to be a total mismatch. And that was both the work and her boss. She even told off her boss and that was a first!! So they both agreed that the contract would not be extended after the initial period.
Working with the two of us meant that the kids were at home alone all day quite a few times and that was another first for us. One which we did not like at all. And they surprised us, showing us they could take care of themselves, each other and minor householdchores and take responsibility and we have learned to trust them. As a result of all this we have grown as a family.
Speaking of growing, our girls had a scoutcamp, meaning they'd be away for 5 days. That meant time to let go a bit more for this dad and in hindsight that was easier than anticipated. I even enjoyed the silence in the house...
The girls had a blast, despite the horrible weather on the first night and second day and despite a soaked sleepingbag....
During camp our little one learned to step over boundaries and her confidence has grown accordingly. At home she didn't dare to climb higher than the second branch on a tree, but there....
As the girls came home we were quite horrified. We knew they'd be tired and yes, they were... very! But they looked like they all had the measles!! They had been eaten alive! Completely covered in mosquito bites- and bumps and our little one had her right hand looking like a balloon. The result of a close encounter with biting flies. We had quite a bit of work trying to sooth the itching the following days...
Yet they had had a great time and it feels like they both did change a little.
In the meantime my wife and I allowed ourselves to indulge in a little shopping outing, meaning a morning of thrift store rummaging. Our haul was considerable, especially when one looks at the prices paid.... I found one of those large, heavy Swedish army coats. One resembling the m/1913 livspäls I had before in white. Sold that one, because it was too heavy, too cumbersome and too warm. This one is also called a livpäls, but is a more modern version, probably 1940's vintage. Less heavy, less cumbersome and and olivegreen/gray kind of color. And the price was right too!
Other than that we found a pair of wooden canoe paddles, a ton of clothes for several familymembers, a new backpack for one of our kids... Well, actually intended for our oldest daughter, since the blue backpack she had with her on her scout camp was absolutely inadequate. The new one is in the same style as my other framed backpacks, but has a hollow tube frame, thus not so heavy and a waterproof sheeting on the inside, keeping the contents dry in bad weather or while canoeing.
We also scored a heap of (kitchen) utensils and tools, like (cast iron) pans, soup dishes, a large crosscut saw and curved carving knives.
And of course some vintage books on cooking, preserving and agricultural landscapes.....
But we also had our own yardsale. Not really our own as it was a joint effort with nearly 30 participants all over the village. It was reasonably successful. Made a few bucks and we got rid of some stuff. In both cases not as much as we had hoped, though. The mrs. took care of this event and the planned gardening jobs kept me busy and away from the other sellers places.
Our garden.... well...
Our beans have become snail meals. What you see on the picture is what is left from 16 beanplants... 5 remain... sort of. The rest is a sorry collection of short stems. The 2 broccoli plants are equally damaged. I suspect that letting the grass grow to a foot in length was not a good idea, presenting numerous small snails a good refuge during the day after the night raid on our plants.
I hope to tackle this issue, as well as the weeds, by laying down a layer of wood chippings on top of a anti-root fabric.
The plantbeds; I found this system, called "täckodling" or covered growing on a facebookgroup on homesteading. This system suppresses/kills existing weeds and above all grass and replenishes and fertilises the soil at the same time. The idea behind it is that one does not dig up the soil, but adds a thick layer on top of it and let our slimy, elongated friends (a.k.a. worms) do the work for you.
The system is as follows; cut down grass and weeds as much as possible. They may ferment when buried and that may cause more damage than good. Then add a layer of newspapers or cardboard. I went for cardboard, since I am doubtful regarding the ink used in newspapers, especially the colored ones. Lay out a layer, covering every single square cm. Water it down real good so that the layer becomes homogenous. Than pile on a good layer of well rotted horse manure, about 5-10cm. On top of that goes a thick layer of compost.
In our case we could have the remaining stable manure from our neighbours after they sold their horses. The compost is actually a layer of "hay". I cut down our "lawn", which was actually a meadow. So the toplayer is not just cut grass, but a special meadowmix with grasses, weeds, flowers, nettles and whatever other plant you can find in a meadow. All this is left alone until next spring and then it is planting time!
While working in the garden I figured we had to many black currant bushes, so I decided to share some with our neighbours. It really did help in breaking the ice with one of our neighbours, one we always thought of as being distant, even a bit stuck up. So I went over, offered her the bushes and we talked a little. Later on I dug them out, set them aside and as she came over to get them we talked a bit more and she left us a jar of this year's blueberry jam. A good move on my account, I dare say...
Shoveling horsestable manure, raking the hay, feeling the (setting) sun on my skin and looking out over the lake, seeing the blue sky, filled with towering white cumulus clouds as thick as whipped cream, I could do this all day and as a matter of fact I did...
And as a bonus a thunderstorm passed us by, nearly missing us. It sent down a torrent of rain, which moved past like a grey curtain and the sun turned that curtain into a double and very vibrant rainbow.
And I felt not just very satisfied, but happy.
And as I was shovelling I found something I was quite pleased with; worms and a lot of them.
I also found this "little" guy. Could feel the hooks on its paws stinging into my skin as it crawled along...
In between rainy and cold days we occasionally have a spell of fair weather and last weekend was such a spell...
A thunderstorm building up.....
The purchase of the beaten up and ugly Volvo already paid off.
Last weekend I was able to loan a trailer, in exchange for changing the tires from winter to summer tires, and my son (yanked him from his pencils and paper and out of his bedroom) and I headed out to get some things. First on the list was a load of old double glass windows. The idea is to use those in order to build a semi greenhouse under our balcony. Due to the fact that some were damaged the original very low price got even lower. I already anticipated some damage in my calculations.
Then we moved on to the second goal, being an elderly lady, who wanted to get rid of some 200 old roof tiles. We could have them and only needed to pick them off the roof of a small cabin. Turned out the cabin was a bit bigger than the small we expected and the 200 turned out to be nearly twice as much..... But the weather was good and the tiles were in good shape, having a nice old look to them, complete with mosses and lichens..... and 5 inhabited wasp nests. Luckily they were not that big yet, so no harm done.... to us... We needed to make a second trip in order to get everything home.
When we drove home after the first load, a road the lady advised us, we came across a buzzard. A full grown, mature buzzard, which sat low in a tree, right next to the road less than 10 meters away. As we approached it, it flew up, made a turn over the road, the sun hitting it from behind and setting his feathers a blaze with shades of copper and gold. He swooped to another tree and landed on the lowest branch. When we came closer still. he lept up and flew away into the trees... A magnificent, big bird!!! And so close.....
But the highlight of the day was my son. He is turning out to be a chip of the old block; hardworking and not complaining about it. He kept going without me needing to tell him to once, carrying and stacking the tiles to and into the trailer. I stood on the roof, handing down the tiles and watched him.... 14 years... and he was wearing my old army fatigues and they fit him quite well. Damn, they grow up so fast!! He seemed to be enjoying it, actually, although he would not willingly admit it.
So now there are 2 more piles of constructional material waiting to be used; enough windows to make a glass wall. so we can make that greenhouse... well, actually a closed up porch. It will serve several purposes: one, we can sow and pre-grow plants in it. Two, we have a place to take off snowy, muddy or wet clothes and boots, before we enter the house and mess it up. Three, the sun will hit the glass panes directly in winter, warming up the area behind it, which will create a buffer, so the cold will not enter the backdoor when we open it. It might even be enough to warm up the cellar hallway a bit. And as a bonus we can sit in the sun during winter without freezing our butts off to soak up some of those very necessary D-vitamins. Total cost; 400 sek.
The tiles will be more than enough to cover the roof of the chicken/rabbit coop and the porch, with many to spare. Those might come in handy at a later date. I might even create another shed like the woodworking shed. The broken ones will be used to fill the potholes in the road.
And speaking of help.....
I had the strangest creature helping me with weeding in the garden today; a cat.... sort off...
Plus I made a new friend too! A little robin that lives in our garden. It is around whenever I am working there and I see it flitting through the trees almost daily. It approaches me closely, regularly sitting there and watching me uncovering juicy worms and delicious grubs just out of arms reach. It comes so close that I took the next picture with my cellphone, but it turned its back on that one the moment I took the picture.
But the feast actually started about 2 weeks ago. I had been eyeballing one of those polytunnel greenhouses for a while and there was a company here in Sweden selling those. I figured such a polytunnel has many advantages; it is portable, so no buildingpermits required. And since it is portable we could first sow and pre grow plants and than move it, placing it over growing beds and grow peppers, tomatoes and the like in it. At the end of the season it would be taken down and stored. A greenhouse of 8x4 meters would set us back some 6500sek.... A hefty price.... On Ebay however my onlinebargainhuntingtalent (great scrabble word!) uncovered a source in the UK selling them much cheaper. Much, much cheaper..... Same system, same principle, yet a bit smaller being 6x3 meters. But I needed to bid on it.... and I did. In the end it saved us more than 4500sek incl. shipping!!!
And because we had built our greenhouse we received a gift in the form of plants from Esbjörn, the man who helped us a lot last year. We received a lot of plants, both decorative and useful. From my father in law we received a good number of beans and some cabbages and all of these goodies found a place in our garden.
In the meantime I was also able to get my hands on an old frame used to hang swings from. Someone wanted to get rid of it and I could have it if I came over and took it down myself. I figured it might make a great frame for our beans to climb onto. So I drove to the given address and found myself facing a homemade swing; almost 3 meters high, at least as deep and 4 meters wide... made out of old fashioned, decent quality scaffolding tubes! The owner's father had picked it up somewhere, she had been swinging from it, her kids had and now they had outgrown it... And virtually no rust!!! I guess my grandchildren might be able to use it too some day!
Now the beans are starting to grow into it. It is big enough to be placed over 2 beds simultaneously and when rotated we can simply walk though it and pick what we need.
But the cheapfeast was not quite complete yet. From work I was allowed to bring home stacks of plastic sowing boards and pots. Leftovers from our planting period. All I need to do is clean them and they are ready for use again. With any luck they will serve us quite a while, having plenty of spares. And it means less waste to begin with.
All this outbalances the large expanses we had previously and it again means that someone else's waste will be put to good use again.....
The mind is numb. Skull is empty. It is hard to come up with cohesive thoughts.
So this post is mostly a mix of several incidents and brainfarts I had over the past few weeks.. And since there is little of significance to tell I'll make up for that with pictures...
It is high summer out there now. The weather turned quite dramatically and abruptly; 30 degrees C, windy and dry and within a matter of days we have been issued with the highest alert level for forest fires, despite the copious amounts of rain we had. The lakes are full and the soil still seems moist, but everything above ground is bone dry.
But before we received the alert we did the right thing during good weather spells...
And of course we go swimming in the lakes, but only once for me up to now. We also introduced Rex to motion in large open waters a.k.a. swimming. After getting used to water around his feet and up to his chest he had his first lesson and he jumped in head over heels. Just lept off the peer into the water.... And that scared the living bejesus out of him! We couldn't get him in afterwards anymore!
....And as I am writing here I got word that my youngest daughter just swam her first few meters in the lake without any kind of aid!! Yes!! Finally!!
one like this...
Of course she does that while I am not there.....
It is high summer... and I bought a snow shovel for the wintercarkit.
It is one of those Swedish army folding shovels with add-on snowblade. These are sturdy, will not brake when digging out ones car like plastic ones and above all this one was cheap as a set.
While unpacking it I noticed it was thickly covered in gungrease, which needed to be wiped off, leaving just a thin film. And while I was doing that the smell of the grease triggered memories... Memories of my own time in the military, but above all of the visits to the armor and military museums I went to over the years... Good memories....
the second bee I saw at work
My current job. I guess it beats the average job, being outside all the time, but it is a bit dull and unchallenging (and unproductive, senseless even) and I sometimes feel that I could use the time better. But we have been given an economic breather. A test of sorts. Will we keep on growing in the direction we are supposed to/want to or will we fall back into the trap of the modern easy way of living. It feels like we have reached the same point like we had before the move; working for someone else, get paid and then spend that to live. Or enlarge the library at home... :)
Don't like working full time. It costs way to much free time. And in a way it feels like I am wasting time. Time I should be spending elsewhere or in another way. But it does provide us with an income with which we can do things. If I have time, I have no cash and now that I have a little cash I find myself wanting more time.... And that is all quite frustrating. There's so much to be done, yet so little time to do it in. Besides my fulltime job (40 h/w) my wife works almost as much on average and for some reason my job leaves me pretty much dead in the water during evenings and weekends. When I get home it is very hard to keep going. It is after all my first fulltime job in 14 years and I am not used to it, but there is something else too... Maybe there is something to that rythm that leaves me, and maybe many others, with little energy after work. And I wonder why that is? Is it really the workdayroutine? Are we conditioned to work, watch tv and spending? Or is it much more basic and mondane; the lack of satisfaction from said job? Can't remember having this feeling when harvesting, but that period was a lot shorter.
Another thought occurred to me; maybe we don't really have homesteadingblood? Maybe that doesn't come naturally and has to be learned or inbred? All I know is that we lack the discipline, the drive or the will to fully commit to that... yet. Some are further in it than others and it sometimes feels like we are still more clinging to or are used to the previously mentioned modern workdayroutine than we care to admit.
Whatever the reason (lack of time, energy or will) I find the lack of progress highly frustrating and it looks like all of our livestock keeping plans will have to be put on hold for another year. I really hope to have all the infrastructure ready by next season, both for animals and plants!!
Besides that one whole paycheck merely evaporated.... We spent a lot of cash at the dentist. Among things, my big mouth is getting fixed. It has been 2 years, but I'd much rather spend my money on something else, honestly.
We also got Rex neutered, taking another big chunk out of said check, but as far as we can tell to good effect. He is easier to deal with, that much is true and I am sure that if we can get him socialised with other dogs, we'll end up with one very pleasant dog to deal with for everyone involved!
So we signed up for a training programme covering basic obedience and social training. That will be sometime during autumn, which probably will teach us as much as it will Rex. Plus we can work on our network and social skills as well. The we here will most likely be me...
Speaking of social (and old fashioned) skills.... The charcoalkiln has been built again! A good way to spend time in the woods, talk to folks and work on old fashioned skills too. I now got to witness the whole buildup progress from the beginning, making the picture complete. Now I just need to find a hole in my schedule to assist in talking turns watching it, when it smoulders. That will be during my last 2 working weeks at the churchyard, after which the transition to harvesting will occur... hopefully.
Either way there still is (very) little progress. I bought a polytunnel greenhouse which should arrive any day now and we finally were able to put up a drying stand. No need for a tumble dryer during fair weather and we were in for a bit of a surprise actually...
I also did see someone, who is keeping bees in order to learn some more about that.... and to just spend time being near bees and a hive.... because that is kind of addictive I noticed. Said gentleman is the proud owner of a so called top bar hive and that principle interested me greatly. Especially since I learned that people as far north as Canada or Lapland are using this type of hive! The main benefit? No lifting! Even a person less fit or in a wheelchair could keep bees this way! Be that as it may it turned out to be a most satisfying and educating afternoon. We were standing besides the open hive, working with the bees without protection. He even in slippers, shorts and a tshirt. Until the bees, for some reason, started to get agitated and we put on some protection. Just for safe measure. They seemed to be targeting him mostly. I also learned, much to my liking, that they kept chickens (the breed we want to keep), grew some of their own food and experimented with the same type of growing I want to get into; raised plantbeds. Plus they had the roof full of solarcells, so I learned a lot about the pros and cons of that as well!
Learning about these top bar hives also made me postpone the purchase of bees. I will go for this type of beekeeping and need to build some hives first. Besides that it gives me the time to get beepopulations in time, so they will have the proper time to grow and prepare for winter.
There is much weeding to be done and not just at work. While I was busy relieving the iris flowerbed from overgrowing grasses it occurred to me that we do have a shortage of compost. And that this grass would end up there in order to create more compost for the growing beds. So in effect I was not weeding, but harvesting compost(material). Sounds a lot better. And makes it less of a drag to do!
The warm weather also does make for good reading weather, sitting in the backyard in the shade of the tree crowns. As I sat there I felt a mosquito sting me and I rejected the urge to swat it. Instead I watched it, seeing it probe its sucking mouthpart into my lower leg, lifting it out partially again, only to thrust it in even deeper, all the way up to the head. I just watched it, seeing its abdomen swell and turn bright red with blood until it had its fill, removed the mouthpart, cleaned it and lumbered off.... A thought occurred to me; now it, like the other mosquitoes that fed on me before it, is going off to lay eggs and those eggs will hatch, the larvae will grow into new mosquitos, if they are not being eaten beforehand by fish and other predators, and those mosquitos will become food too for birds and the like.... A very small part of me, that single drop of blood, will become a part of the cycle of life. It might feed a local fish or fly off with one of the swallows, dashing through the air here right now.