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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home Sweet Home in the Valley…

A dandy field

The Valley is four pounds heavier today. No need for a crash diet though, no trimming of portions, or counting those calories. The weight gain? Four pounds of California honeybees. In the previous post I mentioned the package of bees I brought home the other day for services rendered at the Beez Neez on package bee day. It’s time to hustle the little ladies into their new home. The longer they’re incarcerated, the deeper the pile of little bee corpses on the bottom of the wooden cage.

Earlier in the week I prepared their new home. Today it’s time to install them. A hum of impatience from the cage tells me they’re more than anxious to set up housekeeping. New HomeI set aside the lid from the empty box and remove four wooden frames to make room for the four pound ball. The syrup can, heavy with sugar water, slides out easily when I invert the box. I twist the can slowly outwards to avoid mashing the hundreds of bees clinging to it and rest the cage gently on its side while I wriggle the smaller queen cage out of the slot on top of the cageHer majesty's cage. Her little cell is swaddled in attendant bees entranced by the queen’s locator pheromone. These hangers on I shake off and then tuck the cage in my shirt pocket to keep the solitary bee warm while I install her court. 


Attendant bees

The bees immediately begin to exit the cage, crawl down the frames to survey their new surroundings. It’s a cool afternoon and they have clustered tightly for warmth. I’ll neeSyrup can removedd to hasten their exodus. A forceful knock on each side with the heels of my hands dislodges them in clumps to the floor of the cage. Then I rock the box back and forth and tumble them out the opening and into the hive.


In they go

In this manner I empty the cage as best I can and prepare to install their leader, that regal bee upon which so much depends for the colony’s survival.shaken out

Three days ago these bees had different queens and were accustomed to them and their unique royal scent. At this point they are unfamiliar with this queen pretender, might take her for a stranger, an intruder, and in allegiance to their recent queen, very likely kill her. For this reason she is caged for her own protection until her new court no longer considers her a usurper. To extend this introduction period another twelve to twenty-four hours, I use a neat little trick Jim taught me four years ago—the mini-marshmallow procedure. Her MajestyThe queen is kept prisoner in her cage by a small slice of cork inserted in the exit hole. I carefully remove this plug with the tip of my jackknife and to prevent her escape, I swiftly cover the hole with my left thumb. This little maneuver is crucial, for if the queen escapes, the entire operation is doomed. She will fly off to parts unknown and die, and the hive in turn will soon die without her. I always make sure she is on the move upwards before I unplug the cage. Then I quickly plug the hole with a mini-marshmallow. By the time the workers chew this sweet morsel away, they will be ready to greet and accept her highness. (Note the white locator dot on the queen’s thorax.)Her majesty joinsI replace the frames I set aside earlier and insert the marshmallowed cage in the center of the cluster, making sure the attendants can access her through the wire mesh of her cage. I replace the lid snugly. My part in all this is done for the moment. Now it’s “Home Sweet Home”for them. I’ll continue to feed the newly installed bees with sugar syrup until the weather improves and the maple blooms. This readily available nectar source will not only promote colony strength but encourage the workers to accept their new leader.

The next day I pull the cage, check for the queen. The marshmallow is gone. The cage is empty. There’s no need to look for her majesty. I know she is there in the dark somewhere, surrounded by the clustering warmth of her thousands of subjects. The pomp and ceremony of her coronation is over. I’ll not disturb her while she gets on with the business of populating her realm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Buzzz Comes to the Valley…

Beez Kneez

About this time every April the Beez Neez Apiary Supply on Maple Street in Snohomish is hummin’—or buzzin’—with activity. This day honeybee enthusiasts from all over the state swarm to Jim Tunnell’s modest little shop. They cross the passes from Eastern Washington: East Wenatchee, Malaga, Ellensburg, Stehekin. They board ferries in the San Juans and head for the mainland. They come to Snohomish from Seattle, Darrington, and Renton. Most have waited anxiously for a half year. Some even longer. And today their wait is over. The bees have arrived. It’s package day pickup at the Beez Neez.Jim, the head droneThis past Tuesday morning in some big apiary outyard in Redding, California, thousands upon thousands of honeybees were shaken from their hives, funneled into screened wooden cages, and packaged up in stringers of five. Owner Jim with helper Quinton riding shotgun make a whirlwind trip with van and trailer to chaperone five hundred packages north back to Snohomish. It’s a perishable, precious cargo they have on board, so the trip home is non-stop. At 3:00 a.m. Jim and Quinton and their golden horde arrive back at the staging area in Snohomish. They snatch a few brief moments of shuteye and then the work begins: distributing five hundred packages to their eager new owners.

It is a hectic scene at the Beez Kneez on package day, and for the last three seasons I have volunteered my services. It’s work I enjoy. Once a year I get to meet interesting folks who share my love of bees. As I help distribute the packages and check off the names of those who have pre-paid for their purchases, I have a chance to talk about bees, offer advice, (gratis, of course—all it’s worth), and share my successes and failures with beginners and experienced beekeepers alike who are picking up their bees. It pleases me no end to see so many people interested in bees these days, for beekeeping is an imperiled business, and these are folks who have a passion for bees and will do whatever it takes to sustain their colonies and advocate for the industry.

What these enthusiasts have purchased with their cash or plastic is a packaged unit of worker honeybees. Buyers have their choice of three pound packages or the larger four pound. A three pound packageA pound of insects amounts to approximately 3,500 little honey gatherers. Each package contains a newly mated queen bee (marked with a white dot for those who wish to locate her in the hive) enclosed in her own cozy royal cage where she is nourished by several thousand ladies-in-waiting. A can of sugar syrup rides along in the cage with the bees—a snack for the road, you might say. The packages are lathed and stapled together in stringers of five. All a'buzzThe stringers are offloaded in a staging area some distance from the distributing site where each cage is vacuumed free of any “hitchhiker” bees that may have stowed away on the outside of the packages during the hubbub of packaging. This cleansing is done in the spirit of neighborliness as the packages are distributed in a residential area. (Quinton tells me the “Mr. Rooter” plumbing business next door lays low for the duration of package days.)

My job is to help unload the stringers from the van as Quinton delivers them. We separate the stringers into stacks of three pounders and four pounders. Next I pry loose the lathes from each package, break them apart into individual units. Most of the purchases are single cage transactions. Between deliveries I do my best to keep the reception line moving: a three pounder for this customer, a four for that. Some have ordered two or three packages. Once in a while an experienced beekeeper will haul off two or three stringers at a time. There are five hundred total and most go out the door the first day. Two or three times the line stretches to the street, but everyone is patient. They exchange stories and bee experiences while they wait, even make new friends, wish each other luck.4 pound line

Even though the pressure is on, I do my best to answer all the questions I can. Whenever possible, I hand a customer a two-page “how-to” handout in hopes this information will be sufficient. Time and again I explain and demonstrate the process of transferring the caged bees and queen to their new home.

For many, this package is their first. They have read books, watched videos, attended classes, but when you hand them that package and they see real bees—their bees—up close and personal, they react in a variety of ways.  Some would rather have me deliver the cages to their vehicles and request I brush off any “freeloaders.” (Cell phone discussions and  texting are minor distractions compared to having a frantic bee bouncing from one cheek to the other and off your nose while you’re driving the freeway speed limit.) Others reach for their packages tentatively, hold them at arm’s length, and gingerly carry them off. For most, it’s just pure excitement. Ahhh, the smell of packaged bees in the morning!

There are four of us on the job this year. Jim’s daughter Rachel has journeyed north from Portland to help Dad manage the day’s frenzy. Rachel works the counter and register and bustles about collecting the supplies at customers’ request.Service with a smile She is an experienced hand at this end of the operation and handles each transaction with patience and a cheerful smile. Quinton delivers load after load in the van. Jim rushes back and forth: in the office one minute, helping me on the distribution line the next. He, too, gQuinton unloadsives advice, answers questions, and demonstrates techniques. And I lift and break apart stringers, offer suggestions, hand out package after package, and make countless trips to vehicles.

It pleases me to see so many parents and children in the line. Some are here to help their child become a beekeeper, a family project.Beefriended Others bring the kiddos for the experience of seeing so many bees in one place while they wait to pick up their packages. I find a hanger-on drone and seize the opportunity to introduce this stingless male to a young gentleman standing at his mother’s side.Once a teacher, always a teacher. Once a bee advocate, never miss a chance to praise and promote the honeybee.

A  mom has brought her three kiddos to the Beez Neez for the complete bee experience. li'l sweet beeShe chats with Rachel while the kids poke about in awe of the honey and beeswax displays, staring at the strange beekeeping paraphernalia. Rachel breaks out the honey sticks, plastic tubes filled with pure honey, and passes them out to the younger set: a sweet enticement to promote the bee bizz. Outside they go where Rachel shows the onlookers how to feed a honeybee with a honey stick.

Tasting the product

The kiddos suck their sticks and watch as the little bee laps up the sticky stuff from another sweet tube. I call the older two over and have them look down the screened face of one of the three pound cages. “Bee tonguesSee, they’re sticking their tongues out at you,” I tease. And sure enough, hundreds of little tongues wiggled at them through the wire mesh.

It was nearly 7:00 p.m. when I left Jim and Quinton to fend for themselves. Nearly four hundred packages had left the premises by then. My forehead was a bit swollen where one of the gadabout ladies sat down pretty hard just north of my left eyebrow. And I was tired: lifting and walking, toting and talking since 10:00 that morning, too busy for lunch. But it was the kind of tired you don’t mind feeling. A satisfied kind of tired. And as if that satisfaction weren’t payment enough, I received an additional four pounds for my services—not in English sterling—but in bees! With an impressive four pound package riding shotgun beside me, we head to their new home back in the Valley. I’m afraid these little gals from the sunny climes of California are in for a chilly awakening, though. As one recipient of a hefty three pound package said of our spring to date: “If you want sun block, come to Seattle!”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Silencing the Valley…

snow pac, no lack

Sometimes you just want a little peace and quiet, especially if you live on a state highway as we have for nearly thirty-six years. Rock trucks, log trucks, hay trucks blast by the house or compression brake out front like rolling thunder. On a sunny day, SR 203  rumbles with Harleys as if it were the off ramp to Sturgis. Garish “crotch rockets” (“crotchetts,” I call them) whine by like incoming V2 missiles. 

And so I saddle up Gladys and head for the quiet of the Valley where a thought or musing can germinate, spread its roots, wander around like a footloose weed. Sure, an extemporaneous rowdy bark from a Deck or Van Hulle dog might pop your thought balloon but these interruptions are rare. So you cruise along blissfully thinking about which and whatever. Suddenly a volley of gunfire hiccups scattershot, ricochets off your quiet spot, echoes across the Valley, bounces off the High Rock ridges: the firing range across the Sky has exploded into life. Those who serve and protect us law abiding citizens are out shooting bullets again, training to serve and protect…and preserve the peace?

Sometimes the percussion is a deliberate pop, pop, pop: pistol fire. Other occasions there is the rapid fire report of semi-automatic weapons. Once in a while, however, I believe there’s an anti-aircraft gun placement tuning up. Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! I suppose all this firearms activity should make me feel a bit safer: cold iron and gunpowder lovingly watching over me. Serving and protecting, I think. But, you know, I find the thought of so much firepower just across the river a little disturbing. I’ve sorted through this uneasiness a bit, too. I’m not afraid of being toppled off Gladys by a stray bullet or anything like that. I’m sure those servers and protectors in training have a good backdrop, bank, or berm to stop that hail of lead. I certainly hope so! I’m not too sure about the anti-aircraft ordnance, but that’s up in the air, right?

I guess it’s that the cross river weapons activity “purports”: is intended to be for the service and protection of the citizenry; it’s not for fancy shootin’ or showy gun totin’ these shooters are training for. No shoot the tin can out of the air or the neck off a bottle marksmanship, no fast-draw-twirl-the-revolver stuff. It’s the law, training to shoot at human flesh, aim for body mass, down the bad guy in a spittle of lead.

We have a friend who used to belong to the City of Everett police force. One day I saw him at the Twin Rivers Chevron at the end of town and asked him what he was up to. He grinned and exclaimed, “I’m going to shoot bullets!” His response, it seemed to me, was more boyish glee than anything, just a tad bit too enthusiastic for a professional on his way to a training session. Perhaps it’s the spate of police-involved shootings of late that’s caused me to stray from noise pollution to more lethal stuff…certainly not the intent of this post to denigrate or criticize those who serve and protect. So straight as a shot, back to the noise issue.April morning

Governor Gregoire, a politician herself quick on the draw with pen and ink and along with carpel tunnel syndrome recently added one more bill to her gubernatorial legacy: legislation making it now legal for gun owners to purchase and use gun silencers. Prior to the Governor’s autograph, you could purchase a railcar full of silencers but couldn’t legally attach one to a firearm (as is the case with body gripping mole traps: you can buy a gross but better not insert one in a mole run). Owners of gun ranges say the new legislation is good news for their clients and will lessen the chances of hearing loss. Also, the folks in the vicinity of these establishments will welcome a quieter neighborhood, as well.

I’ve never been to a shooting range before and what I’ve seen of such a facility comes mostly from t.v. cop shows. But in all those instances the shooters are wearing ear protection of some sort: ear plugs or those bulky ear muff appliances that deaden sound. New legislation aside, I have my doubts that silence, my old friend, will settle on the Valley from the direction of the war zone across the river. After all, isn’t part of the thrill of pulling the trigger the simultaneous explosion and recoil? Don’t be mislead: the real holiday for the male of the species isn’t Father’s Day; it’s the 4th of July. Gunpowder and testosterone, a formula created especially for the Y chromosome!

Unless I want to muffle the pleasant Valley sounds, I guess I’ll just have to contend with the noise pollution caused by the cross river pyrotechnics (including the daily startle that is the Cadman concussion at High Noon). But then again if I’d been wearing “quiet” headgear, I’d have been spared the insult flung at Gladys and me the other day from Steve, our Valley’s diminutive mailman. The little blue Taurus eased along side just long enough for Steve to hurl the following gibe: “Can’t you get a horse to pull that thing!” Down Valley

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Deferred in the Valley…Again…

A…blossom is wilderness enough if you’re a bee.

Charles KuraltBumble bee brrr

The bumblebee has clung to the stamen of this daffodil for nearly a week now. The bee has braved some extreme weather the past few days; howling winds and a barrage of hail have failed to dislodge it from its perch. The bee’s wing muscles are paralyzed by cold in the manner of all cold-blooded insects; an ambient temperature of 60 degrees will be needed to loosen those muscles, put the hum back in her flight. Her? Yes, this bee is a “she bee,” a “queen.” She has wintered over under a scab of bark somewhere, or in some hole below the frost line, maybe burrowed into someone’s woodpile. There is much at stake for her majesty; she is a mated queen, the savior of her species. If she does not survive, there will be one less colony of her kind this summer, fifty or sixty fewer droning little pollination units to service the blossoming Valley berry fields.

Bumblebees belong to the genus bombus. I thumb through my pocket Collins Latin-English/English-Latin dictionary and discover “bombus” means “booming, humming, buzzing.” Bombus…an apt alliterative word for the bustling bumbler. Or is it onomatopoeic…buzzing? In May when the big rhodie on the south side of the house is in full bloom, the entire canopy thrums with bumblebee activity, like the sound of distant rush hour traffic. You can almost feel the earth around the bush vibrate.

Back in the days of yore when I was a tyke and lived at 16 Wilson Street in Wenatchee, our front yard was shaded by a large honey locust. In late May the locust would blossom forth creamy-white flower pendants oozing with irresistible nectar. Bumblebees as large as hummingbirds (everything is magnified when you’re a child), furry and black with yellow bands, would plunder the sugar pockets of the pea-flowered blossoms. It seemed the tree trembled beneath their weight. Fresh from the classroom, released to summer, we were prone to mischief, full of daring. Thus began the early summer bumblebee wars. Out came the garden hose. Screw on the nozzle. Adjust to fine stream, aim and blast the burly intruders out of the tree to a barefoot trouncing on the lawn. So much meanness in ones so young! One misstep with the heel or ball of your foot and you’d be speared in the tender arch of your instep. And become the hero of the neighborhood.

Across the alley from the locust tree was a wooden fence guarded by hollyhock towers. Bumblers would visit the bell-shaped flowers, bury their heads deep in the pollen of the flower’s navel. While the bee was thus occupied, we would grasp the rim of the flower, squeeze it shut, and trap the busy bee in a petal prison. Slowly, slowly, we’d slide our hand down the length of the flower until the bee buzzed angrily, “Hey, what’s going on here” and hum its wrath until we freed it. Off it would rocket, muttering obscenities, no doubt. Oh, what a vexation we were to those poor “humble”bees!

It seems to me this poor narcoleptic bee is the exact metaphor for our spring deferred. It was 34 degrees this morning and a frigid fog clutched the Valley. I couldn’t see the back of our property from the house. A good thing her majesty was huddled up in the petals of the flower; she would have been grounded anyway: zero visibility. I know I could come to her rescue, pluck her from her clinging perch and bring her inside. Set her on the windowsill beside the woodstove and inside of five minutes she would be butting her head against the windows seeking escape. Cruel that would be: a false spring, a woodstove spring. A pox on Mother Nature for treating royalty this rudely. But then she’s a cold, unfeeling Mother isn’t she! Regina maxima supreme. Does any yellow heat, I wonder, radiate from that flower’s core? Warm her majesty, if ever so slightly? This must be so: why else would she have clung all these days to her floral trumpet?

The temperature this first day after forty-one consecutive days with less than 30% cloud cover is 60.4 degrees at 6:00 p.m. I stroll out on the deck, cross to the daffodil pot to see if the queen is holding court. Her golden host, the daffodil, stands lonely. The queen is gone, spread her wings, flown away to survey her realm. I wish her a long, successful reign. May she and next season’s heirs rule the summer in their kingdom of blossoms. Ahhhh…spring!Bee gone

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Potato Famine Comes to the Valley…

The Valley in April

An unusual amount of traffic passed me in the Valley last weekend, heavy traffic--even for a Saturday. Most of it pickup trucks; most of them heading down valley. And then I remembered the occasion that had  turned the Upper Loop Road this morning into a thoroughfare: the auction at Alden Farms.

Farm auctions, I’m afraid, are a sign of the times, have been for several years. Auctioning off farm equipment is certainly nothing new to the Valley, but regardless, each event gives one pause. All that machinery that for years dutifully performed on command; machinery one labored over to keep maintained and operating; machinery one knew well enough, perhaps, to name: a faithful old friend. It has to be hard to say good-bye to equipment woven into the fabric of one’s life for so many years. Perhaps that’s why most farms have equipment cemeteries, machines whose days have run out or their services, for whatever reason, are no longer required. They are put out to pasture—rusted memories—until they become part of the pasture, until the pasture swallows them up….Auction date And what does one do when the plow is gone? The cultivator? The mower sold off, as well as the tractor that pulled it? Just two days before the auction block was set, I saw Jan Alden in her driveway and stopped to ask her that question. They had tried, Jan told me–she and Peter--to make a go of potato farming  (See Oct. 12 post “What Do You Call Potatoes in the Valley?…”), but the long hours, hard work—and the ever diminishing returns—had taken their toll. “It’s just not worth it anymore,” Jan lamented, at the same time reprimanding her burly Chesapeake for trying to rest his ample wooly head in my lap while I was standing: “You know…there comes a time when you realize it’s just not working for you anymore. We’re not nearly old enough to retire, but we can’t go on like this. We’re just plain worn out.” The past summer’s abysmal growing season yielded but a spare, wormy crop--the last straw--and with this crop failure the Aldens started packing.Selling off I remember years ago seeing specialty potatoes (fingerlings, I think they were) from Alden Farms on sale at the Totem Lake Larry’s Market. The Aldens have outlasted the defunct Larry’s by a decade at least.

So the auction block it is for the Aldens’ equipment. And then Jan and Peter will put their stately Victorian home up for sale. The Aldens are moving to Florida, I learned. And they don’t plan to farm there either. Rather, they intend to rent…bicycles, that is. Jan and Peter have purchased two bicycle rental shops and hope to make their livelihood providing two-wheeled rentals to tourists and locals. They hope to make the move by early May.

Jan told me she and Peter used to be avid cyclists; in fact, cycling was how they met. Just the past summer they had taken up the sport again, bought new bikes, and when work allowed, cycled in the Valley. (Considering Jan’s interest in bicycles, I’m curious why she takes no notice of my classic ride, Gladys. Perhaps she’s distracted by her big dog’s aggressive attempts to cuddle me up.) One more friendly wave soon gone from the Valley. I’ll miss those waves and the big brown diesel pickup growling past: Peter, to and from town; Peter, to and from his potato fields.

I recall attending a Monroe Library function commemorating some significant anniversary of that great American writer John Steinbeck. Peter was one of the speakers (as was a professor from my Masters’ committee, coincidentally,) and echoing Steinbeck in his novel Grapes of Wrath, Peter championed migrant workers and their contribution to local agriculture. After the Q & A session, I approached him, introduced myself as “that guy you see walking out in the Valley all the time.” I should have asked Peter if he was somehow related to John Alden, he of Pilgrim and Mayflower fame, husband to Priscilla. After all, Peter came to the Valley on a pilgrimage of sorts, a potato pilgrimage.

Last summer Peter was fussing with some machinery by his Quonset hut. Gladys and I stopped to visit a while. I asked him about the Sky River Driving Range and its earlier life as a Cambodian flower field. Golf lawn “It was a way to make a little more revenue to help tide us over between crops,” said Peter. “Using the land for recreational purposes brought in three times as much money as leasing it to the Cambodians to grow their flowers.”

Gladys and I pedaled past Alden Farms the day after the auction. Most of the machinery was gone. The place looked bare, almost naked in fact. Someone was loading purchases into his pickup. He waved; I waved back. I wish the Aldens good luck as they move from flood plain to hurricane zone. Given the depressed real estate market, I hope they’ll be able to sell their place and come out ahead. A fresh coat of paint on the old Victorian might help some.P. Alden's VictorianAnd the driving range? What’s to become of that, I wonder? You know, I’ve always thought that green, manicured golf lawn would make an excellent movie set. After all, there’s certainly precedent for movie making in the Valley: Ed’s barn starred in a film and Darigold shot several commercials in the sunroom porch of his house. Another Valley movie? Yeah, why not? I’ve in mind a Caddyshack III. And there are plenty of Valley moles for walk-ons. Swing away

Friday, April 1, 2011

How Green is My Valley?…

Just plum pink

Eight years ago this June I had surgery to save the vision in my right eye. Without the surgery, the doctor told me, I most certainly would lose the sight in that eye. I’ll spare any further details except, I’m happy to relate, thanks to my wonderful surgeon I still have vision in both eyes. But given my past ocular issues—genetic, in part, I was told—I’m constantly monitoring the vision in my right eye: thus my preoccupation with searching the roadsides for four-leaf clovers. I figure as long as I continue to find four leafers among the myriads of their three-leaf cousins, my visual acuity is not--at least at present--in jeopardy. And besides, I might find a coin or two like the dime I mentioned in a couple posts back.

So today I’m tramping out in the drizzle, eyes downcast, scouring the roadside clover patches for spring good luck. Keeping my gaze earthward, by the way, also keeps the heavy mist off my glasses. But you do run the risk of missing out on whatever more exciting Valley news might be taking place beyond your limited field of vision.

I’m on the homeward leg of my walk when I notice a red tab sticking out of the muddy cornfield by the road sign that warns “sharp right turn ahead.” Last summer at the base of the signpost and behind it, someone had placed a geo-caching box. Whenever I passed the post, I always checked to see if the small plastic container was still there. Perhaps that’s why the red tab caught my attention.Valley litter “Something leftover from the geo-cache box,” I thought. Also, Werkhovens had recently injected that part of the field with manure pond effluence. Those spouting rakes, perhaps, had drug whatever it was to the surface?

I yanked on the red tab and pulled a plastic zip-loc bag from the mud. “Litter,” I thought, “centuries it will take for this bag to bio-degrade. Well, I’ll be a good citizen, take the bag along with me, and dispose of it properly—a little spring cleaning in the Valley.”

I examine the bag and discover it’s not empty. That flash of red has led me to a roll of green! Now this is something! My environmentally-sensitive friend Nancy L once found a five-spot roadside just south of Swiss Hall. Looks like I’ve one-upped her many times over!Money bag At this point my pulse is racing. I remember two or three years ago the Monroe branch of Key Bank was robbed. Some of the money was never recovered. The getaway car was an SUV stolen from one of the bank tellers. The next day the vehicle was found abandoned on the Lower Loop Road. Is this roll of bills part of the stolen loot? Or is it drug-related? Someone’s business profits from peddlin’ another type of green, ditched in a hurry to avoid the law? Lately I’ve noticed some tagging in the Valley (tagging?? In our Valley??). Gang activity. Drug activity. Aren’t they one and the same?Valley tagging







I slide the red tab, open the mud-soiled bag, and retrieve a bundle of cash. The top bill is a twenty, I notice. The drizzle has turned to rain, so I hurry home to examine my find under drier conditions.

Back at the house I discover my new found green is ever so much better than a four-leaf clover or a fistful of ‘em! One at a time I peel off the bills and lay them out on the cleanly wiped zip-loc bag: first, five 20s and two 50s and then I slap down the inner skins…one, two, three, four…a total of thirteen Ben Franklins!  Who says daily exercise is a waste of time!Valley Loot But nothing is ever simple, is it? “Finders, keepers,” I think. Then there’s the thing with the bank, that lost money…. My discovery? Not quite the same as finding one thin dime by the side of the road. And I believe I’ve mentioned my good citizenship somewhere in this post. I suppose the right thing to do is to call the authorities, the County Sheriffs’ Department or the Monroe Police. Hummm…yet again, it’s April--the fifteenth is coming up and there are property taxes at the end of the month, too,… I’m inclined to do the right thing, though. But I’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow will be soon enough. Tomorrow I’ll call….