Autumn Ritual

My county has an Autumn ritual, performed every September. It’s not one that I like but they don’t consult me. It’s called “The Cutting of the Ditch Grass.” It’s sad to see it happen and I’ll tell you why. (Of course I’ll tell you why, it’s why you read this stuff.) The ditches on my side of the county road are wide, some 30 feet in places. They grow wild all summer long. Lots of different kinds of wild flowers grow there. There is a cattail marsh that grows there too. It makes great places for animals to hide, and nest and raise their young. Birds, rabbits, moles and mice call it home. There are few wild places south of the Twin Cities. Most of this part of the state has been managed and manicured by people. Mowed lawns, farm fields, roads, and towns take up most of the space. The western side of the state has wild prairies, and northern Minnesota has forests. We have farms and towns.

I need to mention of course that we have many wonderful state parks here, Nerstrand Big Woods not the least of them. But even state parks are “managed.” And you have to go there to see some wild land. Now people may not think of a ditch as “wild land” but I do. I see it every day, and there is always something new to look at. I watch the flowers develop, I see the cattails getting bigger every time we (Sophie) and I walk by. We don’t go down into the ditch, we just look at it. Going into it disturbs whats there, and I don’t want to do that. I think it’s better to stay out than to tromp all over it. So anyway, the county cuts the grass in September to get the ditches ready for winter. You’ve got to have somewhere to plow all that snow into, and I understand that. I’ve been driving Minnesota roads all my life and I know what it means to have a nicely plowed road. It’s just sad to see it go.

Also, when the grass is cut, the cats have nowhere to hide. Sophie hates cats. My previous dog, Kiana, a reddish Chow Chow, hated the UPS man. She even hated his truck. Sophie hates cats. But dogs have funny eye sight. She can walk past a cat no more than 10 feet away and if it doesn’t move, she wont see it camouflaged in the grass. But let it blink it’s eyes and she zeros in on it like an arrow to it’s target. And she will let nothing stop her from getting it, least of all dragging a 190 pound man behind her. So the cats have to be wary when were out and they are. They watch us coming and slip into the corn field. At least until that’s gone. Then they’ll just have to run for their lives.

Well it’s happened, the ditches are cut. I’m glad I was at work when they did it. The days are shorter now and the grasses are starting to die. Sometime around November (hopefully) we will get snow. I like winter because of it’s beauty and because it’s not hot and humid. You can dress warm and if you stay active, you can stay out a long while. And Sophie really loves winter. She jumps and leaps through snow banks with a wild look in her eyes and her tongue flopping all over. It’s great to see. She can lay on top of a snow bank for hours and not be cold. So here’s to the end of summer, fall has begun in earnest, and winter’s not far behind. Woo, Hoo!

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