SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

December 23, 2011

'On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...'

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... "

Green aphids in an orange tree.

The thought was nice, to be sure. I had mentioned adding an orange tree to my hot, sunny window. But if the truth were known, my true love can't tell the difference between an aphid and a grasshopper.

Nevertheless, you'd think he'd have the sense to buy a bug-free plant! Aphids are such a pain to get rid of, and they do spread so fast in a warm house. So I guess I'll have to quarantine the tree, then spray with Neem oil.

On the second, third, and fourth days ...

UPS drove up and there was this major gift delivery: two turtle doves, followed by three calling birds and four French hens. Actually, I didn't know the exact species until I did some research. This took some work. The first two birds turned out to be common park pigeons, not turtle doves. I know because I looked them all up in my Fielding's Guide to North American Birds. Fielding calls them rock doves or park pigeons, but I like the name turtle dove better for gift birds.

But let me tell you, the next two birds took a little detective work. A call to the Audubon Society positively identified the French hens and the calling birds. All I had to do was dial 617-257-9506, ext. 7741, and a very nice lady just asked me for a description of the weird birds that had been delivered. And can you imagine? She had them identified in a minute! But there is still some question as to whether the French hen just might be a large grackle in winter plumage.

Five golden rings ...

One golden ring would have been lovely and quite sufficient, but five? That might be considered excessive. Gold rings are very nice, don't get me wrong, but maybe just a teensy bit frivolous for a lady whose hands are in dirt every day.

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