Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vole in the compost!

I have to admit, when the furry little creature's back appeared scurrying through a tunnel I had uncovered in the compost, I squealed.

The husband is replacing fence posts, and one that needs replacing happens to be behind the newer compost bin I put in the garden last fall, necessitating a move.  I lifted the bin and had a nice form of mostly dry leaves left behind!  So I began by just grabbing arm loads to transfer into the bin in its new location.  As I worked my way down things were a little more sloppy, so I switched to a shovel with one hand balancing the load on top.  Almost to the bottom, and thank goodness I didn't spear him with the shovel!  Of course now I want that thing OUT of there, and out of our yard.

I've seen evidence of voles in our yard before - tunnels in the melting snow, or in the top layer of sod after the snow melted.  Several years ago, come to think of it, a similar episode of stirring up a creature in the bin... I guessed that time that that was enough, because I never found one in the bin again... until yesterday. I did see one slip under the fence when I was messing with the compost a few days previously.  I hoped he (she?) was just passing through, and that my presence was enough to discourage any return.

But this thing was very reluctant to depart it's partly opened tunnel.  Uh-oh... does that mean... Oh I HOPE there is not a nest of babies!  The shovel did finally encourage it to leave the tunnel and hide under some loose leaves in the compost pile next to where the bin was. But I was still reluctant to dig much more into what was left of the bin contents...

I guess what I need to do is get out there on a more regular basis and keep stirring things up.  But on top of the wish not to send the shovel through the gut of a rodent, didn't I hear that these little things are now carrying the Hantavirus, which is shed in their urine and feces?  Should I wear a mask when stirring up compost dust? 

Anyone have a cat for hire?  I won't be chasing the felines from our yard any more!

Video of the week: Brahms' Requiem

Have you noticed that we have been focusing on Johannes Brahms lately? We call him one of the three big B's in classical music. But do my students know how important he is to them?! 

I've told more than a few my cello history, and how, a few years after letting the cello go upon high school graduation, I attended a concert. Sitting in the back half of WWU's PAC Concert Hall, I heard the opening notes of Brahms' Requiem played by Whatcom Symphony Orchestra's bass and cello sections. I had played in this orchestra for about three and a half of my four years in high school. Learned a lot there from my more experienced stand partners and principal cellists!

But now I was in the audience on that hot June afternoon... or was it the evening concert? I forget. But I can't forget those opening low notes... Oh! An unexpected wave of emotion in those first measures! First the low chords with the bass, then the singing theme before the rest of the orchestra joins! Listening to a recording isn't quite the same as live music, but you can hear, here, what it was that tugged at my heart. Why was I in the audience and not playing the cello in that orchestra?! I don't know if it was that instant, or maybe into the 2nd movement or when, but it wasn't too long - I knew I had to play again.

Sooo... students, who knows, if it wasn't for Brahms, would I be playing my cello? Maybe, but I think it's okay to say that Brahms played a part in giving Salmon Arm a cello teacher. :-) I didn't know it at the time, but that concert may have also been the first time I saw my husband... or at least heard him. He was singing in the choir. But of course I didn't notice that handsome tenor... there were cellos! :-)

Students:  This video is the full work of "A German Requiem", over an hour long, and I encourage you to watch or at least listen to the whole thing (there are ads, but they can be skipped).  But if you can't do that, at least listen to the first movement and the beginning of the second (16 minutes). And you might want to turn up your speakers to make sure not to miss those first pianissimo notes!

Oh, and can you name the other two big B's?