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HAY FEVER AND TURTLE EGGS MARK SUMMER'S ARRIVAL

Everyone remembers that favorite gag that Charles Schulz immortalized: Charlie Brown charges at the football, trusting that this is the year Lucy will actually let him kick it. Despite his hopes, we all know what's going to happen.

When I saw that wrecked nest of turtle eggs by the little creek, I had to laugh, thinking of good old Charlie Brown and his perennial faith in the goodness of the universe. Every year at this spot, a snapping turtle lays her eggs and buries them in the gravel. And every year a skunk comes by to dig them up and snack on them. I'm not sure if it's the same skunk, but chances are it's the same turtle, for snappers live a long time.

Some June, when I have lots of time on my hands, maybe I'll camp out by the brook and explain to the turtle that this piece of gravel may be easy digging, but it isn't fooling the skunks. Try your luck somewhere else.

But I'm too busy at present to coach turtles. We are waiting for a stretch of dry weather to start haying. We hire a friend to come with his machine and put the hay up in 5-foot-by-5-foot round bales, so we have to coordinate our schedule to match his. Our phone conversations are full of the word "if." If the weather holds and if he mows his 90 acres, I can start mowing two days later, and we can keep the work synchronized.

The hay is ready. The clover is thick, and the grass is shoulder high in spots. Last weekend the orchard grass bloomed, and a haze of pollen floated over the fields like fog. My brother Ed came to fish Johnson Creek but came back to the house after a short time. I asked him if the fish weren't biting, and he shook his head. "They were hitting -- I caught a 16-inch smallmouth -- but my hay fever is killing me." His eyes were red, and there was no hiding his discomfort. It takes a lot to pry him away from a stream when the bass are active.

Most of the pages of this June's journal match those of last year and the year before, but here and there lurk odd notations, such as the surprising appearance of Jim.

I was in the back pasture inspecting calves with Brad, whose bull had sired them, when we heard an odd noise. Looking up, we spotted a guy flying over in a gyrocopter waving at us. A lot of folks wave as they go by on Alps Road, but this is the first person to gesture from the sky. Jim circled and buzzed off toward town. It sure looked like fun.

Another surprising event happened in our asparagus bed. The roots we planted this spring actually sent forth stalks of ferny asparagus! This probably doesn't sound like an amazing development, but it was for us. We have planted the bed twice before and had a grand total of one plant emerge, but with this planting it looks as if every root cluster is viable. Who knows why this spring has been different. Maybe there's truth in the old adage that "three's the charm."

Jerry was here checking his bees yesterday and happily reported that a wild swarm had moved into one of the hives that winter killed. He said that at the farm up the road where he also keeps his bees, two more hives have new tenants. I started to complain that cattle farmers don't have such luck, that cows don't show up unannounced to join the herd.

Then I remembered that was exactly what happened a month ago when a posse of adolescent Holsteins appeared. One joined the horse herd next door, and one jumped into our pasture. A half-dozen milled around at the edge of the woods, uncertain what they should do. Another bunch migrated half a mile farther up Alps Road and tried to look inconspicuous as they mingled their black and white coats with a herd of Hereford brown. Unlike Jerry's bees, the cows had to go home.

I've also dedicated a paragraph or two in my journal to Kathleen's flower-planting mania. In past years, my spouse has put in a small flower bed in the back yard and taken great delight in her roses and poppies. But this year she is at it continually. There is a new border around the house, a new bed at the back, and much of the vegetable garden has been commandeered for a cutting garden. When she is too tired to plant, she watches gardening shows on television or peruses her flower magazines.

She recently decided that the little outbuilding where we store our yard tools needed some fancy trim work. If I could borrow some of her energy, I might get at it pretty soon.

In the shop, I am refinishing the piano our family has been playing for 50 years. I unscrewed the trim around the keyboard and was surprised how much dust had settled there. I blew it out with compressed air and had to laugh as a sneeze responded to living room dust from a house now sadly gone.

Which Christmas wreath left those needles? Whose 1944 penny was that? The world abounds with curiosities, doesn't it?

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