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’Twas the Night Before Solstice


(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, Major Henry Livingston, Jr., Dr. Seuss and anybody else who thinks they wrote this first)

‘Twas the night before solstice, and all through the yard
Not a species was stirring, not hosta, nor chard
The zapper was hung by the back door with wire
In hopes that some bugs might fly in and expire

The seedlings were planted in rows in their beds
While organic composting acted like meds
And I with my ballgame, adorned with my cap
Had just settled in with my ‘lectronic app

When right in the middle of watching the batter
I heard a loud noise and I dropped my shrimp platter
Away to the screen door I ran like The Flash
But tripped in the dark and fell over the trash

I cursed as I stood up and wiped off my jeans
My only clean pair, smeared with yesterday’s beans
When, what to my middle-aged eyes should appear
But a gang in the yard – they sure looked like deer

With minimal hubbub, they got in there quick
I knew in a moment their leader was slick
But my jaw hit the ground when I heard her declaim
She called out the critters and called them by name

Now, rabbits! Now, raccoons! Now, chipmunks and moles!
On, woodchucks! On, possums! On squirrels and voles!
To the heart of the garden! To the sound of my call!
Now munch away! Munch away! Munch away all!

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each scary hoof
And before I could move or could utter a sound
Down the chimney the critters then came with a bound

They were dressed all in fur, from their heads to their tails
(Except for the possums – those might have been scales)
And to my surprise, I could see on their backs
Some fabric that looked mighty like tiny sacks

They raided my freezer! They ate every cherry!
They scattered my Skittles! They drank all my sherry!
They filled up each sack and each round furry belly
That shook with delight as they finished my jelly

They spoke not a word (though I did see them smirk)
They filled all their backpacks; I felt like a jerk
They picked up my cell phone and stopped for a pose
Then waving goodbye, up the chimney they rose

I looked out the door and I gave a low whistle
They’d eaten it all, every plant, every thistle
But I heard them exclaim, as they popped ope a beer
“Hey, dude, thanks for the grub!
And we’ll see you next year!”


Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

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questions

I have twelve beautiful blooming violet plants on my office desk, placed 12 inches from a light source that’s kept burning day and night. I water them from the bottom and let the water remain in the saucer.

No matter what I spray, I continue to have gnats and other insects in my soil. I also occasionally start to get yellow spots on the tips of the leaves and then the spots start going down the leaves. What’s going on here?

I have a nicely sheltered, rounded 7-foot tall Japanese red maple on the southeast corner of my backyard. Half of the tree has lost its leaves, the formerly red bark is turning gray, and a good-sized square of bark has been stripped off on the side that faces the yard. I sprayed the exposed bark with black pruning spray to close any entry for insects. I have not cut off any of the branches.

Does the winter have any effect on the tree? Should I look for some insect infestation? What should I do now?

What is the best way to dig up, clean and store gladiolus and dahlias? What are the little white sacs on glad bulbs?

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