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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Graduations Galore

May has been a landmark month for the Crouch family.  We had a similar year in 2009 when Kevin and Danielle received their bachelor degrees simultaneously (same day/same time) at opposite ends of the state (Dani at SUU in Cedar City and Kevin at USU in Logan).  Then Bryan graduated from Weber High School and a couple of weeks later Dani and Kelly were married and moved to Baltimore.  Several months later, but still in 2009, Bryan received his mission call to Budapest, Hungary.

So this is another amazing year.  Although we didn't have a wedding this year (thank you Kevin and Lindsey for spreading things out a bit with Lindsey's graduation and the wedding in 2011), we had two masters degrees, a bachelors degree and a high school graduation all take place this month of May 2012.

To break it down, Kevin received his Masters in Instructional Technology from Utah State University;  Danielle received a Masters in Arts of Teaching from Johns Hopkins University; Kelly received his Bachelors degree in History from Towson University; and Camille graduated from Weber High.   As a side note Bryan and I both earned Associate degrees--he from Weber State University and I from Utah State--this month too.

Let's see...does that make 2015 our next big year?  Kevin and Dani, you get to work on those Doctorate degrees,  Kelly and Lindsey on your Masters ...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Common Milkweed

          I spent this morning working in my yard. My wrists and fingers are now stiff and the palm of my right hand has a large flat blister from the handle of my weeding tool. Every year I think I should have fewer weeds since I work so diligently to rid my yard of the annoying vegetation throughout the growing season, but each spring I find a bumper crop of unwanted plants in my garden, beds, and lawn. As I was bending over a patch of green in my garden, I suddenly recognized the shape and pattern of the leaves of a six-inch-high seedling and I paused with my weeding tool poised in midair. Should I leave it and allow it to grow or yank the sucker out?

            My friend, Lynette Hepworth, and I had a fort in a canal south of my house where the milkweed grew along the ditch bank and corral fence. In early June the milkweed began to flower with big pinkish purple globes made up of smaller, individual flowers which attracted bees and butterflies. A few weeks later we would notice striped caterpillars growing fatter and longer as they feasted on the large fuzzy leaves. As the weather heated up, some of the chewed leaves sported green chrysalises hanging from them which eventually opened to reveal bright orange butterflies. We felt like entomologists as we witnessed the metamorphic stages of the Monarch within the realm of our fortress.

            Butterflies love the common milkweed. That is one reason I considered leaving the plantlet to grown amongst my tomatoes and cantaloupe, but a second reason was the memory of how creative Lynette and I were with the milkweed plants in our ditch all those years ago. We discovered the milky-like latex substance running through the vascular tissue of the milkweed is a useful glue. Breaking a stock gave us enough sticky white sap to affix our artwork  and notes to the trees and fence posts along the edges of our fort. As the milkweed continued to mature, the seed pods grew larger in size and developed thicker walls.  Split pods functioned as cups for sand, pebbles, and small shells we found in the ditch. We had quite an assortment of pods lining the ditch bank filled with our collections. The most wonderful thing about milkweed was the fluffy fibers attached to the seeds. Hours were spent splitting open the pods, allowing the fuzz to dry and then setting the silky stuff free on the breeze. We made up stories about princesses in ball gowns, raging snowstorms, billowing clouds, and downy kittens and puppies while propelling  milkweed seeds from our hands. It was more fun than blowing bubbles as we watched the milkweed fluff float away. Lynette and I are probably responsible for propagating a milkweed explosion across Millard County that causes problems for ranchers and farmers to this very day. Perhaps the sprout I found this morning here in Weber County is a descendant of a milkweed that grew in Hinckley more than forty years ago…

            These thoughts and memories flashed through my mind as I stood over a volunteer plant rooted in my garden. Somehow the common milkweed didn't seem quite so common at that moment.