Henderson Feathers Report 7/19/23

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

Did readers living in the Minnesota River Valley hear the odd thunder from the skies the evening of July 8th? It sounded more like a chortle than a usual clap of thunder. We are led to believe it was St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, welcoming Mark Simcox from Blakeley to the other realm. Surely, Mark had just told Peter one of his jokes, which he always had at the ready, and St. Peter had just caught on, after Mark was well within the heavenly gate. Mark was like that, always having a ready tummy tingle to spring on the unsuspecting listener.

The natural world lost a great friend July 8th.
Mark had known the Blakeley area all his days, knew every nook and crook of his and beloved wife Sherrie’s farmstead and neighborhood. Nothing escaped his ready eye, neither cicadas, Luna moths, kittens in the barn, the growth of corn and soybeans…Mark took it all in, loved and respected living things. The Simcox's creation of their beloved farm and natural area is something to behold. Many termed it, the “Garden of Eden,” where the birds of the air, beasts of the field, could find food and shelter.

Mark would have appreciated a scene in a local cemetery this week. Living plants placed at grave sites have had a tough time staying alive through the continuing drought, and must be watered every other day. In many cases, only hardy geraniums have survived. Most vegetation has disappeared from remembrance pots, due to hungry, thirsty deer. While providing H20 to the pots this week, a pair of fawns rose from behind a large monument and inquired, “What are you doing on our turf?” Even though the cemetery is surrounded by various industries, the fawns consider it theirs. Petunias, succulents and sweet potato vines especially, fall victim to the young cloven-hoofed mammals.

Mark would also be able to give you a count of area turkey and pheasant poults and their rapid growth the past two weeks. Chicks are having difficulty finding grasshoppers, crickets and other insects due to the shortage of moisture, thus must settle for weed seeds. In unfenced gardens, potatoes and tomatoes are taking a ‘hit’ as well. Fawns, for some reason like the flowerets and buds of both delicacies. In addition, once again, due to the drought, the does in their thirst, eat green tomatoes from the vine.

We have a tradition in our household, of planting potatoes on Good Friday, harvesting the first ones on our wedding anniversary in late June, or Fourth of July for certain. Some will remember the condition of the earth on Good Friday…frost still coming out of ground! But we were able to plant eight hills on Easter Sunday morning, thus the new potatoes in June.

Currently, pollination is going on at a good clip, and Mark would have noted the variety of insects gathering nectar and pollen. Even bumblebees would not be missed by Mark’s sharp eyes, as they are general foragers that do not depend on particular flowers, according to the Xerces Society, “their passing could have far ranging ecological impacts.”

According to the family member who wrote Mark’s obituary, (and one would be touched by obtaining a copy of that obituary from the “Henderson Independent,”) on this past Father’s Day, one of his daughters, Susie, Sally or Sadie, asked him what he wished to be remembered for. Mark replied, “I tried to be kind and do what is right, everything is in the Lord’s hands.” May we humbly commend Mark’s spirit to the everlasting hills. We are dust, and into the dust we shall return.