Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Ramble with Storm: Thistle, cow pies & ball fields

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

stormtight.jpg Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

There's a delicacy to the purple flowers of the thistle which betrays the brutal nature of the plant itself.

On the back side of the town pond this morning, I found a mature plant, maybe 4-foot high, trampled down, I would guess by a fisherman who wanted shore access.

The flowers were a lighter purple than I remembered from my childhood.

Thistles were intertwined with my childhood and baseball.

An Amish neighbor allowed us to play baseball in his meadows. Yes, I am old enough that the kids would gather after supper and play pickup baseball. Depending how many players, right field would be foul.

But the farmer was pretty cool and would let us mow the infield. In a basic year, we just mowed the square made by the bases. In a gung-ho year, we mowed the actual shape of the infield by making the arc from the pitcher's mound.

The only problem was this was a meadow so there were cow pies. And thistles.

Cow pies are the droppings from cows, which splatter into a round slightly larger than a big dinner plate. Fresh ones are runny, older ones dry into something close to a Frisbee, and can literally be sailed.

So we would have to bring a wheelbarrow and shovel before mowing, and move the cow pies off the field. If you played outfield, it behooved you to gather a working knowledge of the landscape or risk running through a fresh one.

The other obstacles were thistles.

Cows tended not to eat thistles, so they could grow large. Since we often played in bare feet, we had to dig out the thistles or pull them out. You can pull out thistles, but you have to grab the plant low, below the prickers, and pull straight up.

The ones that grew large enough to flower, even then, I admired.

I like incongruities, and the flowers of thistles are one.

That's the trouble with mulling things on the morning ramble with the meathead. Your head ends up in strange places.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


I have a vague memory of a recent conversation about John Husar where I mentioned most guys thought he was too flowery.

If I recall correctly, you agreed with that statement.

And yet...

You have your moments.

That's what you get for getting older.

I grow old, I grow . . . bottoms of trousers rolled or something like that

But you are right

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 28, 2011 7:38 AM.

Buck of the Week: Unplugged in Highland Park was the previous entry in this blog.

Radio waves: Conlin on changes in Illinois waterways is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.