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Essex 2-19-11

The film society's offering this Saturday, Feb. 19, is a comedic documentary about a renowned (and secretive) Los Angeles graffiti artist and an eccentric who goes looking for him. Admittedly, this may not sound like rib-tickling material, but all sorts of critics loved it. It's rated R for language, starts at 7:30 p.m., and is at the Willsboro school.

Ginny and I were at Begg's Point this afternoon, enjoying the first thaw we've had in weeks. The sun was warm, icicles dripped, and the Green Mountains were dark blue silhouettes under tall amethyst storm clouds. Gulls gleamed a pure neon white against the clouds. The lake is frozen as far north as South Farm as of this writing (the 14th ), and the pleasant afternoon is already departing under heavy northwest winds.

To bring a little of the outdoors inside, I've been taking cuttings from larch and birch trees in the woods, and trying to trick them into putting out leaves. Three and four foot cuttings work well, and you want young rather than old wood. Fill your bath with tepid water and soak the cuttings for several hours, which simulates a spring rain and hydrates the bark and wood. I trim the butt ends every week and use florist fungicide in the water. Locally, forsythia is the most commonly forced plant, but lots of trees and bushes will perform well. Lilacs do not, unfortunately. Keep your cuttings misted, and give them a bath now and again to remind them it's spring. With luck, in a few weeks small leaves will appear, a very welcome bit of green in this gray time of year.

Amy discovered, sitting in her upstairs office, that bluebirds will happily eat cluster flies. We have a few cluster flies, and with a light squeeze to relax them, Amy slides open her window and drops them on the porch roof. After the window closes, the bluebirds fly down from a nearby ash tree and hover for a second or two, then quickly grab the flies and dart back to the tree. Amy offered popcorn, but they were not at all interested.

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