So here we are looking up after phase II of my friend Mary Ellen's Mothers Day brunch for orphans down on her South Chariton farm on Sunday. From left are Mary Ellen Miller herself, Jan Ledyard, Bonnie Friend, Stephanie Seemuth, Jane Cooley and John Sellers.
The brunch-for-orphans tradition began several years ago, not long after both Mary Ellen and I, friends in previous lives, both settled somewhat unexpectedly in the south of Iowa. You don't have to be an orphan to participate, although a majority of us are. Some of these folks have children and grandchildren, too --- just not handy.
Here are a couple of other photos taken during Brunch Phase III --- dessert.
From left, Bonnie, Stephanie and Mary Ellen ...
... Jane and Jan.
The food, the wine and the conversation were wonderful as always. It was a banner year for Jan and I in that neither of us spilled wine. I'ts become a tradition that one of us inadvertently dumps a glass of red wine on a white table cloth during meals at Mary Ellen/s. This year, she served only white wine, perhaps because of that.
All of these people are outdoors minded --- Bonnie, for example, is Wayne County's conservation director; Jan, Conservation Board chair; and John, a county supervisor with a long history of practicing, encouraging and educating about conservation. Stephanie, a retired physician, maintains a pioneer homestead with its own woodland near Northwood in the wilds of far north Iowa.
So we were looking up before dessert trying to figure out where the barn owl nest was. This barn owl pair, we think, is the same pair that was left kind of homeless a couple of years ago when a storm lifted the roof off Mary Ellen's big old barn and depositied it in a nearby heap.
This year, they've been hanging out in the open end of the farm shop while caring for chicks located somewhere in one of the many hollow spots of this big old tree.
We didn't find the nest. Mary Ellen wanted to put up a ladder. Stephanie wanted to drive her motor home up next to the tree so we could climb on its roof and take a closer look. Common sense prevailed and we did neither of those things.
But we did find fresh owl pellets (regurgitated collections of the undigestable bits of owlish meals) in the shop and these were duly collected for use in future educational endeavors.
Then everyone washed hands --- and we had dessert.