Looking autumn in the face.

What sets this autumn apart from any other is my distaste for leaves turning color. Out of the corner of my eye I’ve seen it happening, and my heart protests, “Oh, please don’t!” I look the other way. Time has been swallowed up in remodeling, or waiting for remodeling, and the steady progress of months and seasons was not in my face so colorfully until now, telling me that without a doubt the end of the calendar year is drawing near as well.

Until yesterday, when on the way back from the gym I drove around a corner and was met with this familiar tree that had just put on its late-season dress. I couldn’t help loving it, just as I couldn’t help being angry with those other orange leaves a week earlier.

The cold weather I dread is holding off, and it’s gotten to 90° for a few days, making for unusually balmy evenings. Sunny weather means I can work in the garden for hours every day, putting up pea trellises, weatherproofing the planter boxes, and staining the rim of the fountain that had built up a layer of white mineral scale.

Rain would be better, though. In Northern California the combination of tinder-dry foliage and wind gusts creates a situation that threatens to repeat the horrors of the fires of the last two years. Too bad we can’t put all that behind us — but “it” is trying to be part of our future as well, a reality of which the power company keeps reminding us, and shutting off the power as a precaution.

A few of my volunteer tomatoes turned pink. They look like Juliets. Barely any sun is shining on them these days so I brought several into the house and when they turned red I ate them. They taste as one might expect from such culture!


These moths are all over the garden, but especially on the salvia here pictured – I think I have identified them as Fiery Skippers. What a cute name for a cute moth. [oops – not a moth! See about skippers in the comments.] I began to wonder if it is their caterpillars that are eating my sunflowers, so I researched that, too, and I don’t think so. Next photo is in the Disturbing Photos category. 😦

But look at this: The most fun insect I have discovered this week is these caterpillars…

… and they appear to be the Black Swallowtail again, on the parsley again, looking as though they wanted to be eaten by birds, so I brought the two of them into my mesh cage, after the carpenter and I took pictures outdoors near the parsley patch.

Other heartening events: One window in the soon-to-be sewing room has been framed, and irises keep blooming like they want to be my best friends; the tropical milkweed also, and it makes more and more seeds! I harvested the mystery squashes. [Update: I found the tag that came with the 4″pot, and they are Buttercup Heirloom Squash.]

Tiny harbingers of spring caught my eye as I came up to the front door yesterday, just after my encounter with the bright tree. Yes, the daphne is putting out new leaves, so that in a very few months it can put out those divinely aromatic flowers. See, I do know that the seasons are good! Of course. And when winter comes, this particular challenging and wonderful time will be a thing of the past. I must enjoy it while I can!

18 thoughts on “Looking autumn in the face.

  1. There’s a lot going on in your garden. The caterpillar looks so cute. I hope it turns into a Black Swallowtail and not something nasty.

    I’ve had mystery squashes growing in the compost in other years but they don’t look like anything I’ve ever grown so I never know if they’re edible or not.

    A window is a promise of a soon-to-be-sewing room. Hopefully there is an end in sight (of construction and the accompanying mess).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty! Great shot of the milkweed seeds. We have those little butterflies here too, although most of our bugs and things have disappeared for the mean time. We’re down close to 30s at night now, but not yet quite freezing regularly. The last insects to emerge before official freezing weather are blue ash aphids. They swarm in huge clouds everywhere, and there is no walking anywhere without getting them on your clothes and in your hair. They definitely mark a turning point in the seasons for me!

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  3. I recently learned that skippers are a thing unto themselves: neither butterfly nor moth, but with characteristics of both. There’s a useful page here.

    And, yes: that certainly is a black swallowtail. They feed strictly on plants in the carrot family, including parsley — it’s one way to distinguish them from the monarchs, whose caterpillars stick to the milkweeds. They’ll feed on Queen Anne’s lace, too — it’s in the same family, as is fennel and a few other native plants I think you have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that link, Linda – I like this from that page: “The moth, typically dressing in plain colors and patterns and laboring at the night shift, represents the working class of the taxonomic order. The butterfly, adorned in flashy colors and patterns and abroad in the daylight, represents the hoity-toity. The skipper, with characteristics of both the moth and the butterfly, falls into an intermediate stage.”

      Earlier in the summer, before I’d collected my Monarch eggs and before I was set up to keep caterpillars well, I found two other Black Swallowtail cats in the parsley, but only identified them after they had died in captivity. 😦 I still have not ever seen this insect in the butterfly stage, but I’m hopeful this time!


    2. Hmmm. My friends in Cambria have nothing in the carrot family but a lot of swallowtail butterflies flitting among their pines and pelargoniums. I suppose someone’s got a patch of edibles for the caterpillars nearby.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I read this delightful post as I also check the fire map around you. These photos are so green and fresh. I wonder about the smoke and ash too. That mystery squash! It looks most like an acorn squash to me, but the shape is not quite the same. I think squashes do cross-pollinate and give the strangest children! Oh, Gretchen, I pray for you and those under your house that you be kept safe and at peace!

    Liked by 1 person

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