Category Archives: my garden

The purples are out.

Cold weather has returned with the sunshine, and the fountain was frozen this morning. I have two little girls here all day making good use of my toys and the playhouse. It’s interesting to see the teamwork of these females in making a home of the playhouse. The typical use that my mostly boy grandchildren make of it revolves around “cooking” with whatever they can find, but my guests requested blankets and pillows and stuffies, and they created a cozy nest. It was cold enough that they needed their puffy jackets, but they asked to go barefoot.

Up at Pippin’s place where the temperatures were a little colder midday, 40 degrees, my grandchildren chose to eat lunch outdoors:

In my garden, the rain and sun combined to bring out — the flowers! Well, a few flowers… the purple, ground-hugging sort so far. But I see some taller iris buds. In February things will start to get exciting!

My squirrels and owls.

“They all cook up in that gravy,” was my friend’s only response when I sent him this article on:  the squirrels of California. He was the one who had prompted my research, when a couple of days previous he looked through the window and drew my attention to an orange-tinged squirrel looking cute as it raided the suet feeder. He continued with stories and recipes from various times he’d shot squirrels and cooked them into stew, from childhood to recently.

Only in the last two years have I ever seen squirrels of any species on my property, though they are thick in the trees along the creek a block away.

Earlier this month the suet feeder was knocked to the ground, presumably by one of these critters. As you can see, I’ve now criss-crossed the S-hooks to make everything more convenient for both of us. It is easy for my squirrel friend to access the rich food while hanging from the stable arbor, and it keeps me from having to clean up a spilled feeder. This guy looks like a Fox Squirrel, which is not native. Only Sciurus griseus, the western gray squirrel, is native to California, and I haven’t seen them in my garden lately.

As I was already in the store buying a new block of suet, I picked up one more suet cage as well, bringing my total to three. They seem to be the easiest way to draw a few more birds here, since I took down my hopper feeder because of the avian salmonella outbreak two years ago. I could put it back now, but I haven’t put my mind to the project of maintaining it and filling it, etc…

I’m happy to report that lots of birds come, too, to the suet feeders, the fountain, to the thousand plants in the garden, and to the tiny insects that live on the plants and in the trees. It’s funny to see the hummingbirds check out the pomegranate bushes, which in this season have nothing for them to drink; it must be the fading red of the rotting fruit that draws their attention. As soon as the flowers come, the hummingbirds (and the carpenter bees) will be there.

I’m always excited when a Nuttal’s Woodpecker drops by, because it’s not very often. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any other species of woodpecker here. They are too quick for me to photograph them, so I took this photo from online.

The Great Horned Owl hooted nearby the other night — it is the most thrilling visitor of all. For years now I’ve thought of having someone build a platform up in my pine tree, to be ready by November. That way, when the owls are scouting around in advance of nesting in January or February, they can take note of it. So… maybe by next fall?

by Carl Brenders

We prune and purge.

I had a wonderful day, though it was very odd at the beginning. Instead of my usual slow and contemplative morning pace, I had to go downstairs early to phone my auto insurance company as soon as their business hours began, in hopes of asking a simple question of A Real Person, as we say. I had begun to wonder, over the previous several days, if there were any of those on duty. It worked, and I made progress; but I’ll have to do the same thing on Monday.

The contemplative part of the day got postponed and shortened a bit, but it was rich and thought-provoking, as usual. I can’t go into detail about all of that, because most of the day was given to housework, of the purging/organizing sort that I’m making a priority this year. To top it off, the gardener came late in the afternoon, and pruned more trees and bushes. When he is here I usually also work in the garden or tidy up the garage.

It was lovely to be in the garden and not get wet. Eleven days of the last two weeks were rainy; I was reminded today that January in my area is the month with the most rainfall, and that was a blessing in several ways. When it rains, we are rarely forbidden to burn wood, so my house has been cozy from all the fires I’ve been able to keep going, and the wood stove often keeps putting out heat until the afternoon of the next day. That means that when I wake up I am not so cold I threaten to go into dormancy, and I can put my mind to ideas and projects other than going back to bed or making multiple mugs of hot cocoa.

First Alejandro leveled the fountain. I don’t know why it gets wonky so easily, causing all the water to fall off one side of the upper tier. I am not very skillful at evening it out by myself.

The lemon tree, strawberry tree, and at least one pomegranate bush got trimmed and shaped, and much more order was restored to the garage and garden. Recently I mentioned about how the lemon tree was gangly and out of control, and my helper did have confidence about what to do now, and what we’ll do a little later. It looks much better after we removed several branches. I am always surprised at how good my lemon tree smells. I brought in a few of the trimmings and put them in a vase so that every time I come into the room I will get a whiff of that delicious scent.

The Voice of the Rain

THE VOICE OF THE RAIN

And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed,
….and yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies*, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
….and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)

-Walt Whitman