Category Archives: nature

Colors of the turning, or not.

In our Northern Hemisphere, it’s the season when much of the biomass is dying or going down for a long nap, during which, even if we look hard, it’s not always easy to tell if  a particular plant is going to wake up next spring.

But here, some flowers are at their peak, and because we haven’t had a frost yet, only lots of rain, even my cherry tomatoes keep growing and fruiting. Because of the early rain, the turning leaves are brighter than most years.

A couple of days ago I finally planted winter greens and such in the newly refilled planter boxes. My friend who gave me the 30-odd pots when he moved away also left me with a paper bag with “Seeds” scrawled on the outside; inside were envelopes and pill bottles full of boughten or hand-collected species, so I planted one row just of the lettuce and kale and beets from that “Timothy” collection. Out front I scattered the tiny “purple viola” seeds that had been stored in a tiny mints tin.

This picture is Before Planting, during which time the perennial Painted Lady runner beans have started growing up the trellis again. Without a frost, I guess they haven’t got the message that it’s nap time:

I  made use of the seeds from new packets of Renee’s Garden seeds. The artwork on those always draws me in and makes me try different varieties.

Once the jungle of asparagus foliage had been cleared away we discovered that new spears are popping up all over, at least three months earlier than usual, so I’ve been eating them. The soil mix that was left over after I filled the boxes we spread on the asparagus patches (now five years old) and replaced the mulch on top.

The daphne is in bloom early, too!

Out in the neighborhood I found the flock of 22 wild turkeys that I hear have been hanging out by the creek for months.

Where two creeks join, it was interesting to see how much muddier one was. I got distracted and missed the left turn that would have kept me on my usual walking route. But that was okay, because I ended up on a sidewalk that I normally only see from my car as I drive by, and came upon this strange and beautiful bush, that I identified as a Purple Potato Bush. It had exactly one berry on it, but a score of new flowers and many new leaves.

The Gardener feels that she herself is also still blooming, but also by turns taking naps… If she hasn’t turned into a berry or been cut down by frost she will still be around come spring….

Awake in autumn.

This autumn,
How old I am getting:
Ah, the clouds, the birds!

Bashō

This verse that succinctly expresses my own feelings of the season, I found on the blog First Known When Lost, a place where I am always confident of finding beauty and serenity. In the post I link to, “Awake,” the blogger offers a well chosen smattering of haiku by Matsuo Bashō, including a good representation of autumn poetry, and commentary by by R. H. Blyth. Read the whole post to learn how Bashō can wake us up.

Trains next door add to our family fun.

In my own neighborhood.

People have written me from Idaho and Virginia, asking if we are being flooded. No, there is no danger close by, even though it rained for 24 hours straight, as my housemate Susan told me. I had driven north to Pippin’s for a couple of nights to be with various relations who were gathering to see Kate’s family. Fifteen of us ate and gabbed and hugged, and there was the necessary Settlers of Catan game, though it was short and small this time. Children ran and squealed.

It rained up there, too, and on my drive up and back. But not constantly… we were able to go out the first evening and put pennies on the railroad tracks next door; only minutes later a train came by, and then the hunt for flattened metal pieces began. In spite of the tape, which usually prevents them getting knocked off before the weight of the train comes down on them, the smashed coins are often carried a ways down the track and it requires a practiced eye to find them.

It was the shortest walk I’ve ever done while at Pippin’s, but of course there were interesting sights to see, because she was with me pointing them out. Who would have recognized this brown lumpy thing as a mushroom? She said that once she came upon people excavating  one for eating, but she hasn’t researched them.

Indoors, there are four cats again, including a new kitten named Fred. (Pecos disappeared and may have been eaten by a larger animal…?) Rio has a reputation for being “useless,” a label that in this household I don’t think has ever been applied to anyone else. But she offered her beautiful self to be petted by Rigo. Ivy and Jamie showed me the seed collections they had made for their homeschool science.

Kate’s husband Tom is very romantic about trains and loves visiting this place that is hard up against the railroad right of way. After everyone else had gone home or to bed Sunday night, he heard the train whistle again about midnight and went out to the tracks by himself with a flashlight. Not only did he get to see a rare passenger train speeding by, but he found one more thin and shining remnant of copper.

After rain after many days without rain.

LINGERING IN HAPPINESS

After rain after many days without rain,
It stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear — but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

–Mary Oliver