Tag Archives: zinnias

The ripe October light.

In the fall, the fresh air and thin, slanted light combine to put so many things in a new, or renewed, perspective. When I read the poem below, I found myself searching my surroundings for images that fit the poet’s words.

Down at the creek I had seen the leaves starting to turn, so I took their picture. But between now and then I’ve noticed so many other things even closer by that are infused with energy, and at the same time invite me to an intangible, but most real, resting place.

The sky bright after summer-ending rain,
I sat against an oak half up the climb.
The sun was low; the woods was hushed in shadow;
Now the long shimmer of the crickets’ song
Had stopped. I looked up to the westward ridge
And saw the ripe October light again,
Shining through leaves still green yet turning gold.
Those glowing leaves made of the light a place
That time and leaf would leave. The wind came cool,
And then I knew that I was present in
The long age of the passing world, in which
I once was not, now am, and will not be,
And in that time, beneath the changing tree,
I rested in a keeping not my own.

-Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir

We like rain on our parade.

P1110712 giants window art
window art at the market

Two special blessings today, neither having to do with Halloween. Our baseball team the San Francisco Giants were back in town (We consider them our team though we don’t live in San Francisco) after winning the World Series in Kansas City earlier in the week; they have won the series three times in five years. Today was the parade and ceremony to celebrate and honor the team and it was also a rainy day.

ConsideringPeets roosters the drought, no one of the thousands of people in attendance seemed to mind the rain one bit. Several speakers at the ceremony mentioned it as an extra blessing and even thanked the rain as well as every human participant. Mr. Glad and I were here in our town watching some of the festivities on the computer and we left the door open to the back yard so we could hear the rain. Everything smells fresh and fallish.

It was a good day to go to Peet’s and buy some coffee beans. A flock of roosters calls that parking lot their home, and they P1110719didn’t mind the rain, either.

Earlier in the week when we were watching a World Series game that our team lost, we had son Pathfinder here to eat dinner with us, and I made an old family favorite that I thought he might like, Fiesta Corn. I’ve read recipes for this that call it Mexican Spoonbread. It’s cheesy and corny with some green chiles, and I forgot to take a picture of it cut into a slice.

zinnias pink 1 bush 14The zinnias are putting on their final show pre-frost. This one pink bush has been the biggest producer of blooms, and has converted me from my former stance against this color of zinnias. The flowers look even nicer and last longer now that they don’t have the sun beating down directly overhead. (The picture also shows a few of the gazillion redwood needles that fall in our yard from the tree over the fence day after day and demand our attention.)zinnias halloween 14

My favorite orange variety seem to really like the cooler weather; I even had enough to make an all-orange-zinnia bouquet with some sage and fennel flowers.

steppingstones 10-14As of yesterday morning I still had not prepared the soil for my new planting out front, and I knew the rain was coming and would gum up our adobe soil again for who knows how long. So I put aside all the indoor tasks and began to hack at the brick-like dirt with my shovel, hoping just to get some bags of compost mixed into the clay before the showers began last night.

I managed to do that and also to collect some odd steppingstones from here and there to heave into tentative places. I didn’t die, but before I was halfway done I was lying on my back on the crunchy former lawn berating myself for ever committing to that project in the first place. I am too old for this kind of fun!pumpkin display

 

The same market that had the Giants cheer on the window has this lovely display inside, with all things pumpkin including hard pumpkin cider, which if I had had the foresight to pick up a bottle, would be the perfect way to celebrate all of this week’s special blessings. Most of all, rain!

 

Feelin’ good in the fall.

P1110683It feels good to have our favorite baseball team playing in the World Series, and as I type the San Francisco Giants are playing the third game against the Kansas City Royals. I come over to the computer during the commercials and sometimes also when I am too nervous watching the Royals at bat.

We went to one of our favorite nurseries today, driving through vineyards and brown fields and clumps of oak trees, under a blue sky. As soon as I heard that we were headed out into the country, I was so excited, anticipating strolling around in the pleasant air. It felt good to wash all the dishes that had piled up – then we were off.

P1110677 verbena sidewalk

At the big nursery we were the only customers for a while as we browsed the perennials for a few drought-tolerant plants to use as ground cover in the front yard. One of the plants that was suggested to us was this verbena that we knew was already blooming all over the sidewalk at home, where I later took this shot.

At the garden center I had to keep reminding myself that we don’t have space for this or that beautiful or interesting plant, but I did remember to buy a little bay tree, inspired by some of you who mentioned that you grow them in pots. It’s a Grecian bay, bearing the type of leaf one buys in the spice section of the market, and not the California Bay Laurel that is native around here, which would outgrow a pot too fast, I think.

P1110668contest

On the way home we stopped at our favorite fruit stand where they had a contest going to guess the weight of this pumpkin. We tried to recall the size of that ton+ pumpkin in my recent post, and put in our guesses for this one at about 1300 and 1400 pounds.

Last week I found some of my all-time favorite Pippin apples in a store and made some killer apple crisp to share with friends, and my love for apples was rekindled. Cooking and eating apples when they are in season, coming off the trees in our local orchards, is the way to go. Too many times in the last year or two I have tried to make something appley with apples from across the world, or fruit that had been languishing in cold storage. I hope I have learned my lesson now. Today I bought some more Pippins at the fruit stand and once again have a stockpile of substantial, useful, and of course tasty emblems of the harvest season.

P1110679 plants

Here are the plants we came home with. Left to right: Australian Astroturf, Scleranthus biflorus; Lawn (flowerless) Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile; Pink Chintz Thyme; the bay tree. P1110689 osmanthus & project

Our project is to put some steppingstones and ground cover into an area of our dead lawn not far from the front door, in the lower right-hand corner of this picture that is mostly taken up by just half of the sweet olive (osmanthus) bush. It’s a pleasure to work close to the osmanthus, because it’s so often bearing its tiny perfumed blossoms that I have gushed about in this space more than once. They are doing that right now. P1110684 osmanthus flower
A couple of weeks ago I dug big clumps of orchard grass out of this lawn area, and this afternoon I got a little more done removing the grass thatch that is embedded in adobe clay. Eventually I will add some compost and the new plants.

P1110671 zinnias

Meanwhile the trailing zinnias are thriving in the slightly cooler weather. They are my autumn decorations and I don’t at all mind not having a pumpkin or a gourd out front. Anyway, I already have a box of plants taking up space on the front step and who knows how long the will have to hang out there.

And look at this darling portulaca blossom. It is so little that I didn’t notice the much tinier insect inside until I had enlarged its picture. Since I planted it the cistus nearby has grown by leaps and bounds and overshadowed theĀ  portulaca, so I have to poke my camera underneath to catch a flower.

P1110691 portulaca & insect

I’m sorry to say that between the time I started writing and now when I am finishing this post, Kansas City won the game. But tomorrow is another chance, and Sunday, too. We will watch one of those games with some friends, and maybe eat apple crisp together. I’m feeling good about it already.

earthy and herby

salvia leaf close-up 9-14
mystery salvia

What is so exciting about autumn? If things are slowing down and dying, wouldn’t that be depressing instead?

Maybe the season just finds us ready for change, glad to move on from the laziness of summer to the harvest and to tidying up, getting ready for the winter….The heat is not so enervating, and the air is fresher and not heavy.

In autumn, being a gardener, I get close up and intimate with the dirt and the plants’ roots, as there are so many perennials that need trimming and the planting beds cleared out. Today I reached my hands and pruners down through the swaying leaves of the lemon balm, to where its roots run all tangled together with oregano just below the surface of the ground, and their earthy and herby smells rose up and quite affectionately came right into my nose! I always leave the door open for them.

coleus 9-14
coleus

I pruned the spent flower shoots and leaves of the “mystery” salvia, revealing all the clumps of volunteer plants with their fresh new leaves. Better Homes and Gardens has a salvia guide online, but I didn’t have any more success than before in finding my plant among all the 30+ varieties they show. [update: it has been identified as Indigo Woodland Sage, Salvia forsskaolii.]

pimiento

 

I picked the last of the pimientos and fried them all up with slivers of garlic. Here is one of the loveliest so you can see how big and heart-shaped they typically are.

Two friends showered us with goodies from their gardens in the last few days, including things we didn’t have in our own, like lemon cucumbers and green beans and hot peppers. Tonight I managed to deal with quite a bit of the bounty and include it in a yummy dinner. The Yellow Brandywine tomato vine is loaded with fruit and now it is all ripening late. So sweet.

One last zinnia picture: This is one of the trailing type with blooms only two inches in diameter. When I look at it closely the detail grabs me. It almost looks as though tiny yellow stitches are holding the petals on. Orange is a good and even arousing color to go with the season; maybe it will help to energize me for the remaining garden work. Happy Autumn!

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