Archive for September 16th, 2007

Seasonal changes Part II

My apple trees are confused.   Which equinox is it that is coming up????



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The invernal equinox is just around the corner, but I don’t really need the calendar to tell me that fall is coming.

While we haven’t had a drastic enough drop in temperature to initiate the leaf color change, it got cool enough at night to induce me to move all my winter houseplants inside.   I have several peace lilies, a wandering jew and some other tropicals that live behind the couch during the winter, and outside in the shade during the summer.   The instructions with them say they don’t like temperatures below 60 degrees F.   Since their normal environment is the equatorial rain forest where temperatures range between 78 and 85, I guess that isn’t surprising.

So when the weather man told me it was going to drop to 44 during the night, I decided that it was time for their annual migration inside.   One of the peace lilies needed a bigger pot with more dirt, so I repotted it yesterday.   While I was moving the plants inside, I spent a little time evicting the funnel spiders that had taken up residence in their pots for the summer.   There were also quite a few moths that wound up fluttering confusedly about the kitchen, and an errant grasshopper or two.  

Over the years I have learned to put the “outside” plants into catch pots with a bed of rock salt for a few days after they come inside.   Otherwise, one has the unpleasant experience of walking on a squishy slimy slug with bare feet during the night as it searches for something to eat out on the bare tile and carpet of the house.   I can hear their little confused slug brains:  “What happened to the lawn and those hostas that were here last night?” 

All summer I have had to be very vigilant when I walked Ruby in the park.   The toads come out at night and station themselves at the edges of the pool of light thrown by the street lamps there.   A great place to catch your dinner, but you run the risk of being stepped on or accidentally kicked.    The nights are cool enough now that the toads are staying home, probably getting ready for their long winter nap.

The Cooper’s hawk has returned from her summer sojourn up north.   Jim and I were sitting out under the pergola enjoying our aperitif and a small savory cheese thing he had created yesterday afternoon.   A great flurry of distressed doves and finches fleeing the feeders accompanied her swooping arrival in the yard.   She landed on the pine trees in the corner, and peered about sharply for several minutes.   “Hmm,” she seemed to be thinking.   “What happened to all that dinner that was here a minute ago?”   One small gold finch was squatting on the top of the cross beam of the feeder stand.  He had not been quick enough to fly away with the others when she arrived.   He sat there, very very still, as she perused the yard.   It was his lucky day; she did not notice him.   After a few minutes, she did notice a sparrow in the yard next door, and pounced down out of sight behind the privacy fence. 

The house wrens have already left for more buggy areas to the south.   I have seen a few hummingbirds passing through in the past couple of days.  I expect they will all be gone soon.   The monarch butterflies have finished passing through.   The large flocks of red winged blackbirds have not arrived yet, but I expect they will quite soon.   I also noticed that the nuthatches and chickadees have showed up at the feeders.   They hang around here during the winter and leave for the cooler shady woods during the summer.

Now that the days have cooled off I have started working on the new garden bed I have envisioned around the sauna complex.    So far I have the cardboard and mulch down.   I got the job about half done a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday I peeled back the layers to see how things are progressing under there.   The grass and weeds are dead, and the worms have moved in and are busy loosening the soil.   It will definitely be ready to plant next spring.

Today, since it is still nice and cool, I will work on the rock edging of that new bed.   Since it is definitely fall around here, Jim will probably be watching some football.  

I understand that nachos is on the menu tonight:   there are fresh avocados waiting, home grown home made refried black beans.   I’d better get out there and expend some calories working!

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