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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Red Oak House garden notes no. 30

Autumn beauty continues to emerge in my yard including peak hydrangea color, hinting at the frost that is nigh.  Jim complains that he has about 500 green tomatoes still on the vine and the folding table is back in the dining room in preparation for bringing those in for ripening, ending the cycle that began with the seedlings in that same spot last spring.  

The other day he smoked some of the duck breasts, the bounty of his hunt of last week.  Today I started cutting back the perennials, composting the greenery, leaving only the mums, asters, coneflowers, and Dark Towers Penstemon for the winter, to catch the snow on the beds.  Who knows how many days I have left to accomplish this.  I have to steel myself to do this as the beds will look so bare, armed with the knowledge that the foliage will be mushy to deal with in the spring if I postpone.  I have five backyard beds and so I work my way slowly through these. Not long after I started, I had to shed my hoodie as the temperature climbed.  It is so satisfying to work in the autumn sunlight on this beautiful, still day.

The Painted Lady butterflies were swarming on the Purple Palace aster today and there is russet in the vine that covers the boundary fence.  Soon I hope we will be eating Brussel sprouts, but for now, they are a very lovely color in the vegetable garden.  The broccoli and basil have gone to seed.

Mid-afternoon, Jim arrived home with four more ducks and he patiently plucked one for roasting.  Lizzie the Springer Spaniel got to accompany him this time.  She settled in and napped away the remainder of the day in the sun.

By the end of the afternoon, the perennial beds in back looked like this. I will leave the front yard hosta garden alone as it needs the yellow color the leaves will turn as the fall progresses or it would look too barren.

In other news of the cycles of our lives, during the pre-dawn hours this morning, I put our daughter Chelsea on a flight to Colorado, where she will be attending dog grooming school for the next three months.  In the car, I played this song for her to make her smile. Then, we switched to Morning Edition 'cause we are NPR folks.

It was great fun to watch her go through security and leave her in the company of all of the others bound for Denver, the first time she has ever flown without me.  This is a big step for her, a dream she's had for years, coming true.  We know she will fly high! Bon voyage, dear one. 

Later I got the text that she was safely at her destination and with her new mentor, and the prayers and good wishes of many good people in our lives are with her.

While I worked in the yard, I listened to the squirrels gamboling about in the crabapple trees, and I am grateful that I have the blessings of a quiet day, while so many others bustle about.  I made mental notes about garden chores I will add to the spring list, such as moving plants to different locations or dividing perennials or making new purchases.  I listened to a nearby blue jay's raucous call.

A month ago, I took a very hard fall, landing on my knees on a concrete curb with full force.  Today, I am grateful that, after a few weeks of physical therapy, I can again bend and stoop and kneel.  Many of the things on my late summer gardening chore list got pushed to next summer, but, so it goes.  Mostly I scoot around on my derriere, dragging my garbage can behind me.

I also fertilized our strawberry bed, while golden ash leaves fell upon my head.  There is a hint of color this morning in the red oak tree and the backyard burr oak is beginning to turn.  I look forward to the bright yellow leaves of our aspens trees, a tree that my daughter saw in full color as she flew over the Colorado Rockies today.

Now are the days when we will eat hearty stews and chili and lasagna and soups.  The young man who delivers our firewood will bring two loads and Curt, the nice man who maintains our sprinkler system, has come and blown it out for the season.  I've even staged the snow shovels in the garage and stored away the patio umbrella.

Can you tell that my siblings and I were Scouts and my mother a Den Mother, when we lived in El Paso, Texas, while my father was stationed at Fort Bliss? This photo was taken in the late fall of 1969.  For some reason, my younger brother did not wear his Cub Scout uniform that day, but rather his miniature Army uniform, unaware that someday he would serve a career in the US Navy.  I was envious that my older sister got to wear nylon stockings.  What a happy crew we were.

On Monday, I saw a large flock of pelicans migrating.  Soon there will be sandhill cranes.  True story, while I watched the pelicans, I was listening to this Joni Mitchell song on the car stereo.  I'll be playing it on repeat in the coming days.

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