Archive | September 2012

Sunday, 30th Day of September, 2012

Connie’s pantry is FULL to overflowing of canned tomatoes, tomato juice, peaches, cherries, beans, pickles, jams, et cetera, quite an impressive sight.

Harvest Festival has been going on all week long all over the valley. People are celebrating not only the fall colors and sweet sunny days, but the bounty of our gardens, personal, community, and professional. Connie has been canning since mid-summer. She let me come over and learn some tricks while she helped me can my tiny basketful of tiny jalapeño peppers.

She was pickling beets when I arrived. I dawdled along the road on my way, counting sandhill cranes lifting off the fields east of the highway, climbing and flying in front of spectacular colors on the mountains. I counted 80 on the way, and another 300 or so circling high in front of Mendicant Ridge when I arrived.

You cannot see the cranes in this photo because they aren’t there. I took it as I left, to head home and make some tomato paste.

Half my Fuji apple crop remains on the tree. I ate one too early, too green; ate two just right and shared a third, and one more grows on the other side of the tree. Less than nothing compared to established trees throughout the valley, but the first apples on this little tree. I’m so glad I planted her right by the gate. Just as I planned years ago, I walk by and grab an apple on the way out. A mighty accomplishment.

Last week I built the first fire in the woodstove. The next night I built another, not because I really needed it, but because it was too cold to eat ice cream without a fire.  Anne and Mann’s raspberry truffle, available only on occasion at Ollie’s in Paonia and now gone for the season. I took home a pint from the last bucket I can hope to see til May.



Tuesday Morning

Morning Glory in the Crown of Thorns

What’s the story with morning glories? I’ve wanted them forever, tried a few times and they never took. The few I planted this summer are going bonkers. They finally climbed to the deck, they’ve engulfed the hummingbird feeder, they’re preying on the hanging thyme, they’ve climbed a cactus, strapped it to the post. As most things pull in their powers, fade back to ground for winter, morning glories bloom profusely, more and more blue flowers every day.

“You actually planted those?” said Cindy from back east. “They’re weeds! They’re all over my yard!” Oh, are they perennials? I said. “No, they self sow.” Uh-oh. It had not occurred to me that morning glories might take over here. Perhaps their seeds can’t survive the winter. We’ll know more later.

Sunday, always Sunday…

Bees among the catnip almost spent. What will that honey do? A tiny hosta continues to struggle in this inappropriate venue. It must be moved to the new wetland emerging from the pond downstream from the Arizona sycamore the Ranger brought to me.

We moved the eastern redbud back there last week, from its too hot, too dry, too sunny location where I’ve ceased to run the irrigation. It died back to the bone last winter, I thought it was toast, but it sprang back from the roots with half a dozen new shoots, yet struggled through the summer. Its leaves tattered from grasshoppers, caterpillars, some specific pest left its traces. This is where the hosta will go. The sycamore shelters a raspberry… lots of hard little cores tell me I missed more than a few raspberries this season.

Saturday, September 22

Stellar flies over a fallen aspen on the access to Ruby Anthracite trail.

Climbing up Kebler Pass Road yesterday.

Mount Marcellina

Driving Friday up on Kebler Pass. These fleeting fall colors. One cold blowing storm and they’re gone. It happens every fall. You look outside and see perfection, in aspen turning on the mountains, gold and warm, winter just a breath of frost away. “It is the perfect day,” you think, “I’ll go tomorrow.” It never fails. You wake and find that winter’s come: overnight, the trees are barren. But not this year! I’m taking advantage of every free half day to get up and out in it.


Maybe the most photographed patch of aspen on the planet.


Wednesday, September 19

Patience pays off.

Today my mother would have been 84. She loved my yard and would have been content to sit by the pond with me for hours, except for the bees…

Yesterday Ruth and I drove up on Grand Mesa, from the Colbran road off 133 up and across west to Overland Reservoir, then back down Stevens Gulch Road to Paonia. What a treat the colors were, despite the pervasive haze from fires far to the west.

Where we picnicked.


A half-day’s drive to enjoy all this, but still our back yard. Too grateful for words.


Tuesday, Two Caterpillars

Katrina finished the caterpillar greenhouse for winter greens this morning, and planted mustard greens to round out the bed of spinach, cilantro, and arugula. The north side of the bed has sprouted carrots and beets already for spring harvest.


Greenhouse plastic slides up or down the hoops, held in place by clothesline anchored near the ground.

The other two caterpillars busied themselves on a weed in the trees down near the pond.


Who will this turn into? My butterfly field guide is trapped inside iTunes and I can’t open it!

The tail grips the stem…

… while the head eats what? The inflorescence?

Or the nectar? Or the aphids?






Sunday, September 9, 2012

Drawn or spooked from its daytime lair by the sprinkler, sphinx moth visits early morning at hardy plumbago.

Things fall apart. We know that. Not nearly as popular in literature is the equally valid theme that Things Pile On. More work, more play, more food, more deep reflection. More witnessing to the wonder of Creation. My religion is Life. To all the living things! So much has happened in the garden in just this one week.

The first Sunday in Fall. True autumn has arrived. I know it by the hardy plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.

A carpet of bright blue flowers, red seeds, and glossy green leaves makes this harbinger of autumn a sweet surprise each year.

The first fall I’ve had here in years. I will fall into Autumn gently, a single leaf, twisting, settling, to ground.

The leek flower continues to move toward seed.

“Look what you’ve done here!” someone says to me. “Look what you’ve done with the water you move, from place to place, bed to bed, shrub to tree. Look what you’ve done here, moving water randomly.”

I feel congratulated. I feel blessed. I feel comprehended. Every day, every day the garden gives me something. Whether I’m there to receive it or not. Every day this garden gives: a new beauty, a new insight, a new manifestation of divine light.

All at once the almonds cracked open on the tree. Almost all of them!

Friday evening I gathered them, and husked them.

They gave up their seeds to me, split fruit yielding shielded nuggets.

Saturday morning I shelled them, revealing tender thin-skinned meats, moist and milky with a delicate crunch.

All morning I keep finding almond husks beneath my feet. Chipmunks are finding the last few nuts, too high for me to reach.

Finally, not for the faint of heart: I caught sight of a grasshopper on the pepper, thought it was two hooked up. But no! I stopped my grabbing hand in time and ran for the camera.





It took awhile.

Eventually the mantis was replete.

And my most exciting predator prey encounter of the summer (so far) was complete.