Tag Archive | harvest

Long Slow Fall in the Garden

Last summer my friend David stuck a couple of surprises in one of my garden beds, and a few weeks ago I pulled two sweet little Vidalia onions. When I called to thank him, he offered to send me a bunch of starts. He just finished planting 1950 of them in his central Florida garden, where they'll grow long and well until they're four or five inches fat. There's no chance of that here! In fact, it's almost certain they won't survive the winter. But the slim chance of success is worth the gamble.

Last summer my friend David stuck a couple of surprises in one of my garden beds, and a few weeks ago I pulled two sweet little Vidalia onions. When I called to thank him, he offered to send me a bunch of starts. He just finished planting 1950 of them in his central Florida garden, where they’ll grow long and well until they’re four or five inches fat. There’s no chance of that here! In fact, it’s almost certain they won’t survive the winter. But the slim chance of their success is worth the gamble.

So here, on November first, I've planted about fifty little onions and watered them in. I'll set up the hoop house over one bed, and gradually mulch the other with a foot of straw, and whatever snow slides off the hoop house on top of that. If i can coax either bed through the winter it will be well worth the effort come summer.

So here, on November first, I’ve planted about fifty little onions and watered them in. I’ll set up the hoop house over one bed, and gradually mulch the other with a foot of straw, and whatever snow slides off the hoop house on top of that. If I can coax either bed through the winter it will be well worth the effort come summer.

First of all, call me crazy. I just planted fifty Vidalia onions on the first of November. It’s not even a root day. But close! I missed that yesterday with errands in town and of course the Halloween frenzy. I did get the beds ready, turning and breaking up the clayey soil, but when I had twenty minutes in the afternoon between other tasks and dressing for the party, I chose to lay on the patio chaise with my feet up the back. Toes up time!

I’d spent the day before canning tomatoes and freezing pesto, and the morning canning tomatillos. Last night at Halloween dinner we were talking about how none of us has ever lived in a place before where so many people know exactly where their food comes from. If we don’t grow our own vegetables, our neighbors give or sell us some. We don’t have much in the way of farmers’ markets, but we have a lot of farms where we can go directly to buy vegetables. If we don’t make our own bread we know someone who does. If we don’t slaughter our own meat we have friends who hunt, or grow pigs or cattle or lambs, or we visit the Homestead Market and buy meat grown without chemicals and hormones on local ranches. We are very connected to our food on the Western Slope, and we revel in our collaborative meals.

Chrysanthemums flowering around one of my few ripe Early Girl tomatoes in late September. I pulled most of the tomato plants up before leaving town the last week of September, and hung them in the tower to slowly ripen. A surprising number of them have turned red and gone into the pot or a sandwich since then.

Chrysanthemums flowering around one of my few ripe Early Girl tomatoes in late September. I pulled most of the tomato plants up before leaving town the last week of September, and hung them in the tower to slowly ripen. A surprising number of them have turned red and gone into the pot or a sandwich since then.

September 22's harvest of carrots, parsley, coriander, and tomatoes, all went into a frittata with Pamela's eggs.

September 22’s harvest of carrots, parsley, coriander, and tomatoes, all went into a frittata with Pamela’s eggs.

One of many rounds of garden pasta sauce in the making.

One of many rounds of garden pasta sauce in the making.

The Romas produced prolifically; unfortunately, not until early October. I learned from this to protect the plants from deer, who ate the first round of tomatoes in late summer just as they ripened. But the plants rebounded amazingly from the grazing, tripled in size, and put out a bunch of late blossoms. Which turned into late tomatoes. Which did, in fact, ripen slowly on the counter, contributing to several batches of sauce and soup.

The Romas produced prolifically; unfortunately, not until early October. I learned from this to protect the plants from deer, who ate the first round of tomatoes in late summer just as they ripened. But the plants rebounded amazingly from the grazing, tripled in size, and put out a bunch of late blossoms. Which turned into late tomatoes. Which did, in fact, ripen slowly on the counter, contributing to several batches of sauce and soup.

The Last Zucchini. I swear, I checked this plant every few days all fall, hoping to avoid another giant fruit. And suddenly, when I started pulling plants up after the first real frost on October 8, I found this biggest-of-all hidden right along the bed wall.

The Last Zucchini. I swear, I checked this plant every few days all fall, hoping to avoid another giant fruit. And suddenly, when I started pulling plants up after the first real frost on October 8, I found this biggest-of-all hidden right along the bed wall.

As much as we celebrate our bounty together, I celebrate the gifts of subsistence that we exchange throughout the year. One of my favorite presents of all time was one of Suzi’s homegrown chickens for my birthday dinner. The best part about the chicken was that she brought it to my house uncooked, so I got not only the delicious, home-grown, free-range, organic chicken, eating the skin without guilt, but I got the smell of it roasting with savory and rosemary for hours during and after in my house, I got three pints of stock, chicken salad, and dog gravy for three days. Other gifts of subsistence in recent years have included dozens of eggs, cords of firewood, a case of organic oranges and grapefruits for Christmas; a bag of elk burger, steaks and loin, wow; a bag full of last summer’s preserves, pickled green beans, pear butter, pepper jelly, peach salsa. Truly the gifts that keep on giving.

I am not the only one who enjoys toes up time on the chaise.

I am not the only one who enjoys toes up time on the chaise.

October 13. Freakish reblooming of some spring and summer flowers, including blue flax and this apache plume, flowering and seeding again even as the leaves of Foresteria in front of it turn an appropriate yellow.

October 13. Freakish reblooming of some spring and summer flowers, including blue flax and this apache plume, flowering and seeding again even as the leaves of Foresteria in front of it turn appropriately yellow.

One Amur maple turns scarlet, while this one bronzes. Hardy plumbago leaves turn deep red while blue blossoms keep coming, in the berm behind the Wall of Inebriation.

One Amur maple turns scarlet, while this one bronzes. Hardy plumbago leaves turn deep red while blue blossoms keep coming, in the berm behind the Wall of Inebriation.

The sum total of my entire fruit harvest this year, one little Fuji apple. The rest, the handful of apricots, peaches, and almonds that survived late spring freezes, fed the birds and chipmunks before they ripened.

The sum total of my entire fruit harvest this year, one little Fuji apple. The rest, the handful of apricots, peaches, and almonds that survived late spring freezes, fed the birds and chipmunks before they ripened.

This little aspen tree that sprang up unexpectedly from a transplant out of Linda's garden comes into its own this fall as a focal point in the garden.

This little aspen tree that sprang up unexpectedly from a Potentilla transplant out of Linda’s garden comes into its own this fall as a focal point in the garden.

A peck of tomatillos from Dawn's garden gave me more than three quarts of salsa for the freezer and pantry.

A peck of tomatillos from Dawn’s garden gave me more than three quarts of salsa for the freezer and pantry.             And for giving away.

Playing with food. Fresh garden salad in the last week of October. Not only have gardens kept producing well past usual, but I've only burned three fires in the woodstove by Halloween. Instead of the usual dozens.

Playing with food. Fresh garden salad in the last week of October. Not only have gardens kept producing well past usual, but I’ve only burned three fires in the woodstove by Halloween. Instead of the usual dozens.

This harvest season various friends have given me tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos. I’ve given away zucchinis, parsley, garlic, and kefir, and traded some carrots for an artisanal dog collar. We live close to the land and we share. I am grateful every day. An unexpected gift began last weekend. Three of us were driving to town for what turned out to be a truly extraordinary Bach and Schubert concert. Bill mentioned that he had an extra piglet. Before long, Deb and I committed to sharing that pig, and ended up picking up a fifth piglet in Montrose which we delivered to Bill’s pigpen. While we’re paying for the pigs and our share of their feed, Bill is giving his time to grow the pigs through spring slaughter for what turns out to be seven households in the neighborhood. It is imperative that I diligently eat up all those packets of peaches, cherries, tomato sauce, soup, pesto, and grated zucchini I’ve stuffed into my chest freezer over the past few months, so there’s room for half a pig by springtime.

Adventures with Pigs: Farmer Dave kicks up dust chasing piglets.

Adventures with Pigs: Farmer Dave kicks up dust chasing piglets.

Pig in a net on the way to the dog crate in the car.

Pig in a net on the way to the dog crate in the car.

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Farmer Dave in Montrose last week, where the cottonwoods still blaze in fall glory.

Farmer Dave in Montrose last week, where the cottonwoods still blaze in fall glory.

Unloading the fifth piglet at Farmer Bill's pigpen on Fruitland Mesa.

Unloading the fifth piglet at Farmer Bill’s pigpen on Fruitland Mesa, Zeke and Rocky supervising.

The fifth piglet joins his four litter mates two days after they arrived in Crawford...

The fifth piglet joins his four litter mates two days after they arrived in Crawford…

At first, they turned their backs on him, as if they didn't know him...

At first, they turned their backs on him, as if they didn’t know him…

...but then they gave him a warm welcome. Actually, they chased and bit and humped him for about fifteen minutes, then they all lay down. Bill said the next day it was as though they'd never been separated.

…but then they gave him a warm welcome. Actually, they chased and bit and humped him for about fifteen minutes, then they all lay down. Bill said the next day it was as though they’d never been separated.

 

 

the day the birch tree lost its leaves

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Yesterday the winds before the storm blew through the yard, and the birch tree, splendid yellow until then, lost its leaves. I stood for quite awhile in the glory of their blowing flying falling, watching and hearing the essence of autumn. Potted snapdragons, pansies and petunias still punctuate the patio with pops of vivid color, while the trees and shrubs I’ve planted in the past decade have finally filled the yard with fall color. The peach tree orange, scarlet maple, and one rosebush somewhere between; the tiny aspen quaking gold, and the beautiful big birch showering me with lovely yellow leaves like petals. Leaves! I have leaves!

Leaves of all colors blow, from snowberry and sand cherry, honeysuckle and rose, apple and crabapple, lilac, foresteria, forsythia; the apricot alone holds out, still mostly green but turning. I have leaves enough in my yard to rake, at last! But I will likely leave them where they lie, except I’ll rake the pink gravel paths; elsewhere they will stay in layers and piles where they fall, enriching the ground. All the grasses tawny and the seed heads tan and brown, the garden proves itself as gorgeous in late October as at the height of summer bloom. It’s been a long, lovely, and loving autumn. Today is grey with rain and snow on the way, and still the garden glows. A few more days or weeks, if we’re lucky a month, some short span of time, and winter will be upon us.

October 2, the Amur maple in full scarlet splendor, the birch tree still green.

October 2, the Amur maple in full scarlet splendor, the birch tree still green.

October 6, morning walk to the rim of Buck Canyon with Raven and Stellar. The cottonwoods are beginning to peak and the oaks are still green.

October 6, morning walk to the rim of Buck Canyon with Raven and Stellar. The cottonwoods are beginning to peak and the oaks are still green.

October 9, suddenly all the deciduous shrubs and trees in the canyon are glowing.

October 9, suddenly all the deciduous shrubs and trees in the canyon are glowing.

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October 12, the colors continue to intensify.

October 12, the colors continue to intensify.

Gloves and digger in the garden.

Gloves and digger in the garden.

Pulling another batch of carrots and harvesting more parsley. Both have been bountiful and delicious, making me feel oh so healthy. A couple of carrots grated super fine, mixed in with a big bunch of finely chopped parsley, a few cherry tomatoes, some lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, makes a wonderfully energizing and refreshing salad.

Pulling another batch of carrots and harvesting more parsley. Both have been bountiful and delicious, making me feel oh so healthy. A couple of carrots grated super fine, mixed in with a big bunch of finely chopped parsley, a few cherry tomatoes, some lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, makes a wonderfully energizing and refreshing salad.

Second harvest of Sangre de Cristo potatoes yields abundant spuds. Allegedly good keepers, we'll see.

Second harvest of Sangre de Cristo potatoes yields abundant spuds. Allegedly good keepers, we’ll see.

October 13, the Wall of Inebriation holds back the flow of color from the berm, notably burgundy hardy plumbago, and another Amur maple. This one never has gone scarlet, but tends toward orange.

October 13, the Wall of Inebriation holds back the flow of color from the berm, notably burgundy hardy plumbago, and another Amur maple. This one never has gone scarlet, but tends toward orange.

October 13, the maple in the bee bed has lost half its leaves, as the birch begins to turn yellow.

October 13, the maple in the bee bed has lost half its leaves, as the birch begins to turn yellow.

Back at the canyon on an afternoon walk. Living inside a kaleidoscope...

Back at the canyon on an afternoon walk. Living inside a kaleidoscope…

October 20, the canyon just keeps on giving. This is undeniably its most glorious time, and this year it's been especially spectacular.

October 20, the canyon just keeps on giving. This is undeniably its most glorious time, and this year it’s been especially spectacular.

Looking northeast across Buck Canyon toward the West Elk Mountains.

Looking northeast across Buck Canyon toward the West Elk Mountains.

Picking up poo in the yard a couple of times a week is a quiet meditation that I actually enjoy. More about that some other time. Here, a colorful surprise, Nicrophorus marginatus, a burying beetle; I left that load for later.

Picking up poo in the yard a couple of times a week is a quiet meditation that I actually enjoy. More about that some other time. Here, a colorful surprise, Nicrophorus marginatus, a burying beetle; I left that load for later.

The bees still fly about a lot on a fine day like this one, but other colder days are hunkered down in the hive. Time for straw bales and insulating panels.

The bees still fly about a lot on a fine day like this one, but other colder days are hunkered down in the hive. Time for straw bales and insulating panels.

October 28, the day the birch tree lost its leaves.

October 28, the day the birch tree lost its leaves.

Harvest Festival

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

I spent most of the week, and especially Wednesday and Thursday, bringing in everything from the garden: the last tomatoes (red and green), peppers, squash, rose hips, legal marijuana, and all the house plants from the patio. Usually it’s not until the third week in October that the temperatures drop into the 20’s, but Friday morning’s low was 29, and this morning’s 25. Overnight Thursday my sunroom turned into a narrow hallway, filled with a dozen cacti, half a dozen geraniums and as many jades, two lime trees, potted basil, peppers, rosemary, and chives, and a bunch of ornamentals. But before the snow I took plenty of pictures.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I've taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I’ve taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I've harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I’ve harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth's greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth’s greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

I can't even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

I can’t even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina's snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina’s snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display and a bountiful harvest later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

 

 

The Last Peach

A riot of color after recent rains.

A riot of color after recent rains.

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Dawn dropped by with a giant zucchini. Time to get out the grater!

Dawn dropped by with a giant zucchini. Time to get out the grater!

Not the best picture, I admit, but it was impossible not to try. Wrong imaginary lens or film.

Not the best picture, I admit, but it was impossible not to try. Wrong imaginary lens or film.

Last evening I stood under a rainbow and held in my hands the sum total of my peach harvest from a single tree: two perfect peaches.

One had caught my eye in the late undercloud light, gleaming peachly red among long lush green leaves. I had not known there were any peaches left on the tree after freezes, and later aphids. With one dusting of  diatomaceous earth the aphids vanished and the leaves began their growth in earnest. When did that occur? Spring, early summer? Did I write it down? I have been negligent in my record-keeping. Reluctant to take the quiet time to reflect upon my busy days, each as it fleetly unfolds. Not even so much as to notate aphids.

Perfect now, in roundness, color, size; two peaches perfect except for a few gnaws on top by some rodent or bird. Oh well. The first peach I ate standing under the rainbow dripping onto the patio, dropped the pit and the plundered top into a compost pail. The last peach, the biggest and fairest of them all, I saved until sunlight poured through the windows this morning. I ate it slowly, standing at the sunny kitchen sink, the whole sunlit house around me, a rainbow tapestry of texture and color.

I peeled the last peach one slice at a time with a small steel knife I’ve owned for half my life, half my time under the sun; in the sun I stood and ate the peach, slice by juicy slice from the tip of the ancient blade. It was quite simply the most delicious peach ever.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The last little core of the tiniest ripe apple ever, the tenth and last from my Fuji tree this year. Apple production at Mirador went up more than 100% from any previous year!

Yet apples appear to come of their own volition from friends with bigger trees than mine.

The apricot tree just keeps on giving. After a full fruit crop enjoyed by birds, chipmunks, and me, she gave golden color for weeks last month.

I marvel at the things I’ve planted and nurtured and what they have done this autumn. I haven’t seen a mature fall here in my yard for a long long time. All these shrubs and trees I’ve planted, Nanking cherry, chokecherry, aspen, birch, maple, apricot, honeysuckle, lilac, snowberry, sumac, plum, roses, and more, their leaves turning all kinds of colors all fall long, then dropping to color carpet the garden ground, they’ll mulch and then break down to feed the soil. Such a rich gift. All the grasses going blonde and orange and shades between yellow and green, swaying in the breeze and popping off seeds. I have been visually wallowing in this waxing embrace of autumn.

“May I be a bride forever married to amazement,” Janis quoted Mary Oliver, and yes, may I. We have cold now, the trees in a day lost their leaves. Until just this last week, even as rifle shots reverberate from just up north along the canyon, honeybees still found nectar and pollen in the reproducing salvias, each multi-headed stem holding one, two, a few single tiny blue blossoms. Nepeta reblooms a third or fourth time. There’s an art to cutting back, knowing what to cut back how far and when.

The bees are put to bed, their hive surrounded by straw in a configuration that I hope will insulate the hive and prevent snow from blowing in their front door, now well fortified with a propolis barrier lined with a few bee-sized holes. I wish I could see a cross-section of this cold-barricade, it looks as though some of the holes go straight in, and others curve or angle with yet more protection behind. On warm days they continue to come and go a few at a time; but often when I stop to check on them there is not a bee to be seen, or just one, looking slow and cold, guarding the threshold.

Meanwhile, the last fresh tomato sandwich of the season has been eaten, on Halloween.

And the first spinach of winter harvested this morning! Just a few thinnings from the spinach, cilantro, and mustard greens thriving in the caterpillar. Such a treat to harvest fresh greens in November, and it looks like the setup will provide well into winter.

A cottonwood leaf falls into the scene at Crawford State Park, where the reservoir is the lowest I’ve ever seen. The apparent sandbar just under the leaf is actually the bed of the old highway from before the dam.

 

 

 

 

Overwhelming Harvest

It’s been such a busy week, I still haven’t had time to deal with all these goodies. The potatoes are still in the bowl in the pantry, cool and dark; carrots have been topped and put in the fridge unwashed, until I decide whether to can or soup or what them; the little green cherry tomatoes have been pickled!

Scarlet runner bean seeds remain in the bowl on the counter; they’re not really edible, and will go back in the ground next spring to provide gorgeous red blossoms for the hummingbirds. Yes, I’ll put them away soon, in a jar in the pantry. And the colander full of arugula is all made into pesto, both walnut and macadamia nut. Going out in mid-October and harvesting six cups of arugula is a delight I had not anticipated. The caterpillar greenhouse Katrina built for me is providing yummy results already. This afternoon I harvested cilantro for the chicken-tomatillo-cilantro enchiladas I’m serving guests tonight. Spinach and mustard greens grow slowly, and next spring’s carrots and beets are full of leaves. A row of parsley divides the winter greens from the spring root crops. I have never been so content with my yard.

Carrots out of the ground, sun drying for a few minutes before going into the basket, into the house.

My pantry, a pale echo of Connie’s, but the most food I’ve ever canned in one year. From left, tomato paste, pickled jalapeños, marinara, and the yummy pickled green cherry tomatoes. I can’t wait to open a jar of those!

Onions and garlic from the Small Potatoes Farm, peppers from Katrina, parsley, basil and thyme from my garden, all simmering on the burner next to the tomato purée squeezed with Cynthia’s hand-crank food saucing appliance: romas from Small Potatoes, big juicy slicers from Dawn’s garden.

Guitarist Michael Gulezian plays by candlelight while I craft the marinara for a spaghetti dinner the next night. To hear more or less what that sounded like, check out some of his videos on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqQKfvbsp-8

The threat of industry changing the face of our valley brought many disparate people together. Michael contributed to the scrapbook I made, and in the summer I heard him play and met him. We didn’t have much chance to talk. He lives in Tucson, and was passing through the North Fork on his way home after recording a new CD in Fort Collins, so he stopped by to visit. A lovely couple of evenings ensued with great music, friends, and food.

Bittersweet Monday

 

Warm, sunny days full of color, adventure, abundance; crystal cold nights chill tired bones.

Two Kittens

 

Two kittens, playing, leap the stream,

roll and wrestle, tag and tumble,

race, chase, grab and rumble,

scuffle under oaks through last year’s leaves.

Tawny mottled bodies vanish under summer trees.

The sound of their pouncing continues unseen.

 

Dogs on the rim stand rigid, aquiver,

engrossed in the antics below.

The cats crash back from deep shadows,

reach with sheathed claws in big soft paws,

leap, stretching in a single line ~

one behind the other holding on ~

they arc and spring, spring as one

upon a sapling, bend it to the ground.

 

Long tails white-tips flashing,

graceful lithe limbs thrashing,

ungainly kittens tangle with the boughs.

Oblivious to us above them on the canyon rim,

the first leaps out across the stream;

the second sprawls in the bowed canopy,

unhurried, unworried, spraddles the limbs,

bounces; wiggles to the ground.

 

The sapling springs upright.

A gift, a truly awesome sight,

wild feline abandon:

cougar cubs at play,

learning as they leap and run

the skills to catch their prey.

 

 

Tending a friend’s home I noticed this exquisite juxtaposition.

The old Rehobeth road, last Monday night, driving to a Kids’ Pasta Project dinner at Scenic Mesa Ranch. The warm cliffs always delight, and cottonwoods in the canyon glowed yellow on green.

The Smith Fork of the Gunnison flows through a private ranch as the canyon wends its way west toward the main river.

From the other side, looking back the way we came.

Below freezing the past two nights, brrrrr, and it took me all day to warm up. The first chill of winter is always hard to accept. But a small fire in the woodstove all afternoon kept the cold at bay, and I gathered in the last green tomatoes for pickles. Romas from the farm will bake into paste tomorrow, warming the house.

Science Experiment #17: a tiny fava bean harvest taught a lot. Too much water too late and not enough in the middle, while the pods were forming.

I steamed the small beans, but even with the last of the butter they were a little bitter. Venison steak with balsamic glaze and the last cherry tomatoes saved the day.

Tenacious flowers in pots make the patio glow.

 

Biko has been coming in at night since the cold rains a couple of weeks ago. I set him out in the south gravel every morning, where he basks until he’s warm enough to move. He found his special place this morning! Raven rolled for attention too.