After the Storm

clouds after the storm against a blue sky

After the storm of Sunday and Monday, yesterday was so bright and blue it made the previous days of stormy weather seem like a dream. Did it really rain so much? Did the roads flood and the hillsides collapse?

A few cottonwoods still wave their gold leaves against the blue sky. During the windy days their leaves rained down like confetti.

cottonwood fall leaves
storm fallen redwood tree

We didn’t escape unscathed. A beloved redwood snapped in two. I had visions of the tree reaching 300 feet and higher, provided I live to be two hundred or so. The redwood will send up another shoot and eventually reach the sky. It may still happen.

pear autumn leaves
chickens in a sunny garden

The chickens enjoyed a break from the rainy days. It’s rained every day in November until yesterday. They can finally forage without getting wet. Even the ducks were sunning themselves on a sunny bank of the pond yesterday. I guess the weather can get too wet even for them.

dried hydrangea flowers
potatoes, kale, and leek

Potatoes, leek, and kale. They are late fall and winter staples. I decided to leave the potatoes in the ground instead of digging them all up. It’s an experiment to see if the ground is as good a storage place for them as anywhere. I suspect that they’ll be fine through December, which is about when I will have dug them all up. By mid January or February, they will probably be sending out roots and become inedible as they start to grow. Potatoes turn into this odd glassy, crisp texture when they start to grow. Not pleasant to eat at all.

As mornings turn cold and frosty, the kale becomes ever sweeter. Kale picked on a snow day is about the best kale you’ll ever eat. Sugar is the kale’s antifreeze, so mid-winter kale, picked on an icy day, is comfort food.

Return of the Snow Geese

Each day brings brighter colors. The pear leaves are at their peak. This year, the fall colors are unfolding over many weeks. Many trees have yet to turn. Others have nearly dropped all their leaves.

Wednesday afternoon I saw a few filaments of snow geese in the sky. Thursday on our way home from running errands, the snow geese fell out of the sky like snow. The arrival of the snow geese marks the beginning of winter in a way. Soon the swans will follow.

Watching snow geese fly in from the north is a spectacle. Just when you think the last of them have made it, more strands of snow geese, stretching for miles appear against the gray clouds. Hour by hour, they keep flying in and landing, until the fields are as white as snow.

The swans are probably glad the snow geese have left the tundra. Until they join them in a few weeks, they can enjoy peace and quiet. If you like the hustle and bustle of the city, snow geese are your birds. They can’t shut up. If you’re a snow goose, you don’t know what it is to be still and hear nothing.

Sunny Interlude

Sunshine appeared this morning. Life has a different quality this time of year. It’s dark when I wake up. It’s dark early in the evening. It’s a comfort knowing that by the end of February, the days will be longer than they are now. I’m old enough that February doesn’t seem that far off in mid October.

We’ve yet to reach peak color of fall. The alders, cottonwoods, and mimosa are still quite green. The maples, witch hazels, and a few other trees are already brilliant.

There’s always something to reflect on. This week it is my carelessness at not considering how clever an owl can be. The netting and fencing which kept the hawks and eagles at bay from the ducks in the garden were no match for a wily Barred Owl. Mid morning on a recent day, it stealthily slipped into the garden and did in three of the ducks. I moved the remaining duck which escaped unscathed to the pond to be with the ducks there.

The tragedy of an owl is that they eat very little of a bird. Mostly the brains and some of the organs. So unlike a hawk or eagle which is satisfied with a single bird, an owl can quickly do in many.

A harsh lesson learned, I’ll need to strengthen protection in the garden before I place ducks there again.

Was It Just a Dream?

The bluest skies are after the storm. The first fall storm blew through last week, knocking down trees, blowing leaves about, and knocking out power to many. The morning after, it was like nothing had happened. “What? Me angry? When?” the sky taunted. The skies were so blue, the clouds so puffy, it almost made you wonder if the storm was just a dream.

A bright orange pumpkin is proof it is fall. How many pies could I make out of this one? The nashi 梨 are finally ripe. They’re also a sign that summer is gone.

Mynah may be my most distinctive hen. Black as night, she lays the largest eggs of all, light green olive ones.

Artichoke Feast

Summer is coming to a soft ending. The days are already a mix of fall and summer. Some dahlias are putting out their last buds. Each day, more mimosa flowers fall to the ground.

As much as I enjoy eating a plump artichoke, bees go bonkers when they find an artichoke in bloom. Such big flowers can feed many bees at once. In the deep, thick artichoke blossoms, the bees burrow in to feast. Some are in so deep, you have to look hard to see them. They look like little pigs with wings.

I suppose when bees get back to a hive late, “I came across an artichoke flower,” excuses any tardiness. If you grow artichokes, let some bloom for the bees.

But not everything that blooms is happy time for a bee. A big spider lurks in this Shasta Daisy. How many bees are in its belly? Or will a bumblebee sting terminate this sneaky spider?

Cool August Break

Cool, drizzly weather rolled through on Friday and Saturday. For a few days, summer turned to fall. Spiderwebs caught raindrops. The air was sweet with the smell of moist earth.

The kabocha vine wants to grow over the entire garden. Perhaps it’s time to pick one.

The two baby ducks are almost as large as their mothers. It takes no time for a duck to grow up. Another week and they will be all feathered out and nearly indistinguishable from the grownups.

Peak Summer

The first red tomato ushers in peak summer. It’s been so long since I’ve had a warm, red tomato off the vine that I’ve forgotten how good they taste.

The bees are back in abundance. After the heat wave in July, the bees vanished for a week to ten days. But they swarm the blooming mint and other flowers again.

And this interesting shape is a developing hazelnut. Hazelnut’s swaddle their developing nuts in layers of protective leaves.

And it’s not peak summer with wonderful potatoes fresh out of the garden. They are so much better than store bought potatoes, I wonder how I endure the off season when I can’t eat potatoes fresh out of the warm earth.

Summer Cool

fresh eggs

We are back to summer cool, chilly, refreshing mornings and sunny, warm afternoons. What we are powerless to stop are the forest fires raging on the other side of the mountains. Each day the ocean breezes keep the smoke on the other side of the Cascades is a blessing.

Into this soft, cool summer, two ducklings appeared in the garden. I’m still not sure which of the two garden ducks hatched them. Without a drake in the garden, I placed, what I thought were three fertile eggs underneath the gray hen, and just one underneath the black one. But the two ducklings which popped out, are sticking with the black duck.

Nature is mysterious. And the ducks aren’t talking to me to tell me what happened.

There are new chicks too. Caroline decided to go broody just a few days ago. For weeks, Maureen was sitting on eggs. But at the last minute, Caroline decided to brood with Maureen, just in time for the chicks to hatch. And now the two are co-parenting a brood of chicks.

Every season I see hens come up with new ways of raising broods. It’s no wonder species diverge and new ones arise. There are frameworks creatures tend to follow, but there are always those trying out new things.

First Potatoes

First potatoes, the first potatoes of many. The nice thing about growing your own potatoes is that you can pull them out of the soil without pulling the whole potato plant out of the ground. All it takes is digging gently with a few fingers until you find a decent size potato. Pull it out and let the potato plant keep producing more potatoes through the season. These two made for a wonderful summer lunch.

Nothing compares to potatoes fresh out of the ground. Their skins are so delicate you have to handle them carefully or your fingers will rub the skins off.

Fragrant lilies are opening too. These lilies were a gift from friends so it is a pleasant surprise to see them open for the first time.

Cool Again

It is cool again. The heat has passed. Cool air from the Pacific has pushed the heat to the east. We were lucky. The hottest it got here was 90ºF (32ºC) on Monday, the first time it was gotten that hot in the 16 years we have lived here.

Initially the forecast was for much hotter temperatures, but we are close enough to the bay that afternoon sea breezes tempered our heat. Short distances to the east, temperatures soared.

But what will it be like ten years from now, twenty? Will we look back to 2021 and long for summers when it only got to 90º?

Snow and the other hens are sitting on eggs. The last time I looked, Snow had five eggs. Five ducklings I can handle. However, Duchess, is sitting on 12 eggs. Grey Queen must also be on a nest, but where? And how many eggs?