Friday, July 30, 2010

An Old and Dishonorable Profession

Several years ago in Wyoming after a concert by local musicians, The Prickly Pair, we talked for a few moments with fiddler, Les Hamilton.
I mentioned how many of the cowboy/campfire tunes have such similarity to old Scottish ballads.
Les told us how his family is descended from Scots who homesteaded in South Dakota and Wyoming, bringing with them their old tunes and their fiddles.
Laughingly he reminded me that Celtic music was not the only thing the Scots brought with them to the New World.
"Cattle rustling," he commented, "was well known and practiced in the Highlands, and there were those settlers who took it up in the American West."

We've all seen the B Westerns where the "bad guys" are rounding up and "rustling" the cattle of the honest struggling ranchers and must be brought to justice by the "good guy" in the white hat.

Cattle round-ups are still part of the western scene--spring and fall we watched herds on the move, controled by experienced horsemen and women, aided by a few savvy cow-dogs.
Rustling, I supposed, was a thing of the past and not a practive we would encounter in Kentucky.

Since moving here our only "neighbors" visible to the south have been a herd of cattle. Sometimes they are just beyond the boundary fence, calves skipping, bucking and bawling behind their mothers, the bulls pacing ponderously, keeping a bullish eye on their domain.

The pasture, rented to the owner of the cattle, runs along the curving road, takes in the derelict yard of an abandoned farmhouse, with its southern-most boundary at a creeper-covered empty house and barn surrounded by overgrown weeds and uncut hay.

When the cattle have been grazing on this end of their territory they have sometimes raised bovine heads to stare at our activities in the lower garden.  They watched on Tuesday evening as I yanked out unworthy tomato plants and uprooted raddled bean bushes.

Last evening, after a short but vehement burst of rain, J. resumed bush-hogging the pasture, mowing the stretch across the road from our good neighbor, D.H.
D.H. was working in his yard and true to the code of southern manners, J. stopped the tractor and crossed the road to "be neighborly."
J. came home with the astounding news that 22 of the resident cattle had been stolen, rustled, driven away a week or so ago, and the thieves have not been apprehended!
It has been rumored that the remaining cattle from that group have been sold or moved;
tonight as we went about gathering some produce in the relative cool of the evening, we looked up to see some familiar forms moving slowly down the pasture.
Perhaps the thieves are "lying low" or perhaps someone is "riding night herd" in the traditional way.

This is the brief notice which I found in the on-line edition of the local paper:

Reward offered in case of cattle theft at Gradyville, KY

Offering a $5,000.00 cash reward for the Arrest and Conviction involving the theft of 22 Black Angus Beef Cattle in the Gradyville community. Also, along with the $5,000.00 cash reward a person(s) can pick the best cow out of the herd to keep for the Arrest and Conviction involving the theft. Any information please contact the KSP Post in Columbia, KY.

This notice was followed by the names and phone numbers of the cattle owners.

I was interested enough to Google "cattle rustling" and was amazed to find that the ancient practice has been revived in the past few years and is quite a flourishing crime, particularly in the south-western United States.
A cattle thief was nabbed recently in the nearby state of Tennessee when he attempted to sell 11 head of cattle out of his trailer in a large parking lot. The prospective buyer suspected something amiss and phoned the sheriff.

J. and D.H. speculate that the thieves here must have laid their plans well ahead.  The territory of the old barns and buildings lie in an S-curve of the creek with no neighbors over-looking the farther pastures.  A rough track leads from the road up behind a ramshackle barn.
Having had exasperating experiences with cattle who didn't wish to be rounded up, driven, penned or loaded, I can marvel at the enormity of the cunning and luck involved in moving 22 head without a chance passer-by taking note.
Perhaps they planned to do their dirty work by the light of the waxing moon.

We all hope the deed was done by outsiders, not a local group.
We hope that the "good guys" in the white hats bring justice to the hills and hollers of Kentucky.

[As a side note, if you would like to read more about Les Hamilton the fiddler and his wife, Locke,
here's the link to their website. ]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shall I Let Them Stay?

There is a price to be paid for the beauty of the swallowtails who have so gracefully flitted through the garden these last several weeks.
The plant of choice for nourishing the larvae of the eastern swallowtail is parsley.
I haven't a very large clump of parsley this year--one can use only so much.
There were 5 or 6 of the caterpillars in various sizes spotted on the parsley this afternoon.
They eat voraciously until they enter the pupal stage.
I don't really have to think about this--its not as though one can re-locate them with an explanation that their accomodations are threatening my harvest.
Parsley is a "cut-and come-again" crop.
Hmmm--if I shear the descimated and devoured plant to the ground, what happens to the tidy green case that protects next seasons' butterfly?
A bit more informational reading is in order.

Its odd how we notice things--without really knowing that we do.
I'm only just realizing that there are fewer of the adult butterflies hovering over the zinnias or feeding on the cropped-back monarda.  Fewer than in the past weeks, as the season rushes on.
I think I can spare the parsley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Kitchen

From Northern Farm by Henry Beston

"All morning long the farm has been in a fine, cheerful, and uproarious confusion.  Our friend Louis French the plumber having come to help us, we have been changing over the kitchens, connecting our water system, tuning-up gas engines and redistributing the furniture.
Out went the winter stove and off came the storm shutters, and while we men folk were going upstairs and downstairs checking for leaks and turning on sputtering faucets, Elizabeth and our kind neighbor Barbara Oliver were hunting the winter out of his last hiding places in the closed bedrooms, and putting him to flight through the great front door.  It was hard physical work for all of us, but now that the place is in order again, the house positively glows with a vernal and country saisfaction.

To explain the turmoil, I had best make clear the summer and winter ritual of the house.  Like may of these older farms, we have two kitchens in the ell, a summer one and a winter one, each with its own sink, its chimney, and its running water.  Of the two, the "summer kitchen" is the cooler and more airy, and in some ways the easier to use.  It is a pleasant room with painted white walls, pearl-grey woodwork, old beams left "natural" and a brown linoleum floor.  We sometimes call it the "St. Lawrence kitchen" because some of the old-fashioned jars and containers were picked up by Elizabeth in the river villages.

The "winter kitchen" is the room we turn to when the late autumnal cold begins to close in upon the house.
This is the room which is our final stronghold against the snow.  It is warmer than its summer counterpart and nearer the main house, and there is a sort of primitive cellar lurking beneath the floor.  A huge red brick chimney firepalce built out into the room is here the center of life, cheerful all autumn long with hardwood fires.  Unwilling as we are to close it off, there is always some November day when we seal the fireplace cave with a "fire-front", and set up an old winter stove we store in a corner of the shed. The summer kitchen is then drained, the last fire suffered to go out, the pots and pans tranferred, and the room abandoned to the cold.  Beyond the partition, the pail from the spring becomes our drinking water, the cistern supply our washing water, and the winter range our household diety.

It was on this winter economy we descended this morning like a vernal wolf on the fold.  Lawrence and I worked at the house, the plumber and his helper at the lake, and in an hour or two we had the lake water up the hill and humming in the pipes, and the engine going and the great cypress tank overflowing like water over a dam.  The familiar clank of the cistern pump would be heard no more awhile.  The next thing on the program was the summer kitchen, and here the ladies came to our aid, abandoning whatever they were up to in the front of the house.  In three shakes of a lamb's tail, or so it seemed, they had it in proper order, its pots and pans hanging on the wall, a fire burning in the range and a kettle steaming.

Only one last thing remained to be done, the moving out of the winter stove.  We had built but a small fire in it that morning, and this was now only a bed of ash.  Elizabeth says that we all went for it in a kind of "solemn rush."  It is not a heavy stove, and surrounded by plumbers and by Lawrence and myself, it went very peaceably into the shed.  An easy tug at the fire-front, and there stood the fireplace yawining black, and looking rather sooty and in need of sweeping. I made this my job and, when I had finished, Lawrence drove us all forth and took a pail and mop and did the floor. Tonight, if it is cool, Elizabeth will light the first fire for it is one of my pet superstitions, inherited from a wise and ever-honored grandmother, that the first hearthfire of the year must be lit by the woman of the house.

The winter kitchen now looked very large.  Its windows were open, and all the pleasant world outside seemed full of the singing of birds.  Summer was at hand, the trees were in young leaf, the fields were really green, and the skies were mild and blue,  In the house, too, it was summer again."

Henry Beston was not a prolific writer.  He was a perfectionist, described by his daughter as laboring and groaning over each sentence until it was crafted to his satisfaction.  Henry Beston's beautiful essays have been some of my favorite reading for the past 40 years, during which time I have worn out several copies of his books in paperback editions.  If you would like to learn more about Henry Beston and his wife, Elizabeth Coatsworth Beston, also a writer, you can visit this link, which also has photos of them and of their "northern farm."

If money were no object, I would design a house with a "summer ktichen".  It would be on the coolest side of the house, and would have a large sink, propane range, a huge work table and a tile or slate floor. There would be room for baskets of garden produce and all the cumbersome kettles and jars that belong to the season of canning and pickling.
I have always believed that the old farmhouse we once owned in Vermont had, at one time, a summer kitchen. There had been a long covered back porch which connected at one end with an ell room complete with its own chimney and back door.
My grandfather's farmhouse didn't have a summer kitchen. The long ell housed the kitchen and dining room, leaving the main house cool in the summer.
The Amish houses we have viewed here in Kentucky usually have vast heavy wood ranges which provide winter heat as well as the means of preparing meals.
Many of these houses have at least an improvised cooking area for use during hot weather, usually a propane range set up in the shed room which is also used as a wash room.
Our little cottage has a smallish kitchen which J. has renovated with lovely new cabinetry.  The house has central air conditioning which has been chugging away for weeks from mid-day until midnight.
The kitchen floor gets sticky as I carry steamers and kettles from stove to sink.  Garden dirt comes in on the bottom of baskets and buckets.
I have cooked and baked and canned in a tiny inefficient kitchen for years in Vermont, then presided over rather grand custom kitchens in a climate where gardening was a frustration of late spring frosts, early fall frosts, grasshoppers and disputed irrigation rights.
Just now we are climbing over baskets of produce, ranking filled jars along the edge of the counter to cool.
And we think of winter when all this good food will be stashed a few steps away in the basement, a tasty reminder of summer's labors.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Last week while striding up the mown path to the ditch at the back of the property where I dump cat litter, I noticed colonies of an unfamiliar plant.  I tend to be alert to what grows around us in the wild--on roadsides and weedy meadows, so I was surprised that this had grown to nearly a foot high before getting my attention.

I examined one of the plants which has a square stem indicative of the mint family.  The leaves have a deep green minty scent with a tinge of bitter orange rind.  Struck by a thought, I picked several branches and brought them to the house for closer scrutiny. Sure enough, the structure of the plant closely duplicates the decorative coleus planted in my brick trough on the carport. Even the splotchy shadings of the leaves resemble the color pattern of the coleus.

On a hunch I typed "wild coleus" into the Google search engine. Up came a host of references for the plant which really is known as wild coleus, [also rattlesnake root, Joseph's coat, shisho]  but more properly called perilla frutescans.

I have read several articles regarding this plant and must say I am puzzled by what seem to be inconsistencies. The stems and tender leaves of perilla are used in Asian cookery; parts of the plant have been used in herbal medicine.  It is, however, highly toxic to livestock causing puliminary edema which usually results in death in horses, cattle, sheep and goats.

Having read this I dragged J. up the path to view the invasion of perilla.  I have felt prepared to crawl on hands and knees wielding my trusty snippers should that be the only way to insure that the beastly stuff doesn't blossom and go to seed.  It obviously has gained a foothold on our property.

Interestingly, the area of ground where I have found it was dragged and bulldozed by a man whom JM hired to "clean up" the fields shortly after he purchased the propery at auction last September. Not infrequently, seeds of many species will lie dormant until they are violently disturbed and "resurrected".
J. has taken this very seriously and is shopping for a "bush hog" to mow this and other weedy areas.
If you want to learn more about perilla, you could visit this site.

Sweet Annie
This plant is growing in profusion around the back of the garage and self-sowing into the edges of the garden and the flower borders.  J. has cut it down several times with the weed whacker and I have ruthlessly pulled up seedlings.
I couldn't identify the plant earlier in the season.  Each time I touched it or brushed against it in passing, the fruity/flowery smell tickled at my memory.  The more I tried to think of its name, the more this tidbit of information eluded me.
Last week, when an overnight rain had softened the ground I began weeding the short shady border by the garage. Suddenly, with an uprooted plant in my hand and the rain-washed scent of it in my nostrils I knew that it is sweet Annie--a member of the artemesia family.
I started it from seed in my Vermont garden a year or so before moving. [That was in my herbal crafting phase, which didn't quite materialize.]
By the time we returned several years later to move our daughter and her family to Wyoming, the neglected garden had become a plantation of sweet Annie.

I don't mind that mints are invasive.  I expect them to be. They are not toxic, and if one doesn't want a half acre of mint, just rip it out and discard it or make it into tea!  I need to harvest this and dry it.

These morning glories are twining through the same untidy area at the rear of the garage where the sweet Annie has invaded.  A pink form is attempting to strangle the New England asters which are growing near the clothes line.
I am guessing that my predecessor planted some of these things deliberately. South-central Kentucky is in growing zone 6--with summers that are described as "sub-tropical."  Most any plant with a weedy will to grow can flourish and threaten to choke out more desirable and delicate species if left to its own devices.

Trumpet vine is only marginally hardy in Vermont.  My elderly friend, Esther Jane, cherished one which yearly struggled up a trellis on her front porch.
Trumpet vine here is a roadside weed, likely another dooryard escapee of wide-spread habitat. We have a plantation of trumpet vine sprouted near the mother plant which has clambered up the crab apple tree. The young sprouts get mowed regularly and seem to thrive on it. [I caught one happily beginning a climb over the tire of the motor home--which gets moved every few weeks.] The orange trumpet flowers have set these fat green seed pods--more trumpet-vines-to-be.

I didn't take photos of the poke weed, the Virginia creeper or the poison ivy--all of which need to be dealt with.  Then there is the still nameless little shrub which comes up in the hay mowing;  there is the bamboo thicket which likely was another "specimen planting" which grew out of bounds.

I suspect we will wear ourselves out trying to keep these restless rooters under control--never quite winning the battle, but not daring to give up lest we be over-taken by a jungle!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting Along With The Help

I came in from the garden Thursday afternoon to find Teasel and Chester "sorting" the green beans I had just picked. The idea is to fork delicately about in the beans, extract one, fling it about and chew on it.

When one bean loses its novelty, choose another and toss it into some rather inaccesable place.

J. brought in corn to strip yesterday afternoon and established himself in front of the TV.  He immediately had a circle of assistants.

Teasel, trying to convince us that she hasn't just dragged corn leaves around the room.

If I don't bring in a snippit of fresh catnip on my trips in and out, Teasel as spokes-cat reminds me that cats like freshly harvested greens.
Here they are, "stoned" on their drug of choice.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"The Clear Thing To Do"

It has been raining in our corner of Adair County.  T-storms have rumbled uneasily through the hills and hollers, bringing sudden gusts of wind-blown rain to pummel the ground and spatter from the leaves of trees and bushes.  I picked green beans yesterday afternoon, driven inside twice by showers, then deciding to get on with it, staying outside to snap the beans from the damp plants while rain drizzled down my back.
It rained softly in the night, and a gentle mizzle was still falling when the cats and I trouped down the hall from bedroom to kitchen about 7 a.m. this morning.

I served the felines their breakfast treat, slid back the dining area door and sniffed. The damp, warm scent of grass and garden--with a faint tinge of horse--mingled with the aroma of brewing coffee.  

A few moments later I sat comfortably, cherishing the coffee and the silence. A light fog swirled and hovered  above the creek bed across the road. Beyond, at the edge of the woods, two deer grazed, softly blurred shapes in a misty green landscape.

Rain slanted down fitfully, wrung from a heavy sky, and I recalled a day, perhaps 15 years ago, spent with J. exploring the old Fortress of Louisbourg perched above the sea on the east coast of Cape Breton.

Giant clumps of angelica leaned against stone walls, rubbed against fences.
Showers of rain puddled the gravel lanes of the restored village and rain dripped coldly down our up-turned collars as we ducked in and out of the restored buildings.
The gardens drew me.  Tucked behind high paling fences, vegetables and herbs such as might have been favored in the 1750's grew in tidy rectangles, separated by paths of packed earth.  Here and there a few flowers bloomed, softening the grim stone buildings. The little gardens weren't a favored attraction for the families shepherding youngsters around the village, so I had their quiet enclosed spaces nearly to myself.

When we left an hour or so later, our feet squelched in our shoes, our jackets were unpleasantly damp.
It was past lunch time and we drove through the rain to the nearest sizeable town--Sydney perhaps--and bolstered ourselves with a good hot meal  in an expansive hotel dinning room, where we watched rain stream down the windows as we ate.

The afternoon passed in following winding roads measured in kilometers. Accustomed to thinking in terms of miles, we would find ourselves suddenly entering a little town in less time than seemed possible upon reading the posted distances.
Late in the afternoon we began looking for a place to spend the night and came upon several housekeeping cottages perched above the river in a hamlet whose name I have forgotten.
J. went into the small store that served as office for the cottage owners, paid the fee and was handed a key.

It was a delightful log cottage, comprised of a living area furnished with a deep sofa and squashy chairs, a tiny kitchenette, bedroom and bath.
We brought in our bags, rummaged out dry socks and shirts, toweled our hair.
Inspecting the kitchen, I found a shiny aluminum kettle, mugs, spoons.
A cup of tea suddenly became a longed for necessity.

Trudging across the road, I entered the store and trolled up and down the aisles.
I picked up a box of tea bags, another of sugar packets, some molasses cookies.
When I put my selections on the polished wooden counter, the sandy haired woman asked if we were suited with the cottage.
I replied that we were delighted with the tiny house, but a day of touring Fort Louisbourg in the rain had left me with icey feet and I was feeling the need of hot tea.
The woman pushed her spectacles up her nose and regarded me for a moment with her head cocked to one side.
Then she smiled and said appreciatively, "Hot tea!  Isn't that just the clear thing to do!"
Briskly whisking my selection of tea and sugar aside, she ducked and pawed under the counter.
In the softly burred speech of the Maritimes, she assured me there was no need for me to buy tea.
Swifty she tucked teabags and sugar packets into a small paper sack and handed them over, with the promise that if these weren't enough to see me through our stay, she had plenty more stashed under the counter.

For all the charm of the log cottage, the bed was a small one, the sort that used to be known as a 3/4 size. We spent much of the night trying to arrange our legs and arms and pillows in such a way as to give each other room to relax.  At about daylight J. gave up the battle, dressed and went out to the living area.  I heard the cabin door close and his footsteps thudding across the wooden porch.
Thinking I might have a few moments to catch up on sleep, I rolled happily into the middle of the bed.
Almost immediately, J returned and flung open the bedroom door.
"Get up, " he ordered.  "There are otters playing on the river bank and we can watch them from the bridge."
I blundered from bed, hauled on jeans and a sweater, thrust my feet into shoes and followed him, unwashed and uncombed out into the cool grey morning.
The otters obliged us for a few moments by frolicking in and out of the water, then they left to do whatever otters do. It was only 6 a.m.
"What do we do now?" I queried a bit crossly. [Early mornings are not my forte.]

"Lets walk up that dirt road and see where it goes."
J. strode briskly up the hill, while I scuffed along behind. 
A small white building loomed out of the mist, a structure that at one time had clearly been a rural crossroads school.  As we approached, the windows suddenly shown with warm yellow light.
A sign on the wooden door announced that this was the "Old Schoolhouse Cafe."
It wasn't quite opening time, but our hungry wistful appearance gained us entrance.

We were settled at a table and presented with a steaming pot of tea and the cheerful assurance that porridge  was in the works and a great pan of "bannocks" had just gone into the oven.
We sat there, a bit bleary from a restless night, hair wild from the damp, hands tucked around the warmth of mugs. Within moments the bannocks appeared, with butter and honey, bowls of oatmeal were set before us to be garnished with brown sugar and cream.  On the wall an old clock ticked.
Clearly, we were in the right place at the right time and "the clear thing to do" was to cherish these hours.

The link below is the best that I could find for information and a few photos of Fort Louisbourg.
Wikipedia provides an article as well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Optimism of Gardeners

It seems a given that in whatever year or whatever location I have gardened there are disappointments.
Our first crop of green beans succummbed to some sort of beetle--and to the spell of dry hot weather just as the beans "set."  I'm miffed--because green beans are historically one of the foods I like to put up in quantity.
However, the second planting of beans looks to fare better--in spite of nameless creatures who are nibbling the tips of the plants.
I picked this mess of beans today, enough for two meals.
And--I'm going to sow another row or two for a fall crop.  If it will but rain, I think there's just time for another bean harvest.

The muskmelons have outdone themselves--all in a rush.
We have them for breakfast, we lug in more, the refridgerator holds a shelf full.
J. bought started plants enough for two hills, I put in seed for several more.
In the heat of July they have become a single harvest. The earliest ones were only a week ahead of those "from seed."

The zinnias don't mind heat and drought. I sowed several varieties which are blossoming in a mad jumble of color.

I found this clump of asclepias [butterfly weed] growing along the horse pasture fence. I've seen a brilliant yellow "sport" growing here and there on the roadsides.
Butterflies aren't a cooperative subject--darting and fluttering.  Its catch them as you can.

It often seems I don't accomplish much in a day. For a gardener or a nature lover there is always some eye-catching bird, beetle or flower which must be captured with the camera. 
Then we get out the bird book or the battered wildflower guide and poof--another hour has gone.

A candy-striped zinnia.
The sunflowers continue to lure bees, bugs and butterflies even as their petals show wear and tear.

Who would think of going outside without "speaking" to a dear old horse!
Pebbles has always shown a busy-body interest in our doings around the dooryard.
She plods along the fence line or eyes us from the shade by the barn, always hoping for a hand-out.
This small lizard was taking its ease in an empty cat litter pan which I put out to "air" on the sunny side of the garage.
J. has seen several scuttling off when he enters the garage or the lean-to shed.

Not Quite Paradise

I wish that my gardening posts could always be about high yields in the vegetable and fruit category and beautiful perfect flowers to photograph and enjoy at leisure.
It will never happen that way in this life.
Glancing out the sliding doors this morning [in response to insistant trumpeting from a starving horse] I noticed a clump of butterfly weed covered in butterflies.
I picked up the camera and started out.
Beyond the butterfly weed were some prickly-looking plants with tubular white flower buds.
From the rag-bag mind, the term "jimson weed" floated to the surface.
I compared my own photo to those on the internet, confirmed that Jimson weed [a form of datura] is not a desirable plant.  It is toxic--to humans, to horses and cattle.
Having imparted this information to J. I trailed back out to the flower border which is languishing in what we are told is unusual heat.
A first cluster of bloom on the Hansa rugosa is sheltering Japanese beetles.
After breakfast, J. hitched up the mower and cut the rather scrubby area where the jimson weed was growing.
That is the ancient pear tree, heavily laden and leaning.

As Flower Lady pointed out in her comment, which popped up right after I published this post, not all datura plants are jimson weed. Dear friends in Vermont raised an old variety prized for the beauty of its flowers and shared seed with me. The plants are very decorative, but the leaves do have the nasty odor. Toxicity is shared to some degree by all species of datura, acording to my admittedly limited research.  One article I skimmed listed jimson weed among a category of "witches weeds."  Evidently one could request a bad potion for a rival and one of the more common ingredients might be ground datura seeds.
I was lazy in posting any links, so here, now, are two of the many available.  Its interesting reading for anyone inclined to botanicals, folklore or herbal dosing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Photo Tour

Some sort of a perennial allium--maybe a bunching onion.
I found it keeping company with the peonies.

The garlic which Mr. Rogers planted here.

J.'s morning haul.

I have been noticing butterfly weed [asclepias] on many roadsides.  Sometimes there is a bright yellow variant. In my Vermont garden I tried to start this from seed, even bought a plant which promptly expired.
There are two clumps in the pasture near the house.  I'm debating whether to move one to the flower border.
This was a lucky shot of the swallowtail--just happened to click the shutter when its beautiful wings were spread.

There were clouds of these small yellow butterflies hovering on the brilliant flowers.
Butterfly weed still in tight bud.

I beleive this is Joe Pye weed just coming into bloom.

One of the clove pinks grown from seed in the shady strip near the garage.

Buds on the trumpet vine.  I'm learning that in this climate trumpet vine is most exuberant.  It has clambered into the crab apple tree and new shoots evade the lawn mower to grow in strange places.

This seems to be a self-seeding morning glory which is wrapped about the tall New England asters--perhaps called Michaelmas daisies in the UK [?]

These asters were roadside flowers of autumn in New England.  There they begin to bloom in late August.
I'm wondering what we will have for flowers here in autumn since the season is so advanced.

This butterfly whizzed through the air to land on my upper arm.  Very tickly, prickly tiny feet. [Skin is not really pretty in macro mode!]

I managed to remove the butterfly and place it gently on the trumpet vine.  It wasn't really lively and the colors seemed dull.

I plant we couldn't identify earlier in the season turns out to be poke weed, known here as "poke sallet."  I'm told the leaves when young can be gently steamed and eaten.
It is one "wild edible" which J's Mom didn't serve up with salt, pepper and vinegar.
It is very invasive, choking a hibiscus by the front porch and popping up where it doesn't need to be. 
I intend to declare war on it.
The seed pod of the magnolia.
I didn't notice til I loaded this photo that there are beady reflections of light.
[Maybe dust on the camera lens as I was shooting into the slanting sun.]

"Gum balls" developing on the sweet gum tree.

The Hansa rose planted in early June is setting some buds.

J's pride--his row of corn--and his photo.

Thank you to Bovey Belle for identifying this wildflower from my last post.
Common centaury.
My wildflower book [an old one specifically for the northeast US] didn't show it, but with BB's suggestion I googled the plant and compared it to the one here.
This is one of the joys of blogging--faraway friends who supply names of birds, flowers, butterflies.