Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Advancing Autumn

The past week brought rapid changes of weather: much needed rain, a [last?] gasp of steamy heat, followed by brilliant blue skies and cooling temperatures.
A male hummingbird winged in and spent several days with us, drinking deeply from the hanging feeder. During his first day here he was wary of Willis and company, before realizing that the cats had little interest in him.  He made a final visit to the feeder last Tuesday morning--wings whirring, his body a dark silhouette against the pearly fog that wrapped the porch.

The cosmos were flattened by the gusty rains.
I noticed today that while there are still a few pretty blossoms the plants are bedraggled, spent.
I've learned that cosmos reseed abundantly with no help from me, but I will gather a few seeds as they dry; some to share, a few to drop in the spring just where I want them.

Bobby Mac is somewhat frustrated by wet mornings. He picks his way daintily along the walk that edges the side porch, ventures into the sopping grass, then returns, shaking the wet from his paws.

Rain water, blown in around the pot of nasturtiums, apparently tastes better than what is on offer in the kitchen.

Tulip poplars begin shedding leaves early in the fall.  There has been a steady drifting of them, visible from the kitchen window.

Seeds have ripened on Clematis Candida.  I will clear weeds from the base of the trellis so that new seedlings will have a sporting chance.  I've also brought in some of the fluffy seed heads and picked out the hard dark seeds with the thought that I would like to experiment with starting some inside during late winter.

Rugosa Rosarie de l'Hay has produced a few soft fragrant blooms.

Hawkeye Belle, Double Red Knockout and the beautiful nameless rose. I cherish these late blooms over those of early summer, so quickly beset with Japanese beetles.

I admired my neighbor's dahlias and was given a bouquet to bring home.

This cactus has usually bloomed in late November--a 'Thanksgiving cactus.'

It spent the summer, nearly neglected, on the shady side of the porch.
I noticed with surprise that buds were forming in early October.

Jim dug sweet potatoes to take with us for sharing with family in Tennessee.
This was the yield from two hills, spread in the afternoon sun to dry the clinging soil.
We've found that washing newly up-earthed potatoes seems to limit their keeping quality.

Jim is fond of noting that one sweet potato could feed the two of us for a week!

Willis the Cat monitors our activities from a chair on the porch.

Home from our lovely weekend in Tennessee to find that the weather has turned crisp and cool.
The 'bones' of the surrounding trees are more visible each day as leaves drift slowly to the ground.
The sky wears the deep and brilliant hue that moved the poet to write of 'October's bright blue weather.'

Day shades into early evening in our back dooryard while the lower farmhouse is still swathed in the golden light of late afternoon.
After the bustle of unloading the car on our return Monday afternoon, greeting the cats and serving their 'tea', starting a load of laundry, we decided to build a fire.
I sat late in my rocking chair enjoying the gentle warmth, nodding over a book, delighting in companionship of Teasel-cat in my lap.
This morning the needle on the thermometer outside the kitchen window stood at 38 degrees.
We built up the fire and cooked the first meal of the season on the woodstove--a late breakfast of blueberry/buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, crisp slices of turkey bacon, eggs. 
It is time to put away summer clothes, to shake out the sweaters which have been folded on the bottom shelf. 
Time, soon, to trim the begonias and geraniums, bring them inside. Time to tidy the tangled flower border, time to stack away pots and gardening paraphernalia. 
Time to savor brisk mornings that warm into golden noons, to cherish the hope that winter will not cut short the joys of autumn.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your autumn joys. A blessing to me here in s.e. FL.

    Happy Autumn ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I think of Florida as a land where gardens never cease! Here we have a time when most everything except weeds goes dormant. Pottering about outdoors in any season is a joy--and I'm delighted to share it.

  2. Yes indeed, this is the short and sweet time of golden mornings and amber afternoons; as if the light is a bit too lazy to reach around corners here in southwestern Vermont. Our first killing frost came through on Monday night and thankfully the potted plants huddled next to the house were spared. They are large and heavy enough to require two of us to get them safely into the garage for the winter. The weather for the rest of the week looks moderate so that buys me some time. For the first time in recent memory our yard is filled with Yellow Jackets, languid but nonetheless vicious. One got me between my fingers the other day!

    1. Mundi; Any kind of wasp/hornet sting is so miserable! Last time one 'got me' someone suggested making a paste of charcoal [from a capsule] and applying it--that helped.
      Vermont usually hands out a killing frost and then a fortnight of 'Indian Summer'--golden sunshine looking down on ruined gardens. Its a transition time before the grey days of November.

  3. It's finally turned cooler here, but no real signs of fall yet. I love this time of year. I use to think spring was my favorite season, but now it's fall.

    1. Janet; 'Spring' always meant the end of a long winter in Vermont or Wyoming. Now it is the prologue to very long hot summers! I wish 'autumn' could linger for months!

  4. I love the Autumn (Fall) season, and seeing the colours change.
    Lovely selection of photographs you've shared here, thank you.

    All the best Jan

    1. Jan; I've just been pottering outside--came in thinking that 'autumn colors' are what I most often wear, they appear in my quilts and in the paints I choose for decorating. These colors say 'home' to me!

  5. The last blooms do always seem to be cherished more than summer flowers! Pretty dahlias and that white Christmas cactus is so unusual. I've never seen a white one. We have been lighting the fire now and again, too. The weather is so changeable this time of year. Funny how cats prefer rainwater. Your cats are pretty and seem like good company. I love sweet potatoes. I can imagine that fresh ones must taste wonderful! x K

  6. Karen; I found the white Christmas cactus in a display at Krogers several years ago.
    The fresh sweet potatoes are so good; I have several favorite ways of preparing them. I'm amazed at the variety of sizes one plant can produce.
    The cats are indeed delightful company!

  7. A lovely post. Yesterday was warm and inviting, but today is cold and damp and leaves one wondering when the task of putting the garden to bed will be accomplished, - perhaps when this storm has passed through.

  8. Hildred; Such a mix of weather in October--where ever we have lived. I began tidying the garden--not as easy as it used to be; my aging knees protest!