Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekend Through Monday

Frost overnight on Friday left icy 'stars' on the garden sage.

Edward prowls along the frosted untidy strip of garden where the vintage peonies grow--and where I have moved iris divided from the many existing plants in the dooryard.
The area is full of tree roots and once leaves come out, is quite shaded. 
Efforts to establish other plants there haven't been successful, so a peony and iris strip it will remain, having a few weeks of springtime glory before reverting to a weedy tangle for the remainder of the summer.

Two bright pink flowers linger on a clump of dianthus in the herb garden.

I don't recall violets flowering in previous autumns. There are a few lurking beneath the Knock-Out roses.
The color is more intense than in the photo--I took several, but none of them show the true red-violet color.

The burning bush [euonymous] is rather nondescript for most of the year.  It comes into its own as a last lingering point of autumn color.
During our first season in this house--when our felines residents were strictly indoor personages--the bush was a favorite place of cardinals. They have become rightfully wary with the advent of cats who have access to the dooryard.
We were pleased to watch two females and a male yesterday while eating breakfast--the three birds bounced about in the branches eating the tiny red berries.

A leaf from the sweet gum tree. 
This tree has suffered [we think] from having other trees planted too closely around it.
It has lost several branches during our tenure and is mis-shapen.
It is my favorite tree in the yard--in spite of the spiky 'gum-balls' which it sheds each autumn.
The leaves are beautifully shaped and color to deep gold, red and burgundy, clinging to the branches after the maples are bare.

Sweet gum branches against a blue November sky.

Zoomed view of the seed balls.

Coneflowers on a seedling plant--frost seared.

The dusty purple of the Michaelmas daisies is only a memory.
Soft fuzzy seed heads have replaced the flowers.

I made a fire downstairs early Sunday evening and took out the vividly colored quilt in progress.
My presence downstairs, especially if I have a fire, attracts feline companionship.
Edward and Nellie are sharing the leather ottoman.
All our upholstered furniture has been scared by a generation or two of cats.
Rugs, old quilts and blankets on chairs and sofas give things the look of a rag-tag second-hand shop!

Brothers--loving and peaceful--at the moment.

Fetching Bobby indoors at night can be a challenge.
He appears when I call him, but then darts under the truck--or whisks off into a hedge.
Once I have cornered him and brought him,struggling, into the house, he subsides into
companionable placidity.

Monday warmed into another lovely golden day.
J. was back on firewood detail with grandson D. to help.
[I wasn't disappointed to learn that my labor was dispensable!]
I pottered about outside and noticed a very lush stand of catnip growing in the upper perennial strip--where I had vigorously uprooted catnip in July.
I cut an armload and brought it inside, dumping it on the dining area floor while I got out baking sheets for drying it.

Predictably, Teasel noticed it immediately and came over for a enthusiastic sniff.

Chester and Teasel rootling in the catnip.

Usually when I dry catnip I am rushing back out to garden chores and in the interest of saving time, thrust the whole stalks onto baking sheets and into the oven on its lowest setting.
I took a few minutes this time to strip the leaves from the stalks, filling 3 trays which fit in the oven for one session.

As I worked, I tossed the stalks on the floor--Edward was quite inspired.

I had carried an armload of wood in by way of the basement stairs and was emerging when I caught the faint cries of sandhill cranes overhead.
The cranes have harsh cronking voices, unmistakable.  I first heard them in Wyoming where the birds arrive to nest on the high plains, usually finding a stream or creek where they can raise their young.
In late winter and early spring they, along with Canada geese, are in residence, by the thousands, along the North and South Platte rivers in Nebraska.
Pebbles, who never misses a thing, stood with her ears pricked until the calling of the cranes faded 
down the valley.
I fetched my camera, but none of my attempted shots caught the wedge of birds.  I was shooting directly into the sun, on zoom, and couldn't see the birds in the view finder.

This patch of lavender was at head level as I came up the outside basement stairs.
The red leaf caught my attention and prompted me to cut some lavender to bring inside.
There were few lavender flowers this summer, perhaps because it was too wet.
I cut a nice bunch of fragrant stalks and went back for stems of lemon balm as well.
Lemon balm is usually one of the first herbs to blacken with frost, but thus far most of its shiny crinkled leaves are still green.

I am blessed to have lived always in the country, blessed that I was raised by folks who observed and appreciated the subtle changes of the seasons and instilled that awareness in me.
I may grumble over a long spell of hot and humid summer days or cringe when temperatures drop way below freezing, as in the well-remembered long winters of New England and Wyoming.
Occasional complaining about the weather, is after all, an important and expected aspect of country life.
There could be no golden autumn without the cycle of spring and summer, but I am loath to see my favorite time of year slide away into winter.


  1. My favourite time of year autumn, golden colours crisp mornings and the lovely smell of the wood burners, mmmm lovely. Lovely pics of pussy cats enjoying the catnip. xx

    1. Jill; I think this is the favorite season for many of us, and you have named so many of its pleasures!

  2. Yes the cats enjoying the cat mint was lovely, must plant some I had forgotten its slightly acrid smell, did not make good tea if I remember...

    1. Thelma; Interesting that you mentioned catnip tea. I believe it was part of the pharmacopeia of herbal doctors and wise women--I have a 'sport' which is lemon scented--that might make a more palatable tea [but I've tried either one!]

  3. Autumn used to be my favourite time of the year too, but in recent times it has become spring (probably because it means we will be more comfortable in this damp cold old house).

    We have not had a proper frost yet, and so there are as many leaves on the trees as we would have in September (with the exception of the Ash trees and Chestnuts). I had to smile, as your house is so like ours - chairs are covered in cushions and then towels on top to soak up the mud and wetness from the boys (mainly) who are devils for going round the fields under cover of darkness. The sofas are equally covered in throws, which need regular laundering at this time of year. I feel we would be very much at home in either of our houses!

    I've always wanted to see a Cardinal - they are so pretty and exotic looking.

    1. Jennie; I try not to think of the season that follows autumn--we get a taste of it when the sun isn't shining. I mind both excessive cold and heat--difficult to please!
      Yes, in either of our houses it sounds like one must expect cat hair and to move a cat off the chair which humans wish to occupy. Bless them!

  4. My home has something of a rag-tag second hand store look, too, but it's worth it to have the animals.

    1. Lillian; I'm glad you are in tune with the select group of us who sacrifice a certain amount of decorating finesse for the sake of our beloved pets!

  5. I just love Edward and Nellie having a cuddle so sweet.
    As for ragged furniture, we gave up a long time ago trying to keep pristine and when we put covers on anything they just love to climb up underneath them so I don't bother any more. Our cream sofa has a sort of tassled look now and we don't notice it anymore, its visitors that comment. lol

    1. Briony; I love your description of cat damage--especially the bit about the wily felines who burrow under the slipcovers or throws. Several of my darlings do the same [sigh.]

  6. Have lost track of so many blogs and bloggers that i loved after Google did away with Reader...so was delighted to see Jackie Morris post on Facebook an old clip from her blog, with a comment by you, and followed it back here. Looks like your beautiful feline family has continued to acquire new members who've voted with their paws and joined the clan!

    1. Quiltcat; How odd--I was thinking of you yesterday--I enjoyed your love of cats and quilting. Dare I hope you are blogging again?

  7. Lovely pictures. I envy you, living in the country. I've always wanted to do so.

    1. Isabelle; The only time we haven't lived in the country was three years long ago in a New England college town--but we bought a house with 3 acres and were considered rather odd because we raised a huge vegetable garden! I would feel quite diminished if I had to live in suburbs or [heaven forbid] a real city.