Thursday, September 26, 2019


All week the sunrise has been lovely, although it is still barely light at 7 a.m.

Sunsets have likewise been splendid.

On this Thursday morning, all was pearly grey. We hoped for rain, but there was only a misty drizzle, quickly over.
Looking up the lane I noticed hundreds of birds ranged along the wires.

I walked quietly up to the bend in the lane that designates our driveway.
Birds jostled for space, while still more alighted in trees along the boundary hedgerow to the east.
The air was full of their soft twitterings and the swoop of wings.

Not barn swallows as I first thought, but tree swallows. Our neighbor has placed several nest boxes on fence posts along the lane, which the swallows are pleased to occupy.
Later, walking to the mailbox, I found a single blue tinged feather laying on the stubbly grass.

Bedraggled sunflower heads.

Zinnias are faded.

This one was a brilliant red-orange.

Leaves are drifting down along the drive; the cool air has a tang of woodsy dampness; a faint breeze stirs.

Willis, my ever faithful companion on walks. This has been his 10th summer.
He is still lean and supple, still the overseer of the property.

At the edge of the open-ended barn, a nest had fallen from the ledge above the entrance
It has a mud-daubed base, but has been sturdily wound into shape with fine stems, twigs and bits of moss, lined with soft down.

A balloon flower bud, so intricately veined.

A 'balloon' bud ready to spread its petals.

I miss the autumn proliferation of  New England Asters which grow wild on roadsides and in old pastures in my native Vermont. Here, the tiny frost asters bloom, but the purple beauties must be purchased as garden plants. There were no purple ones at my favorite local nursery in the spring, only some of a garish 'hot' pink. 
This one, Raydon's Purple came from Select Seeds--the only one in stock when I ordered.

Cockscomb in all its brilliant velveteen glory. There are seeds for a few million plants!
Temperatures are meant to climb again this weekend, but the days are shortened, giving way to cooler nights.  The equinox has passed and autumn is slowly moving in.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Autumn Flowers

As the gardening season slowly winds down, the flowers which rebloom after the heat and insect pests of high summer are especially cherished.
I have continued to water my shrub roses through the long stretch of drought and have been rewarded with blossoms to bring indoors each day.

My favorite of the shrub roses I have grown in Kentucky--Hawkeye Belle.  This rose has been moved twice--from our first Kentucky home--to the Amish farm--now to our new place.
It is a 'Griffith Buck' rose, bred to withstand cold winters.  I think I ordered this as a bareroot plant during our first Kentucky spring. 
It has a soft sweet scent.

A Landscape rose purchased this spring at the local garden center. 
I removed the tag thinking I would remember the name--but I don't.
I have two of these which stay compact, bloom profusely and have a light scent.
I am happier with these than with the varieties planted on the east retaining wall. Those tend to straggle over the ground and aren't scented.

Two David Austin roses--the apricot variety is Roald Dahl.  The shrub has a very open spreading form. The pale yellow rose is The Poet's Wife.

Hawkeye Belle in the background, and the 'un-named' rose moved from the Amish farmhouse. 
It is very fragrant with some variation of color from one bloom to another.
At the nursery I saw one nearly identical called "Cameo.'

Ballooon flower--raised from seed this spring and tucked along the improvised fence.

Dwarf butterfly bush from the local nursery. This began the season in a large pot, but after its first blooms were over I trimmed it sharply and put it in the ground near the fence.

Coneflower from seed--in spite of being ravaged by caterpillars these are making a modest show of bloom.
I putter outside each morning to inspect my plants, finding a quiet joy in those that are flourishing--reward for the hard labor of creating gardens where none had been before.
Still waiting for rain to mellow the ground for setting out the remainder of the plants grown from seed and now bursting from their pots. 
Then will begin the repotting and pruning of tender plants that need to come indoors before frost.
Some can reside in the sun room--for others I hope there will be grow lights in the basement.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Endless Summer

The heat continues, temperatures varying only a few degrees between the high 80's and 90 F.
Nightly dew fall has become sparse.  A few trees along the edge of the north ravine have begun to shed their leaves, which crackle underfoot. The grass and weeds there are limp, bleached and diminished.

The power company sprayed herbicide to the south where the ravine runs deep below the lines. 
Last year it was a tangle of brambles, poison ivy, honeysuckle vine, thistles, but rimmed at the upper edge with goldenrod, joe pye weed, ironweed.
Today I noticed one stalk of ironweed in triumphant bloom above the blackened rubble of dead plants.

I'm uncomfortable with the use of herbicides, while understanding the constant battle to keep wild plants, some of them undesirable, under control.
A year or more of neglect by the former owners of our property resulted in drifts of weeds along the lane, encroaching on the gravel, thistles and briars bristling along the side of the barn.
Jim mows, runs the bush hog, trims out saplings and over-hanging branches along the lane.
I wish it was possible to save the pretty plants--the wild ageratum, delicate frost asters, the goldenrod. 

Fungus grows on a rotting branch in the deep shade at the edge of the south ravine.

Walking slowly up the lane, late afternoon sun striking through the denim of my jeans, I hear a muffled thud ahead of me.
Black walnuts falling into the rough short grass.

It occurs to me that standing under the black walnut tree is not the most sensible place to linger!

Zinnias at the edge of the garden have faded.

I need to gather seeds from the spent sunflowers--seeds for another summer.
At 7:30 in the evening the sun is melting into a molten pool behind the treeline to the west.
It is too warm still to open the bedroom windows hoping for a breath of cooler night air.
The rooms are comfortable with the A/C running, but I long for the freshness of an autumn breeze, for an end to heat and drought.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


We remember where we were on the morning of 9-11-01.
We were living in Riverton, Wyoming, in the house we had finished a year earlier.  
Jim left before 7, headed to the site of a house he was constructing for a customer.
I began tidying the kitchen, turning the TV to BBC America with the intention of watching the gardening show, Ground Force. 
I didn't understand the images on the screen: smoke, dust, firetrucks, rubble.
Turning to several news stations I found the same photo coverage and at last managed to grasp the basic facts being broadcast by stunned and disbelieving reporters.
We were two hours behind New York time where the horror occurred while we were still asleep.
I jumped in the truck and roared to Jim's work site, a 10 minute drive.
There the radio blasted country music as usual, no mention had been made of the disasters in NY, the downed plane in PA, the attack directed at the Pentagon.

Many of us remember our where-abouts on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and a few days later our compulsive viewing of his funeral via grainy black and white TV.
It is right that we remember days of infamy, those recent and those that impacted other generations.
It is right that we also remember those days of grim endurance and victory.
Each of us in a lifetime, accumulates our personal roster of remembrance--anniversaries of joy, of new beginnings, of loss, of heartache.
Some are shared only  with family or close friends, unacknowledged by country or world at large.

Events such as the 9/11 terrorist attack, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the evacuation of Dunkirk [a few that come readily to mind] need to be accorded a solemn mention, year after year, decade after decade.  As Abraham Lincoln stated in his speech at the Gettysbugh battle ground, 'It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.'

September 11, 2019 has had a quiet beginning here. 
A storm swept in last evening, unexpected.
Thunder boomed, wind blew, rain drove in furiously from the east--so intense that it briefly sounded like hail. 
I had been out to water the cabbage and broccoli transplants within the hour and to sprinkle them with sevin to deter the flea beetles which have been lunching on them.
The sky to the east was pearly with an innocent pile of pale grey clouds. The air was still.
I was reading in a chair by the east windows, Jim was in his bedroom watching TV when the first blast of wind flailed through the trees along the lane.
Within seconds rain streamed down the windows, drenched the chair cushions on the east porch.
The storm passed within the half hour, though the degree of moisture on the ground this morning suggests a quieter, gentler return of showers during the night.

Shortly after full daylight I was outside collecting the variety of plastic plant pots which had been blown from the lower porch and scattered over the grass.
The red flowered cushion lifted from the back of a porch rocking chair, made a splash of color against sodden grass.
I walked the edges of the garden plots, noting that the cabbage and broccoli plants were standing up pertly--no trace of the sevin dust. 
The first blooms of purple coneflower, raised from seed this spring, are rising above their caterpillar-riddled leaves.

Four Monarch caterpillars are clinging to the defoliated stalks of milkweed.

Sunflowers are past their prime, a few small blossoms open near the bottoms of the stalks.

Cockscomb--free-loader from the Amish farm--blazes with heady color, seemingly undaunted by the long drought.
Jim is away overnight on a quest for a 'bed' to be used on a truck he is having restored.
I was invited along--a road trip of 9 hours each way.
I declined, politely I hope. 
The cats and I are keeping house. I've some music to practice; a mystery to finish reading; I may go downstairs this evening to sew more curtains.
It is a quiet day on Turkey Flatt Road--as it should be.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Where Are The Foxes?

Yesterday [Sunday] marked two weeks since I have seen the foxes.
Prior to this, on many summer mornings one or more of them have made early forays into the small meadow below the house.
Their preference has been for first light, scouting along the edges of the wooded tangles which define our north and south boundaries where the land tips into the ravines.

Photo ops haven't done justice to the beauty of the foxes. My camera is unsophisticated and the low grey light of early morning has seemed to swirl gently about the rusty moving shapes.
This photo was taken through my bedroom window.

We became aware of the resident foxes soon after our purchase of the property.  During the winter and early spring months of house building we sometimes saw an adult fox appear from behind the barn to lope casually across the east meadow, pausing to sniff about in the drive before disappearing into the ravine. 
As spring progressed, Jim [whose hearing is sharper than mine] sometimes heard the high-pitched yipping of the fox cubs from a den at the end of the ravine.
Our neighbor [a long time resident on one of the three lots making up the Turkey Flatts property] assures me that there are three dens: the one in the southerly ravine, another to the north and a third partway along his drive. "They took over an old woodchuck burrow and made a den," he stated.

I became accustomed to seeing the foxes--often only one, sometimes a youngster accompanying one of the parents. Some mornings I've had the sense that they were barely out of sight, stealthily watching me trudge about my early chores of cat tending and plant watering. 
One morning, barely awake, I noticed Robert-the Cat poised tensely on my bedroom windowsill, ears alert, concentrating on something of importance.
Slipping from bed, I approached the window cautiously, reaching a hand to stroke Robert's long silky fur.  Below the window, a few yards away, one of the young foxes zig-zagged through the damp grass, plumy tail aloft, nose to the ground. 
Robert and I watched in equal fascination as he/she meandered down the slight slope of the meadow, stopping to rise and pounce on some hapless mouse or small insect.

I continue to look for the foxes, going repeatedly to the window each morning. During July and August the foxes established a pattern: perhaps three mornings in succession they were here, then no sign of them for the same number of days.  I told myself that they likely made their circuit earlier or later than my watch--or perhaps they were 'hunting' inside the tangle of trees and vines on the slopes of the ravines.
Perhaps their visits have become nocturnal; perhaps this is a time when the youngsters are urged away from the parental den.
I will continue to keep watch, trusting that the foxes are still in residence nearby and will again make their presence known.