Friday, September 22, 2017

A New Day

I'm inside looking out.  We designed the house so that no matter where you were in the house you were always looking out.  It looks like fall, which incidentally literally started about 20 minutes ago.  It's hard to know why it looks like fall, trees are green, the sun is shining, and I can't feel the temperature.  Probably nothing about this moment says fall, maybe it's what's happened in the past several days and what's happening among people.

It's rained for about five days now, a bit over three inches in that time.  The university is buzzing with activity as the first year students are coming to campus for their first taste of higher education.  The church has started its fall schedule and the evening seem cooler and dark earlier.  The sense of fall may be completely internal and not from outside.

It's also time for harvest.  We picked and canned a dozen or so quarts of tomatoes from the garden yesterday.  There may be a few later but for the most part they're done.  We picked the last beans and as well as the last solo cucumber.  A couple nice sized onions were also brought for use of the next several days.  A bowlful of raspberry are a daily routine this past week which aren't enough to preserve but just perfect with ice cream and chocolate syrup or on the top of a bow of cereal.  They go great in a smoothie as well.

I haven't seen as much activity from the humming birds lately.  Perhaps some have found their own homes.  As Gail looked out the window yesterday she said "The young ones always look so cute."  I thought first she was talking about the humming birds but indeed she was referring to the family of tuffed grouse that were tiptoeing through the flower bed in front of the house.  She could have been referring to the flock of turkeys who came through as a few hens this spring and now number about a dozen with the young'uns.

While my view from behind the computer denies me the chance to see the yellow leaves I know that they're out there.  I saw them through another window earlier.  Don't get too excited, it's not fall color time yet, there only were about a handful.

We did start the wood fire stove in the house a couple times during the rainy evenings these last couple days.  The temperature and dampness causes the body to crave the cozy warmth of a wood fire.

Is it really fall?  The forecast calls for another week of warming days starting in the 60's and moving up to the 80's next week.  Fall or not, that will be great.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fall, an Awesome Time in the Cycle

If I considered the calendar it too would remind me that it's fall.  The temperature, the weather in general, doesn't suggest fall.  There's no rain, typical of an Oregon fall and the temperature is a sunny 90˚F.  Yet, I'm gathering the pole beets and canning them.  A week ago that batch of beans became pickled beans.  The bowl of tomatoes became freshly canned tomato sauce, the cucumbers became "bread and butter chips" while yesterday's gathering were pickled.

Some of the herbs are hanging in the sun, drying and waiting their turn to enter the herb pantry.  The blackberries are coming in cookie sheet at a time to be frozen and bagged.  While the berries find a purpose for humans, the blackberry vines are being cut and putted and placed on the burn pile waiting for the rains when the state will again allow backyard burning.  They should be nice and dry and ready to go up in smoke in another month.

It's been a dry summer; I think we're just days short of three months without rain.  When we were in Eugene a week ago we drove home with the windshield wipers on, well, we drove almost home.  We turned the wipers off about a mile from our house.  When we walked out of a meeting in Monmouth last week, the pavement around the car was damp but again not in our yard.  Some plants are showing the consequences of this summer's climate, some trees are shedding browned leaves, garden plants are turning brown and wilting even though we water them regularly.  I guess that another sign of fall. They simply have completed their cycle.

Amid the browning that comes with fall and no rain, the fall crocus are everywhere and oh so plentiful.  Amazing plants, how they store all their energy in their bulbs and then at the appropriate time, just stick their blossoms out.  No fanfare, no leaves, no stem, no stalk, just a bouquet of blossoms, rain or shine.

We ask ourselves as common folks, scientists think they know, how do plants and animals know when it's fall and they would change their behavior.  It seems to be a part of us humans as well.  When you step out into the darkness, which comes earlier and earlier each day, we can just sense the approaching change of seasons.  Yes, it's cooler, but there's a sensation in the air that we sense.

Animalwise only chickens live with us now.  They are products of past years, only three of them, and a purchase of babies in early April.  Their feeders and water containers allowed me to visit them a couple times a week but now they are laying eggs and I must gather the six or eight they lay each day.  They're still not full size but that will come about in time.  The horses escaped the last padlock a couple days after the eclipse and went home to join their herdmates down the hill.  They were close enough to talk to each other and apparently the conversation led them to escape.

I see no noticeable difference in which birds are eating the bird seed I put out.  The doves, quails and wild turkeys can be seen cleaning up on the ground from the spill over by birds in the feeder.  We got a new and larger humming bird feeder so we don't change that as often but I would wonder if they are feeding on less of our sugar water than earlier.

I'm off to the garden, to gather a cabbage for supper and a few tomatoes to sit on the side.  I will also go and wash my hands again to see if I can reduce the smell of rosemary and thyme.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Walk from the Barn

As the last light of dusk faded into total darkness I walked from the barn.  It was a slow walk.  The evening was silent and the air a comfortable warmth after a day of uncomfortable heat.  Each step was intentional and small.  As I thoughtfully looked down my step moved from over a ground-height curb delineating the driveway from the lawn.

It's been a dry summer.  We remember no rain in August although the neighboring city recorded a trace.  Also July had no rain.  Somewhere around the middle of June there was some rain but at the time the forecast was for some days with no rain and we engaged the contractor to redo the roof on the house.  That's about two and a half months with no rain, not even a drop to turn the dust on the bench to mud.

My steps fell on brown dry pieces of remenants of grass that grew faster than I could mow it a couple months earlier.  Typically during Oregon summers there's no need to mow lawns unless one waters it.  Without thinking one foot rose and moved in front of the other.  The ankle rolled as the ball of the foot pivoted before rising to move forward.  The heel landed waiting for the rest of the foot to touch the ground before the other would take its turn to move forward.  The silence of the evening allowed one to hear the crunch of the grass.

Deep in the soil critters too small to see did what they were created to do to make the isolated system of this earth continue over the million of years.  Far over my head, pretty much just in front of me the moon shone short of being full.  Far beyond the moon, really far beyond the moon and even the sun, there are stars and beyond them more stars.  As vast as space may be, the world under my feet is small, really small, far beyond our imagination.

What a marvelous system we live in, one where we as humans have the resources and skills to creatively maintain a indefinitely but improving existence of the earth's offerings.  Yet as small as the critters are beneath my feet are, so small are we in the bigger scheme of things we call outer space.  Just as the critters can't imagine our existence we can't fully understand or imagine the existence of other beings in this vast space of orbs of light we call stars and bits of dust we call planets.

Thank God for this beautiful walk in the cool of the evening and for not having to understand the complexity of life around us.