Friday, October 27, 2017

What's In A Name?

I planted Cardinal Flower for the hummingbirds, thinking nothing more of the name than that the flower was bound to be flaming red, which it is.

The hummingbirds did love it, and I was delighted by seeing the little dudes make their rounds through the garden all summer long. But the hummingbirds made their way South a few weeks ago, and the Cardinal Flower vine has been slowly wrapping up, flowering more slowly and using what energy it has left for setting seed.

This morning I found a line of Cardinal Flower seed pods on the porch railing, torn open, and a female cardinal pecking away at them. She flew off when she saw me and her husband swooped in and took over the feast. There is a whole feeding station set up along the porch rail where they must have been bringing the pods to break open and eat.

I am delighted by this, by my assumption that a flower was named for a bird's color, a surface level nod to the wild world, only to find that it was named for the bird that eats it, a much deeper connection between people, the plants we grow, and the wildlife that flit between the wild and the cultivated.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Old Ben Davis

How many years have I grown apples without ever eating one? I hope this year breaks the curse. I have been watching this apple, from a Ben Davis tree in the espalier around the vegetable garden, for many months. There were two, the only two apples from the new trees, and I picked the first much too early. I have high hopes for its more mature twin.

Other things are blooming in early October: a wonderful perennial sunflower and an unexpected Salvia brought home from an herb fair, labeled simply "sage."

There are lavender and sedum and roses and cosmos too, of course. I forget that October is so full of flowers. I am always focused on the spring, and yet fall has such beauty.

Monday, January 2, 2017

I Finally Find Birds

It isn't like I never liked birds, before. I just didn't find them worth watching, unlike, say, a slowly developing flower bud. But things change. A madman is elected president and I take up bird watching. Perhaps the two are related.

What really started me looking at birds was this new window.

After over a dozen years in our little house we are finally fixing it up - literally fixing the bits that were falling apart, and also making the changes I've dreamed of making but never thought we'd get to. Like having an enormous bay window in an open airy main room. We still need to have dry wall and ceilings put in, but those are details. The important part is sitting in that rocking chair and looking out at the birds as the sun rises each morning.

We've gone through bag after bag of birdseed, and for the trouble we have fed a legion of starlings, a flurry of squirrels, and eight other species of birds that I know of - cardinals, blue jays, tufted titmice, house finches, sparrows, mourning doves, hairy woodpeckers, Carolina wrens. And one rat.

I'm not sure how to think about finding a love of bird watching from the comfort of my rocking chair. If I had found a love of ornithology and field biology I'd be a bit less embarrassed. But perhaps its just that older people know stuff that younger people don't, like that sitting by a window staring out at little creatures with a cup of coffee by your elbow does something good to your brain. So I'm not going to fight it. If I become an eccentric old bird lady, so be it. I could do worse.