Down by Julie’s Pond, taken a few years ago. I have to figure out how to get the duckweed back under control on that pond….
The old Silver Maple Thursday, Aug 28 2014
D-Day Birds Tuesday, Aug 26 2014
Actually, a flock of Common Nightjars (Nighthawk), but those white wing flashes!
Pretty neat, we saw a dozen or so hunting high above the fields. They caught my eye because they were just not ‘right’ for either the swifts or swallows. You know it when you see it sort of thing. Too big, wrong wing angle, and the white wing bars.
It turns out that our little group was probably a trailer of a much larger group, numbering in the hundreds. Shortly, after we saw them above our hill, a friend called asking if I had seen a flock in the hundreds on my way home from work. The main flock must have been congregating in the river valley, presumably it is sort of gathering up birds as migration begins.
Never seen them before. Two cool birds in one day (the other was a redtail hawk that I routinely see hunting along a busy urban/suburban road) he caught something in the shrubbery near the Staples/Car dealers/McDonalds, next to a four lane road, as I was stuck at a red-light. Hopefully, he understands traffic….suburban bird-watching!
High grass meadows Monday, Aug 25 2014
Our continuing experiment with several patches of uncut lawn grass, heavily interspersed with yarrow, aster, thyme, goldenrod, black eyed susan, violets, etc continues to be fascinating. In addition to adding a sculptural element: after two years the paths are increasingly well defined, along with a sense of movement; the ecological change is staggering.
Last night I had the occasion to sit out near one of the patches and listen. The tall grass was the source of all of the insect noise, so loud that it was almost distracting. The short grass lawns were dead silent. It was no surprise that the two phoebes were hunting the tall grass. Each bird had his/her patch of fence line and all of their hunting took place in the tall grass areas.
I’ve also noted that the young white oak only began to grow well when it was in taller grass. Now that may be coincidence, or the taller grass may in fact trap more water and keep the soil cooler.
What are the drawbacks? Well, the more insect life thing does mean a greater possibility of ‘bad’ insects: yellowjackets and ticks. I haven’t figured out the best way to control the goldenrod and heart-leaved wood aster (both of which are take-over artists), and I have yet to figure out how best to cut the tall-grass areas. Late fall, I think, but how? String trimmer or scythe and then rake it all up seems to be the best idea so far.
Best management practices and the tweaking thereof will continue to evolve!
‘Teach me some melodious sonnet’ Sunday, Aug 24 2014
Esperanza has always had people who sing living at it. The pianos are stacked not only with Chopin, Sibelius, and others; but also with the ‘Fireside Book’, various hymnals, and songbooks from Yale and other places. For some years in the early/mid twentieth century singing was a regular, evening occurrence often with enough people for solid four part harmony. These days we round up a few skeptical, if game, volunteers at Christmas.
I can’t say that I am at that level; but it is rather fun to slowly start learning various songs. Who knows, someday I might even sing when other people are listening. There are so many songs from American history that are so alive and so rich in their cultural meaning. (and fun to sing) Learning them is a connection not only to the music but to the past.
Sunflower Friday, Aug 22 2014
In lieu of all content!
The Quiet Road Monday, Aug 18 2014
It has been decades, centuries nearly, since the road was a quiet road across the hill, white in the starlight. Yet tonight, walking back home along the widened, paved highway where the average speed is somewhere near 60, there was the briefest sense of that silent pale ribbon that wound down the hill. It was cold, the cold of early fall when it is summer still, when the crickets are still singing and the bats are fast-flying hunters above the fields. There was a lull in the traffic just then and only one car passed. I wondered what they thought of the woman in the long, dark skirt, her hair up in an old style, walking down the road in the night. Nothing at all I am sure, if even they saw me.
If ghosts walk, it is not in the cemeteries, but on the long roads that no man walks today, where ten thousand travelers pass and not one knows the way itself.
Every so often Sunday, Aug 17 2014
I take a meander about the grounds and reflect appropriately. That I should be so lucky to live here! The soaring trees, the shadows and the light, the long, wind blown meadow grass alive with the singing crickets. The deep cool club mosses, a thousand flowers.
The glory of world lies before me. The challenge lies in embracing this moment, this here and now, and not wondering about the inevitable future. And if one considers the future, who is to say that the gain will not outweigh the loss. If now is alive in beauty can the future be less?
A random fact Saturday, Aug 16 2014
The tulip tree, happily growing in a prime location, and not that old relatively speaking (planted early 1970’s) has a rough measurement of circumference at 5ft up of: 106 inches; which though is shy of three feet in diameter. The magnolia clocks in at 190 inches, 15 plus feet, give or take, or a just a hair over five feet in diameter… I suppose I ought to stop considering the tulip tree to be small? I mean it is, frankly, if you were looking at it from the standpoint of the Pacific Northwest, or Old-Growth, or high quality timber, but it isn’t Small…
Gladiolus Thursday, Aug 14 2014
A flower that has fallen solidly out of fashion; but frankly there are few others out there that are such consistent producers of clean, elegant, easily kept cut flowers. They also, with a bit of thought, can be used as accents in a garden Something to be said for that; the fact that they are ‘easy’ notwithstanding…
Aren’t we glad Wednesday, Aug 13 2014
that this project is done! It has been raining, hard. August is either bone-dry* or exceedingly soggy. This year is soggy.
This was taken when they had done the northern (left) three quarters.
*for New England.