Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Wind Comes

It is just before 4:00 on a windy afternoon in autumn, the kind of windy day where two hundred foot tree tops wave back and forth against a semi-cloudy blue sky, the kind of windy day that causes leaves to shush most of mankind’s back ground noise into the distance, the kind of windy day that turns the descending sun into stars of light that peak through the tree branches.

Chickadees come close to the feeder and scold me for sitting on my deck and interfering with their peaceful snacking, but quickly give up and steal a sunflower seed and fly away to a tall oak at the edge of the yard where they pummel it against a branch until the sweet meat is released and like small children they come again and again.

The noise of the wind rises and falls and clouds up in the sky slowly grow from misty white lace to cotton balls that link to form a downy comforter slowly hiding the blue blanket.  I keep thinking that some type of big vista music should be building in the background to accompany this fall change in weather.

The turkey vultures that look so raw and ugly on the ground have become brown feather kites waltzing in the air, dancing so gracefully with each gust that they have been transposed to sky dancers.  They sweep and fall and no longer seem part of this earth.  I am the ugly grounded being.

Brown dry leaves dance at my feet as the wind pushes them across the deck.  They claw and scratch but their time is done.  They soon will become soil and feed another plant in the spring.  Now they are old and veined and torn in places reminding me of myself.  I was once young and lime green and full of the sun’s energy.

A small tuft of a groundsel tree seed is caught in the table top struggling to be released on the important journey of regeneration.  The wind continues to bring whispers of winter hurrying me along to collect buckets of kindling, to split more wood and to inhale deeply the warm air before it  is gone.

Everything remains such a luxurious green that the season is still cloaked in deceptive costume.  We have had the rains that made the plants think the change in season was not coming.  Even the fescue has re-emerged to hide the healthy crab grass and we can walk once again on soft velvet.  But the wind is  like a mother's hands shooing her children  on their way home before nightfall.

None of us know how many of these moments are left for us, so I savor each one.  I study and listen and smell the beginning of autumn as it opens the door to begin its starring role.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Named After a Greek God

There is a steady plant that blooms so faithfully along the shore of "my" river at this time of year. Like most fall flowers it also is a member of the aster family.  I think mine is the Baccharis halimifolia, but we just call it saltbush.  Another common name is groundsel tree.  It has an herby smell in the fall and reminds one of the dry crispness of leaves and fall weather and maybe the far from here desert of the West.

The rising waters of the river with higher tides during some years have pushed this fellow back against the shoreline and killed some of my plants.  Yes, it never fails to show brightly like little lights against the water as all the leaves on the trees change colors.

The flowers resemble silver paint brushes.

It is an important food source for all the pollinators trying to get the last nutrition before the first frost.  In summer it is a shelter for the nests of marsh wrens.  Like many plants it can be an invasive and this one is considered to be in Australia of all places!

It also makes a very nice backdrop to the sunset.

Baccharis is the ancient Greek name (derived from the god Bacchus) of a plant with fragrant roots.  I did not find anything about wine.  As the season ages these white paintbrushes become exploding tufts of cotton floating freely on the air.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Going to miss the sweet warm glow of summer. But glad that I am still part of the cycle of life. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Walk in the Woods?

First we saw the movie (not great but OK) and then we got motivated and headed to the same mountains.  Weather held beautifully until our day to go home!

Some of the trees were slowly changing, but only one type.

We did take a few of the trails but walked less than five miles. I wanted to get back early to shower and dress for dinner!

There is something so healthy about crisp mountain fall air!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Brass Band Has Arrived

As I sat at the end of another perfect day chatting with the sun as it shortened our visit and hurried out the door ...

...I thought I heard a familiar sound...

And, yes, it was my old Canadian friends returning to spend the winter... of course, bringing along their brass band.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Autumn Stars

They are Asteraceae and commonly called asters.  These blossoms are the final feeding stations for bees and other pollinators at the very end of fall.  These are the final delicate beauty as we say good bye to summer.  With so many cultivars (180 species) it is difficult to tell the difference between the two major varieties/short and tall.  Some of the short ones are taller and some of the tall ones are shorter!  The names aster means "star" and when looking at the blossoms that are like daisies, one can understand.  One site recommends pinching back 6 to 8 inches by mid-July to maintain good structure.  I have not done this, but will probably need to in the future.  My asters are perennials while some landscape places sell annuals.  Some grow in shade, most in sun, some grow in marshes and others on dry plains, they range in height from nine inches to 6 feet!  Something to please everyone. (They tend to emerge late in early summer, so don't pull them and think they are weeds.)   Below are my asters that are blooming this month.

This last is with filters and some dodging and burning.

More information on asters can be found here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fabulous Encore

As fall arrives and the sun begins moving to the left across the horizon at the edge of my finger of the river, I begin to see lovelier and sometimes stranger sunsets. Here are two to share.