From my friend Maureen Hirthler: some wonderful photos.
From my friend Maureen Hirthler: some wonderful photos.
Far away on forward operating bases military men and women are cleaning their weapons and going about their business. It is just another day. Tomorrow, ops permitting, there will be time for a brief ceremony with a wreath, a flag, and perhaps a yellow ribbon to pay their respects for those who paid it forward. Those of us who served with them or waited for them to come home mark the holiday in our own way. For all of our differences, the one thing each of us who has ever deployed had in common was the desperate wish to make it out alive.
Hawks: a mating pair. Bryon watched them through binoculars. The one on the right ate first and flew away to feed young. We think they have a nest nearby.
If you compare this to the photo from a couple of weeks ago, you’ll see that there has been some progress. Here’s what’s behind me:
Blackberries and a purple bell pepper. Scarlet runner bean and potato flowers. The potatoes have been taking over the lower bed! We even had a surprise visitor–this one’s harmless.
The hatchlings in the orange tree have mysteriously disappeared, and we fear they may have become someone’s meal. However, other birds haven’t been discouraged from starting families nearby. The ones in the apple tree are almost teenagers now!
The gopher that was digging a new tunnel under the persimmon tree has been neutralized. Mr. MacGregor, the wicked farmer who made a widow of Peter Rabbit’s mother, would have been proud. A few gentle taps stunned the unsuspecting perpetrator. Justice, and lunch, were served.
Our rosy boa is pretty docile, and continued to eat while I took pictures.
Bryon says that rosy boas are relatively slow snakes and prefer to corner their prey in a hole. (No wonder gophers are considered a delicacy.) Rattlesnakes, by contrast, are usually surface hunters (and much more dangerous, although for different reasons).
As he swallows, the muscles contract to move the meal through the digestive tract. Watching the scales move is strangely mesmerizing. Morbidly so perhaps, but this omnivore makes no apologies.
It took Mr. Snakey about half an hour to finish his meal.
He’s napping now, and probably won’t need to eat for a week or two.
So far the plants are holding their own.
Hints of future salads have already begun to appear.
As I poked around I remembered Bryon’s warning about “critters”. Earlier in the morning he killed a young rattlesnake sunning itself between the boxes. Luckily, today’s visitor was much less scary.
With all the activity—nest building, hatchlings, seedlings and weeds sprouting—the garden feels new, hopeful, a little heady. I’m sitting inside today, agreeing with George Bernard Shaw and scowling: youth really is wasted on the young. What about that proverb that said, “Age and deceit will overcome youth and skill”? Maybe the Greeks were onto something …
Where’s the love for “age and deceit”? What is the point of learning—and benefiting—from one’s mistakes if there is no possibility to reboot? An entirely blank slate implies that nothing that came before mattered. How can anybody go forward if there is no reference point to go forward from? Milk of amnesia has its place, and sometimes it isn’t wrong to drink deeply. Sometimes memory is the remedy, even if the medicine is bitter.
Forgetting is easy; keeping an honest memory is hard. An honest memory isn’t neatly curated, since it includes not only those finest moments but also the ones best left in a dark place (probably because they have an annoying habit of flashing on the internal Jumbotron so they can be relived at the worst times). Embrace it—experience is the raw material for your new start.
One bird has set her sights away from the fruit trees, inside the light over the garage door opener, and near bags of birdseed. It’s prime avian real estate: secluded with on-site catering. What’s not to like? How does she know this spot, and why does she keep coming back? Bryon has cleaned out the half-completed results of her construction efforts at least twice already. She was probably raised here a couple of years ago. We had left the garage open all day and returned to a nest, complete with eggs.
Today I made sure the garage door was open. I heard chirping and, from the corner of my eye, saw a branch fly into the garage.
Our fruit trees are very productive.
The four eggs in the orange tree hatched, so of course I had to go and pay a visit:
Here is a nest in an apple tree.
An apple blossom with a camera-shy bee.
A lady bug on a potato plant. We have orange and red lady bugs here. I’m not sure what the difference is, but as long as they eat aphids, they are welcome!
Here’s what I saw when I stepped out my front door today and took what I thought would be a simple stroll down the road leading to our driveway.
The woodpile is ready for the next cold day–which should be a few months away.
Wildflowers and yucca plants grow along the road.
“Leaves of three–leave them be!”–Poison Oak.
While I was happy to come in out of the sun, what I really wanted to do was pick the stickers out of my socks. Next time I venture into the weedy wilds, I’ll break out my combat boots.
“Come out and see what’s up in the garden,” Bryon said. I had taken the day off and already shredded my to-do list.
The morning’s fog had burned off and taken the early chill with it.
We had a bumper crop of potatoes last summer. Things are off to a promising start.
We like bok choy in stir fry, so these sprouts are a welcome sight.
However, we weren’t the only ones who noticed that things had begun to sprout. This intruder was quickly squashed.
Buster, who is normally camera-shy, is preoccupied with a lizard. Usually the lizard wins, but not today.
Bryon shows me some early speckled lettuce. Easy to miss.
The white seedling on the left is blue popcorn. The white seedlings don’t reach maturity, but Bryon isn’t sure why.
Some dinosaur kale, waiting to be harvested. We enjoy it in soups and stews.
The birds like to line their nests with Buster’s fur. While I took this picture Bryon and I could hear the mother nearby. She couldn’t wait for us to leave!