Monday, November 30, 2009

Hunting Season

Today is the first day of gun season for deer.

It's not just the deer that need to take cover. This morning I have heard shots all around my house. I feel like I should hide in the basement until dusk, when the hunters cease and desist.

I'm neutral on the subject of hunting. My dad hunted when I was young, and it afforded me the opportunity to see animals up close, developing a keen appreciation of nature within me. We ate the harvest. I am not a vegetarian, by any means--and that means animals die to feed me. I know the deer herd will suffer if it is not thinned. I still hate to think of killing a creature so wild and beautiful.

All that being said, there are ethical ways to go about hunting. And then there are other ways.

It's not only local landowners and those with their permission whose shots I hear coming from the small woodlots around my home. I don't mind them so much. Some shots being fired are from gangs of men and boys driving around in battered, mud-spattered pick up trucks and SUVs, hoping to see a deer break cover. They then leap out of their vehicle and take shots. I say men and boys because I've never seen a woman do this, although, to be fair, there may be some who do.

I've had to chase these wild-eyed and armed people off our property--and we don't even have woods! I've seen them park beside the road and leap out of a vehicle to lay in the roadside ditch and fire at deer that were flushed from a woodlot by others who, with or without permission, entered it from the other side to do just that. It's a crazy, reckless time, and it surprises me that there are not more accidents than there are. I hate it.

And so: I pray for the safety of all those out there this hunting season.

The Buck in the Snow
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.

Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding the snow.

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers,
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing--a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow--
Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.

Photos from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a Safe & Happy Thanksgiving. Here is your postcard!

But I can't leave this postcard without comment. It's beautiful, isn't it? The table is gorgeous, laden with traditional holiday fare and a stunning bouquet. The hearth is so warm and cozy. The whispered "Thanksgiving" wafted in the steam from some delicious bubbling soup is a whimsical touch. And that delightful cat is so pretty as it gazes into the fire.


I know and love cats. No cat I know would be sitting there gazing contentedly into a fire if there was an unattended table with a roast turkey sitting on it. If this were a photograph, it would have had to be snapped in a split second, just when the turkey was placed on the table. A second later, the scent of that turkey would have drawn the cat to the table, where it would risk life and limb--and a squirt from a water bottle--to nab a drumstick. I had to chuckle at the unknown artist who created such a scene. I think a woman did this, don't you? She must have been a real dreamer. I'd have loved her.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Survival is Silent

The garden is quiet now. I can't tell you what day it was exactly that the birds quit singing, but they did. It's nothing more ominous than the approach of winter that has driven them away to warmer parts of the world. Gone are the bluebirds, kildeer, thrushes and wrens. The remaining birds are not singing. Survival is the mode now, not breeding. Survival is silent.

On warmish evenings, even as late as earlier this week, I would hear the occasional field bird--perhaps a horned lark?--twittering as it settled for the night. I might even hear a weak chirp of a cricket from the pile of foundation rocks where the barn used to be. Now they are silent, too. One more insect generation is gone, with the future buried in the sand and clay, waiting for the return of warmer days.

Our property is slowly evolving, an oasis springing out of flat farmland. As our trees gain maturity they will attract different kinds of birds, winter birds. These are the birds you might hear in the woods as they flit about looking for food: chickadee, cardinal, tufted titmouse, nuthatch, woodpecker. So far we don't have these, but one year we will. I listen all winter. December, January, February and March will all pass in profound silence. Then one day in April or May there will be the most magical song on the air. It might be the trill of a song sparrow. It might be the tinkling notes of the horned lark. Another winter will be done.

Note: The above photos of the horned lark, black capped chickadee, and cardinal are used with permission from the most awesome Ohio nature web site,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mid-November: Things to See

Today was sunny and mild so I pulled thistles and sprayed weeds in the flower bed. I did this as daylight faded to dusk, so I hope the spraying is effective. It was too breezy to risk it earlier in the day. I have other garden chores to attend to; maybe tomorrow will also be pleasant.

After the blaze of autumn color that we had the past few weeks the vista here is dull and brown. Above I show the view just beyond my flower beds. Although it looks barren, every little movement made by the local populations of deer, fox, coyote, raccoon, rabbit and hawk is more visible now. I find my eyes constantly sweep the horizon, looking.

Oh, and speaking of things to see: the stars on these clear evenings are dazzling. As we approach new moon (Nov. 16, to be exact), the sky appears velvety and dark, and the planets and stars glitter all the more brightly.

I stolled the yard with Roxy, our little yorkie-lhasa apso mix, last night at about 10 PM. I faced west and searched the sky for constellations--I'm no pro, but I do recognize the Big Dipper. I turned around so I could take everything in, and there was Orion, the hunter, caught mid-leap over the eastern horizon. "Oh, there you are!" I said out loud. Roxy looked up at my comment, but soon found the enticing smells of night more interesting than anything I had to say. Between my skywatching and her ground-sniffing, we observed the night and found it to be excellent.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Notes: The November Yard and Garden

A couple of days ago I snapped these photos of my flower bed and Gourdhenge. I made a few random notes about my November yard and garden. Doesn't the sky look leaden? It wasn't terribly cold that day though--we've been having rather mild weather so far. I haven't cleaned anything up yet for winter. I suppose I should take advantage of the relatively warm days we've been having to prune and weed and rake, but by the time I get home from work it's dark.

I noticed the grass has taken on a healthy green color again as we've had some much-needed rain this fall, but the lawn is patchy and full of weeds. I have heard that weed killers (glyphosate) should be applied in November, before Thanksgiving. I hope I have a wind-free day to tackle some patches of thistle that have sprung up in the flower beds. It would be nice to eradicate some of that problem now.

Many of the trees have lost their leaves already, but the Cleveland pear in my second photo is still a blaze of color. Attractively shaped and hardy, this ornamental tree is less prone to breakage than its cousin, the Bradford pear. I wish I had a row of them, but am happy to have even this solitary specimen.

In the third and final photo, Gourdhenge stands, a skeletal frame in the recently plowed garden. Gone are the riotous, lush vines that covered the structure and the surrounding area. The soil will rest from gourds, perhaps becoming the site of my cutting garden next year. Gourdo is experimenting with rotating the flowers with the gourds. Just as our local farmers rotate their crops of soybeans, corn and wheat, we need to rotate the gourds with other plants in order to help control disease and insects.

Cleaning up in the yard and garden now should reap benefits next year. I hope Mother Nature grants us a good weekend so I can tackle those chores before the really cold weather arrives. Photos by JulenaJo.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Silently Waiting

The garden cherub looked so peaceful and pensive all summer. He appears melancholy on the inside of the patio door, where he rests for the winter.

It's for his own good. I learned the hard way that most small statuary and garden ornaments need protection from freezing weather. A lovely mosaic birdbath lost all its tiles over winter a couple years back. I won't make such a mistake with this little fellow.

So he, and his companions, will remain indoors for the winter. I sit with them and we all view the garden until spring, silently waiting for the return of warmth and another season of growth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winter? Not So Bad

These terra cotta pots filled with lush, living plants thrive at my mother-in-law's house. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not have a green thumb when it comes to house plants. It's mostly a water issue, I think. I either under-water or over-water. Then there is the matter of fertilizer. Some? None? How much? What kind? Which windows shall I position them in? Southern exposure is too hot; northern exposure is too dark. Alas!

I remember a college roommate who filled an entire bay window with stunning houseplants. They were her babies. She spoke to them and coddled them and I always felt the plants responded. I admired her, but could never emulate her.

Much better for me is any plant grown outdoors. There Mother Nature does the work, and I take in the compliments. Ok, perhaps I am downplaying my involvement. I've experienced sore muscles and exhaustion from hours spent digging, sowing, cutting, raking, and weeding. Man! I get tired thinking about it. Perhaps winter is not so bad after all. I will read the catalogs and review my notes and daydream, daydream, daydream. It's all so much easier on the back! Photo by JulenaJo.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Voting Day

Sometimes, when we get caught up in the challenges and stresses of daily living, it's difficult to count one's blessings. On our election days we're reminded of a huge blessing that we mostly take for granted: freedom. Our national freedom comes with a price, it's true, but every Election Day you have the right to vote for people and issues you believe in. Don't want to vote? That's your right, too. No one's going to make you--you're free here. I am going to vote today, though; it's a small price to pay for freedom.