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Fall Arriving

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Fall Arriving

Sept. 16, 2010

Fall is arriving reluctantly this year. We have been having autumn weather patterns on and off for almost a month—cool, windy, rainy weather. But it has still been interspersed with hot hazy sunny days. We have started the woodstove up again. It feels good on a chilly morning. The only tree that is showing any signs of color is the red maple by the front of the house. It is always the first to turn.

As of last week, the hummingbirds were still around. They are always the last ones to arrive in the spring and the first ones to depart in the fall. I have not seen one for a couple of days, so maybe they have headed south now. I am thinking that our first frost will be late this year, since I think they usually leave sooner than this.

I was looking out the kitchen window one morning and saw our friend the great blue heron doing his flyover. He comes up the valley, flap…flap…flap…just above the level of the trees in the meadow, headed straight for the house like a B1B bomber. Then he always sails over the roof and lands in the pond on the other side of our property. When we lived in Wichita, our home was off the end of an Air Force base runway, and I used to watch the bombers go over just like that.

But this time he got as far as the great pine tree at the edge of the meadow and stopped there. He landed on a branch and stood for quite a while, surveying the yard. He looked so strange up there. I am not used to seeing a heron in a tree like that. Usually when I see them they are up to their knees in the pond, looking for lunch.

He stayed in the pine tree long enough for me to go get my binoculars and have a good look at him. And then he waited while I got my camera and took a photo of him. It was a long shot, zoomed in as far as I could get with my little Canon, but you can see him in the branches in my photo. Then he took off and continued on his way overhead.

This summer was an exceedingly hot, dry summer. The last two summers had been wet and cool, so it was a nice change. We had more butterflies, fewer ticks, a lot less slugs, and not as many dragonflies as usual. Last year we had snow peas in the garden all summer, but lost our tomatoes to the blight. This year the snow peas shriveled up in the heat, but the tomatoes are coming on like gangbusters. We have dried many trays of them in our dehydrator already, and there is no end in sight. Those dried tomatoes will be really welcome in January salads.