Cardinals

moon phase Week of 10/20/2002 Best days to plant above ground

Cardinals

The small stream flows with fresh, clean spring water and is only 100 ft. from the house. It is strange the way it comes out of a hillside a quarter mile south of the house then goes north for a 1/2 mile or so before emptying into a larger trout stream. The trout stream runs north-west until it empties into the south flowing Kickapoo River. North flowing streams around these parts are maybe unusual but not unheard of. Because of the almost mountainous landscape, these fresh water springs may often run through a couple miles of farmland before being able to join with the south flowing river.

I don't drink regularly from this no- name stream, although I can't resist a taste once in awhile. There's a tiny pool in the stream where I can dip out a five gallon pail full of water when I need it. It's always such a pure pleasure to just be there and it makes toting the heavy pails much less painful.

This frosty morning, I walked down to the pool to take in the beginning of the morning. The water was still except for six water-striders that skimmed over the surface causing white ripples on the dark water. Colorful fall leaves of all kinds floated in the water and were slowly pulled to the narrow end of the pond where they made a dam around the rocks. Soon the stream banks will be covered with snow and the rocks covered by ice.

Three cardinals chirp nervously as they sit together in the branches above the bird feeder. They see me in the dim early morning light but soon give in and flutter down to the sunflower seeds below. The cardinals are often the first birds to show up in the morning and the last to feed at night. I'm so glad that the red birds spend the winter here. I did find it a little odd that some of the adult cardinals were still feeding their young at the bird feeders. I've never seen that as late as the third week of October.

As I walked across the frosty white yard towards the house, I heard a robin above me. I looked up just as a large flock of migrating robins passed by. I quickly tried to get a head count just for the fun of it and counted 45.

I paused to listen for more robins but all I heard was the babbling of the stream behind me. Always talking softly, like an old friend who always has something to say.

My morning chores include carrying a small bucket of compost to the compost bin out behind the shed. The night before I had gone over the dirt floor in the shed with a garden rake so I could tell what came to visit in the night. I wasn't surprised to see the tracks left by the opposum who has been living under a nearby board pile. Also mixed in with the star-shaped possum tracks, were the small round tracks of a skunk. Pepé didn't leave any nasty scent lingering in the air and his tracks were the only sign that he was there. I've always kept a small area raked smooth to see what kind of animals leave their tracks. You never know what you might find in the dirt or fresh snow.

This afternoon the sun has dried the pods of the runner beans. The leaves on the vines are gone now and the dry beans are easy to pick. I filled a paper shopping bag nearly full and hung them in a cool dry place in the basement for safe keeping. They will mean food for the next summer's hummingbirds and butterflies. I've been using the seed from the same red runner beans for the past 20 years.

Another thing to do is dig up the annual bulbs that will also be stored through the long winter in the basement. I used a potato fork to dig the clumps of canna lilies and dahlias. It's a hard job but kinda fun and besides it's cheaper than buying new bulbs in the spring.

There's lots to do in the garden before the ground freezes but it's a beautiful time of year so I'm easily distracted. My thoughts drift ahead to next summer's garden and how much there is to do now to prepare for it. With less speculation and little more work all my gardening dreams will come true.

All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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