It's 6 am and I'm heading out the door. The weatherman said it was going to be a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so I made plans to spend it with a friend on the river.
The sun won't come up for a while yet, but there's enough light to see the the seed-covered heads of the phlox near the house. I knew at once what I had to do, and that was to harvest the phlox seeds before I go anywhere. Why couldn't it wait until tomorrow you may ask? I knew that after yesterday's rain, the ripe seeds would probably dry in the warm sun and burst open. They actually SNAP when the outer shell dries, sending the tiny black seeds flying several feet from the plant. I had been planning on using some seed to start a blanket of phlox near the clothesline, and it looks like it was now or never if i wanted some seed. It took me only about 15 minutes to pick about a cup of the shell-covered seeds, and I didn't take the time to deal with them so I took them in and set the cup on the kitchen table and went on my way.
After a day of fun in the sun, I came home to see phlox hulls all over the kitchen table and the floor. The sun had come through the window and warmed the seeds in the cup, making them burst open. Only about an inch of seed was sent shooting across the room to places unknown. At first, I thought a mouse had been in the house while I was gone. I even had a little talk with the house cat, asking him if he was sleeping on the job, maybe—but he just yawned and went back to sleep. Then it dawned on me that the hulls were still there, but the seed was gone. A deer mouse would have simply filled his cheek pouches and cached them somewhere.
I rolled the rest of the seed in my hands and hulled them into a brown paper bag. There was still enough daylight to go out and cast the seed over the ground where I wanted to see the pretty lavender flowers in a couple of years. The phlox will attract butterflies, bees and some hummingbirds who will enjoy the nectar from the sweet flowers. In the late summer evenings, the hawk moths will also take advantage of the phlox flowers. October is when the finches visit the phlox to eat the nutritious black seeds. Taking a little extra time in my busy day to harvest some seeds will pay off in big dividends of pleasure down the trail. Seems I can never have enough butterflies and hummingbirds in my life.
The canoe trip was great, a wonderful way to spend a day with beautiful scenery and good conversation with a friend. After about an hour, we got a good look at a Great Gray owl who had been perched in a tree near the river. The big owl flew across the river in front of us as we passed by. It reminded me of another friend's story of seeing a Great Gray owl in Northern Minnesota two weeks ago.
A little red Screech owl has been roosting in the owl box near the house. I see him early every morning and at sunset each night. I rarely ever see the little owl during the summer, but he shows up like clockwork every fall.
As the weather gets colder, the food source for many animals becomes more and more scarce. Frogs and snakes go into hibernation, and there are fewer insects to eat if you are a hungry skunk, possum or raccoon. The edge of the road is a good place to find something to eat now but it's dangerous. The bodies of many of these wild animals can be seen along the roads, a high price to pay for being hungry.
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