Friday, October 4, 2013

A Killing Frost

First Frost
Golden Eagle Pays a Visit
Mystery Pond Guest
Dagnabit Deer
The Garden Continues
Pumpkin Survives, But Not the Vines
Wilting Tower of Tomatoes
Harvesting Sage
Green Tomatoes
Ice clings to grass, glistening like crystalline tubes in the 7 a.m. sunshine. It's not what I expect, but the sky is so blue and clear this morning there remains no mist or low clouds to protect Elmira Pond from the cold air that accompanies blue skies. It's beautiful, yet deadly. How deadly, the day will tell as I walk my garden, patrolling for damage.

For now, the sun is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, these words from Psalm 19. It feels sultry, sending down heat despite crisp air. I bask in this honeymoon warmth with a cup of coffee. I have missed the full sun in my face and I hope it revives some of my garden. Maybe winter gardening was an impossible dream. And like a dream, I catch a flicker of wing disappearing into the pasture grass.

What dives down will rise. But this surprises me. A golden eagle burst up from the tall weeds to fly behind the horse barn and land atop a tall pine. I must have merely caught the tip of his wing or tail. After birdless days, I'm excited to see the eagle. I drink my coffee and watch him watch me from the tree.

Next, I catch movement on Elmira Pond. Figuring it must be turtles, I don't exactly run to see. My next surprise is that a lone migratory duck of an unidentified sort has landed. I feel like a lonely inn keeper, doing the happy dance when unexpected guests arrive to an empty inn. Despite numerous photos and gawking, I can't tell what it is. His beak seems light in contrast to a dark head, but it is bigger than a ring-necked duck.

Time to walk to garden and decide what next. My sunflowers survived the frost but not the deer. Just a few nights ago, Todd stepped outside to hear the clatter of deer hooves on driveway. Scoundrels! Now I realize they were eating the massive leaves of two sunflowers planted at the edge of our garage, overlooking the pond. One is stripped clean. At least they let the flowers heads alone.

In the garden, many plants are robust. The entire row of rutabagas is perk and green. The huge mass of radish pods is hearty and hale. I'm waiting for those pods to dry so I can collect the seeds. All of the Brussels sprout plants and remaining cauliflower are tall and robust. The super-kale continues to be super and even the remaining lettuce is unscathed. Thankfully, my sage survived so I snip it all back, evicting at least five spiders in the process.

Ah, but there are causalities. Was I complaining about prolific zucchini and summer squash? Well, it ends here today. Not only are the plants wilted, the squash on the vine has turned mushy and dark in color. And the tomato plants are toast. The tomatoes are actually good, but green. So I harvest one bucket and two bags of green tomatoes. The cucumbers and all beans are shriveled. Oh, and the flourishing pumpkin vines with their one pumpkin are now doomed to wilt. The pumpkin is good, but yet green. I'll have to cure it in a sunny window, now.

Before I wake up to more endless rain and ultimately snow, I want to mow the yard one last time. I had mowed some of the pasture last month and it actually regenerated grass, so I mow around my raised strawberry beds, green house and as much of the pasture as I can muster strength. The neighbor's dog sneaks up behind me, causing a riot of sorts when my dogs see the occurrence and open the door to let themselves out to they can tell the dog to back off. Startling. I was so into mowing I never even notice until I'm surrounded by three ruffled dogs. My apron serves as a temporary leash and I catch Grendel and call Bobo back. Bob, the dog, goes home.

A killing frost turns out to be a productive day, after all.

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