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Buttoning Down for Winter

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Such a gift, this balmy warm week! I know when the Weather Gods are speaking. I know when to do yardwork. And there is so much yardwork to do in November. 

And there are  sweet rewards as well. The wild persimmons are giving up their fruit. I've never seen them so covered in tempting orange globes. I scavenge beneath the trees daily, gathering what has fallen, what the possums and coons and deer haven't gotten. If they fall before they're ripe, I can get quite a haul, as you see in the photo below.  If they're ripe when they fall, all I find is a woody pedicel, sucked clean by possums. 

I'd also gathered some pears beneath a neighbor's tree. He told me to take them; they don't like them. When I walked up to the tree it was almost dark, and I spooked three does and a buck with a tree on his head out from under the pear. The full moon rising behind him. It doesn't get any better than that.

The next day, Chet Baker and I had been out for a run and, as is typical in November, I'd hobbled home with a shirtful of persimmons. I  went inside, fetched last night's pears, and asked him to sit for a nice fall tableau. He wanted to go inside. 

 You keep saying SQUIRREL and CAT and I know there is not one for a mile around because I have just finished chasteing them all. My ears are pasted back and back they will stay. 
I will ruin your picture by making faces and looking pitiful.

That did not work. You are still shooting. Time to escalate. In this picture I am performing the Audible Tooth Chatter and Violent Tremble. I am cold and it is wet and I want to go INSIDE. NOW.

Little Chet Baker you need to stay here for the picture. Please sit. SIT. 

I will NOT sit. I am cold and you are annoying.  Take your picture. I hope it is ruint.

Oooh. I'm still burning from that epic Stink Eye. It's not all sunshine and kittens with you, is it?

I love hanging out November laundry. Any time I can cheat a season, I do it! Wearing shorts and tank top, dancing around as if it were July.

 Except that the east border is on fire in the evening sun.  Another stink-eye from Chet, who is watching me dig tuberoses and waiting for me to be done so he can go inside and have his dunner.

I'll never be done, Darling Dog. The yardwork this week is epic. The Lord's granted us a week of summer in November, and by gum I'm taking advantage of it.

I go around the yard, appreciating the last and the best. Chicago Peace's last blossom, redolent of apples. 

Just behind, the last morning glories frolic at the base of their towering, frost-ruined vine. Oh, jolly good show! This taken in the evening, when yesterday's blossoms are curling up like popped balloons, and today's are purpling and starting to close, and tomorrow's are trying to open...morning glories get so confused on warm November nights! It's a glorious confusion.

I get my fall sciatica going good, digging the huge clumps of strawgrass out of the garden, seeded from the cheap mulch straw I heap on it all summer long. I'm digging them now because I know I will be flat-out in spring, with the new book coming out.  And they'll be four times this size by April.

I've updated my appearances (see the sidebar to the left, "Julie in the Flesh," and look at April. Gaah.)
Dig now, Zick, while you can still pull most of them without lifting the roots.

The last man standing in the garden is a glorious red Swiss chard plant that looks like it means to feed us until spring.  Burned by frost, it carries on. All hail red chard! We will honor you and harvest you until we can no longer harvest you!

I wonder if the red color has anything to do with its hardiness. Red radiates heat. Hmm. That seems backerds to me.  #sciencechimpthoughts

Back in May a sweet potato sprouted in the cupboard. It had a whole Max Headroom hairdo of curly red sprouts. I lopped off the third that was sprouting and baked the rest. Walked out and planted that third in wet garden soil. The red sprouts turned green, leafed out. By September it had  spread over the whole southeast corner of the garden and was covered in morning-glory like purple flowers. Can't believe I didn't photograph them.

I kind of forgot it was there until I was cleaning up and pulled at a dried but very tough vine. Oh! That must be the yam! I followed to its source, put the spade in and turned up these! To my great surprise, the third of a yam that I'd started with was still firm and showing no signs of rot. But it was festooned in connectors that led to more fat yams! What if I'd forgotten to dig it?  It could so easily have happened, with the fall I'm having!

Lord, how I love plants and the marvelous things they can do.

Yesterday I started deskwork at 7 and knocked off at noon. I put on shorts and headed out to work. I cut all the deadheads and stalks in all the garden beds, pulled up the dead zinnias, cut tops off the last tuberoses, stored those and the glads. Texted Liam to let him know he had some piles to pick up.

The biomass produced by my gardens this year, with its rainy start, was not to be believed. This is one of three garden carts Liam filled with the load of my labor. 

I'd been up with sciatica most of the night before, so this day I sat and cut everything I could reach, repositioned and cut, scooted and cut, scooted and cut. No more bending from the waist for me. It's humbling to have to garden from a sitting position, but we all get there sooner or later. 
There's so much work, and there's only me doing it. Might as well ask the boy to do the hauling. I still had a pond to vacuum, and I managed to finish that just as it got too dark to see. Whew. It was a day.

While Liam's working, his sister calls from Maine. I answer, expecting a telemarketer.  Her opening line: "It was SUCH a beautiful day, but the light is going and I wanted to talk to you while there was still light." Yes, I believe she's my daughter.

Such a beautiful sight, someone I love, helping.  Even though he's on the phone.

The sprouts around the dead birch, going gold, taking over for the tired old tree.  It's rotting in place, pieces of it all over the ground.
And the sprouts sing Hallelujah! here we come!


Fall is definitely wonderful but exhausting. I have back problems also. Two items really help me. One is an exercise ball. Get one a size bigger than you need for actual exercise, and use it as your chair when sitting at your desk - or stand. The other is a little tractor seat weeder. I can weed for hours from this chair. It and the ball both work to keep you back in movement. I often figure how to fit it into my Honda Fit when I know I'll get to do gardening at a wildlife refuge. Here is a link to a picture of it. I also have the cover/pad for it which has pockets for your tools.

Find a chiropractor! They are excellent at relieving sciatica.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Well, except for the sciatica..

I've had the windows open all day, and will keep them open overnight, as it's only going down to 62. This, in November. I love it.

Posted by Anonymous November 5, 2015 at 6:42 PM

What a lovely, poetic ode to fall work. And of course your commentary from Chet made me smile and smile :) Hope the back is improving.

I had a hunch that "poetic ode" was redundant, but didn't check until AFTER I hit publish. Oh well.

It appears the pumpkin is feeling very sorry for Chet from the expression on his face.

On another note, I was doing a survey of local submerged aquatic vegetation using the US Fish and Wildlife Guide for the Chesapeake Bay, and happened to notice you illustrated the wonderful cover! It looks like it was published in 1990. Canvasbacks with pondweed I think.


Posted by Anonymous November 6, 2015 at 3:02 PM

Yes, it was an incredible day here too. Thanks for sharing yours. And the light--the light was something, wasn't it?

This is my favorite post.

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