Thursday, September 8, 2016

Seasonal Shift

In the background of each passing day is the subtle change in the length of its daylight.  Our customary summer wake up time of 6 am. has slid to 7 am. in response to the now longer period of night darkness.  We no longer have the rigid schedule mandated by a job.  We happily fill each day with activities of our choice but the time of year is impacting each day now.  Our gardens need to be as weed free as we can get them and the driveway must be ready for the snow plow so much remains to be done as the length of our workday lessens.

New flowers now fill the fields and abandoned corners of the gardens.  The summer sweetness of milkweed flowers has been replaced by the masses of dark yellow goldenrod blossoms.  Asters and goldenrod will keep the bees fed from now until frost.

This field of yellow is ours.  The nearby hill belongs to our neighbor and we have always had his permission to walk there.  In our younger days we thought nothing of exploring that wooded slope singly or in groups.  We found the road that once led to a home site but failed to find the remains of that remote cabin.  Once I saw the rear end of a bear as it disappeared into the undergrowth.  We found a coyote den between a cluster of glacial erratics. Older and maybe smarter now I am no longer confident that a safe return will follow a solitary trip into the woods and I no longer explore there.

Goldenrod is sometimes sold as a garden plant.  Hardy and beautiful makes for a desirable plant but this one has a dark side.  Underground growth is so tenacious that tracked power machines may be needed to remove it once it is established.  It is best removed while young especially if the tools at hand are limited to a pry bar and spade.  I am trying to restore a back meadow to grass for our other neighbor's horses.  It may be that repeated mowing will turn the balance in the favor of grass and clover. It worked for the walking paths, but the milkweed still comes back!

The nearly pristine condition of this area shows the type of work that did not happen last year.  Our weeds went into winter unmolested and dropped an uncountable number of seeds.  A constant battle has been waged this year to try and shift the balance in our favor.  For the moment, conditions look good.  Bare ground never remains growth free and continued  vigilance will be required to keep the weeds at bay.

The patch of brown grass clippings marks the path between two planting beds.  Our habit is to define the paths with small stones sifted from the planting soil.  The last glacier dropped more clay and fewer stones here so we  modify and adjust.  Occasionally, small stone is trucked in to finish the path perpendicular to the dried grass.  It is unlikely that enough stone will be found in this area to finish the job.

Potatoes still need to be harvested from the green area in the distance.  Our harvest has been small in response to  hot dry summer weather.  Despite the disappointing crop, we plan to finish digging and clear the remaining weeds.

On our trip for supplies this afternoon, we encountered the first school bus of the season.  Its flashing red lights stopped traffic in both directions on a busy state highway for a long time.  Mom, dad and little sister waited impatiently for the young man to finally step off of the bus.  Mother smothered him with hugs and kisses after this first day of school.  She will have to restrain herself in the future or her son's bus rides will include teasing from the older less loved boys.  This farm is one of the best in the valley.  The family that had operated it since the 1950's is gone and a new family has taken over the operation.  Hard long hours are needed here and it was heartwarming that dad took time away from his work to greet his son as he returned home from school.  Family values must be in place if the family farm is to survive.

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