Sunday, October 29, 2006

Needles Drop Last

4 PM but my watch says it's 5. I can always remember "spring ahead, fall behind", but changing all the clcoks and timers is something I don't like. I'm almost never late but sometimes I'm a bit early. On October third I was early for a dentist appointment which was really scheduled for tomorrow--the 30th, not the 3d. Some much for the virtues of my hand held.

The snow blows and stops, blows and stops with intermittent pelting of larger ice crystals on my office window. There was a possibility we would receive 6" of snow late today but it hasn't really gotten started yet. The temperature is dropping slowly but is still close to freezing so the snow flakes are not stacking up yet.

We did well on our clean up list today and within a week everything should be finished. I do have a lot of leaves left to pick up with the leaf vac/mulcher and get piled up for spring. One of the listservs I'm on has been discussing clay soils and amendments which will improve things over time. That's why I save all my shredded leaves as they really help. In the old days I thoroughly amended every hole for every new plant but in recent years for planted gardens I've followed the new strategy. I try to layer out an extra inch of leaves every spring after clean up is finished and the rains are consistent. As little as an inch of leaves holds down the moisture and reduces weed growth quite a bit. I wait til spring so the voles don't have an easier time feeling comfortable over the winter as they eat my crops. They don't hibernate so my theory makes sense.

Some people use a lawn type fertilizer on their daylilies in fall. That is something I've never done but those that do, sprinkle on the fertilizer just after Labor Day. They say it promotes larger root systems which I'm sure it does. We have a lot of chores and just can't find time to even think about it.

I drove down towards Boulder Beach today. I had planned to drive up into the hills behind the Nature Center which is part of the state forest system here. The road was locked off so I turned around and stopped for a minute at the entrance to Stillwater Campground to take a couple pictures. The yellows of the birch leaves slowly losing their grip on the tree branches stood out in contrast to the smaller yellow needles of the larches. I say "larch", others say "tamarack" but either way it's the only conifer which loses it needles annually. The forest floor and adjacent roadways are carpented in yellow now and with today's wind the color in the picture will change to the brown and black of the tree branches, defoliated by Mother Nature for another 6 months. If you look over the larches in the picture you'll see Owls Head and Big Deer Mountains, two more of my favorites.

Owls Head has some of the most spectacular views in Vermont. During the Civilian Conservation Corps days, the workers installed a set of granite steps up the mountain. When they reached the top they built a little gazebo. I could never figure out how tall these workers were because the steps are taller than my step and I can handle a good one. Over the years the smaller people have walked around the steps and made their own paths along the way. On a clear day you can see a long way and even with rain or fog you can see Groton and Kettle Ponds. Hawks float by, an occaisonal Peregrine Falcon drops bullet-like into the swamp below, and groups of turkey buzzards land on the ledges preening and hissing sentences which I do not understand. I have even seen a Northern Ring Necked Snake up there, how and why I do not know. They don't say much.

Big Deer is a walk away but not far. In the late May-early June time frame the trail is bordered by a very nice wildflower collection which is wonderful to look at and work your identification skills on. Soon the hay scented ferns grow thicker and locating nice flowers gets a little trickier. Right now the flowers are dormant on both mountains but I can see them in my mind from my many walks to both these places.

Light is fading quickly. The tarp on the woodpile needs tightening down before supper. There's always something.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond to which folks like my friend, Eric from Massachusetts return as often as possible to offer a welcome, see the sights and enjoy the peace.

Gardening wishes on a blustery night,

George Africa

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