Monday, October 31, 2011


Today is Hallowe'en, the last day of October, and good riddance.
Saturday brought a storm into the northeast which downed branches still loaded with leaves, which broght down wires and shut off electricity in many communities. Communication systems were interrupted and traffic slowed to a crawl, even for the few people who were brave (or stupid) enough to venture forth.

I live in a small condo community where there is only one child, because he goes out of town to school and has two working parents, seldom is in the neighborhood. We don't get many "trick-or-treaters" from the neighboring family homes. Maybe they go to parties, or maybe they don't think we want them. I want them. I love to see them, and having lived in an area where they came by the dozens, I miss them. I buy juice boxes for them because if no one comes, I can always use them myself. The kids seem to like them, and the parents love them.

So, Maine today, cloaked in white still because it hasn't warmed up much today, is like a "tween". No longer fall (except by the calendar) and not yet winter. Not enough snow go sledding, but enough to make it tricky under foot. I will fill the bird feeder and hang it; shut off the hoses and put away the nozzles. Last year I didn't put the nozzles away and had to buy new ones. LIve and learn.

Button up your overcoat, put on your gloves and scarves and get a breath of cold fresh air.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

October - a short month

Well, not short of days by the calendar, but the time goes quickly from the end of September to the beginning of November because there is much to take care of. Cutting back shrubs, cleaning out gardens, putting away summer furniture and decoratoins. We chance the weather will be good as long as we dare, and then scurry to see that it all gets done before the first snow. Of course, the movable objects have to be brought inside before Hallowe'en because there will always be a prankster or two out to relocate them if you don't.

On a drive just north a bit recently, through my favorite rock-lined mile or two of highway, I noticed the rocks have darkened with the colder rainier climate. Most of the striation is muted, proof in my estimation, that rocks reflect seasons almost as clearly as trees. Not long from now cold nights will coat them with frost, which when it melts as the day goes on, will cause tears to flow in stremlets.

The cattails and loosestrife and milkweed have ripened and burst to produce more of the their likeness in the spring. All of the evergreens have darkened and the cones, opened and dry, have mostly fallen to the ground. I saw several cones totally chewed to bits; some squirrel or chipmunk must have had an old fashioned picnic, much as we have corn roasts or clam bakes.
I hope he felt sated and pleased with himself, as I do after a favorite feast.

Of course, the apples have been picked and those that did not sell at the orchard are now in storage, in cool dry sheds where they will keep nicely for people who still rely on them until early spring. I make apple sauce with Macs and am grateful to be able to get good ones all winter. My friend makes apple pies. At $8 for a bag that might have as much as 3/4 of a bushel by my estimation, it's a great treat all winter. Apples grown in Maine are better by far than those grown in other areas. Trust me.

My neighbor has just been volunteering at a co-op kind of farm. I am not sure how it works, but he pays a fee once a year, I guess, and then he helps with the harvest, and all summer he and his wife pick up the "crop of the week" . Anyway, Ralph likes to garden and yesterday he spent a good part of the day harvesting. I asked him what? and he said, "leeks, cabbage, broccoli, something which looked like carrots but was much larger (?), and some herbs. " I asked why beets are so expensive and he explained that it takes one seed for each beet and the soil has to be compatible. Who would have guessed they'd be that fussy. After all that work, good man that he is, he helped me get rid of some annuals that had been in the cemetery, and planted a perennial that had been sitting in a pot all summer.

This is the thing about Maine: People are industrious and alway ready to help one another. I hope not too many people come "from away" and change that. It's a genuinly successful survival system.

from Maine -

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October has arrived with rain. We like a bit of rain this time of year to keep the woods and fields wet. But when there are several days in any one week we get a bit soggy. Not like the unfortunate people who have suffered flooding this year in many parts of the country, but uncomfortably wet underfoot and the bones begin to rebel. I don't really think rain is the issue with bones, but I am a believer that changes in atmospheric pressure does cause stress.

Time to trim the flowering shrubs and bring in the potted plants and the patio furniture. Fortunately, we did not have a bad hurricane in this area so we were able to leave everything out over the nice September days. Now, before the ghouls and goblins start doing their Hallowee'n pranks, we must secure everything.

A few years ago someone(s) took the rather sizable and hefty sign at the entrance to our community. It's a big sign, nice gold lettering, bolted in place. We were shocked to see, as we drove out of the drive that there stook two stark posts - like goal posts - with nothing hanging frolm them. The men muttered and sputtered and conjectured on how many young men it would take to steal it; the women tsked and shook their heads over the very nerve of them!
The president called the police who took note. The next day, as we drove out through the entrance we were all amazed to see the sign, not hung - too much trouble and probably would risk being seen doing it - standing against the post. The police did not have an answer. But I think some parent got went into her/his garage and saw the sign leaning against the back wall and said, "I don't care who dared you to do it - take it back immediate!" I would be nice to think conscienced alone urged the return, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.

I'll put out a pumpkin or two to encourage the Great Pumpkin to visit. After the Hallowed NIght, I will put it on the edge of the woods and the local chipmunks and squirrels will take care of them. Maybe if we're lucky, some of the seeds will take root next spring and we'll have our own crop come next October.

Speaking of the resident chipmunks, cute as they are they are dangerously eager to get inside the house. My neighbor has concocted a solution, in both definitions: the solution -some sort of oil, some pungent herbs including garlic, sprayed around the holes seem to be the solution to the problem of them taking up residence in the flower garden. Then another neighbor puts out peanuts and seeds especially to encourage them. Better in her sphere than mine. I love to watch them - at a distance. I once had one who had found access to my kitchen and it sampled each of six tomatoes on my counter, and stuffed my dog's kibbles in a box of Swiffer cloths under the sink.

The rocks are weeping; their faces are shiney. Their black bodies are blacker and their light strias, almost white in August, are gray and yellow, depending on the minerals within. the "cat-o-nine-tails" have burst long ago and are mere stalks standing in the ditches. The milk weed pods have also burst,and the leaves have dropped off. We once found a caterpillar in a milk weed leaf in the process of cocooning. I took it home and put it a jar with enough leaves and twig to cmplete it's process. In the spring a really huge moth emerged. The jar was clearly not going to be big enough to hold it, so I got a big bowl. I rushed it to the nearby four room school where two of my children were in classes. After showing it to the students, we took it to the field whence it came; it flew away. I was told it had no mouth and its sole purpose was to find a mate and breed. After which it would die. So what was it's purpose? Only God knows.
I was tempted to go into the nearby field of milk weed to see if I could find another but at my age it seemed a bit whimsical.