Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Gracious and Lovely Blogger Comes for Tea!

I am sure you all know the feeling . . .  when you meet someone, who immediately makes you feel comfortable and you somehow know will become a good friend in time. Well such was my feeling the minute I met Pat, author of the outstanding blog 'Commonweeder'. I was so taken by her beautiful blue eyes, generous spirit, delightful wit and relaxed, graceful nature. 

Pat is a writer  . . . has been a writer for a very long time. She writes for a local newspaper 'The Greenfield Recorder' and has her own column titled 'Between the Rows', which can be read on her blog each Saturday. Imagine writing a column every week for thirty years. 'Commonweeder'  is nearly three years old and is the reason I have the good fortune to have Pat walk into my life and gardens. Pat and I live about forty minutes from one another, though we may never have met . . .  if not for blogging. She calls her home in Heath 'End of the Road' and this is where she gardens, writes and bakes lots of cakes and pies. She arrives for tea offering one of her cakes and her reputation as a gourmet cook is not exaggerated. It was so light and delicious. 

After tea we walk about the gardens and into the south field, where I hope to share many Monarch butterflies flitting about the Asters. While walking, I learned more about Pats interesting life. She lived in China from 1989 - 1990 and again for a year in 1995, where she worked as an editor of an English language magazine titled 'Women of China.' Pat tells me the magazine offered an honest look of women's lives, at that time, in the past and going ahead . . .  changes that were occurring to improve their lives. The times that Pat was living in China gave her a different perspective on two major events . . . the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and in 1995 the UN Women's Conference. She said "Both of those years opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined about life in other countries." Pat was also sending essays back to the Greenfield Recorder during these years. I look forward to hearing more about this amazing journey Pat. 

Pat taught me that the way to bake the best apple pie is by using several different kinds of apples. I was happy to be able to offer her at least three varieties to take home. 

The field of Asters and Goldenrod were filled with thousands of wild Honeybees and we did see a few Monarchs at the farther edge of the field.

Pat quietly exclaimed when eyeing this Maple all painted in rich red hues hanging above the swaths of purple. The light was gone from the field, when we were walking . . . we were so engaged in conversation and cake that the time just flew by. I took these photos the next day, when the light was better.

Meeting a fellow blogger after getting to know them in the virtual world is such a treat. Having one so nearby is truly lucky and Pat I do hope we will have many times, where we visit sharing stories, tea and cake . . .  enjoying lovely walks. I feel so grateful for the blogging community that has brought us together. I will continue to enjoy Pat's blog 'Commonweeder'  . . .  for its great stories, reviews of books and happenings, as well as . . .  Pat's beautiful gardens in Heath. 

After Pat headed home to Heath and husband Henry, I spend the remaining hour or two of light enjoying the view and watching the moonrise over Walnut Hill. I feel honored and gently touched by a kindred spirit, while filled with gratitude for the special first day of autumn we shared.
 I had no idea when I started my blog, how much I would enjoy visiting other blogs and meeting in person other bloggers. This year I met three fellow bloggers. You might recall this post.  We are all so lucky to be able to reach out and touch one another's lives the globe over. To inspire one another and share our worlds. It would be great to have an early to midweek New England gathering someday . . . my work is mostly on the weekends so I miss those fun meet-ups. Pat and I discussed this during our visit and hope there is some interest out there. Let us know. As I am finishing this post, the rain is falling steadily and I rejoice in the sounds and needed drink it gives to the gardens and thousands of trees covering the hillside. If your landscape is parched, I hope you get the vital rainfall soon. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Thrilling and Most Unexpected Guest

I am fortunate to know small miracles and to hold them in the palm of my hand. 

I often see and expect to see many colorful wings of butterflies, birds and bees flitting about in the gardens and trees. Each seem like a small miracle to me. This north corner of my garden is a setting for a most unexpected guest. I shall never look upon it . . .  or walk within it . . .  quite the same again. For it seems to me . . .  a miraculous encounter of a very large order occurs here.

It is about midday . . . I am sitting at my computer editing, when suddenly I hear a small animal scurrying . . .  stirring dry leaves. I reach for my camera and take a look out the barn studio doors. A large brownish body of stealthy movement fills my eyes. I immediately know this is not a regular guest. 

I quietly open the screen door and it moves out into air and garden, allowing me a clear view of this magnificent creature, who stands not ten feet away from me. I stand in awe holding my Nikon SLR to my right eye . . . I am wearing a long skirt that falls to my ankles. This incredible chance sighting begins with an equal stare from me . . .  to the Bobcat and back again for sometime . . . enough time for me to take forty nine photographs. Clearly I am more of a curiosity than a threat . . . my face is not visible . . . nor any true human shape, since I am hidden behind lavender and blue folds of cloth. One knows this is a very shy animal . . . we are in rare time here.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this Lynx rufus. Equally amazed at him not running away. How boldly he displays his intricate markings.

I stand silent . . .  motionless, with the exception of the clicking of my camera, which seems to interest the feline. He moves in inquisitive and cautious ways, to further see the odd looking Cyclops of a thing gazing and clicking at himself.

He begins to back up. 

Scoping out the scene . . .  before he continues . . .  

stepping backwards, while his wide amber eyes hold me frozen . . . except for my index finger and left hand movement turning the lens in and out.

Then he turns around . . . seems to get lower to the ground and peeks over at me from behind a clump of  Hosta leaves.

So I think . . .  now he will bolt or at least walk away. Not so fast . . . he is not ready to give up on the stare game we are playing. His bobbed tail is expressive and if I knew how to read it, I might understand what is going on in his mind.

He has had enough and slowly turns around.

 Gorgeous Lynx! 

Gazing back . . .  through the Crabapples. I wish I understood tail language.

Now with a swift pace, he takes leave of me. 

One last look.

Then gone . . . as a Rose of Sharon stretches and senses wow! what was that? . . . Hosta seed pods shake, while Milkweed and Goldenrod sigh . . . that's a wild thing like us. How can I go on with my editing? I am too excited, but not sure I wish to go outside. This feline is much more in size than that of two domestic kitties . . . rather more like a very large dog. I call him a he because the male Bobcat is the larger of the sexes. I respect his space and leave the garden to the natives. I so hope you enjoy sharing this once in a lifetime experience with me. As I write this story, it is dark . . . the moon has not yet risen . . . Coyotes are howling and calling out in the lower garden . . . a frenzy that makes me fear for deer  perhaps eating fallen apples . . . their voices pierce the cool night in an exciting and blood curling way. Living so close to all these wild beings is inspiring, stimulating and keeps me inside more at night. Bobcat tend to dine on rabbits, field mice and many other small mammals. I have more concern for this one's cousin the Mountain Lion . . . though it has not been confirmed by biologists . . . several neighbors say they have seen these much larger human predators nearby.  If you would like to learn more about the solitary Bobcat you can visit here

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumn Equinox 2010!

I want to wish you all a Happy Autumn Equinox! 
Our earth tilts and we begin a new season together . . . an exciting season of change and wonder. Migrations are happening, as a riot of color paints the landscapes. Tonight the moon is full and glowing over Walnut and Carey hill, as calls of Coyotes and Barred Owls fill the cool blackness surrounding the milky orb. Here are a few moments from my day . . . the first day of 
Autumn Twenty Ten

An Equinox Morning Monarch.

It is a good day to learn to fly! 

Safe journey my little friend!

This time of equal light and dark brought a lovely lady into my life and gardens. I am excited to share a fellow blogger with you  . . . some know her already . . . you that do not are in for a treat, as I was . . .  in finally meeting a gracious neighbor, fellow blogger and gifted writer. A post coming soon will reveal all!

For now . . .  foliage reveals true colors and the hills are ablaze. A good week early . . .  for this amount of vibrance.

 The moon rises over Carey Hill, passing through a wisp of cloud, casting light and reflection on a sugar bowl lid. A table set for tea . . . for two . . . is nearly cleared away. Delightful memories of a perfect day will remain whole . . . adding pages to leaf through over the days and years of constant change. May the fall season inspire you! May the moon light your way, to magical encounters in the night. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wildflowers for Birds, Butterflies and Bees

 Common pokeweed can grow upwards to ten feet and is a native to eastern North America. 

 It must be confusing to the perennial plant to have so many names. It is known as Phytolacca decandra, Pokeberry, Pokeweed, Inkberry, American cancer, Cancer root, American nightshade, Virginia poke and more. 

Beware, this is a very poisonous plant! Children and adults have been poisoned by eating the berries and leaves. The root is the most toxic part. Be careful when handling the stems and leaves. 

Pokeweed has an alluring beauty, especially when bathed in light. Clever scientist have uncovered a protein and now call it 'pokeweed antiviral protein or PAP', This protein may help prevent the growth of HIV virus in humans cells. 

Birds love the berries and most likely planted this one beneath an apple tree.  It seems the plant is only poisonous to mammals. Cedar Waxwings flock to the plant and are feasting on the purple-black berries. You may recognize this photo from a recent Garden Walk Bloom Day. It illustrates the beauty and size of Pokeweed so well it gets another show. 

Cedar Waxwings are picking the ripe berries, leaving behind tiny flower like calyxes. 

Native Americans use the berries to make a red dye and use all parts of the plant for medicinal cures. You can see the sky and the photographer reflected in the shinny fruit.

If you look carefully, you can see the tiny flowers at the tip of the cluster and the berries beginning to form. In this photo one can observe the entire cycle from flower to mature berry.

Solidago sp or Goldenrod is an autumn perennial favorite for butterflies, bees and a variety of other insects. It is a greatly misunderstood plant, as it blooms at the same time as Ragweed, which causes allergic reactions. Ragweed is pollinated by the wind, whereas Goldenrod has fat heavy pollen that gets carried off by the bees and other insects. It is not the culprit that creates itchy eyes and hurtful sinuses. 

The north field is aglow with yellow. Monarch butterflies are grateful for the sweet Goldenrod nectar. This female looks pretty fresh. I eyed her, while holding a newly emerged male out towards the gardens. He was not eager to take that first flight, so I took him out to join his cousin or perhaps sibling. 

He will fly when he is ready and may take a sip from a few of the tiny florets of Goldenrod before he is off. It is Wildflower Wednesday over at gracious Gail's 'Clay and Limestone' . . . why not take a click over that way to see other wild blooms around the country. 

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