September Notes 2019

The long hot days of summer are gone. Now it’s the short hot days (and a few cool ones) of the end of summer and I swear we’ve had about three 15 minute downpours in the past three months.

Some things in nature just don’t seem right. Like the cowbirds laying eggs in song sparrows’ nests which results in the song sparrow having to frantically feed a baby about twice the size of herself. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but not by much.

Song sparrow on the left. Cowbird on the right. I took this picture in July by the way.

And death happens.

I first found it alive, standing on the edge of the bird bath as I was coming to change the water. I set down the pail and figured I’d just come back in a bit when it was gone. When I returned about an hour later it was still standing there. I watched it for awhile realizing this was very unusual behavior for a blue jay. It seemed dazed or drunk and I thought maybe it was drunk from the pokeweed berries. I left it alone. The next morning my husband came in with a somber look. “You’re going to have to bury our buddy.” We’d become somewhat attached to it in the short time, he or she being so docile and and all. I have no idea how it died. I buried it in the garden.

But where there’s death, there’s life.

The wetland, not very wet but still full of buzzing, flying things.
Late flowering thoroughwort (Eupatorium serotinum) with three different pollinators.
A skipper butterfly on fleabane. These guys are everywhere.
A yellow garden spider patiently waits for a snack.

And it’s harvest time. There were enough figs for everyone. Me, birds and squirrels. I made this French thing called a clafoutis. Recipe is here.

Clafoutis (I have no idea how to pronounce this) is very good with ice cream.

The cherry tomatoes, cayenne and serrano peppers are coming in strong. There are so many cherry tomatoes I’m making sauce with them. While a little seedy it’s actually quite tasty. I smash them apart with a potato masher.

Cherry tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and peppers and marjoram from the garden. Add a little lemon juice at the end for an extra kick.

The front yard meadow is still looking rough even though I took out some of the dead black eyed Susans, fleabane and gangly milkweed. The three seeded mercury is green and fills the empty spaces but is somehow weedy looking. Actually, the whole thing is weedy looking. And yet, there is something appealing about it all.

Black eyed Susans add some life to the death.

It will be interesting to see how succession plays out. Like will native grasses and forbs replace the three seeded mercury. And how much interference on my part will it take for that to happen.

Two interesting plants have begun to spread around.

One is called burnweed

Burnweed (Erechtites hieraciifolius)

and the other, marestail. The Prairie Ecologist did a good post about marestail. Both are annuals or biennials in the aster family and both are pioneer species which means they are the first plants to arrive in disturbed places. Like my garden.

Not a very good picture of marestail aka horseweed (Conyza canadensis).
Here’s a prettier one.

I’ve grown fond of a lonely white avens that is turning a nice shade of red.

Here is the milkweed but where are the monarch caterpillars? So far I’ve only seen one but plenty of monarchs. It’s a mystery.

Here is the last of summer. I’ve been calling it a locust but it’s actually called a dog day cicada. Goodbye summer.

Dog day cicada. A handsome fella.


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