Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Giving the berries to the bears, or the birds?

Harvest season; canning season. Would that I could harvest a month of days like today, preserve them, and one-by-one take them from the root cellar next Winter. Not all at once of course, maybe just a couple a week during January, February and March.

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) the year it was planted
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) the year it was planted
Photo by J. Harrington

While playing in the run today with one of the dogs, I noticed that at least one of the Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) bushes is missing a number of leaves. All of them are missing berries, for the second year in a row. I suspect the local whitetails, or perhaps the rabbits, have been taking advantage of us, again, although the shrubs are listed in several sources as being "deer resistant." One of the challenges of country living is enjoying nice things before the local wildlife beats us to it. Yesterday I transplanted this year's chipmunk number 5 or 6. I'm still hesitant to try bee-keeping because of bears and keeping chickens because of coyotes. Maybe next year I'll try one or the other. Bear, deer and, often, chipmunks do most of their pilfering at night. That's also when we hear the coyotes. I need to get some sleep every day so the wildlife often wins. Sigh! To be clear, I don't mind sharing but think I''m due at least a tithe.

bear scat on deck [Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)?]
bear scat on deck [Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)?]
Photo by J. Harrington

One the other hand, if these are the most non-trivial problems I have, then they aren't non-trivial, actually, are they. The turkeys haven't been aggressive, no bear at the feeders so far this year. (I hope that's not famous last words.) Now that I think about it, last August's (2014) bear scat on the deck looks suspiciously like 2013's black chokeberries, doesn't it? Maybe the answer is to plant lots more and see if we can overwhelm the eaters and nibblers.

Cheer

By Stanley Plumly 
Like the waxwings in the juniper,
a dozen at a time, divided, paired,
passing the berries back and forth, and by
nightfall, wobbling, piping, wounded with joy.

Or a party of redwings grazing what
falls—blossom and seed, nutmeat and fruit—
made light in the head and cut by the light,
swept from the ground, carried downwind, taken....

It's called wing-rowing, the wing-burdened arms
unbending, yielding, striking a balance,
walking the white invisible line drawn
just ahead in the air, first sign the slur,

the liquid notes too liquid, the heart in
the mouth melodious, too close, which starts
the chanting, the crooning, the long lyric
silences, the song of our undoing.

It's called side-step, head-forward, raised-crown, flap-
and-glide-flight aggression, though courtship is
the object, affection the compulsion,
love the overspill—the body nodding,

still standing, ready to fly straight out of
itself—or its bill-tilt, wing-flash, topple-
over; wing-droop, bowing, tail-flick and drift;
back-ruffle, wingspread, quiver and soar.

Someone is troubled, someone is trying,
in earnest, to explain; to speak without
swallowing the tongue; to find the perfect
word among so few or the too many—

to sing like the thrush from the deepest part
of the understory, territorial,
carnal, thorn-at-the-throat, or flutelike
in order to make one sobering sound.

Sound of the breath blown over the bottle,
sound of the reveler home at dawn, light of
the sun a warbler yellow, the sun in
song-flight, lopsided-pose. Be of good-cheer,

my father says, lifting his glass to greet
a morning in which he's awake to be
with the birds: or up all night in the sleep
of the world, alive again, singing.


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