Saturday, September 26, 2015

Quietly producing and consuming

As I sat down today to write, I looked out at the grasses covering the hill behind the house. I saw lots of purple love grass and little bluestem and whatever other grasses and forbs help keep the grains of sand in place. It looked like "nothing much was happening," although there's supposed to be billions of bacteria and insects living in the soil and on and under the plants. At least that's what Life in the Leaf Litter and comparable resources report. I was reminded that Nature doesn't exist only "in the country." Animals, like city-mice and country-mice, feed on grass seeds and stems and, in more and more urban areas, coyotes feed on those mice. Producers, consumers and unnoticed recyclers live almost everywhere.

whitetail foraging on pear tree
whitetail foraging on pear tree
Photo by J. Harrington

In our part of the country, deer (consumers) have an unfortunate (for us) preference for fruit trees, lilacs and forsythia (all producers of forage). We're happy to "donate" acorns (forage) to the turkeys and does (both consumers) who wander through in the early morning or late afternoon. We even leave "excess" pears for the deer. They still won't stop munching on the foliage. Sigh.

calm, dew-covered fields
calm, dew-covered fields
Photo by J. Harrington

Back to today, at mid-day the only signs of life were grasses swaying in a gentle breeze and an occasional oak leaf fluttering down onto those grasses.  Even the bird feeders were experiencing a mid-day lull.

Autumn's golden grasses
Autumn's golden grasses
Photo by J. Harrington

Suddenly, a branch cluster in the crown of a hill-top oak bent and I caught a glimpse of wing-flash as whatever landed tried to catch its balance. Something larger than a songbird had landed but I couldn't see clearly what it was. I though maybe a red-tailed hawk (consumer), since they're fairly common around here. After it sat for a minute or two, it launched headed west, away from me. I could see the bottom of a short, wide Buteo-shaped tail, but not a confirming red color. I'm proceeding on the idea that so far today I've seen a doe, a red-tail hawk, a red-bellied woodpecker at the feeder, plus a handful of chickadees and nuthatches and some swaying grasses. But, before they started swaying, before the breeze came up, in the early morning dew-covered calm, I got to see Autumn's golden colors sparkle in fields across the road earlier this morning. I hope every day produces as much wonder and beauty as you can consume. We need to feed our souls as well as our bodies. Speaking of which, if you read yesterday's post, I'm pleased to report the bread experiment turned out really well although I'm still looking for more sour dough flavor. The bread with 20% bread flour had slightly more "crumb" than when just made with all-purpose flour. This, I read, relates to hydration. Yesterday I mentioned that the dough seemed a little more moist than usual. Interesting and fun experiment. We'll try some other variations soon.

September Tomatoes

By Karina Borowicz 

The whiskey stink of rot has settled
in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises
when I touch the dying tomato plants.

Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms
flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots
and toss them in the compost.

It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready
to let go of summer so easily. To destroy
what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months.
Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit.

My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village
as they pulled the flax. Songs so old
and so tied to the season that the very sound
seemed to turn the weather.


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