Monday, October 28, 2019

A Weed Awakening

There are several good things about living a nomadic life. And there are the downsides. And on these, Florida is still a steep learning curve. Having lost our trusty landscaper (no, no, everyone here has landscapers - it's American for someone who mows the grass for you), we omitted to specify to the new ones that, as well as cutting the grass while we were away for the summer, we would also like them to keep on top of the weeds. It didn't even occur to us. And we had no idea, absolutely no idea, what a gargantuan weed fun fest the hot, wet Florida summer is. You couldn't even see the garden perennials for weeds. And these mysterious tree-like things had grown to a height of 5 or so feet in six months. Can that be physically possible?

Yes it can.

Well we have learned our lesson. 

That's only a tiny part of my efforts over the past few days.  The local hardware megastore gleefully makes a fortune from these brown paper bags and at the moment I am single-handedly keeping them in business. The City (what we would call the council)  now won't take away your garden refuse if it's in black bin bags. Oh no. You have to have the pc brown paper bags. or you can tie the stuff up in tidy bundles. Just wait till you try and make tidy bundles.
  It's had an interesting effect on our garden wildlife. One positive thing is that the hibiscus, while looking annoyed and begraggled, haven't been eaten by the rabbits because the rabbits probably couldn't find them.
  Charlie the mocking bird who usually hangs out on the cable above, was complaining loudly that the bird bath was dry. For a time I was convinced the bird bath had been stolen as it was completely masked by the triffid in pic 2.
  But the strangest encounter was when I started sweeping the patio, I heard a rustling sound from the big ornamental bush that sits, inconveniently, right in the middle. I thought it was a bird but no, the next thing was that a lithe black snake emerged from half way up the bush, giving me a what-the-heck-do-you-think-you're-doing look. Tongue darting in and out and all, just about level with my head. By the time I got the camera he'd scarpered of course. At least you're safe with the black ones. It's the stripy ones that get complicated. Like Florida.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hello Again Golden Beach!

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

 It's good to be back again to my favourite sunset spot.

More on the road trip shortly but my arrival in Golden Beach wasn't without incident.  The first night the southern flank of Tropical Storm Nestor brushed us as it swept by. I woke up every half hour to an ear-splitting thunder clap and sounds of rain pummelling and surf crashing. Luckily (in retrospect at any rate) my phone was switched off or I'd have been woken up every ten minutes by screeching tornado warnings. In the morning the rain fell like Niagara Falls. I've never seen rain like it. And the trees were swaying and rocking in the wind. Goodness knows what a real hurricane would be like. The Sun Fiesta (sic) Parade was cancelled, as were the Sailing Squadron races. Hubby on the phone from up north mused, "I expect there was a Small Craft Advisory out." 
 "Large craft more like and not an advisory either!"
 Sunday was calmer.

But the storm hasn't brought cooler weather. Yet.  It's like a steam bath out there. Still, I'm not complaining. It's still better than a western New York winter.

Monday, October 14, 2019

An Autumn Farewell

Apology: Oops. This should have been published a week ago but wasn't. So much for modern technology.

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state

There was frost on the path to the neighbour's pond. It came stealthily overnight, missing our garden but settling just a few yards up the road.

The mist swirled up over the pond.

The fogbound trees just hinting at a little autumn colour

While others were skeletal phantoms already.

A ragged flock of Canada geese flew over, yet another convoy on its way south.

Further up the hill, it was a brilliant, blue chilly morning, the fog nestled in the valleys,

the early morning forest suffused with mystery.

Though asters still bravely twinkled in the grass

It was my farewell for a while.

The blog and I are off on our road trip south and it's hard to leave when there's still so much beauty on the lane. And so quiet too, except for the occasional kissing sound of a chipmunk and a sudden cacophony of honking and splashing from the pond as the geese take off.

 I note that the library, always full of bright ideas, is having a Fall Prevention Workshop. I did a double take when I saw it. If I were an American I would ask, "Who on earth would want to prevent such a beautiful Fall? "

Of course it's not that sort of Fall they're talking about but the sort that happens in the winter, which isn't that far away now. The sort that drives many western New Yorkers, especially older ones, to head south, where you can generally manage to survive the season without slipping on ice and falling flat on your face.

Assailed as I am on both sides of the Atlantic by political turmoil it's good to think that the locals here have other priorities.

And even the garden has managed to survive some benign neglect and in dishevelled dowager mode, still holds its own.

Before I leave, there's the annual.  To net or not to net. I used to be a real enthusiast for deer netting but have come to realise that a) It gets hideously snarled up under the weight of the snow and it's impossible to disentangle in the spring and b) the deer will find a way through. Or go for the bushes you skipped and didn't think they'd want. There is nothing they don't want.  Short of hiring a crane and spreading a giant net over the whole garden, there's precious little you can do except hope for the best and expect the worst.
 Sometimes I think my nomadic life is nothing but a series of goodbyes. But then it's also a series of hellos. In a week or so I'll see Golden Beach again and blog will resume in its southern guise.

Friday, October 11, 2019

O Christmas Ski!

Well my golly gosh, if Christmas isn't here already. And I haven't even started collecting pictures of weird Halloween displays.
 Yesterday I was in Ellicottville, aka the Aspen of the East, home of our local ski resort, Holiday Valley.
 And standing proudly outside the Post Office was this..

Yep, a tree made of skis.

And the top part, if you look closely, of ski sticks. Well that's what I always say, though, being in America, I now have to call them poles.
Something tells me that this phenomenon might not be all that uncommon in the ski-ing world but it's the first Christmas Ski Tree I've seen.
 It got me ruminating that if the global warning doom-mongers are right, there will be a lot more things made out of redundant skis in the future.Perhaps they can grind them down to make artificial snow.
Still, I wish Holiday Valley a successful season along with my friends in the gallant Wednesday Ski Group.  I had many happy times there, though, sadly, I now spend the winter in Flat Florida and I will miss them.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Lookback: Glen Iris

Did you know that western New York has its own version of the Grand Canyon? It's called Letchworth State Park and you could say it gives Niagara Falls a run for its money too. Especially when it's rained a lot.

1,000 acres of what's now the Park were bequeathed to the state in 1906 by an industrialist called William Pryor Letchworth. Whether he had anything to do with the Hertfordshire version I don't know.  His hunting lodge looks very American. Now it's the Glen Iris inn and a picturesque spot to have a bite.
  I read that Letchworth Park also contains the grave of  Mary Jemison, who was captured by Indians in 1755. Apparently she liked the life and decided to stay with them, had two Indian husbands and seven children.

 Glen Iris Inn dates from later than that - early 20th century. There's some natty woodwork inside.

And interesting glass in the doors.

This summer the flowers looked a lot better than mine. There must be plenty of deer in the Park. I'd like to know their secret for keeping them away. Fences don't work. Neither does cayenne pepper, Irish Spring soap or anything else my neighbours have suggested.

But the best part of Glen Iris is that they do a nice line in local New York wine, from a village nearby called Naples. Letchworth and Naples in the same state,  that's America.