Friday, October 23, 2020

Hanging on to Hope

 Talking about success stories in the garden, I forgot to mention the beauty berry. 

My neighbour's advice to cut it right back in the spring bore fruit in every sense of the word. The berries are quite magnificent.

Decorative rather than edible but you can't have everything.  Speaking of decorative, hubby called out, "rainbow!" and I dashed out to get a picture. Of course the phone refused to take it until the rainbow  was nearly gone. But you can't have everything.

At a time when Covid 19 is gleefully upping its game, thumbing its nose at the world's prayers and precautions, when  the eerie echo of football without fans looks set for the duration, when the head of the Catholic Church makes remarks akin to the Chief Rabbi musing on the health benefits of bacon butties,  when the height of political debate in the world's superpower consists of two old men hurling insults like drunks in a pub and we're fast losing our grip on which way is up, we have to cling on to some small signs of hope.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Back to the Beach

 Dateline Golden Beach, Florida

It's been a while I know but the journey down was exhausting. We did it in just two days again, minimising hotel stays. It all started out well with the most glorious autumn scenery through Pennsylvania and West Virginia - sadly no time to take photos-  but then things went downhill with torrential rain and crazy drivers. I wonder if collective insanity hasn't gripped Florida-bound motorists even more that usual. 90 - 100 mph, weaving in and out, tailgating etc. We started to wonder if, unbeknownst to us,  Florida had been put under curfew and people were in a mad frenzy to get home before dark. Or something. But we survived and Golden Beach is still Golden Beach.

The garden was another story. If the weeds were bad last year,  they were ten times worse this. Perhaps the result of an exceptionally  hot, rainy summer or perhaps the weeds telling each other that our address was the place to be. Last year there were four or five of the things that looked like anaemic Christmas trees (how can something with a stem that thick grow like that in just four months?) This year there were at least a dozen. The honeysuckle had migrated from the fence and firmly rooted itself half way down the lawn. And everything was covered in a mess of stringy daisy-like vegetation that, when I scooped up armful after armful of it, left me covered in tiny spines so I looked like a hedgehog. And the porterweeds! The porterweeds had excelled themselves, spreading all over the place with their ugly wavy tendrils and complicated horizontal subterranean root systems. I spent a hot, humid morning wrenching most of then out and then saw a come-on email from the local garden centre. They were actually offering porterweeds for $14.99 each! "Fifteen dollars! You threw away all those 15 dollar plants!" groaned hubby. We could have set up a stall by the road, undercut the garden centre. Although I have to say, no one with a modicum of sense plants porterweeds. 

  There was one success story though.. 

A while ago a neighbour donated some giant lilies and this year one of them actually bloomed to welcome us back.

To be continued.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

When Bambi Met Charlie

 Allegany State Park is a great place for a long, energetic ramble.

With all kinds of interesting rock formations.

Like something from Middle Earth...

Fallen trees (tons of them - must have had a big storm)

And fungi we didn't realise were edible (they're called chicken of the woods) - we were too busy looking for non-existent chanterelles.

But wait - who's that peeping out from behind a tree?

The white tail deer seemed totally unafraid. Perhaps used to handouts from park visitors.

She (I assume) was definitely very interested in us.  She stayed around for several minutes. And came closer and closer.

But I think what she was really fascinated by was our doughty companion - the celebrity rescue Yorkie,  Charlie,  whom you may have met before, visiting from New York City and who was racing ahead of us most of the way, putting us to shame.

"Whossat? Never seen anything like you before!" 

"Don't know what all the fuss is about."

Now can we get going please.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


 Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state

Winterising is the word that somehow has lodged in my head regarding the pathetic precautions we are trying to take against 1) Deer 2) Icy wind 3) Deer 4) Deer 5) Deer 6) Deer ravaging the garden while we're away. This year we've got  a new kind of fencing for the rhododendrons, mountain laurels and blueberry bushes -  a lot higher, stronger and, well we'll see.

  It was inappropriately good weather for it though.

And I have to say the jungle has been looking pretty heavenly.

The colours already a contrast from a few days ago,

The chrysanthemums aka "mums" in the American way look good enough to eat

The hanging baskets are still hanging in there

Mixed with the black eyed-Susans - I swear this is the last year I'll let them go awol....

And I'm amazed at porch geraniums - why do they do so much better than the others?

But in a few days it'll be every plant for itself. They'd better enjoy life while they can.
Good bye also to the lane

And the cornfields

Because we're shortly heading south again. Not a pleasant meandering road trip as in days gone by but a fast dash with only one overnight stay. Such is the new normal. If we take care to avoid motorbike rallies and the White House we hope we'll come through OK.

Election Sign Latest

 The blog, being foreign, tries not to meddle in local politics but occasionally reports what it sees. 

The current tally of election signs in my usual highly unscientific study  - the route from the village Post Office to the house - now stands at Trump: 12,  Biden: 4.  And the prize for the biggest one I've seen yet goes to..

Well yes, you probably guessed. I expect things may be a little different in Golden Beach.  As I always say, may the best man win.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Yet More Chipmunkery

 The stripy scamps have been at it again. Things have quietened down a bit now but a few days ago the back garden was a hub of frenzied activity. All around the oak tree, acorn-laden fallen twigs. Or rather not fallen but deftly nipped off.

This is not the first year it's happened and while I once puzzled over it, I now know exactly what they're up to. It's a relay. One team member shins up the tree..

There he goes.. (Hang on, aren't they sometimes called ground squirrels?)

To nip off the twigs. While another ...

hoovers the acorns up and scoots off to the tunnel. (Or rather tunnels. There are now so many chipmunk holes that the garden foundations must resemble a Swiss cheese.)

Saving space, evidently, by dumping the acorn hats outside the door. Well at least they're leaving the few tomato stragglers alone.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Autumn Fantasy

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York State

This has got to be one of the loveliest autumns I've seen.

Western New York is a well-kept secret. Even in normal times we don't get many coachloads of leaf-peeper tourists. And even if they had felt like travelling this year, they might have been disappointed.

Because it all came early and surprised us.

Perhaps it was because of the couple of weeks of drought and warm weather we just had.

Or perhaps Nature just wanted to give us a break from all the angst and craziness

And said, "Here, relax, just enjoy me for a while!"

And gaze at the hillside tapestries

And the incredibly crisp blue sky. It seems that somebody, at least, is taking to the air.

But it's really hard to go for a walk as you just have to keep stopping to take a picture

I regret that I'm too lazy to bother with a fancy camera.

Anyway, nothing would really do the scenery justice.

You have to be there and drink it all in while you can before the wind and rain comes and sweeps it all away as suddenly as it came.

So this little taste will have to do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Gang's Back!

 Just when I thought the blog's title would have to be altered to reflect changing times and a lack of turkey sightings,  I was walking up the lane in the early morning sunshine when I spied some movement...

Quite definitely wild turkeys. Descendants, perhaps, of the lads on the sunlounger. The next day they were back again.

I'm not an expert but it looked like Mum and two teenagers.

She seemed very unafraid, strutting around in broad daylight, not concerned about social distancing, letting me get quite close. Wild turkeys really are quite magnificent birds, sleeker and more graceful and dignified than their farmed relations. The myth is that Founding Father Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be the national symbol. This is apparently fake news. What Franklin actually said was  that the bald eagle was a "bird of bad moral character... he does not get his living honestly". The turkey, on the other hand, he considered "a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of America ....He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage."

I wouldn't argue with that. They are shrewd foragers too. There was something on that heap of dirt this lot seemed to be enjoying.

Then off they sauntered again, against a backdrop of autumn goldenrod.

Alas for them,  turkey season starts on 17th October. They'd better start getting more wary. Time for turkey lockdown perhaps.