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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

An Apple Conundrum

 Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state

The jungle never ceases to amaze. This year a tree that never produced anything before suddenly exploded. These may not look the most beautiful apples in the world but given the right treatment and a slosh of cream - well wow! 

The others are doing their best too, if we can get to them before the deer do. And once picked and spread out on the wooden benches on the porch, they're not safe either. Not content with hogging the tomatoes,  nibbling a bit and leaving the rest, the chipmunks - they're the usual suspects for good reason - seem to be doing the same with the apples.

Of course they're not interested in the tree outside the front door. We wring our hands over it every year. Every autumn it outdoes all the other others. The apples are bigger, shinier, more beautiful.

And they lie prettily on the grass like a jewelled carpet.

The catch is that they taste horrible. Woody and bitter, their flavour doesn't have a single redeeming feature. Every autumn we resign ourselves to trying to rake them up and every autumn there are more and more of them. Especially this year after we cut back the tree. You can't win. Then we had an idea. We remembered some friends up the hill who might make good use of them. So we scooped some of them up (yes, that's just some of them.)

And hauled them off to Flanigan Farm where some happy customers couldn't wait to get at them.

The county resounded with ecstatic munching, crunching and grunting. Pity we never thought of that before! 

Monday, September 7, 2020

When Dobbin Met Bambi

 Harrumph! What is that? A bit skinny I'd say.

If there's one activity where you can happily socially distance, it's riding. (Assuming horses are exempt). And here I have to count blessings because, living out in the sticks, escaping up into the hills on horseback is a realisable dream. I borrowed a horse from a friend and we rode up rocky forested paths and into high meadows stuffed with yellow goldenrod, white Queen Anne's lace, purple aster and pink Joe Pye's weed.

There were also closed gentians of a rich dark blue, hugging the ground so I had to squint to look at them as my horse had long legs. Suddenly, all around us, a flock of some thirty wild turkeys shot  upwards like fireworks. Luckily we clung on, averting disaster - not like the time a few years ago when a massive one exploded up from right under my friend's horse's nose - we ended up, respectively,  in the next county and on the ground. This time we survived to gape at the glorious views - almost to Canada.
  Meanwhile, back at the barn, my friend has been raising an orphan fawn.

Past the spotted stage now, she took a bit of apple from my fingers and nibbled it delicately, her shiny black nose nudging my hand. Funny how sweet they are when they're not eating my flowers.