Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Days of the Hummers

The first official day of fall is next week and though I long for sweater weather, I know it won’t be here until November. Yet today we have the first real taste of autumn, cool and rainy, the windows are opened up, AC turned off, maybe for the rest of the season? The week promises cooler drier air once this front moves through and I'm ready.

Every morning for months as I've stood at the sink to get water or wash dishes I've been greeted by the hummingbirds visiting the crimson flowers on a cluster of 8 foot tall purple leaved cannas that are growing outside the kitchen window. On still mornings the breeze generated by the blur of their wings actually moves the surrounding foliage of plants they are visiting.

The hummingbirds are now busy dipping their bills into the last of the salvia, zinnias and cannas, looking for any drop of nectar they can find. They need to get as fat as possible for their miraculous journey south. The young hummers buzz about the yard testing their fighting and flying skills. Swooping up and down and strafing one another -- and us if we are sitting in the yard near the feeder. Sometimes they fly right up to the window and just hover there, seeing their reflections, but it feels like they are checking me out. One day soon it will dawn on me sadly that they’re gone.

Our flowerbeds are overgrown and need deadheading, but goldfinches busily eating seeds from the spent coneflowers and sunflowers give me an excuse to postpone that task. Once this rain has passed, I'll get out there to tackle the late weeds and tidy up a bit. D. pulled down the last of the summer tomato vines yesterday, what a wonderful surprise to come home to, I've done that onerous task the last few years and wasn't looking forward to facing the soupy tomatoes hanging on dying brown vines.

We pulled out the rotting squash, snap beans and okra and got the fall vegetables planted just before the big rain from Hurricane Hannah came through. Young plants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards and cabbage are nestled in and the seeds for a myriad of fall greens are all sprouting thanks to the wet warm days of the past couple of weeks. Beets and carrots planted in July are getting some size on them now and lettuce and arugula planted in early August are ready to harvest, the fall veggie season has begun and my mouth is ready.

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