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Posted by: atowhee | August 31, 2019

BEGINNINGS OF ENDINGS: END OF AUGUST

Earlier this week my wife heard bird screams overhead.  Finally, far up against the blue, I could see the white wings flap, the black wing tips, the circling flight of a small group of Ring-billed Gulls.  They will be around the valley all fall and winter.

Also, this week the American Goldfinch population in our garden tripled to over 20 birds…gathering before the flight south.amgogang (2)

I moved around some firewood that was being split.  Beneath one of the bottom logs:rat nest (2)

I recovered the nest.  Leaving it to momma rat to decide where to take her still-blind babies.  I feel we humans are so hard on other living things I can no longer even bring myself to kill a rat.  Keep them out of the house and walls, sure, but slaughter them?
I do still kill house flies that come inside, and ants in the kitchen.  All the other intruders we catch and chuck back outside.  And we are nearing the time of the annual autumn influx of spiders.

Also happening now—the insects and arachnids are laying eggs, or those eggs are becoming pupa or larvae to over-winter.  Some adults will also survive.  All survivors will become the first wave of what becomes each spring’s new contingent of the six and eight legged.

It is a season of the beginning of endings.  Annual plants are fading.  Seeds take to air, float to ground, ride streams to new places.

Our last potato plant is yellowing, time to big those tubers.  The tomatoes are also beginning to fade, literally, their leaves are losing chlorophyll.  As leaves turn senile there is an enzyme that begins to act on the chlorophyll to break it down.  The chlorophyll controls the process of turning sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into sugar…and it is bright green.  As chlorophyll is broken down in the leaf cells, the green disappears and other resident colors can be seen.  Many broadleaf trees are turning already here—cottonwood, willow, alder, ash, native maples.

Some blackberries in dry patches are becoming raisins.  Apples are getting deeper colors.  Late flowering plants are in ascendance—Queen Anne’s lace, chicory, many yellow composites, the penstemon in our garden, roses, dahlias.

Crickets play their leg fiddles every night, a strident serenade that you either enjoy or dread, depending on how you like crickets.  There was recently a fine little essay on the beasts in the New York Times.

 

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