The dry weather has had the fall leaves looking rather sad on the branches especially on the large leaf maple trees.
Some of the trees didn’t change color at all, but freeze-dried right on the limbs. The rainy days that have moved in is clearing the leaves and twirlers at an alarming rate and before you know it, it will look more like winter around here than the seemingly endless days of fall that we had been experiencing.
It has been nearly a month since the last frost, highly unusual for us. But this week has had the thermometer dipping down to 26 degrees at night. The killing frost did in my tomato plants that valiantly produced well into October. It leveled the Swiss Chard and melted the squash plants.
The garden looks sad right now. All the above ground vegetables need to be pulled up and the entire area cleaned for winter.
Still producing are the red cabbages, beets, carrots and potatoes.
The frost dries out the husks on the filberts which makes what nuts are left on the tree fall. I pick up handfuls several times a day to discourage pilfering squirrels and Stellar’s Jay birds from raiding the bounty. This has been a very good year for filberts and have been busy drying and shelling them for storage in the freezer.
The hot, dry summer seemed to bleach out the vibrant greens of the deciduous (trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves). I am happy to report that the brutal weather did not do too much damage to the trees although some had quite a few leaves fall before they were able to change colors.
The startling reds of the vine maple glow on the hillside with the bright yellows of the young maple trees punctuate that glow. The lighter yellows are wild cherry and willow. The oranges will begin in the next week or so from the large leaf maples if they did not dry out too much during the summer.
Once the leaves have fallen to cover the ground, and the fall rains begin, this hillside will use the fallen leaves to nurture new growth of grass and herbs that will turn the area rich green before winter sets in.
The river has been staying up most of the week even though we have had several dry days interspersed with the down pours.
In the far ground you can see a small waterfall, that is actually water draining out of the hay field from the natural slopes of our not-so-flat ground.
It feels like typical fall with all the moisture and cooler weather, we have been seeing an increase in the bald eagles scouting along the river in search of the ocean salmon returning to their spawning ground.
Could it be that true winter could be far behind?
Leaves fluttered this way and that from the trees, the wind made them dance as they fell to the ground and swirled into piles.
The big leaf maples still have the most color with golden platter-sized foliage carpeting the ground. Within an hour or two of falling, the yolk-y color turns to a light brown. The bright red vine maples have slowly lost the vibrant glow and the curled leaves, the nearly opaque light brown edges curl as they drop to the ground.
The leaves on the alder trees are a much darker color. As their leaves drop into the water they turn the river to the hue of rich, black tea. It’s hard to see the rocky bottom or the salmon as they make their way upstream to spawn, but we know they are there because the Bald Eagles are back and are patrolling the river with intensity. A little wind does not slow their hunting routines.
The wind cleaned the last of the leaves off the black walnut trees and most of the pear, plum and apple trees in the garden. Only the very late fall apples have some leaves left on the branches as they try to protect the fruit that remains on the trees.
This day of blustery wind changed the beautiful fall colors to remind us that winter is only a breath away.
Since the Gator was in the shop, my right hand helper and I headed up the hill on foot to work along the skid road that Mike had punched through with the bulldozer.
Not needing to travel the logging roads, we took a walking path meandering through the forest with switchback paths and steep inclines. About half-way up the hill we intersected with one of the naturally growing wild mushroom patches and I found a few golden lovelies barely poking out of the carpet of fallen fir needles.
It was quite the surprise to find them because it usually takes a good inch or more of rain and 10 days of that soaking rain to sink into the mycelium layer below the surface for the mushrooms to grow.
I was thrilled to find these few chanterelles and harvested them for a sauce at dinner that night. Now with several days of rain forecasted for the area, the 10 day countdown will begin in earnest.
Especially after this month of exceptional moisture, the garden is looking exceptionally straggly. All summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillo, eggplant, along with the few fall strawberries and raspberries, have melted with all the rain that pelted them this whole month long.
The forest calls my name during this kind of weather and I tend to head out into the tall firs to hunt mushrooms when I get a break from fall to winter prep work. Besides, I would rather not have to slog through the garden with boots so thick with mud that it becomes impossible to even walk.
So I have been waiting for a dry spell to get out there for a garden cleanup, but that just doesn’t seem to be happening. The last time we had a dry day was spent getting all the lawn mowed and a few leaves picked up. Still, the leaves in the driveway continue to be washed with rain and ran over with each coming and going of cars, pickups, tractors and Gators. The garden will just have to wait for a little while before getting cleaned up before winter.
You may see a frantic post in a few weeks belying the fact that I am frustrated that I didn’t get the garden cleaned up sooner. I will appreciate it if you don’t remind me about this post when you read that I am sorry I waited.