Sunday, October 13, 2019


Monarchs Abound
It's a sunny, cool day in Birdland, and we have passed the corner of the year bringing us to Autumn. My corner meadow is now dressed in fall colors of Goldenrod and the dotted lace of White Heath Asters. The bees like it. The small trees I intend to pollard are getting to be pruning size, and indeed, last year I cut the top off of the largest sycamore, hoping to get that nice rounded shape. Cottonwoods quake in the cool breeze. I'm not actually sure will take to this kind of pruning, but I figured I'd give it a try since they’ve come up so abundantly. Other trees I’m trying are mulberry (which take well to pollarding) and redbud (another experiment). I came out to the porch to feel the wind. I suppose it's time to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to the autumn coolness. Next to me the Elephant Ears are shaking their heads slowly—back and forth, back and forth—enjoying the breeze too.
Sun Sets over the Corn
The beans are beginning to yellow, now the same color as the tassels on top of the cornfield to the east. The field to the west is a little further towards dry, the leaves just beginning to brown. I'm on the lookout for the Monarchs. They sometimes stop over here to rest in the neighbors' mulberry trees on our lane. When I was walking in the cemetery up the hill with my friend, Cate from Cincinnati, we caught sight of first one monarch, then another, then a dozen. They were fluttering around the trees on the edge of the old piney woods (which no longer holds many pineys, having been planted as a Christmas tree plot and never harvested. They, all but a few staunch holdouts, died one year after a bitter winter bracketed by a couple of summers of drought. It might have been the weather stress, or maybe they just lived out their natural life. The mass die-out of the pineys shows another failing of monocultures. A thousand trees planted in rows one summer by six enthusiastic kids may all die together seventy years later. A diversified forest—or farm—is the way to go.) But back to the monarchs. They were fluttering and lighting on the leaves, some of them folding their wings back to rest, hiding the bright colors to look like autumn-yellowed leaves. I told Cate about how they often stop here to rest up before their long migration. Or maybe they stop here every year, but I am only occasionally aware enough to notice. After visiting the family plots and meandering around the headstones, trying to read the inscriptions blurred by acid rain, we set off down the hill. We found another congregation of monarchs in the lane, but not as many as I have seen in years past. Maybe it was just the welcoming committee. I'll keep an eye out. But back, again, to the Pineys. (And this letter meanders like the chicken I'm watching in the yard, tail up, head down, walking and pecking after whatever catches her attention.) Despite its unnatural form, the Piney woods seemed magical to me: forty foot trees, green at the top, but brown underneath, soft cushion of needles, regular, curving rows that followed the curve of the terraces my great-granddad had put in on the sloping parts of the farm to protect the land from erosion. (After his death, the terraces were destroyed on the rest of the farm, but those in the piney woods were hidden, protected from the careless plow.) As a child, I used to go alone to climb up the ladder of branches in one of the pines on the edge of the plot, to sit high in the tree and watch what the wind blew over the western horizon. Nobody knew I was there, I guess, since I never got scolded for it. But if anyone bothered to look east from the house, they would see me sitting high in the tree, or maybe just a splotch of blue overalls, and, boy, would I have heard about it.
On first glance they look like yellowing leaves. Look closer.
Later, when we moved out to the farm, we began to cut our Christmas trees from the pineys. The kids would try to see from the ground, which tree was most promising, and Michael would fell the tree with his chainsaw. (Sometimes we would guess wrong and wind up with a lopsided tree, but we decorated it anyway.) The pines were so close together that often out tree would only fall partway before being caught in the arms of another. My husband would cut the angled trunk again, and sometimes again, before if would fall all the way to the ground. Then we would top the tree and drag it home.
Fly in Beauty; Congregate in Peace; Blessed Be

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Emerson and Minnie Mae in foreground
Big hens in back

In Birdland, we sit on the porch in the gentle drizzle. The roof keeps us from getting wet, but the chickens don’t seem to mind the rain, continuing their slow meander through the yard, digging and pecking.

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Rosie says, "Isn't it cheating to just link to the newspaper?"
I say, "Better link than not get it done."