Squirrelly in the Winter–Call Me Kit

They malign me when they call me Gutter Squirrel, ’cause that is the route I used to the take out joint they call the Food Dish. First of all, it is a squirrel feeder or maybe if you’re particular, a squirrel/bird feeder. There is no dish involved. It’s a block of seed or maybe fruit and seed, usually incarcerated in a metal cage.

Call me Kit, ’cause I’m the pathfinder who discovered the route to the Food Dish. Don’t let them tell you it was Hoover, the jumping squirrel. It has to be directly over his head for him to find anything. He can’t even make it home to our drey, unless its still daylight.

Squirrel Drey (home) in the tree

This past fall, the Food Dish, tried to commit suicide by falling off the nail it was on and crashing to the ground. The fat humans tried to blame me, but there are no witnesses. I can neither confirm or deny that I avoided ending up as squirrel tartar for some buzzard by jumping off before that thing hit the ivy. Or maybe it fell off the hook when I was pulling it up closer to the gutter where I was hanging. I’m not admitting anything.

The fat male finally got tired of putting the Food Dish back on that same hook so he moved it to a nail on the porch side of the roof overhang rather than directly under the gutter.

Since I knew the Food Dish location very well, I crawled up on the roof and hung from the gutter a few days in a row, just to make sure I wasn’t the one who had misplaced the Food Dish. No, it was the fat male.

I had to get creative to access the new location. First, I tried hanging from the gutter and swinging over to the cage, but it was too far for even me to stretch. Let’s not discuss the sideways jump from the vertical support–if it weren’t for my squirrel- like reflexes, I’d have ended up as Squirrel Tartar. But you can’t outwit me-my vertical jump would win me a gold medal if there were ever a Rodent Olympics. Now I’m back dining at the Food Dish as often as the fat male condescends to restock it.

Some other, less talented squirrels show up to eat the food that falls from the Food Dish, ’cause even a gourmand such as myself can’t help the seeds from falling away from the brick.

Reblog: Do You Know the Kumeyaay Garden

Kumeyaay are the local Native Americans who originally inhabited the San Diego are. There are still several reservations in San Diego County. In recent years, the Cabrillo National Monument has expanded its exhibits and information about the Kumeyaays.

Click here to read about the recently planted garden at Cabrillo National Monument.

The Kumeyaay gardens here at Cabrillo will showcase:

California Buckwheat
Lemonade Berry
Coastal Sagebrush
Prickly-Pear Cactus
Shaw’s Agave
Black Sage
Giant Wild Rye
Lady Fingers
Barrel Cactus
Laurel Sumac
Bush Mallow
California Sunflower
Bladder Pod
Wild Cucumber
Broom Baccharis

Fall Flowers, Flames, and Leaves

The colors have been brilliant this fall. The warm days and cool nights have given many October flowers a spring-like lease on life. Leaves are multi-hued. Fire pits help outside diners stay more comfortable as they try to lengthen the outdoor dining season.

At Glen Manor Winery near Front Royal, VA

A flaming bush Fog framing Skyline Drive Gnat in Hodder Hill wine

From the Devil’s Grill atop Wintergreen, near Afton, VA (about 3500 ft elevation)

Around the ‘Hood

Local wild and cultivated flowers

Wildflowers along Garth Rd Flowers at Cardinal Pt. Pumpkins & Pansies

October 21 is National Reptile Day Awareness

While the history of reptiles may go hundreds of millions of years back, National Reptile Awareness Day has an unfortunately short history in comparison. Additionally, it wasn’t really until 1966 when the first Endangered Species Act was passed that awareness of the needs and threats facing reptiles (or any animal, for that matter) started to make its way into our cultural mainstream. 

Herpetophobia is a common specific phobia, which consists of fear or aversion to reptiles, commonly lizards and snakes, and similar vertebrates as amphibians–so fear of more than just reptiles.

Famous fictional reptiles

  • Geico Gecko
  • Godzilla
  • Reptar
  • Yoshi

Top 5 Characteristics of Reptiles

  • Reptiles Are Four-Legged Vertebrate Animals. …
  • Most Reptiles Lay Eggs. …
  • The Skin of Reptiles Is Covered With Scales (or Scutes) …
  • Reptiles Have Cold-Blooded Metabolisms. …
  • Reptiles Breathe With the Aid of Lungs.

Examples of Reptiles

  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Turtles
  • Tortoises
  • Alligators
  • Crocodiles
  • Komodo Dragon

Days of Wine and Roses

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Vitae Summa Brevis by Ernest Dowson

Why are roses planted at the end of each row of grape vines?

Rose bushes at the end of a each row of grapevines at Barboursville winery

I somehow thought that it was to help identify whether grapes were white or red because I saw white roses or red roses planted in front of differing rows of grapes. But actually it’s more of a canary in a coal mine reason.

Enjoying some prosecco (including rose) at Barboursville winery

Humidity helps the disease spread and one of the signs of an infected vine is white felting on the foliage and grapes. Another reason for the presence of roses harks back to the days when horses and oxen were commonly used to plough the vineyards. Rosebushes at the end helped the animals navigate the vine rows. Idealwine

Fall at Linden vineyards

October is Virginia Wine Month

The whole month seems wine inspired:

Early morning air has the effervescence of freshly open champagne while the damp earth can smell like the must of freshly pressed grapes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hanging-grapes.jpg

Green leaves, backlit by a barely risen sun, seem translucent like a white wine bottle.

As the sun rises, its light enriches from the pale straw of a chenin blanc to the richer hues of an oaked chardonnay before washing the late afternoon earth in the rich gold of a sauterne dessert wine.

Leaves turn the color of merlot purple, oak cork brown, aged riesling yellow, tawny port orange, pinot noir copper.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is colors-of-wine.jpg

I’ll sit outside to soak up the sun and warmth so that I can play it back in my mind to warm myself during the dark and cold of winter grey skies.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is soaking-up-the-atmosphere.jpg

Sandals in the Graveyard

Strands of curling grass

anointed my sandal-clad feet

with cool dampness

where the sun had not yet risen

high enough to dry the dew

covering the tombstones and grass.

No sound disturbed the

absolute silence.

My only companions were

the imagined feet of

priests and pilgrims,

friars and nuns

as we strode though

graveyards

and holy places

clad in sandals,

wet from October’s

early morning dew.

Animal Life in the Grave Yard

One of my favorite spots to view wildlife (both mammals and birds) is the churchyard at St. Paul’s, Ivy. The churchyard was originally part of the Lewis (as in Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame) family estate. It is surrounded by woods on three sides so there is a good space for animals to graze and then escape into the surrounding woods, down a burrow or up a tree depending upon the animal.

I have seen a buzzard drying his wings on a teak bench.

Sometimes a fickle fox will pop out of the underbrush long enough to be seen.

Vultures sometimes roost in the trees.

A fat groundhog has a burrow under the Osage Orange Tree.

Deer come and go as if they own the place.

The squirrels are present year around.

We’ve even had a black bear walking around the Churchyard. I think that may be the same bear that followed the railroad tracks into our neighborhood last Friday.

Bear picture provided by a neighbor, Larry Briggs. Picture was taken Friday, September 18, when the bear made them change the course of their morning walk.

I Asked Google What the Green Fruit Was.

The first search options were to look things up in print indexes, like Readers Guide..

In print, if you wanted to learn about child abuse in military families, you would look up child abuse and hope it might include some mention of military families or you would look up military and hope it included something about child abuse

The next stage was the ability to combine keywords in these few paid databases such as BRS or DIALOG.

If I wanted something on child abuse in military families, I would use Child Abuse AND Military Families. If I wanted something either child abuse or military families, I would type in “Child Abuse” OR “Military Families” and could retrieve results for either search term.

This search capability was limited to a few academic or public libraries.

The arrival of CDs in the 1990s expanded the number of people who could access the CDs, even if they did not have Internet access.

The Internet and later the World Wide Web made searching accessible to almost anyone wanting to research things online. It still is not all of online or free.

However searching has improved with the addition of AI and algorithms. When I saw a green fruit I did not recognized scattered in the grass of our churchyard, I typed in the question ” What is a green fruit that grows on trees?” into the Google Search box.

This was my result: (Note, it also corrected my spelling.)

Osage Orange is also known as Hedge Apple. It’s not considered edible.

The Harpist in the Glen

​As soon as Eve plucked the first string
the leaves began to whisper overhead
ripples of pleasure rustling from branch to twig.

Butterflies drifted from flower to flower weaving a melody only they could hear

When the music paused so did the leaves.

The birds began chirping to fill the quiet

Eve paused to spin to folk tale while a newly spun spider web vibrated in the ripples when she resumed playing.

The cicadas and one elderly lady in purple accompanied her with their voices.