Sunday, October 3, 2010

Company of Gentle Gardeners

I spent almost the entire weekend outside. Lovely sunshine is a powerful enticement, but so is liberty from a week inside an office. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the girl!

I had a rare visitor today. A pileated woodpecker spent half an hour or so feasting on ant grubs in the fir tree in front of the house.

At first I was cautious about going out onto the veranda to try for photos, as the ones who occasionally visited us up north were very shy.

This fellow was hungry and focused, though, and of no mind to pay me any attention unless I moved in on his territory.

Pileated woodpeckers are the model for the 'Woody Woodpecker' cartoon some of you may recall from the 1950s and 1960s.

The real life birds are large, almost 38cm (15 inches) tall. They're determined hunters, serious 'thwack, thwack, thwack' and then 'fling' of a large chunk of wood. Not the jackhammer ratta-tat-tat of the downies and flickers.

While my elegant visitor worked on reducing the ant population, I went about getting the yard ready for winter.

I've been soaking it all down with the drip lines and sprinklers, trimming back shrubs and planting. Yes, ever more plants - a large group of purple spirea and two little May Day trees, grouped around Becca's trembling aspen in the bottom southwest corner of the yard. The long-term plan is to make it a natural-looking grove.

I also transplanted rudbeckia and lavender that have self-seeded around the retaining wall, and planted a large number of grape hyacinth bulbs. I've found those lovely little aromatic spring flowers do very well here, self-propogate profusely and are deer-resistant.

Finished my work with a spell beside the fire, reading an old Frank Yerby book I was lucky to find in Grande Prairie, drinking a strange smoothie that included bananas, yogurt, pumpkin seeds and a cup of coffee. Don't knock it - it was pretty good even if it was disgusting looking.

I'm a little stiff tonight but a walk after I'm done here will help work out the kinks. I clocked out my route with the car one night this week coming into town after work. I was curious just how far I do walk, and the odometer told me that the most direct and shortest route I travel is 2.6km. The winding route I take when I'm feeling more like walking (rather than obligated to do so in the on-going battle to keep my ass from getting any bigger) is well over 3.5 km. Not bad. So how come I still have a behind like a Percheron mare?!

The wind has died down completely and the valley is bathed in a beautiful golden glow of the setting sun.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.