Monday, September 28, 2009


It was easy to miss last Tuesday, but the fall equinox did arrive and pass and the sundown hours have begun to outdistance sunrise hours, a trend that will continue until solstice on the 21st of December when the days will begin to lengthen again as winter deepens.

Fall, however, waited to blow in here until last night, after a warm and windy day that as sunset neared inspired the cormorants to undertake a program of unusual aerial acrobatics and disrupted egret landing patterns, too.

Part of the game plan here is to see just how long the egrets stick around before heading on to warmer places farther south and how long I can substitute bundling up for the heat of a furnace.

Goose season opened Saturday and like the brief duck season a few days earlier seems to be a disappointment. Skillful and seasoned hunters do OK, but the yahoos for the most part have been left shooting at empty sky.

Two pair of Canadas were on the marsh this morning, but that's the most I've seen there so far. I'm grateful for that since low goose population means low hunter (non-existent actually) population, too, and safe walking and looking.

Sentinal hard maples, those I usually look to to tell me when summer's end is near, have begun to turn and drop their leaves.

Walnuts, too, but that's hardly news or a show. There were so many black walnuts along Iowa streams when pioneers arrived that entire cabins were built of and other buildings framed in their lovely wood, often used for interior trim as well. But walnuts are messy and troublesome to live near --- last to leaf out in the spring, first to drop their leaves in late summer, guaranteed to discourage other plantings nearby and to spit in a sticky and discoloring way on anything parked or built under them.

Even the nuts, with the tastiest of meats, are challenging --- difficult to shell, hard to crack and time-consuming to pick out. My dad tried a variety of shelling tactics --- spreading them on the garden shed roof to cure then doing it by hand, spreading them in the barnyard driveways to run over again and again with heavy equipment, using an old-fashioned corn-sheller. My mother, who had infinite patience, was one of the few people I knew who would deal with the shelled result joyfully. And those of us who enjoyed her baking enjoyed the results of that patience joyfully, too.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Part of me would rather deal with a walnut in the yard than an oak. That is the same part of me that doesn't like racing the snow to rake leaves in the bone chilling cold when the first half finally falls. The second half never does fall until spring time. But the other part of me that likes the oak tree is in majority right now.