September 26, 2010
A Natural Hodgepodge #2
Fall officially arrived last Wednesday, followed by two record-breaking days with highs of 89 and 90. WTF? It’s time to wrap up summer.
TV meteorologists are so overpaid. How many nights the past three weeks did I stay up to watch the weather forecast to confirm that the next day would be bright and breezy enough to dry sheets on the line? Predictions for gloriously sunny turned overcast or worse, rainy. A tomorrow pronounced for high 80s was 15 degrees lower. Conversely, a Monday proclaimed to be a gloomy mid-70s escalated to a brilliant 91 — a missed hanging-out opportunity.
Thunderstorms scheduled to come early afternoon waited until late evening to arrive, or didn’t develop at all. Showers not on the radar popped up. (Let’s not even talk about how Hurricane Earl wasn’t the calamity the almost gleeful weather people foretold.)
In Northeast Ohio, TV meteorologists take home anywhere from $70K to way over $100,000 a year. (Up to a half million if s/he is on nationally.) If I was this inaccurate at my job I would have been fired from every one and certainly not paid as well.
The only forecaster I’ll exclude from my kvetching is Jim Cantore. It ain't summer til Jim Cantore stands on the beach during a hurricane.
2010 sure was a crappy growing season. If only we would have spent money on local farm-raised vegetables instead of on the seedlings we purchased, we could have driven the state of Ohio, hitting every farmers’ market every week and saved, even with the cost of the gas.
Two bell peppers plants yielded one pepper each, and one of those is the hunchbacked Quasimodo of the capsicum family. Our tomato harvest was a bust; if the plants didn’t die, or fail to produce, the chipmunks and squirrels ate the fruit. Or the deer. Can’t trust the deer.
The tomato gratin I love to make had to be supplemented by store-bought, very expensive ($3.99/lb.!) brown/green/red golf-ball sized Kumato tomatoes, which are incredibly delicious. If you see them in your grocery (Heinen’s has them locally), try a couple. Heck with the price, you’re on vacation. Go for it.
Yet despite my frustration, there’s something joyfully rewarding about plucking vegetables straight from the yard, that I grew myself, and putting them on the table for dinner. I made eggplant parmesan from the only two eggplants we got. Our favorite tuna recipe and stir-fry Asian beef were graced by the Italian frying peppers from the front porch pots. Fresh chives! Basil! Lemon Thyme! Mojitos with fresh mint!
Will I plant a garden next spring? As of today, my inclination is “no,” but I know damn well that come winter when the catalogues arrive in the mail, I’ll be circling varieties I like and going on-line to compare their pros and cons.
I may not have the greenest thumb, but when the snow flies, I’ll be thinking green thoughts.
What’s with the owls? I’ve written about the courting behavior of barred owls in our neighborhood before. Now they’re up to something that I truly do not understand.
All the experts I’ve researched and read say that barred owls have two courting/mating times: February/March, and then again in August if their first brood fails. Our couple were late, starting their hooting and hollering the beginning of June, followed by a more subdued interlude at the tail end of July.
So why were they back at it again in mid-September? Their calls were so loud they rousted me from watching the finale of “The Closer” onto the back porch. Too dark to see, but I could tell were they were from the growling, purring, yipping and whooping emanating from various trees in our and our neighbors’, Ed and Marilyn, yards.
The ruckus began in Bach and Brahms, two of three beech trees behind our garage (Get it? three Beech trees and the three B’s of classical music: Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. We named the trees so we’d have locating points). Then the female flew to Margaret, the maple at the garage corner, chased by the male; then to the oak and pine on the other side of the driveway. There was a fluttering of feathers at this point; was this the gettin’ it on? Then he flew into Ed’s far corner, and she went back to the beeches. They ended in the trees in front of our two houses. Five days later, Bill, Aster and I woke at 5 a.m. to another bellicose duet coming from the B’s.
These two sound files are not recordings of what I heard, but they come really close. Take a listen:
Pillow Talk 1
Pillow Talk 2
I’ve asked this before: What the heck are they saying? Sure sounds like pillow talk.
The wild turkey really does scare our little black cat Aster. One would think that after so many years of seeing a gobbler in our backyard, Aster would have adjusted. She yawns at squirrels; a chipmunk must cross within inches of her nose to excite her. Even the deer don’t send her running home.
But the turkey 15 feet away freaks her, making her crouch, saucer-eyed, at the back door, mewing: IN! LET ME IN! Poor little scared kitty.