Sunrise, Sunset

IMG_7148.jpg

As if to compensate for the fading leaves, our late October skies exploded with color. Morning temperatures drew gauzy mists up from the lakes or created fog banks hunkering over the shore.

img_6834

The sky became a brilliant contrasting backdrop to the mist and fog, as the sun rolled up over the blue Camden hills.

img_7116
img_6829img_6773

We have an unobstructed view of sunrise, but being on the southeast side of a ridge, do not see the sun drop under the horizon at sunset. No matter. We get a show just the same. As the old day heads toward nightfall, colors so extreme as to best be described as lurid or garish light up the western, then southern, then eastern skies. Honestly, this photo looks muted in comparison to the real thing.

IMG_6818.jpg

October’s variable weather, golden light, and temperature inversions contribute to these remarkable bookends on the day.

img_7133

Typical for this time of year, the weather has been fickle–summery one day, scudding clouds and rain the next, followed by a bit of frost and wintry air.

IMG_6898.jpg

img_7071IMG_6973.jpg

IMG_7060.jpg

The poor honey bees do not know whether to hunker down or get out and forage.

IMG_6975.jpg

There are still a few lingering flowers, but the bees go quickly from one to another, finding little on offer.

IMG_6874.jpg

Some are still bringing in pollen, however. I fed them sugar water for a few weeks to help them shore up their winter honey supply. I likely will slip in a fondant patty in a week or two, strap the hive down, build a straw-bale windbreak, and the bees will be on their own until early spring.

IMG_6998.jpg

Whether it is due to the bees’ pollination, the summer drought, or something else altogether, the fall berries are especially abundant this year.

IMG_6944.jpg img_6936

img_7015

The milkweed is bursting out of its pods.

IMG_6891.jpg

img_6890

The geese are migrating so high overhead that we can hear them well before they become visible.

img_6846

All kinds of mushrooms are springing up in the lawn after it rains, making me paranoid that Capp will eat some (he eats everything), vomit profusely, twitch a little, and promptly die.

IMG_6981.jpg

img_6955

We continue to put the gardens to bed, and ready the orchard for winter.

img_6929

Capp helps cover the strawberries.

IMG_6806.jpg

img_6807

The last of the carrots and beets.

I am absurdly proud of my little orchard nursery. All of the apple grafts that I clumsily attempted at the spring grafting workshop were successful and grew into impressive little apple trees.

img_0256

The grafted apples in May.

img_6900

The same grafted trees in October.

Next spring we will replant them in various places on the property. We will have more area cleared and ready for fruit trees, flowering shrubs, another vegetable bed, and a sitting area with some scattered perennial and annual flowers.

img_6914

Thanks to George’s hard work, the fence is almost finished. It looks like arms enfolding our garden and orchard.

img_6985

 

img_7077

We still need to do some post leveling, attach the screen, and hang the gates. Once the fence is done, we will start looking for another dog to keep Capp company.

img_7087

It has been a busy fall, tempered and bounded by very bad and very good news from loved ones. Grief, happiness, and change all mixed up together. Bring on winter.

IMG_6799.jpg

Picture Perfect Days

img_6233

I love this time of year in Maine. No sadness for me over the passing of summer. I am ready for the cool wood-smokey air, the thick golden afternoon sunlight, and the magical color explosion that is fall in New England.

img_6777

The color in the perennial garden pales next to the maples.

When we lived in Alaska, I always became depressed in the fall. The season there was so brief–a week or so of glorious yellow aspens, soon stripped by strong winds.

IMG_6570.jpg

It was a jarring transition from the wonder of an Alaskan summer to a very long stretch of winter darkness and cold.

img_6764

Fall in Maine, on the other hand, gradually unfolds in a lovely progression of harvest and colors so exquisite they almost hurt.

img_6362

And the colors change day by day, as one tree fades, others peak, making every walk and drive a changing palette of brilliance.

IMG_6470.jpg

Photographs do not adequately convey the way the sun illuminates the trees, transforming them into glowing, blazing living sculptures.

img_6445

The colors this year are the most vivid I have ever seen.

img_6395

IMG_6450.jpgimg_6609img_6319

Out kayaking when the leaves were just starting to turn, the reflections were so clear that they created kaleidoscope-like patterns.

img_6068

img_6081

Reflection of a log turned on its side.

The water was very low and I had to carefully work my way over the shallows from lake to river–just an inch to spare.

img_6179

img_6189

This sand bar was a foot underwater in the spring.

But I was rewarded by basking turtles and a heron unfazed as I slowly drifting nearby.

img_6300IMG_6274.jpgIMG_6110.jpg
IMG_6215.jpg

No frost yet, so I am slowly–very slowly–putting the vegetable gardens to bed.

IMG_6025.jpg

The sunflowers continue to feed the birds and one acrobatic red squirrel.

IMG_6750.jpg

IMG_6724.jpgimg_6733

George has been working hard putting in our back fence.

IMG_6785.jpg

And Capp is enjoying our picture perfect days.

IMG_6040.jpgimg_6492img_6662

img_6673

The door is open and I’m not sneaking outside. Good boy.

IMG_6768.jpg

Slow-motion Fall

IMG_2536October 9th and no sign of frost.  We are used to fall in Alaska, an abrupt transition from summer and winter—often lasting only a week or two—that can hardly be considered a season.  In contrast, this year in our part of Maine, fall has unfolded leisurely, with lingering summer temperatures well into September.

I love milkweed

Love to see milkweed.

We have so many apples on the ground from our wild trees that it smells vaguely of apple brandy.

Roadside crabapples--a great year for apples in Maine

Roadside crabapples–a great year for apples in Maine

IMG_2548This slow fall pace has allowed our vegetable beds to continue to produce, and produce, and produce—something we had not expected this late in the season.

Still going strong

Still going strong

Our sunny hillside—near, but not too near, the ocean—apparently creates a microclimate with a longer growing season than areas around us.  It will be fun to see how far we can stretch it.

Our little cold-frame is an attempt to provide greens into the fall

Our little cold-frame is an attempt to provide greens into the fall.  So far, looking good.

Our October garden is an unexpected bounty.  We continue to harvest eggplants, tomatoes (fortunately we had no blight), tomatillos, leeks, fennel, chard, collards, peppers, and carrots from our first planting in May.

The chard has been a trooper. Always abundant and always delicious.

The chard has has been impressive. Always abundant and always delicious.

The birds started eating the sunflowers, so I hauled the enormous flower heads to the ground under the bird feeders, a feast for contentious bluejays. IMG_2429

In late July to mid-August I planted colder-weather crops, which are producing like mad now.

The russian kale, peas, and beets are thriving

The Russian kale and beets are thriving.  It’s dubious that we’ll get broccoli out of this planting, though..

IMG_2482_edited-1

October tomatoes

Peas, kale, beets, more carrots, and even corn—needless to say, we haven’t bought any vegetables in months.  In fact, I’ve had to adjust my mindset this summer so that I don’t feel guilty if we don’t eat everything produced in the garden.  If it’s not eaten, it makes great compost for next year.

The biggest surprise in our first Maine garden was the sheer plenitude.  I planted what I thought would be small islands of flowers among the vegetables.  They properly attracted bees, other beneficial insects, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

October pollen overload in this honeybee

October pollen overload in this honeybee

But they also ran rampant, rioting all over the stodgier vegetable neighbors.  IMG_2472I had to continually cut back the cosmos to give the eggplants more room and the nasturtiums would have engulfed the entire garden if I had let them. IMG_2471

But nothing compared—volume-wise—with the lone tomatillo I planted in May.  I had no idea that tomatillos would even grow in Maine and—because I ignorantly though it would be out of its element—pictured a tidy, compact plant.  Ha.  It was godzilla.  I continually cut it back and it then grew even more profusely, entwining its arms into every tomato and pepper plant in the bed.  IMG_0961A jealous monster.  It gave me two complete harvests, so I have nice jars of salsa verde and roasted tomatillos frozen for winter.

One tomatillo plant. I hated to pull it up, but wanted to give the peppers a chance to produce a little more.

One tomatillo plant. I hated to pull it up, but wanted to give the peppers a chance to produce a little more.  And, it was time to harvest.

Planting in raised beds was a first for me.  Next year, I will plant the sunflowers, pumpkins, corn and potatoes in regular beds.  But, otherwise I am a total convert to raised beds.  They allow for close-planting, with few weeds, and are easy to work.  I planted some things too close together and will adjust next year, but the happy hodge-podge of flowers and veggies, with few rows or open soil, made for a healthy, productive, and beautiful garden.

We fortunately had few garden pests.  This Japanese beetle was bonding with a wild thistle.

We fortunately had few garden pests. This Japanese beetle was bonding with a wild thistle.

If this warm weather continues, we will have to devise some new ways to cook eggplant.IMG_1708