Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Road Home

Drive Slow.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Real Fall Colors

After a slow muted start, the vibrant colors of a real fall have finally arrive. It is a week plus later than what I would consider normal peak time for fall. Better late than not at all.

The drive home from work today was much more enchanting. By the end of the day my trance like state isn't so conducive to pulling over for picture taking. I just want to get home. More fall on the low spot will have to do.

My Kousa dogwood survived the freeze to turn an awesome shade of red.

Several shades of maple frame the cozy cabin.

Real fall colors.

A weather disturbance is scheduled for Thursday night. At this time of year they are usually packing winds.

Will tomorrow be the last day of peak fall?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Great Lawn Gets A New Bauble

I have been saving a certain someone's wine jugs for an unknown purpose for a while now. A few days ago a purpose struck me out of the blue. Ever since the notion arrived I have been itching to get it done so I could see my notion made real. Would I like it?

This afternoon the Great Lawn got a new bauble. It really has no purpose other than ornamentation. It is my hope that the light will play with it and make the view from above a bit more interesting in the barren time. It is lined up to become a part of the larger stone sculpture, Creation.

So far I like it. It could be another ring bigger, but that is all the wine jugs I have for now. It isn't to small. It might be just right as the smaller glass bindi of Creation.

Objets de are wandering out into the garden as the garden becomes. There is certainly a lot left to be desired about my no budget at all art in the garden. There is the fear that junk is just junk unless it is done well. There is also something to be said for letting go of fear and reveling in the act of creative play. Anything can be undone. Junk can be re-purposed or thrown away when the notion arrives.

The blue stairs down to the basement patio turned out pretty nice. It was a creative risk that could have been painted over if I didn't like how it turned out.

Blue stairs and a glass bindi at that patriotic little cabin up at the low spot on the mountain top. All will be revealed in another couple weeks when the trees go bare. My cachet as a roadside attraction continues to grow.

And the garden grows. Oakleaf hydrangea that started out as rooted sticks are now large shrubs. The evergreen and cold hardy clumping bamboo is putting on some heft. I still wish it would grow taller faster. It gains about a foot and a half of height each season.

Each passing year the barren time gets a little less bare.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Muted Fall

The color this fall has been spectacularly lousy. The forest trees seemed confused. Green trees next to naked trees next to trees with a bit of color. That color tends to be muted and lacks any bit of vibrancy. It has been a crummy fall showing.

I don't have time for leaf peeping anyway so it isn't a major trauma. It does make the drive to and from work less enchanting and I do miss that.

I spend time contemplating single bricks and metal brackets used for center line reflectors on highways and other accumulating bric-a-brac and an upcoming master gardener garden tour. I'm thinking a midden out in the garden. I have to do something with this crap.

My spare time is spent painting the last bit of the service entrance stairs down to the basement patio. The last flight of steps needs a second coat. I ran out of stain though and need more. Once the second coat is done I can do the grey touch up where I painted over the lines.

I also got the roadside vegetable garden cleaned and ready to add a full load of the now well aged hobby farm manure. The plan is to spread it over the entire garden, let it freeze and thaw over the winter to kill as many weed seeds as possible then cover the whole thing with a fresh layer of wood chip mulch come February to further smother any remaining viable seeds in the manure. By mid March I'll be ready for the first round of sowing

The sunny utility meadow is going to sleep as a muted fall moves along. The grasses will be the last thing of interest left standing.

Green trees, naked trees and trees with muted color. Winter may as well begin.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When The Grasses Shine

It starts with frost because the sun has dipped, weak and low in the sky.

The fading plants of the tall flower meadow are singed brown. The grass heads get bleached and the lingering low angle of a morning sun lights the grasses alive.

The muted colors of a lousy fall, briefly flame.

And I wait until late afternoon when the sun finally makes it around to the service entrance and paint the landing and a few more steps.

Late afternoon when the sun is low and weak once more, before it dips behind the trees, when the grasses shine again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

First Snow

A lot of barren brown is in my near future. So are all the baby evergreen trees and shrubberies I have been planting.

I'm hoping the Kousa Dogwood has not frozen and the leaves will have a chance to fully turn before time is up. Next week is supposed to be very fall like.

It was the first snow at first light. A touch more than I was expecting.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Fine Crop Of Rocks

The race was on to get my sweet potatoes out of the ground before the real cold arrived. I tried to quit work early on Tuesday. Then it took over an hour to dig one row and there was a long half row left when I ran out of time. I had to dig deep to get them loose. Today I got the rest.

I dug deep and all I got was a whole bunch of rocks.

And long skinny roots that broke in the heavy soil when I tried to lift them. I was digging deep and breaking into the compacted layer of dirt and rocks below my fluffy wood chip enriched top soil. Harvesting potatoes is a great way to turn the soil. Harvesting sweet potatoes is even better and deeper.

Here is the real harvest of purple sweet potatoes. The row I dug on Tuesday were the regular orange variety. The purple ones are definitely more long and skinny than the orange.

Now that I have all these sweet potatoes what am I supposed to do with them? So I went to the internet and started reading.

It seems they need to be cured at 80 degrees in high humidity for a week to ten days to gain sweetness and to seal off wounds to prevent rot before they can go into long term cool storage at 50 degrees. I have dark, dry and 50 degrees. I am low on 80 degrees and humidity though. So for now they are settin by the furnace at around 72 degrees and 45% humidity. That just means it may take more like two weeks for the curing process.

I also read that the purple potatoes are firmer and a bit drier in texture than the regular orange ones and they need a bit more cooking time.

I think sweet potatoes might be best suited to growing in sandier soils. They did want to break easily so I had to be more gentle with them. But hey, this was an experiment and I got a fine crop of sweet potatoes high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top where the summer high was 85 once on one day.

The lows have been right at freezing the last couple days. It was spitting snow yesterday afternoon.

It was spitting sleet this evening.

And now I am hearing frozen dried rice pinging on the metal roof of the front porch.

Saturday's low is aiming towards 25. I got my sweet potatoes dug in the nick of time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Was Spitting Snow

Up high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top when I came home this afternoon.

Long underwear weather is here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Little Cabin In The Forest


As the time of vegetation proceeds to shut down.

The accumulations become more exposed.

And time could arrive when I might consider what to do with them?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Sampler

This fall is not going to be one for the record books, unless you count bad records. The color is late and of poor quality. A lot of trees are already bare without having bothered to turn. We are high on yellows and brown and low on reds and oranges. For this late in the season the mountains are still amazingly green.

I'm lucky to have a number of maples in the front forty that are making an attempt at fall color.

So far it doesn't compare to falls past.

Even our first frost was a bit late by comparison. There's sweet potatoes under there. I plan to dig them tomorrow.

But we are having fall and in places it is beautiful.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Two Coats And A Scarf

The cold is coming. We had our first light frost this morning. More and colder frost is scheduled for later in the week. And what's this? A chance of snow for next weekend. The cold is coming. I need to get my sweet potatoes dug pronto.

I was on another mission first. The front and back porches have now gotten two coats of the deck stain. It is darker and more to my liking with two coats. The step's riser was painted the 'Artichoke' grey of the cabin and the railings and posts were touched up were I painted over the lines.

The front porch is officially done.

The back porch got the same two coat treatment and grey scarves for the step risers. I like that contrast. It makes the steps more visible. This level of the service entrance also got the touch up treatment to cover painting over the lines.

The back porch is done.

All that's left to paint are a small landing and the stair treads down to the basement patio. Kind of. There are some underneath deck areas that are under consideration for painting at some future date whenever maybe.

With this cold coming and a possibility of snow for next weekend, I don't know when I'll get to the stairs. I could do one step at a time, if time permits. I would eventually make it to the bottom of the stairs.

But my new priority is to dig my sweet potatoes. The cold is coming.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

As It Fades Away

Heads turn

Early morning hunters
The all day parade of leaf peepers
Motorcycle riders
Truckers hauling logs and field corn
Geocachers stop. I hear the crunch of gravel.

Heads turn
At Hale Mana
Tucked below the scenic byway

I paint
Watching the parade from the corner of my eye
First coat done
The riser will
Be grey

They come looking
As it slowly fades away

One last bloom

Competing with the leaves

Heads turn
In both directions

As it fades away