Friday, May 20, 2016

In Praise of Ordinary Things...!

Note:  I plan to go into summer time mode blog posting - I will post only when the spirit moves me to do so until late August...  Enjoy the summer!

It has been a busy year supervising my interns and student teachers, and now, summer vacation has arrived - Most recent summers we have gone off to 
explore exotic lands for our annual travel adventures - but this summer Judy
had an important project that she deeply believes in...   And it’s amazing, 
after a busy year, for now,  just doing ordinary things is a pleasure.
Entrance drive into Mills College, Oakland

The dogs and I walked early this morning along the Alameda Creek trail - It 
was a time of day when the water birds were actively hunting for food, I saw 
the first baby ducks of the season, and a great V of geese passed so close
 overhead I could hear the wing feathers vibrate in the wind. The plant 
community is preparing for the long wait of summer dryness-  - seed pods 
have formed... the summer season has begun... Cormorants stood watch from 
atop tops extending their wings to dry in the morning sun.

Me and 2 of the pups - Rusty is down in the creek chasing a ground squirrel
There is a gentleness to this season - a predictability - Mornings are cool and delicious - middays warm - even hot, and evenings cool when the cloudy
 ocean air mass.  The hammock is up if I ever get time to use it...

Looking west - every night cool ocean air comes streaming in from  the Pacific -
usually the fog doesn't reach us in Fremont
We can't have it all - the cool evenings preclude the growing of peppers, 
eggplants, melons, most heirloom tomatoes, and other vegetables that like 
long warm summer evenings.  They will grow handsome plants -   I tell 
myself "Don’t be greedy - grow what is suited to our climate."

As I have changed the garden to have more drought plants - my population  of lizards has increased -
they are good garden friends...

One of my first 'real' jobs this summer has been to weed and prune the winter garden - with all our rain plants grew crazy wild and we had more weeds 
that I have seen before... So I have worn my fingers down to nubs - but that 
job is done...
Scarlet Pimpernel - just like in the fiction  book - they show up everywhere - they are on my kill on sight list!

It is also the season when gophers are digging their deep summer tunnels. 
( 10-12 inches deep in the soil).  I am in a state of war with these guys!  
So far they have eaten the roots off of two zucchinis and two Swiss chard 
plants...  It is a certain ethical problem for me - generally I work to preserve 
wild life - and theoretically I find wild gophers charming little animals with remarkable behaviors... 
Guess who?
But when they eat my zucchini that is another matter.  
I have tried traps, ground vibrators, smoke bombs, 'safe' chemical poisons... 
I dig back to find the "T" in their tunnels... I have tried it all... My latest 
method is to plant inside of buried wire baskets.  One person even told me to 
put ex-lax pills in the tunnels - she said it worked marvelously I haven’t tried 
that yet.  But who am I to complain - in Tanzania  I was told the biggest 
garden pest was rampaging elephants...

Early strawberries

The fruit calendar had begun - we have an on-going strawberry crop, loquats 
and Valencia oranges are sweet and good.  Now I check the fig tree daily - 
they are coming soon! Here my competition for fruit are a big noisy blue
 jay and a fruit loving mocking bird...that and sometimes a nighttime possum 
or raccoon... Oh well - Man against nature right here in my backyard.

These guys are such rascals! Scrub jays!

It is the season of reptile surprises in the garden - delicate little snakes, garter, sharp tail most common, occasional king snakes; and a myriad of fast darting
 blue bellied lizards. I often see them scurry out of the corner of my eye -
 so fast...  they are both cool - we happily coexist;

Rubber boas - about 4-5 inches long...Very gentle

My summer garden is thriving in a raised bed - chard, Romano beans. 
lettuce, beets, herbs, potatoes, tomatoes. 

Exit Sign on gate at Mills College