Friday, September 4, 2015


Although we have not had much rain, we have had enough, in little gentle bits, to make the world, at least my world, a happier place. Our pond had dried up, our well was very low and I could not water anything but house plants and the vegetable garden. August had 4 days in a row of over 100 degree temperatures. I melt at anything over 80. I believe it was the hottest August on record for our area and the driest year (from September to September).

Here is how low Agency Creek became...

Then there were the fires... The bad ones were east of us, across the mountains. But it was worrisome when one started near Willamina, not far away. For a few days, the wind blew out of the east, bringing smoke to all of us on the west side. The mountains we see to the south were no longer visible... and "a bright golden haze" was on the meadow...

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say, and I guess so did the smoke: it gave us lovely sunsets...

Thankfully for us on the west side, the wind shifted and the air cleared. I felt sorry for those in the midst of those fires and that smoke. So glad for the rain that finally came to help the exhausted firefighters!

I escaped to the coast on many hot days to monitor the ten Black Oystercatcher nests I was responsible for. That kept me very busy. I now have only one last nest to make one last ditch effort to find fledglings... or give up on. Here is a fledgling I found just yesterday at Cape Kiwanda with a parent. Fledglings bills are still partly dark and their eyes don't have the bright red ring of the adults.

 It was beautiful almost every day I was at the coast... clear and pleasantly warm, not hot. The scenery is always wonderful.

While hiking the trails to get to my nest sites, I stop to take photos of interesting things along the way. Like this Skipper...

And this colorful slug...

Back home I did chores early and late to avoid the heat. I set rain barrels by every gutter downspout and found that the dew we get overnight most nights, even in the dry, hot weather, gave me enough water to hand water potted plants and the raised beds. After the rains came and filled the barrels, Johnny gave me a sump pump to use in the barrel by the shop. Today I watered the entire greenhouse with that one barrel's worth of water... and did not use all of it. Life is good again.

Every few days, I picked garden produce. Lots of cucumbers. And kale. Plenty of peas, beans, zucchini, green peppers and acorn squash, too. But I started my tomatoes too late so only the little cherry tomatoes are ripe. Fortunately, I have wonderful neighbors who give me their excess tomatoes. I give them cucumbers... if they'll take them. Here are two different days' pickings.

 The birds seemed to survive the hot weather okay. Of course, I feed the dozens of California Quail every day.

And the ever hungry Black-capped Chickadees...

 Happily, the weather has cooled and rain has returned. Some of my flowers are perking up. The Autumn Joy sedum along the back path was looking pathetic, but plumped up with the rain and began to bloom.

The Hardy Cyclamen that my mom gave me starts of years ago is suddenly popping up all over the place. It goes dormant during the summer, disappearing completely, then suddenly reappears in the fall. Such a cheerful little plant.

 The corn is almost ripe and will need to be put up for winter. There are a million green tomatoes to bring in before frost, scores of potatoes to be dug, and bark dust to be spread on the paths. But all seems doable now that the weather has cooled and rain has returned. Welcome September!

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