Monday, September 15, 2008

Signs of the Seasons

The rain this past weekend washed away the uncomfortably high humidity we've been experiencing and brought down the temperature. The cooler days are so refreshing and the even cooler nights make for excellent sleeping. In the morning, there is a chill in the air that definitely leaves the impression that fall is on its way.

Because it seems summer is really winding down, we were surprised to discover recently that a sparrow had built a nest within a morning glory vine that climbs an obelisk in a planter near the front door. Inside the nest were 3 little speckled brown eggs. Every time we went out the front door, the poor little mother sparrow jumped from her nest and ran across the driveway to safety. We're not sure why she chose to make her escape on foot, but we felt bad to see her panic and did our best not to disturb her. I didn't realize baby birds were hatched this late in the season. Aren't baby birds a sign of spring? However, the little brown eggs went from tiny, naked birds to youngsters who left the nest in an unbelievably short amount of time. It appears Mother Nature knew there was still plenty of time for our little sparrow to raise a family before the end of warm weather.

Then, this past weekend, I discovered Toby making a game of tormenting a baby rabbit in our back yard. Once again, I was surprised to see such a youngster this time of year. Aren't baby animals supposed to be born in the spring? You may recall that earlier this year, when I was upset that some of my young plants and a rose bush were destroyed by rabbits, I resolved to let Toby do some natural pest control and help keep rabbits out of the yard. My resolve dissolved, you might say, when I heard the little rabbit squeal in terror at being stalked by my dog. I just couldn't stand to think of Toby hurting the baby bunny just for the sport of it, so I sent my buddy to the garage and chased the bunny away. I'm sure I'll be "rewarded" for my kindness by having some more of my favorite plants chomped to the ground next spring. What a choice to have to make.

There also seems to be a sudden increase in the grasshopper population this time of year. All at once, they are everywhere. I hate grasshoppers nearly as much as I hate Japanese Beetles. Every year I consider getting a few guineas to do bug control on our property. I have heard guineas eat enormous amounts of harmful insects, including ticks. I have also heard they are noisy and obnoxious to have around, but would really like to see for myself. Apparently they are pretty wild, sleep in trees, and require little interference from people to survive. If they would really help reduce the grasshopper and tick population, it might be worth the extra bird noise.

So while fall is just around the corner, I am seeing signs that it's not here just yet, which is fine with me. There is still a lot of gardening I want to get done before it is time for the snow shovel!

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