Garden & Sky

Archive for the tag “cardinals”

Sunflowers & Jewelweed

Yesterday, it rained. With the rain came cool, soft air with a strong hint of fall. Joe and I thought it was a bit like Vancouver weather–grey, misty, mysterious. It was the perfect weather for soup, and the restaurant where we were dining served up an amazing bowl of ramen noodle soup. Joe is going to make it at home–his own version, of course, which is never the same twice but always wonderful.

Today, the sun, heat, and humidity have returned, and soup of any kind no longer sounds good. A cool beer on the back patio is what is required today.

Now, at the tail-end of August, our willow-leaved sunflower is beginning to bloom.

This tall, gangly, narrow-leaved prairie plant spends the entire summer growing taller and taller, outdoing the common milkweed and the other sunflowers. It really looks like some alien life form, reaching out to catch something… anything…Most likely, it’s simply reaching for sunlight. Over the years, our trees have grown, and more and more of the flower beds are shady for a good part of the day. Every year, the garden is a little bit different.

For instance, we have jewelweed in the back corner garden for the first time this year. It arrived and grew on its own, as many interesting plants do, and now, in late summer, it is full of small dark-orange flowers that the hummingbirds love. Today, there have been three or four of these helicopter-like birds buzzing up and down, left and right, forward and back, throughout the patch, stopping briefly in front of each flower to gather some refreshment. Often, a bit of a fight breaks out as the pressure is on to bulk up before the long flight south.

We’ve also had the stunning goldfinch stop by the sunflowers and the zinnias. When he sits on the willow-leaved sunflower, he seems to be just another yellow and black bloom, swaying gently in the breeze. You have to look twice to notice him.

There’s a lot of eating going on out in the garden these days, and I hope there will be some seeds left for us to gather… but I think we have enough to share.

By this point in the summer, our cardinals are raising their last set of young. I can hear them chittering and cheeping each morning in the neighbor’s arbor vitae, which seems to be their favorite nesting place. The parents make good use of our nearby vegetable garden, scouring the tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants for caterpillars to take back to the nest.

We won’t see the young cardinals for another few weeks; cardinal parents are very cautious. But, their energetic squeaking and the quick rustle and shaking of leaves lets us follow them as they venture away from the nest. Soon, they will appear alongside their parents on the garden fence, making their first attempts at finding their own caterpillars. πŸ›

A Not-So-Quiet Interlude

August 30, 2017 – Somewhere off in the distance, a squirrel is annoyed. The cardinals are not too happy, either. Sipping my coffee, I listen to their sounds of displeasure… the squirrel with its clacking and wheezing, and the cardinals with their sharp, quick chipping. Normally, this time of day is reserved for crickets and cicadas. What has set off the alarm this morning? It could be our visiting cat, Athena, patrolling her territory.Β 

Or, it could be a passing hawk. We’ve seen Cooper’s and red-tails many times. Most likely, I’ll never know. The woods are still thick with greenery this time of year, and much of what happens there is hidden from my view.

I have only the sounds to hint at what may be taking place. These events don’t last long, though. Soon, the cat will move on or the hawk will fly off, and it will be all crickets and cicadas again.


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