Ready For a Frost

Birds are passing through Ann Arbor on their way to summer elsewhere, and the yard is sporadically full of songs I don’t usually hear. A frost was predicted for last night, so I gathered what was left to gather in the garden and brought it inside. The frost didn’t come, but even so, it’s interesting to see how different plants react to the slacking of the light: the zinnias and cosmos carry on, while the tomatoes have decided that’s enough for one season. Trees are starting to turn; the sugar maple brings on its famous red-gold slowly, from the top down.

Burning Bush Topiary

Burning Bush Deer Topiary

One of the most beautiful color-turners around here is the burning bush, with a glow that bursts through even stormy days. I have several burning bushes in my yard, clearly planted deliberately, long ago, as landscaping elements. In some parts of the country they’re considered invasive, and I’m sure they would like to be invasive here, but the deer won’t let them. The large, older bushes date from a time before the deer population was out of control, but have now been deer topiaried to look like enormous, leggy bonsai. Any little sprouting ones that pop up get nipped down to nothing. I’ve been told they’re poisonous, but no one told the deer. It’s nice to see the deer being useful.

The frost didn’t come, but it’s only a matter of days till it does.


bird snacks

Harvest is over, and cleanup has begun. And then more planting: one hundred more narcissus bulbs will go out in the yard, and a few dozen tulips will flourish beyond reach of browsing deer, inside the garden fence. And then we all get a well-deserved rest. Except for the migrating birds, who have a long trip ahead of them. Feed well on the seedheads I’ve left standing for you, birds. Buen viajes on your way south and I’ll see you in April.

Speaking of Shaking Sticks

A chipmunk got into the garage today, and thence into the house. I can’t say for certain whether Zerlina brought him in or chased him in, but by the time I was aware of him she was in hot pursuit.

Oh great, I thought. I’ve brought in all the tomatoes, so the chipmunk has come inside to dine on them.

A mouse that gets under a bookshelf will hide for a while, but eventually will come out for food or water, and the cat on stake-out will pounce. But experience shows that a chipmunk, freaked out by finding itself in a living room, will stay under the furniture

at rest

do I look like I care?

until it dies. This causes Zerlina to lose interest, so we have to locate the moldering critter and dispose of it ourselves. Therefore when a chipmunk gets in, we wait until Zerlina inevitably corners it in the living room, close the living room doors with the protesting cat on the other side of them, arm ourselves with a broom, and open wide the doors from living room to the deck. Some chipmunks seize opportunity when first it knocks; others need encouragement, which is what the broom is for. This was a brighter than average chipmunk and made for the door right away, though it chose to squeak through the crack between door and doorjamb, rather than the big wide open space.

Considering the damage chipmunks do in my garden, I was not full of tender regard for this one. I wouldn’t have wept if Zerlina had killed it, but I wasn’t up to doing the job myself. Zerlina, my hench-cat, taking on the burdens for which nature has prepared you, here is my gratitude: a handful of kitty treats; a scratch behind the ears; ten thousand years’ accumulation of civilized respect.


Zerlina’s point of view is here.