I’ve complained all summer long about the squirrels that own our yard and frequent our vegetable garden. I’ve blamed them for all the missing baby pumpkins, for picking my precious tomatoes and eating half before sauntering off to do something else, and for digging up pansies and other flowers for some unknown reason. I’ve even chased them and thrown a rock or two their direction. But the other night, as we were returning home, we pulled into our driveway and spotted another critter in our garden! A skunk has also been raiding our garden at night! No wonder we didn’t get ANY pumpkins or squash this year. These critters have feasted all summer long, day and night! (I assure you, though, that I won’t chase the skunk or throw any rocks at it.)
There was one pumpkin from our Halloween collection that we didn’t carve into a Jack-o-Lantern. Those that we carved into Halloween pumpkin faces have already drooped and been thrown into the compost heap, but this one last pumpkin provided an afternoon of fun for us out our kitchen window. Hubby cut it in half and put the halves in the oak stump garden and we stood at our kitchen window to see what would happen. The show was highly entertaining!
What curious birds and critters we have in this neighborhood! The Scrub Jays immediately appeared to check it out, and tasted a few of the seeds. The Northern Flicker flew to the top of the birdhouse and looked down curiously at these things. A few minutes later a Spotted Towhee took its turn checking out this new “stuff.” The little birds: sparrows, chickadees, and a junco were fluttering in the hedge waiting their turn but weren’t bold enough to interfere with the curious bigger birds.
It wasn’t too long before the squirrels arrived. Two of them, jealously chasing each other away from “their” newfound loot. They started feasting. First, sitting on haunches eating the seeds with some delicacy, then, chowing down on the inside part of the pumpkin.
A little while later, we looked out to see a black cat sitting near the pumpkin, keeping a close eye on the squirrels. Boldly cautious, the squirrels continued feasting. But when one made a slight move away, the cat chased the squirrel full-speed up the oak tree. But not for long! Cat got bored and went elsewhere. Squirrels returned to their Fall treat.
What a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment in our garden!
The oaks are losing their leaves and we’ll soon have to rake them to the curb for the first city-wide leaf pickup of the season. The summer vegetables in the kitchen garden are almost spent, with only a couple of remaining tomatoes. The squirrels are digging everywhere and hiding “treasures” in almost every garden pot. And I have been busy all week pulling out the sunflowers from our fun sunflower garden, saving the big heads and putting them in paper bags to dry, hoping to have some seeds to feed the birds this winter. With Cackling Geese flying overhead, it is definitely Autumn in Forest Grove!
We have been busy this week with a late summer project. Hubby is putting a new roof on the old garage, and I have been helping him by whitewashing the boards that will be under the shingles. The white painted side will face down and brighten up the inside of that old structure.
While I painted in the early morning, the sounds of our garden entertained me. First were the sounds of numerous birds: scrub jays, acorn woodpeckers, white-crowned sparrows, and then a flock of bushtits in the hedge. Later, a frog joined in and squirrels chattered at me from their spot in the neighbor’s tree across the alley. Finally, I became aware of a recurring sound and realized it was acorns dropping from our very tall oaks. They hit the ground with definite thuds and bangs (depending on where they landed). I just didn’t want one to land on me! One dropped and hit me on the shoulder two years ago and I definitely don’t want to repeat that bruising pain.
That hour of just working and listening was delightful. Unfortunately, the weekly landscaping crew arrived at the house across the street and immediately the lovely morning sounds of our garden were lost to the sound of loud lawn-mowing equipment.
Last September, I planted some pansies and some ornamental kale and cabbage in a wooden tub next to a post with a birdhouse/feeder on it. We can see the tub from our kitchen window, and I hoped that the plantings would give us some winter color. The kale and cabbage didn’t last through the winter, but the pansies have been amazing! Yes, they gave us a bit of winter color, and then they really took off in the spring, were glorious in the early summer, and have lasted (although looking very tired and haggard now) through the heat of summer to reach Fall again.
I’m going to replace those hardy pansies in the next few days. We’ve got some other plans for that tub this winter. But it’s been a delightful year watching those pansies, and the birds, cats, and squirrels that also enjoy that tub outside the kitchen window!