Saturday, September 23, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Yard eco: Late Thursday night Alpha dog wasn't in any of her usual nap spots. She didn't come when called. Yelling from the back door availed not even an answering bark or whine. So I took a flashlight out into the backyard to look.

I found her silent and sphinx-like, at the back of the yard near the composter. Quivering with excitement, she gazed intently above, eyes fixed on something midway up a small cherry snag. She had a young opossum treed.

Didelphis virginiana, North America's only marsupial mammal, is extremely common around here and lives as well in suburbia (barring encounters with those pesky autos) as it does in the woods. It is, however, shy and largely nocturnal so unless you're up late or early in the morning, you might not know it was around save for the unlucky ones that fall to late-night drivers. It was a real treat to look up the trunk and spot this little one looking back. We figured they were in the neighborhood; now we know they're also raising litters and dispersing them throughout. Ours, I suppose, was lured by the overripe eggplants I had tossed in the composter.

Alpha, quite carried away with her find, wouldn't move. She was deaf to commands; wouldn't budge when I grasped her collar. I gave it up and hoisted her sixty pounds back to the house, gingerly avoiding the fallen branches we haven't yet cut up. Thank goodness the Nordic genes make her compact.

The 'possum can have the eggplants, with my compliments.

Harvest: No lack of bell peppers, though they are small. The insect damage seems to have stopped, but then it's been cool for a change. Still lots of cayennes, which I am drying in small bunches. Now I just need to find lots of people who like spicy food. Thinking of planting some radishes and beets tomorrow, now that the heat's mostly past. Certainly radishes, which grow quickly.

Knitting: Baby gift finished, except for snap closures and name, which I am v-stitching on. Stuck on my second sock; am going to have to relearn the German twisted cast-on.

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