Life in the Enchanted Forest

I’ve begun drying my herbs. I actually think I almost began drying too late and I should have begun earlier in the summer but it’s difficult to even think about drying when the weather is summer hot, especially because I use dehydrators, which tend to heat up the house. I know that herbs can be dried without dehydrators by hanging them up, but I don’t really know how to do it and I don’t feel I have the setup for it. Dehydrators let me get the herbs dried much quicker without fuss. I set up the dehydrators on the kitchen table but after a couple of days, I realized that I could move them and their heat to the bench in the entrance hallway. The hallway is an unheated addition that connects the kitchen to the garage.

Saturday night was cloudless so EJ and I went outside to watch the Perseids meteorite shower.  We sat in the dark, each sipping a glass of wine as we chatted. Our night-time conversation was punctuated with exclamations of “Ohhh! There’s one! Did you see it? Yes, I saw it too! Wow!” We saw quite a few bright meteorites pulling tails of light behind them. I didn’t bother trying to photo or video them because I am not skilled at night photography and I wanted my focus to be enjoying the drama in the sky, not on my camera. EJ and I have always both enjoy celestial events. We marveled that years ago, before we ever knew each other, we were both out watching the same lunar eclipse. There’s something romantic about our awareness that at this point in time we were both looking at the same moon at the same time not knowing that someday we would meet and marry. It almost feels timey wimey, wibbly wobbly in a Doctor Who-ish sort of way.

We had planned to watch the meteorites for hours, but as the moon rose, its light erased the stars so we finally went back inside about 12:30 a.m. The night was rather cool, with temperatures expected to dip in to the 50s or 40s. We wore sweaters and wrapped ourselves in blankets. Although it is only mid-August, the temperatures are cooler in the morning and evenings, the goldenrod are beginning to flower, and the tree behind the magic box at the end of the driveway is already changing colors. The season is changing from summer to autumn. I love autumn and winter, but I’m not quite ready for them. I feel as if I just barely got used to summer.

With the feeling of autumn increasing, we are beginning to think about preparing for winter–planning what tasks we need to get accomplished.

Friday I looked out our bedroom window and saw the ducks all following one of the ducks who had something in its mouth. I guessed that it might be a mouse, which didn’t bother me because although they are cute, mice get into food and spread disease. Later I went outside to see if I could find the remains. I didn’t find a mouse. I found a flattened remains of a toad. That made me sad because I like toads. I hoped it wasn’t the toad that I had encountered in the rock pile last week. RIP little toad.

Friday evening EJ and I decided to take a walk down the driveway. As we left the house, I heard the upset cries of blue jays. It sounded as if there were many of them, although it’s hard to tell because they were hidden by the forest. Blue Jays tend to be the “town criers” of the forest, warning the woodland community of strangers and danger. EJ and I speculated at what the danger could be–it’s too late in the year for the Blue Jays to be upset over another bird robbing the nest. Could it be a bear? Or…? We have many, many berry bushes on our property, and I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any bears gorging on the berries to prepare for winter.

Saturday afternoon we watched the turkey family meander out of the forest on the other side of the driveway. The turkey flock consists of seven babies guarded by two adult females. As I watched, I saw a third adult come out of the forest a short distance away. I didn’t notice whether the third turkey was a male or female because I was too busy watching the drama unfold: When one of the females saw the third turkey, she challenged it and chased it away. By the time I thought to video it, the turkeys were moving out of sight down the driveway.

All this drama–of ducks, and blue jays, and turkeys made me ponder that there is life and death drama happening all the time all the time–birds, reptiles, insects, wildlife, humans, all struggling to survive. I don’t have any conclusions to draw from this other than that it happens, and I’m (mostly) unaware of it.

Yesterday evening EJ burned the last of the scrap wood in the burning barrel. We sat outside to keep an eye on the fire until it burned down. We sat near the duck pen and watched the ducks in their pen as well as the fire. It was quite peaceful. I never mow right up close to the fence so the ducks (or chickens) can reach through and eat some of the grass. EJ happened to be watching one of the ducks when an egg suddenly tumbled out of her body. The ducks usually lay eggs without much fuss and not always in a nest. In contrast, the chickens always lay eggs in the nesting box, and they loudly cluck when they do so.

EJ buys old golf clubs and balls at thrift shops or yard sales. He likes to “golf” on our property. He hits them down the property, leaves them where they lie, and then on another day hit them back up toward the house. I prefer putt-putt golf rather than hitting the balls long-distances. Yesterday EJ got an empty can, poked holes in it for drainage, and set it in the ground so we could enjoy hitting the balls into it. We plan to put a few of them around the yard, and maybe eventually build obstacles, so we go miniature golfing on our property, just for fun.

I finally met our nearest neighbor who shares our driveway late last week. This is his vacation home, so he and his wife are only at the house now and then in the summer and not at all during the winter. He was trimming the branches off a tree when I walked down to get the mail. We chatted a couple of minutes before parting ways. EJ met this neighbor last summer and discovered that the guy used to work with EJ’s Dad and play cards with him on their lunch breaks. Small world.



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