Saturday, October 31, 2009


Black cat with a scowl.

Gray cat with a howl.

Well, not really.

It might be a "Howl-o-ween" for everyone else, but for Violet it's really just one big "Yawn-o-ween."

No matter, my odometer turned 666 on the highway and that was one suspenseful minute until I got that next mile driven. :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall colors

A couple weeks ago when I was out stomping on that land in Kansas, I had to really search to find anything in color. This closeup of some sumac leaves was the best I could do.

Everything else seemed lifeless...if not charred.

The only thing with any sort of life was this dead leaf attached to a spider web remnant, endlessly oscillating in the slight breeze.

I walked in the woods for a while but the slight breeze at the top of a hill turned out to be a kind of dangerous. It sounded pretty, the sound of wind blowing through the tops of the trees, but when a large tree crashed to the ground in front of me, just about twenty feet away, well, that was too much drama so I left.

But the following week when I returned, it was sunny. It was even somewhat warm. And there were bugs!

I got a good staredown from a stinkbug.

Watched a little common buckeye butterfly sun itself on the gravel.

And found the tiniest little ringneck snake under an oak leaf.

But still, not too much color...although there were hints that something would be happening soon...

Yesterday when I returned, it was a gloomy and wet day...but big changes had been made in the landscape. Look at that pretty little maple tree now.

The colors are finally reaching their last minute crazy weird intensity.

Even the moss glows more than it really has to.

The colors get brighter, brighter, brighter...

...and then it's all over. It's like a good fireworks finale, watching all the colors go all crazy at this time of year and I don't want to miss seeing any one of them before they all go out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keeping up with Rex

Yesterday was a gloomy day but nice because it was in the 60s.

I drove out to Redbud Ranch to spend the day.

First thing I did when I got there was say hello to the horses and pet their noses.

And then say hello to Girly (the dog that came with the house)...

And take a picture of Spook because he looked so handsome against all that green duckweed in the pond.

Sarah was busy cleaning out the horse stalls while Rex played on the tractor.

But it didn't take long for him to get down and find something else to do.

"Uh, Lady, if I were you I'd call him back right now."

Well, I sure know how to make things safe but not so much fun. No matter, Spook jumped off the trailer to take over.

Situation handled. Spook moved on to other things.

And Rex was off to spend some time with the chickens. When Rex disappeared (we could still hear him talking to the chickens though), he was found in the chicken coop. Silliness.

Sarah pulled him out and then Rex wanted to show me where he found the black snake by the lake the day before. The spot was shown to me...

...and then he took off on a trail leading uphill.

Rex wore us out, even Ibby. Does Rex ever stop moving???

No, no he doesn't.

He really doesn't.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The fall colors are almost at their peak of crazy. It seems like anything green wants to see what it's like living on the other side of the color wheel and is rapidly turning manic shades of orange and yellow and red. Nothing subtle about any color change this fall.

For the first time I can remember, the tulip poplar in my front yard kept its leaves while the sugar maple took its time to turn a brilliant orangey yellow. I've never seen those two trees in full color at the same time ever.

It's just happiness standing under all that goldenness. And there is a lot of it. My white pine kind of joined in by holding on to its three year old yellowed needles (which will probably be dropping soon).

On my drive to work every morning I pass the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's newish modern wing. Every year at this time I think the Autumn Joy sedum is looking beautiful and then men show up and sit on the beds and in a couple days time everything turns red. I don't know what they do. I keep thinking they're weeding but the sedum seems to disappear. Was it even there? It's a mystery every year and when I think to check it out, it's always one day after they've done whatever they've done to transform something pretty into something else that is...pretty.

The color is surreal. Here is another view taken on my drive home tonight.

I'm usually not a fan of red in the garden but at this time of year I just cannot get enough of it. I drive around looking for it.

The Kauffman Memorial Garden was just a little down the street so I continued my drive and stopped there and instantly was smitten with RED.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata "Winter Red"). I must have it.

But when I entered the garden...dang, they had thrown out all the annuals and were ready to plant new ones. Near the end of October? I guess this garden goes through a lot of changes so I think maybe I should stop by a little more often.

Oh, look at that magenta and red. Love it. Colors are just so freaky not right at this time of year.

Except out in Kansas. When I was out there this weekend, all the trees were turning all sorts of shades of .............yellow.

I mentioned this to Sarah and she said there really wasn't a lot of red in the country. If you wanted red, you had to plant it. Notes we made to both our selves..."Must plant more maples."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That arboretum

This is the problem with visiting botanical gardens. I am perfectly happy with my creek (well almost, it's just kind of overgrown and neglected and I sure could use a better way of crossing it other than just looking for dry spots or rocks)...

...but then I see this.

Well, of course my little mind then scrambles as to how to duplicate the over the top theatrical beauty of this scene.

I love weeping willows. I need one. They grow fast and last about 35 years (probably what I will last too) so the two of us can become old ladies together. Weeping willow, check, on the list.

See that yellowy green plant in the upper center? That plant just glowed in the late day sun. From a distance it reminded me of the euphorbias I saw in Golden Gate Park years ago. I just loved them. They may survive this zone but with turtles stomping and the size of my current little backyard, I never pursued growing them.

But that golden plant definitely took center stage and I had to know what it was.

It's a "Golden Spirit" smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). I had no idea they came in that color. Definitely on the list.

And I really need a bridge. Maybe not a bright green one.

Or a substantial iron one...

...but something, something pretty. I think building a bridge will be the first major project on that land. But will it be modern, rustic, decorative iron, HomeDepot (kidding)...that will be something fun to figure out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tree identification

Today I visited the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Kansas to learn how to identify the trees that are growing on that land o' mine. The terrain was nearly the same...

...and I recognized some trees without having to read their identifying signs, like these shagbark hickories...

...but unlike my land, things were so nicely groomed...

...and bigger and wider...

...and maybe carried a little more drama (look at those spiky branches going in all directions! Eeeeeee!)...

This however, is too much drama. I would not want this locust tree living too near me.

It impales its own bark and leaves.

I glanced at this particular tree when I was on a trail and had to stop. Wait a minute, a tree with two trunks?

I brushed away some of the vines wrapped around the left trunk and noticed that this tree really had just one main one. I wonder what the story is behind that other trunk getting sawed off.

If I had to choose an identifying name for this tree, I would have to go with amputree. >:-)

It sure looks naked standing there on one leg.

I'm reminded of an artist who puts underpants on trees. If this tree was standing around on my land, I definitely would have to do the same thing. Ha ha ha.