Slow Change

The slow, gradual transition to Autumn down here in the South could be the perfect metaphor for the plodding, reluctant pace of change here and in much of the nation right now.  But enough said on that.  It’s too unspeakable.

As I wrote this, I witnessed not one but two Monarch butterflies feeding on the pink cosmos outside my office window!  This may seem routine to more established native gardeners, but I’m excited to have finally attracted some to my plantings, before they migrate farther south.  Some progress is being made.  Oh, to have a good camera with a zoom lens!

Typical for Fall in TN, it’s a warm, sunny day, heading back up into the 70s by tomorrow.  Leaves are taking their good old time changing down here in the lowlands, while new flowers and veggies persist.

In the interests of full disclosure, some of the following ornamental plants are non-natives that were here before us.  I don’t encourage planting them, as they don’t improve the environment, and in some cases do great harm to its balance.  But our landscape is so sparse as it is, I try to find beauty any place I can.

Last but not least, this has to be the most decadent, chill kitty I’ve been privileged to host.  It doesn’t get more relaxed than this.


Fueling Fire

The synagogue massacre by yet another deranged gun-toting psycho, no doubt “inspired” by our despicable nazi-in-chief, was too much to even try to speak of.  Trump just fuels this fire, and nobody bothers to eliminate him.  There are just so many “last straws” one can take.  Words fail.

Also, it turns out a young former co-worker of mine turned cop who lives in Pittsburgh was actually one of the responders to the scene.  She’s OK, but it brings the shooting even closer to home.

That’s all I have on that.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled garden post.  Here is the beginning of my herb bed, cleaned up for winter, some herbs I potted up to bring in, and fiery “fall” colors.


Fall Garden Cleanup

Yesterday we dropped by my son’s to do more indoor repairs/installations and continue the yard cleanup.  Now that it’s cool out, I can get a lot more done improving his landscape.

Today was a warmish sunny day, just right for doing fall garden maintenance and cleanup.  I potted up some herbs, and transplanted others to a more sheltered bed for winter.  I raked and cleaned up around the beds and yard.  I planted a couple more pines out in the field.

Meanwhile, both cats were enjoying the weather, chasing rodents or just lounging on the porch being cute.  The flowers seem to be at their peak, now that it’s fall.


Adventure at Cade’s Cove

And when I say “adventure”, it really did turn into one.  But all in all, a very worthwhile day, our first real foray into mountain-climbing in the Smokies with Avdi.

We began our “novice five-mile-loop” noneventfully and enjoyably.  As the elevation rose, we passed through various microclimate levels, gradually becoming spectacularly colorful, with changing flora as we gained altitude, such as rhododendron forests, mountain laurel, ground cedar clubmoss, blazing red sourwood, and even some unexpected wildflowers.

The climb became more vertical and challenging, but we thought we could handle it.  There were horseback riders, but the most exciting encounter was with a big racked buck, who amazingly just stood there in the path with us grazing, not even concerned about our presence.  Unfortunately my phone cam had died by that time, so sadly I couldn’t document it.  It was a total first for all of us.

Some time into the hike, which we now suspected (and Avdi confirmed to himself) was way more than 5 miles, E started to suffer physical pain, and eventually had to be supported by Avdi.  I myself was starting to hurt, but I could go on.  Around every bend we thought, now we’re finally approaching the home stretch, but instead we just kept climbing and hurting.  We imagined a search and rescue and airlift!  It was like Frodo and Sam laboring toward Mount Doom in Mordor.

It culminated in Avdi actually carrying E piggyback down the final stretch!  I wish I could have gotten a photo of that!  He deserves a Purple Heart for being such a trooper, and getting us out of there.  When we finally emerged into a clearing, there was a primitive preserved log cabin from the early frontier days.  It was surreal, as if we had hiked into the twilight zone.

It turned out the trek was 8 1/2 miles, mostly up, or so it seemed!  But hey, with his help, we did it, and the next hike, whenever we recover, will seem a lot easier, since it will be a lot shorter and hopefully not so vertical.

We took the driving loop out of there, past old historic cabins, and beautiful pastures full of deer, tamely grazing while tourists took photos (the deer just roll their eyes and ignore the gawkers), and made our way to a well-deserved pizza and beers.  We were all so exhausted and in pain, we just went home to our respective beds and crashed!  But it was all worth it.

And apparently my son is not fed up with lugging us oldsters around, because he’s back as usual on a Friday to work, eat, drink, and possibly sleep some more!  We all lived to tell the tale of our Cade’s Cove adventure.

Here are the photos I was able to take before my cam died, and we thought we would!


Living and Dying Colors

It was a gorgeous 64 ° day for gardening, so I did.  I cleaned up the veggie garden and some other beds.  The greens–collards, Russian kale, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, leeks, India mustard, beet greens, opal basil, and peppers–are still going strong.

Bees are a-pollinating–you can see them on the cosmos.

The few leaves that are turning are finally reaching their peak.

Random Moods

It eventually made it into the 60s, outside as well as in, a good day for gardening before it chills down in the 30s again.  Flowers and bees are still at it, as you can see.  Two large golden raptors (eagles? hawks?) soared gracefully high above, with piercing screeches.  (Sorry, couldn’t get them.)  I’m not sure TN has actual seasons, just random unpredictable moods.



Yesterday we all returned to Avdi’s house to work on repairs, installations, and landscaping.  There were dark, menacing clouds hanging over the mountains, straight out of an old Japanese B&W monster movie, but later on it turned into a gorgeous sunset.

The day was just right for working indoors and out.  We got a lot done, then checked out The Bird and the Book, Southland Books and Café’s new pub/restaurant, a first for all three of us.  Lastly, we enjoyed some of D&V’s wonderful homemade (including crust) pizza.

This morning it was in the chilly 30s, almost “freezing”, so I guess it’s officially Fall.  Almost time to hibernate, but not quite.  We have a lot of work to do yet, but it’s mutually beneficial teamwork, on top of the pleasure of my son’s company.

Here is “our” kitty overseeing her vast estate, and the beautiful sunset over Maryville.