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Autumn joy sedum

Autumn joy sedum

September has turned so warm that the trees have been changing color very slowly. We are at least two weeks, probably three, away from peak color in my area. Usually by now the trees are starting too look pretty spectacular but the summer just does not want to let go.

That is okay in some respects. It means we are still picking zucchini and our tomatoes have had time to get big and ripe. The amaranth has grown to monstrous size and the blossoms are so huge the poor things have become top heavy and all but a few sturdy ones are leaning over. The basil is still going strong too which means more pesto is in the offing. Some of the pumpkins are fully orange, others are halfway there.

Rumor has it there is the chance for frost next week. It is a long time out to forecast anything however, so I won’t hold my breath but I will certainly hope. A frost, especially if it ends up being a hard frost (below freezing instead of close to) will mean I can harvest the amaranth. It will make the pumpkins sweeter too. I am also anticipating being able to harvest some sunchokes for the first time. The patch has gotten quite large and needs thinning, what better way than to dig up some of the roots and eat them! Oh, and I keep forgetting there are some turnips out in the garden too. A frost will make those sweet as well. Frost will also go a long way towards helping my allergies. Once all the ragweed is dead I will be able to breath easy once again.

The porcelain garlic I ordered over the summer arrived in the mail last week. It is too warm yet to plant, I don’t want the cloves to start sprouting. But if the week turns out to be cool and the chance of frost looks more certain for next week, I’ll be planting the garlic on the weekend.

It’s also time to start seed saving. I’ve got calendula, marigolds and zinnias in the garden I want to save for next year. Also dill and coriander.

All of the coneflowers have gone to seed now and the goldfinches are thick among them. I

Coop foundation

Coop foundation

love coneflowers of all kinds and when I began planting them I had no idea the goldfinches loved them so much too. I love their little chirruping! And what a delight to walk up to my front porch after a day at work and have yellow burst out of the flower beds at my approach. They are so wonderfully beautiful that my breath catches in my throat at the sight of them.

Board painting station

Board painting station

The bees are frantically busy on the asters and the sedums and still crowding on the anise hyssop. Most of the monarch butterflies have left but one floats through the garden now and then. I also saw a hummingbird flitting about too. You know, I’ve lived in Minnesota for twenty years now and had never seen any hummingbirds about until two years ago. They aren’t frequent visitors to the garden these days but they are visitors which is a huge step up!

Today Bookman and I finished laying down the foundation for the chicken coop. The week was wet so we did not have a chance to prime and paint any of the boards to build with. We got started on that today too but unfortunately the primer didn’t dry fast enough for us to be able to start building. Next weekend the saw and the drill get to do some work!

Biking

The best kind of biker bar

The best kind of biker bar

This was the weekend that was supposed to belong to my Gran Fondo race. Since it got cancelled because of so much road construction I had to take matters into my own hands. No race, but by golly, I was determined to ride 100 km /60 miles on Saturday. I did and then some! I ventured out to find a new trail, Minnetonka Regional Trail. It is 15 miles /24 km of aggregate trail that starts near my favorite “biker bar”, Hopkins Depot, a cafe that sits at the confluence of several different bike trails. To get to the trail head I had to ride through a couple blocks of “downtown” Hopkins, a suburb with one of those quaint small town-like shopping districts. The trail was well marked and good thing or I would have missed it as it was crammed in between the driveway to a business parking lot and someone’s backyard.

The trail was marvelous. It took me right out to Lake Minnetonka and along the shore with

Through the meadow

Through the meadow

views of the lake and a number of boat marinas. Lots of people were out boating on such a gorgeous day too. Near the very end of the trail is a turn off to Carver Park Reserve, with 9 miles/ 14.5 km of paved bike trail. The Reserve also offers camping, boating, hiking, a nature education center, and hosts rolling wooded terrain, meadows, lakes and marshes. It is also a waterbird sanctuary. Supposedly you can see trumpeter swans there.

I rode into the park around 9:30 in the morning and was one of very few people there. I suddenly felt like I was a long way from anywhere and it felt so good. I didn’t see any swans but saw lots of goldfinches, a flock of grackles, geese and ducks, and a whole bunch of northern flickers. There was also lots of little piles of poo on the trail and at first I was disgusted that people weren’t picking up after their dogs when it dawned on me that it was deer, not dogs.

There are lots of turnouts throughout the park with lookouts and benches. If the weather is nice next weekend I plan on going back and taking a lunch with me to enjoy. And hopefully the trees will have begun changing color by then too.

One of many lakes in the reserve

One of many lakes in the reserve

It was a great ride even with the wind picking up and my last 10 miles/ 16 km riding directly into it. When I got home tired and sweaty I checked to see how far I had ridden and was surprised: a little over 69 miles/ 111 km! I gave Astrid a happy pat on the saddle for a ride well done.

Something that made me laugh. At the beginning of my ride the sun was just up and my shadow was to my right and just behind me enough that it kept making me think someone was riding on my tail. I’d catch sight of the shadow and expect someone to pass me but the person would keep riding on my ass so I would pedal faster and they kept following me! For the first 45 minutes of my ride I kept thinking my shadow was another person even after I realized it was my shadow. As I approached the trail turn off for the Hopkins Depot, there my shadow was again! And I laughed at myself for being startled and thinking someone was riding on my tail, but I raced my shadow anyway because I was happy and feeling good. It turned out that time there was someone riding on my tail and when I turned off the trail and my “shadow” kept going it scared the bejeezus out of me! Those shadows sure can be tricksy!

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