Fava bean flowers don't mind the chill

Fava bean flowers don’t mind the chill

A beautiful autumn day today. The kind that is chilly and damp to start but sunny and just warm enough to be out without a jacket if you are wearing long sleeves. The kind of day when you know there aren’t many days like it left in the year. So Bookman and I were out in the garden taking advantage of it.

There were a few bits of the chicken coop we never finished painting so we painted those. We planted garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. We picked beans I had left on the plants to dry for seed saving purposes. We picked cow peas. Picked some tomatoes and a zucchini. A pumpkin.

We had a light frost last night. Not the hard killing kind when it actually gets below freezing, just the light kind that kills the sensitive plants like basil and zucchini and tomatoes. Not outright kills though, just freezes some of the leaves but not the whole plant. Since we decided to not cover anything, the basil ended up getting a bit too touched by the frost so I pulled that out and did some general herb spiral weeding. Did some general weeding too around the perennial sunflowers, clipping back the dead stems and pulling up grass and clover that had crept into the bed.

Elinor is a great helper. She gets right down in there and doesn’t care if I throw dirt in her face or whack her with whaterver I am pulling out. Margaret and Mrs. Dashwood were helping too. Elinor was clearly excited so they wanted in on it. Mrs. Dashwood got some dirt in her face and hopped away flustered. She didn’t like it one bit and after that just stood back and waited for an area to be cleared before moving in. Margaret got a sunflower stalk tossed on her by accident and that was enough to send her to stand about five feet away, ruffled up with her back half turned like she was pouting.

This morning before the sun had warmed up the garden the chickens had it all to themselves. Mrs. Dashwood was “it” again in the hide-and-seek game and got upset because she couldn’t find anyone. So I went out and stood on the deck steps and called to her. She came running over, complaining. I sat down on the steps so she could tell me her troubles. Now, the furthest up the deck steps any of the chickens have been is the lowest one, they just haven’t been interested in seeing what was at the top of the fourth one. Today, however, with me sitting there and chatting, Mrs. Dashwood hopped up all the steps and onto the deck.

Waldo and Dickens saw the whole thing.

They were hunkered down at the screen door and Waldo’s eyes were as big as saucers. Neither cat made a sound.

Mrs. Dashwood was completely unaware of them. The deck is a wide-open space that does not have any cover for hiding, so Mrs. Dashwood simply cast her chicken eyes around and then hopped back down the steps and into the garden. I am glad she decided to not go exploring because I am not sure Waldo would have been able to contain himself. I don’t know what he might have done, but I am glad none of us had to find out!


Autumn on the Mississippi River

Autumn on the Mississippi River

Saturday morning was about 40F/4.5 C when I set out on my new bike. I had on leg warmers and a jersey with arm warmers under a light cycling jacket. I had a headband covering my ears and wore cycling gloves with fingers. Thankfully there was no wind. At first the chill was invigorating but when I couldn’t seem to warm up it just plain stunk.

I was planning on riding out to Marine-on-St Croix again to do some leaf peeping because the trees are finally changing here in earnest. My route takes me through downtown St Paul but all the streets were closed for the Twin Cities Marathon. I knew about the closed streets in Minneapolis and I thought by going to St Paul I would miss them. Wrong! It was a challenge navigating around it all when I don’t know the streets there very well. But I did it. At least it distracted me from being cold for a while!

Once on the trail and heading out of the city, it was smooth sailing.

I’m used to eating while I ride but I quickly realized it was going to be impossible to do with full gloves on. So every time I wanted a little energy snack, I had to stop, take off a glove, have an energy bite, put my glove back on and get going again. In the proccess, the ungloved hand that had been almost warm was now really cold and unhappy. Then when it was almost warm, it would be time for another snack stop.

By the time I got to the end of the trail where there is a bathroom and picnic tables, both my hands were cold, my feet were cold and my face was numb. Plus, since I was riding on my new bike, there are fiddly fit issues to adjust. The saddle was not quite high enough so I had to pull out my multi-tool and adjust the height. I had to take my gloves off so my hands got even colder.

Introducing Carter, code name Badger

Introducing Carter, code name Badger

The bike is great but I was rather miserable and the sun did not look like it was going to come out at all to help warm me up. So I decided it was best to just go home instead of prolong the misery.

The journey home had an out loud exclamation moment. I knew we had bluebirds in Minnesota but I had never seen them before. I was approaching a bike bridge over a busy road with a big field on one side of the path and a pond and little wetland on the other. Several birds flittered across the path in front of me and I realized, Oh! they are bluebirds! And not just one but about six or seven. They are tiny little things, light blue with creamy bellies and pinkish throats and chests. Such a surprise and a delight. I forogt how cold I was for quite some time.

Of course when I was almost home the sun began to peak out from behind the thick clouds and I thought, yeah it figures. But after half an hour the clouds covered it up again and it never did get sunny or very warm out.

I think this was very likely the last bike ride of the year outdoors so in spite of being cold I am glad I went. The new bike rides great and shifts so smoothly I kept freaking out because I couldn’t hear or feel the chain move so I thought something was wrong and kept looking down at the gears on the bike to check. She’s very comfortable and once I get everything adjusted to fit me perfectly, she will be even more comfortable. She is noticeably heavier than Astrid which means starting from a stop and climbing hills takes more effort. But I was riding on pavement Saturday and she is meant for gravel where, I expect, she will really shine.

So her name. I have dubbed her Carter. As in Peggy Carter, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Carter’s namesake is classy and smart, tenacious, good at getting herself into and out of trouble. I thought of calling her Peggy but I have a cousin named Peggy so that would be too weird. And because she is an agent, she needs a code name.

Bookman has been calling her “Badger” since I brought her home. Carter and Badgers have a lot in common. So when Carter is out on a mission — gravel race — she will go by her code name because you know, she’s undercover. Or something.

Carter’s first mission is likely to be the Miesville 56 at the end of April. Stay tuned.