In the garden under the full moon; footsteps, night sounds

Friday, May 8, 2009.  I wrote this heading toward sundown yesterday. It was a really good day.  I got an early start and got lots of work done.   I took the greatest call from a a subscriber – she was surprised I picked up the phone at 7:00am. She ordered subscriptions for each of her 12 grand daughters.  The early bird does get the worm! I’d transplanted several small loquat trees yesterday, and so I watered them each in early this morning, and watered the turk’s cap and arbicola along the north fenceline.  I’d pruned the mulberry tree last month and stuck the cuttings in the ground along the north fence, and I could see many of them have taken root.

Ginger in bloom

Ginger in bloom

Everything is really beginning to grow rapidly with the sunny, warm days and a daily watering.  I’m especially giving a deep watering to the tall crepe myrtle and the young oaks that are coming up outside my west office window.  I’d like to make a nice, shady walk for the Florida Power and Light meter reader for those hot, summer days. I’ve been underwatering my ginger on purpose, since it can tend to take over.  It does have some beautiful blooms on it right now, as you can see here to the right.  That one is about as big as my head and is at eye level.

The night blooming jasmine responds well to some hand watering and a little chat each day.  She has more blooms than ever now and the scent is divine.  I did some major pruning on her a few months ago and now I can see that my hard work has paid off.  The two gardenia bushes next to the jasmine are perking up as well with regular watering.  The bamboo, it would love it if I just ran the hose on it 24/7 for weeks at a time, but then it would take over also.  I am going to acquire a big rain barrel, though, to collect the summer rains to water everything with.  I could probably use 2-3 of them.  The plants go nuts when they get the rainwater.  It works like magic in making things grow and bloom.

Squirrels in the mulberry tree at sundown, I can see 4 of them from my perch here on the back porch.  Two of them hanging upside down as they munch the barely ripe fruit, and the other two clamboring for the berries on the farthest branches.  The sun is giving out its orange pink glow and the pines to the west are silhouetted against it.  The bluejays and doves are taking turns at the birdbath.  A big woodpecker is sailing around under the canopy here, and a big yellow butterfly as well. The giant pothos is sending out tendrils that are 8 feet long and as big around as my thumb.  Some of them have gone 30+ feet up in the oak tree, with leaves as big as my torso way up there.  They are reaching for the sun.  I know how they feel.

Izzy is coming down the trail and miauing for his dinner.  He sees me sitting on the porch here, so he knows he has time for a quick bath before dining.  He is an obsessive groomer.  I brush him sometimes but mostly leave the cats to their own devices.  They get amped out when I brush them.  They have trees outside to rub up against, so they don’t need much help from me.

The full moon is officially one minute after tonight’s midnight. I like to watch the full moon rise and move across the sky each month.  Last night it looked big and close.  Here where I live, there are very few street lights, so the night sky looks big and starry.  On nights when the moon is very bright, I can walk in the woods by the light of the moon.  I like walking outside at night, and I like doing it without a flashlight.  It’s easier if I am barefoot, then I can tell exactly where my foot is on the path. I like when I can rely on my night vision when I am walking outside.  The light from a flashlight or passing headlights interrupts my night vision, just like driving after sundown and facing the headlights of the oncoming traffic.  It takes a second for the eyes to adjust and get back to normal vision.

I can hear a rustling in the dried oak and bamboo leaves on the floor of the woods I am in.  I figure by the sound that it is an opossum.  Each animal has its own gait and cadence to their walk and are easy to differentiate.  Cats are more regular in their steps than raccoons, and they both have a long stride.  Opossums are low to the ground and take small steps. Snakes of course slither, and I can usually tell how long a snake is by the sound of the slither, depending on what part of the yard I’m in.  Armadillos are rather clumsy and noisy, low to the ground, and don’t see or hear very well.  They travel in 2’s and 3’s and will crash around and come right up on you and scare themselves.   They either can’t hear all the ruckus they are making, or they just don’t care.  “We’re the armadillos and we’re loud, get over it.”   In the woods at night, it sounds like Bigfoot coming your way.

A good way to tell if something is supposed to be there is by the background night sounds.  If all the crickets stop, that means “everybody on alert, we’ve got a newcomer to check out.” I listen for how long it takes them to start their song again. Like the first time I heard the raccoons making their horribly scary, screeching screams.  It sounded like something being murdered right outside my back door.  They were simply mating or feeling threatened by another passing critter, so they were pitching their little fit.  The first time I heard it, I took my cue from the night sounds that, whatever it was, it was no big deal.

And now it’s predawn as I write this, and something is rustling under my south office window.  I put sunflower seeds on the ledge here for the squirrels and birds, and so there’s a nice sprout garden underneath it, and I get lots of visitors.  I like the idea of my place being a little oasis for the local wildlife.  I wonder just how many families of what live right here in my little patch of woods?  All told, there are about 2 acres of connected woods, without crossing a street.  Mine is under mostly shade, and to the east of my property there is a pond that is a local watering hole.  The big canal is 5 blocks south of me.  I wonder just how big our neighborhood wildlife family is.

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