Clearly fall…

By October 4, 2010 Birds, Day-to-Day No Comments

Yesterday was a painfully glorious day in the garden–sunny, temperate, enough of a breeze to make it pleasant. I spent hours outside, finishing up construction of the last bed, a small island inset in the sunny part of the lawn, which finishes the job of breaking the front yard into a meandering grassy path rather than an expanse of wasted space.

Today is cool and sporadically cloudy, so the yard is shifting between sun and shade every minute or two. I had to wear a jacket to sit out front and drink my morning coffee, which means, I think, that it is finally and irrevocably fall.

The signs have been there. Some leaves are falling, but leaves are so sporadic and frankly drab here that I usually go more by animal signs than vegetable ones–none of my maples have turned, but I’ve found a couple of woolly bear caterpillars, the goldfinches have molted to their drab winter coats and are now gone entirely, and the trio of hummingbirds that used to squabble over the yard are gone. (All of which were female. I couldn’t figure that out. Never saw a male ruby-throat take up residence. Kevin saw one visit, but apparently I was running a hummingbird sorority out here.)

October is the tail end of the hummingbird migration through North Carolina. I’ve caught one or two stragglers grabbing a quick snack on the red trumpets of the pineapple sage, but they’re generally gone the next day. My garden is a gas station, not a hotel.  It’s the same for the monarchs, who migrate south in September and October. One will come in, hang around for a day or two, filling up on nectar from the hyssop and the zinnias, then head off. A few days later, another one will show up. We’re not high traffic, but I feel good about the handful of individuals that come by–can’t do a damn thing about Mexican habitat loss or global warming or any of the big things that threaten monarchs, but at least I can give them a good meal before they head back out into the world.

I like fall. It has a lot of things that I love–apple cider and pomegranates in the grocery stores, temperatures low enough that I can open up the house and get some air moving to sweep out the funk of four months of air conditioning, half-price perennials that garden shops can’t move because they’re done blooming and look ugly as hell. Weather suitable for fingerless gloves and long-sleeved shirts and awesome socks. And maybe this’ll be the year I finally learn how to wear a scarf in a way that looks sexy and sophisticated and debonair and not like someone anticipating sub-zero weather.

But I do miss the hummingbirds.