Wednesday, September 21, 2016

beware of spider

Boy I hope I don't alienate you with this post which I've decided to put up with a warning title.
I've left all the pictures purposefully small, but I've worked on them to get the best detail I could, so if you would like to see more, just click on each photo for its largest version.

Wally was about to mount the ladder when he found this huge, by Canadian standards, spider: Argiope aurantia

I don't know where I summoned my courage from to get as close as I did to take her picture

but the truth is she wasn't happy either and vacated her web between the rungs of the ladder

awkwardly scrambling away

Commonly known as Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Black and Yellow Argiope, Garden Spider, Writing Spider, Golden Orbweaver, the Argiope aurantia is pretty abundant everywher in the USA and southeastern Canada but is not common in parts of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Its range extends as far south as Costa Rica in Central America.

Argiope is Latin for “with bright face” (Cameron 2005); aurantia, in Latin, is an adjective meaning “orange-colored.”
While I wonder why the Latins didn't have a word for yellow, I can see where our word "orange" stems from the pronunciation of the Lation word "aurantia".

"Little" Miss Argiope makes a slow run for it.
Except that she was large which I think is common for female spiders, I don't know why I thought this was a female but sure enough:

the adult female has a carapace silver or white, top of abdomen boldly patterned in black and yellow, while the underside of the abdomen is mottled black with two vertical, parallel yellow stripes. Adult males are typically shades of brown and much, much smaller than the female.

She has a total of eight eyes. The median eyes are grouped together in a trapezoid shape, while the lateral eyes are some distance away. I guess there are 8 eyes her in and around that triangular hat shape.
The legs of mature female specimens are yellowish or reddish brown at base and black distally. Immature specimens have entirely banded legs. Legs of adult male mostly brown with faded black bands. So again, another reason she is decidedly female.

Each tarsus (tip of leg) has 3 claws, but I can't make them out.

Argiope aurantia is one of the largest members of the orb weaver family Araneidae in North America. Because of its size and bright coloration, this species is one of the most commonly known and recognized by observers.

Two more interesting facts:
It takes almost all of its potty breaks at night, and often leaves its web to do so.
This spider will rapidly shake and vibrate in its web as a defensive strategy to scare predators off.
The shaking blurs the spider and makes it appear bigger than it really is, though ours didn't try this strategy on us.

Anyway, I was thoroughly creeped out after this session, not only of photographing her, but of preparing this post. Even so, I found it and what I learned in research fascinating.

I hope you have survived this and forgive me,
for after all, when we say we love nature,
she is part of it.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Deer in the Hayfield


It's not always noise and dust around here.
One evening Wally called me out from the kitchen to see the deer in the back field.

While my little camera couldn't capture them up close

here are the best blow-ups I could get of a doe and what appear to be 2 fawns

It pleases me to see them safe and
so far from our garden

Mom retreats her little family back into the ravine

and I turn to come in, capturing the old shingles that Wally removed from the other side of
Forget-Me-Not Cabin's roof

while Muji waits patiently for my return

The next morning I capture Babu in the Roma tomato box
(or, rather, he put himself there)
after freezing most of the tomatoes for this winter's use.


After a particularly hot week here in the Annapolis Valley,
wishing you a particularly pleasant weekend.

(I can't help but laugh to myself these days when I use the word "weekend" in this public forum, assuming everyone knows what I mean when there was a world, once, that didn't...)

this quintessential quote by the  Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith)
from "Downton Abbey"




Friday, September 2, 2016

Slipping into Autumn


So here we are in September. How could a summer go so fast?
There has been some change in the maple trees, always the first to show their colours.
The nights are colder and energy seems to be in a state of flux as the harvest swings into higher gear.
The first local apples- MacIntosh- are in the stores and the produce is coming so thick and furious that we are lucking in to some incredible sales like a case of corn in their husks for 99 cents. We counted 17 ears, all fresh and sweet!

Towards the end of last week, I wandered into the garden
capturing the clematis festooning the composter with their resplendence

The garden is getting away on us, but we still manage to use what has bolted in our juicing

The peaches had to be rescued from marauding blue jays

It helped the slim pliant trunk that we relieved it of some of its weight

after taking a few appreciative pictures. The fruit is luscious.

The cucumbers bailed on us, getting fatter and fatter, so Wally picked them too.

We're managing to keep up with the cherry tomatoes

Here, from left to right, are chard, carrots, beets, and kale
with broccoli bolting in the back

We still make the most of our broccoli by juicing it along with a big bowl of other veggies:
Cucumber
Carrots
Celery
Beet
Ginger
Lemon
and always Cilantro

Many other things make it in from time to time like:
Kohlrabi
Romaine Lettuce ends
Parsley stems
Kale stems
well, you get the idea

Here a busy Bumblebee works on a Broccoli Flower
Note the Pollen Sac that appears to sit on its abdomen, looking like a pale egg.
(The pollen basket or corbicula is part of the tibia on the hind legs of certain species of bees. They use the structure in harvesting pollen and returning it to the nest or hive.)

The Bumblebee has to be the friendliest of all the bees

for they allow you to get quite close

Here is a lovely Kale amidst the bolting Broccolis

Our Harelsons are not doing too well this year, most of them dropping from the tree,
infested because we don't spray for the infamous Codling Moth

Here is the beginning of Wally's concrete patio tile path that he has laid with weeping tile beneath to help deflect the spring run-off from melting snow. A Nine Bark bush seems to be taking over.

On the back deck, the cherry tomatoes are doing well as they loom over the potted cilantro

In the vestibule, Babu and Muji are settling in

for a nap

Yesterday I scanned the street during a quiet spell and found this manhole
on the other side of our frontage. I can hear it clanging already with future traffic.

A pile of sand to its left


A stack of water pipes waiting to be laid sit on my neighbours frontage
and on it goes....

and now, for no reason in particular except that I've been humming this tune lately,
here is a fabulous early recording of Alice Faye from 1936- that's 80 years ago.

have a lovely slide into autumn



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Road Work and the Garden


With August almost over -shocking! September never really feels like summer- I've rallied a few pictures gathered, over the last week, of the garden that console me as the noise of roadwork takes its toll.

Piles of curbs and sidewalks- one of many aftermaths- as the road crew work in stages

Our own salvage from a house in Lunenburg that was digging up their 50 yr. old concrete tiles-
a kind freebie from the owner

I look back from the road toward our lush greenery
The "prehistoric" plant on the left draws me in

I've shown this plant in past years, amazed by how the flower buds emerge from a pod

 growing in clusters,

blossoming in succession

with multiple pistils and stamen

the underside of its leaf so beautifully articulated with the rim edged in red scalloped points

the base of the same plant

and here a cleaver plant embroiders itself in a gentle spiral around it

the tiny clingy burrs of a cleaver that I really ought to pull

but like this aphid infested weed right beside it, I forget-


fascinated, instead by the marvels of life

So glorious weeds abound in our garden

as I confuse what's supposed to matter with what is inherently beautiful.

Looking back from whence I came, our Japanese Maple doing so well,
our hanging basket of petunias still on the ground to get the rain from the night before

I wander to the back of the garage to frame a shot of our little Harelson apple tree

and then pan over to Wally's little garden. I've cleaned the waste water from the bird bath
with a myriad of mosquito larvae squiggling in it since with a good scrubbing with vinegar.

On the morning we left for Lunenburg I came out for some herbs for our picnic lentil salad, and found the peach tree literally bent in half under the weight of its load. How it didn't snap I don't know. Wally added 2 more bracing lines to help it stand. We've since picked about half its fruit- about 4 lbs. and happily (we'd forgotten) they are cling free, meaning the fruit comes away from the pit.
at my feet, some pretty pink mallow bloom

I remember these flowers from when I first found them blooming on my first property in Port Carling in Muskoka, and have had a love of them ever since, so much so that I mow around them as they spring up all over the lawn.

Under the cherry tree a new tree is taking hold and I recognize it immediately as an elm

by the notch at its the leaf's base.
Elms are a sentimental favourite leftover from childhood, especially meaningful having survived the blight of Dutch Elm disease. Ironically they are quite common here in the Dutch farmland of the Annapolis Valley and represent a promise kept that this area would remind me of the rolling farmland of the southern Ontario of my childhood.

Pretty notched petals of the same kind of wee that had the aphids on it

a visit to our grapes

that were decimated

by the blue jays. Wally and I got to taste a few and they were surprisingly sweet.

More beautiful neglect. a fungus growing out of one of our punky deck boards

Meanwhile, as I said earlier, the work moves in stages
and here the sidewalks and curbs are being removed to a dump truck
I filmed it. Thankfully the dust generally blows away from our house and gardens.

You can upgrade the quality to HD
by clicking on the gear box in the bottom right corner of this video

It was a hot and even noisier week to come, leaving me a little unhinged from all the noise, as the asphalt of our street was pulverized by a crushing machine that continued for 3 consecutive days consuming our Saturday, I believe because this project is running behind schedule- there was an unforeseen need for retaining walls where the roadwork first started. The results are brilliant, a wonderful upgrade and worth the trouble judging by the care with which this job of loading the sidewalks and curbs was done.  I expect, however, we'll see an upgrade in our taxes as well.

There have been moments of utter peace
when no one can get through and the workers have gone home.
I see pedestrians walking up the middle of our lumpy road like the aftermath of some horrible event, totally out of context, neighbours I've never seen before having to abandon their cars at the perimeter of the work area. I'll probably have to do the same this evening as we need to fetch some kitty litter when Wally gets home from work.

A tiger lily with its leopard spots by the front entrance with a bite taken out of it as I leave the commotion for some respite inside.

And here, while I waited for my video to upload to YouTube, is Muji resting beside me


and Babu in the vestibule enjoying the peaceful afternoon.

I hope you, too, can find some time to enjoy some repose in your life,
a precious necessity.